The two key ways we can all work to eradicate poverty are to help alleviate the suffering of those experiencing poverty right now, and to do the advocacy work needed to change the underlying systemic causes of poverty. It must be both approaches together.
To help alleviate current suffering:
- Connect with your local St Vincent de Paul conference – every day these volunteers are standing alongside people experiencing poverty and hardship and you could help in many ways. Talk to your local parish representative, or your priest to find out who the Vinnies rep is.
- Donate or give time to local food banks and kitchens
- Be welcoming in all your communities, but especially in your Church community. Make it a place of non-judgement, or authentic friendship and a safe place for people to share the burdens and ask for help.
- Give money, time or goods to charities and organisations that are doing good work in this space. Some suggestions to start:
- Join a coalition or existing campaign addressing some part of poverty that interests you or plays to your skills. Check out the many campaigns of St Vincent de Paul aimed at changing systemic injustices that relate to poverty; Sydney Alliance also runs campaigns that touch on issues related to poverty that might interest you.
- Catholic Social Services Australia does a lot of advocacy work and is a good gateway into all the Church’s social welfare agencies.
- Write to your local, state and federal MPs – find out what they are already doing and thank them, ask them to do any number of things relevant to their level of government. For example, raise the rates of welfare payments, create more social housing, improve industrial relations laws to better labour conditions especially for the most marginalised etc
- Start a social justice group in your parish and focus on local advocacy to address poverty in your area. The Dropping off the Edge map will give you a good sense of disadvantage by postcodes. Contact us at the JPO we can provide ongoing support and training to start or grow a parish ministry.
- See if anything is going on in your local council that you could assist with or advocate for. There are often good locally-based resources that can help with advocacy ideas. The City of Sydney website is here.
- Have conversations – with family, friends, colleagues. The narrative that poverty results entirely because of personal decisions needs to be changed if we are to get government policies to shift.
Many of the ideas and organisations above are useful in a global context too, but some additional global-specific resources and suggestions are below.
- The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals list their number one goal as ‘no poverty’. Each SDG has a wealth of resources and updates attached to it – these help give you credible information as well as ideas about what you might be able to do or support. You can find the Poverty site here.
- Write to the Foreign Affairs Minister and your local MP about the low, and continually reduced, Aid budget. Two connected groups who advocate in this space are Australian Aid, and Micah Australia. Both can help you get informed on the aid budget, suggestions and forms to write MP letters or have meetings and have a range of ways you can join them in their advocacy work as part of a broader coalition.
- Caritas Australia – the Church’s international aid agency does an extraordinary range of work overseas, especially in our Pacific neighborhood. You can support their work financially or get involved in different ways as a volunteer.
- Catholic Mission – does a range of missionary work in overseas contexts.
- Global Citizen – a movement of engaged citizens who are using their collective voice to end extreme poverty by 2030. On our platform, Global Citizens learn about the systemic causes of extreme poverty, take action on those issues, and earn rewards for their actions — as part of a global community committed to lasting change.
- The Borgen Project – a US based and focused campaign to move US foreign policy towards poverty reduction. There are useful resources, and some campaign suggestions that can be translated into an Australian context.
Please note this is just a small selection of organisations and resources, not an exhaustive list. Also, we have not worked with nor do we necessarily endorse the views and approaches of all of these organisations so please exercise personal discretion before choosing which organisations or initiatives to get involved with.