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Putting the poor and vulnerable on the agenda

MEDIA RELEASE
NZ Council of Christian Social Services

Friday 28 March 2008

Putting the fate of the poor and vulnerable on the 2008 Election agenda

The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS) today launched an information programme for raising public awareness of social justice and compassion issues, under the theme ‘Let Us Look After Each Other – Aroha tētahi ki tētahi’.

“We chose this theme because it expresses a love of the people, for the people – it reinforces the sense in which we live in an inter-dependent society, one in which we should measure success by the well-being of the most vulnerable amongst us”, says Ross Kendrew, NZCCSS President.

“As we enter another election year cycle the NZCCSS has been drawing on its collective experience, its extensive networks and its policy watching role to question whether the situation of the poor and the vulnerable in Aotearoa New Zealand is high enough on the agenda of public concerns.

“Every day of every week, for instance, the members of NZCCSS – the Anglican Care Network, Baptist Churches of New Zealand, Catholic Social Services, Presbyterian Support Services Inc and the Methodist and Salvation Army churches – actively support families and individuals to contend with the consequences of the very real poverty traps that still exist in New Zealand.

“By their complex nature, social issues should not be dealt with in isolation from each other, or by policies that do not respond to the grassroots voices of the people most affected by those policies,” says Ross Kendrew.

“The five policy concerns we have identified as priorities are support for families and communities to nurture and protect our children, dignity for an ageing population, poverty elimination, access to affordable housing, and government support for community-based solutions. Our belief is that a just and compassionate society has to be based on policies that closely address all of these concerns.

“Furthermore we believe a point has been reached where a high level and wide-ranging call for more awareness and action about entrenched social issues is needed. To begin this process we will be working with the six major denominations that support NZCCSS to promote social justice and compassion during 2008 to Church locations and congregations around the country.

"At the same time we believe all New Zealanders, including all politicians across the political spectrum, need to think deeply about the meaning of our overall theme – Let Us Look After Each Other, Aroha tētahi ki tētahi – and how it might inform or inspire their own actions. Supportinginformation is available on our website, www.justiceandcompassion.org.nz

ENDS

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