INVESTING IN SOCIETY MAKES ECONOMIC SENSE Catholic Social Services Australia’s Executive Director, Frank Quinlan today welcomed the vision for social change outlined by Deputy Opposition Leader, Julia Gillard, in her address to the Sydney Institute entitled ‘The Economics of Social Inclusion’. ‘Putting people first, especially those at the margins of society, must be a major priority for the government of the day. Whilst we all have our role to play – as citizens and in our case, as providers of social services ‘“ it is Government who must take the lead. This takes Government will and Ms Gillard’s announcement indicates the ALP is committed to the task of prioritising disadvantaged Australians,’ said Mr Quinlan. ‘We welcome genuine engagement with all governments where community organisations are respected not simply as outsourced providers of government programs but as partners who are able to maximise the benefits of programs to the communities we serve,’ Mr Quinlan said. ‘In wishing to create a more inclusive society we must never lose sight of the Government’s responsibility to ensure that all Australians are cared for and taken care of,’ Mr Quinlan said. ‘Assisting an individual to fully participate in society, economically and socially, should be the ultimate goal but this aim should never replace the need to provide a guaranteed safety net for those in society unable to do so.’ ‘The ‘Dropping off the Edge’ report referred to in Ms Gillard’s address documents real people caught in geographic pockets of disadvantage in this nation today. These regions are clearly identifiable as are the social and economic factors that create them. Whilst the report paints a grim picture, it also presents a way forward. What is required is commitment, long-term investment and assistance and it needs to happen at the community level,’ said Mr Quinlan. Catholic Social Services Australia commissioned the report ‘Dropping off the Edge’, written by Professor Tony Vinson, in collaboration with Jesuit Social Services. http://www.australiandisadvantage.org.au Catholic Social Services Australia provides services to over a million Australians each year.