This is Anti Poverty Week, and so I went along to the rally in the city of Perth. I see this as part of my Simple Living practice: to engage with the community in ways to improve our lives together. If I want my life to be sustainable and simple I am sure the answer lies in assisting positive social change for all. I am not living this life in isolation.
It is shocking that inequality is growing around the world. In Australia it is fueled by the lack of entry level jobs, wage stagnation and the fact that the Newstart allowance given to job seekers has not increased for 25 years.
There is an increasing tendency to blame the poor for their situation, instead of seeing it in structural terms. We can fix poverty by doing several basic things: raising Newstart, creating more social housing and ending the scandalous Robodebt fiasco, where welfare recipients are being forced to defend themselves from paying fake debts to Centrelink. It is estimated at least 1 in 6 is fake or needs to be corrected. Then there is the punitive use of Cashless Welfare Cards, to stigmatise welfare recipients and take away their agency to make decisions about their use of welfare support.
Here is the St Vincent de Paul statement about the Cashless Welfare Card: St Vincent de Paul Society does not support the cashless welfare card. There is no evidence it improves the wellbeing of individuals or communities, either by reducing substance abuse or by increasing employment outcomes. The cashless welfare card also carries a high risk of unintended and expensive consequences across government and the community, including social exclusion and stigmatisation, increased financial hardship, and the erosion of individual autonomy and dignity. Ultimately, this is a punitive and paternalistic measure that is driven by ideology rather than evidence.Find more here
There was a major rally to call for a total ban on fracking non-conventional gas in Western Australia. I went to that one, too! We are worried about the impact of fracking on our natural environment, particularly on our water supplies.
The final thing I did in a fortnight of raising my voice was that I attended my local City of Joondalup council meeting, to assist with a campaign to get them to consider divesting from fossil fuels. The group I went with comes from 350.org Perth. we are building the Divestment movement and resisting new fossil fuel projects to build a broad and effective climate movement powerful enough to create a safe climate future.
This is what I said:
I ask Councillors to support the motion that
"the CEO to prepare a report on the options for the city to change its risk appetite and investment policy to place a greater percentage of invested funds into institutions that have all (or a great majority) of their portfolio in fossil fuel free investments, providing that in so doing the City can secure a rate of return that is at least equal to the alternative offered by other institutions".
Climate change is, as you and I know, one of the challenges facing the City of Joondalup in the future. I refer you to the recently released “Coastal Survey Outcomes Report” which has been considering how our city might respond to the challenges of coastal erosion due to rising sea levels.
I also refer you to the City of Joondalup Environment Plan 2014 to 2019 which has a whole chapter on Climate Change Mitigation. If we are serious about this problem for our City, we won’t be undermining our efforts at reducing waste and supporting local environments by using the City’s assets to invest in industries which will make climate change worse! We can send a clear message to the fossil fuel industry: change your ways now and join us in tackling climate change
As the Mayors of London and New York said on 10th September this year that “We believe that ending institutional investment in companies that extract fossil fuels and contribute directly to climate change can help send a very powerful message that renewables and low-carbon options are the future. If we want to fund the scale of transformation the world needs, we must foster sustainable investment and use the power of institutional investors.”.
Do you get involved with local community actions like this?