Social Action Office


Common Wealth for the Common Good


Ten Years Down the Track and What’s Different?

In 1992 the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference issued a statement on the distribution of wealth in Australia, Common Wealth for the Common Good. This statement was a call to action to ensure that the common wealth of Australia was dedicated to the common good of all and not just for private benefit. Thousands of people were involved in processes that resulted in this statement. The processes provided opportunities for peoples hearts to be stirred to action to ensure that the common wealth was truly for the common good of ALL.

Ten years down the track, it is time to stop and reflect on where one is individually and we are as a nation, in regards to these matters.

Take some time to reflect on the following quote:

It is imperative that no one ... would indulge in a merely individualistic morality. The best way to fulfill one's obligations of justice and love is to contribute to the common good according to one's means and the needs of others, and also to promote and help public and private organizations devoted to bettering the conditions of life.

The Church and the Modern World, #30

In this day and age what do you find are the things that challenges you most in relation to contributing to the common good?

Take time to reflect and share.

Ten years down the track … take time to read these things:

Many of the issues raised in the 1992 Bishops’ statement are still relevant today even if some aspects of these have changed. For example:

  • The prevalence and depth of poverty have remained significant and most research is showing that, despite positive economic growth in the 1990s, the resulting benefits have not been evenly distributed;
  • While child poverty remains unacceptably high in Australia the incidence of poverty among sole parents has declined. Research indicates that government assistance to families has had a positive impact in reducing poverty in this population group;
  • Single people are now most at risk of poverty in Australia and housing costs are a real factor in this;
  • Housing remains an issue despite low interest rates and government subsidies for home ownership and investment housing. The cost of home ownership in some parts of the nation is outside the reach of many younger Australians. The vagaries of the private rental market mean that many tenancies fail, especially for people on low incomes. At the same time the commitment of governments to public housing has been declining;
  • Official unemployment figures have declined but this can disguise the real issues about work and income security. The fact is that work patterns are changing and casual, part-time work is figuring as the main area of jobs growth. The result of this is that job security is not assured. This new work environment has given rise to the new phenomenon of the ‘working poor’;
  • Uneven economic growth in regional and rural Australia is entrenched;
  • The colonial dispossession of Indigenous people continues to carry with it unacceptable levels of poverty, homelessness, high unemployment, unacceptable morbidity and mortality rates compared to the general population. However, the recognition of native title and a stronger political and cultural voice has changed the landscape significantly in the past decade, despite considerable resistance from opposing interests;
  • Access to health care remains an issue with the subsidisation of private healthcare and the erosion of the publicly funded Medicare underscoring a growing health gap between rich and poor.

Take time to REFLECT and SHARE …

What is the biggest challenge facing ME?
What is the biggest challenge facing US – as a group?
as a nation? as members of this finite planet?

Conclude the reflection with a song, e.g. Peter Kearney’s Common Good, or the following prayer:

Reader: Our God who art in heaven and in all of us here on earth, holy is your name in the hungry, the oppressed, the excluded.

All: May your kingdom come.

Reader: May your kingdom come and your will be done, in our choices to struggle with the complexities of this world, and to confront greed and the desire for power in ourselves, in our nation and in the global community.

All: May your kingdom come.

Reader: Give us this day our daily bread, bread that we are called to share, bread that you have given us abundantly and that we must distribute fairly, ensuring food security for all.

All: May your kingdom come.

Reader: Forgive us our trespasses; times we have turned away from the struggles of other peoples and countries, times we have thought only of our own economic security.

All: May your kingdom come.

Reader: Lead us not into temptation; the temptation to close our minds, ears and eyes to the unfair global systems that create larger and larger gaps between the rich and the poor; the temptation to think it is too difficult to bring about more just alternatives.

All: May your kingdom come.

Reader: Deliver us from evil, the evil of a world where wealth for a few is more important than economic rights for all, the evil of a world where gates and barriers between people grow higher every year.

All: May your kingdom come, for yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.


August 2002


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