Caritas Welcomes Stronger Focus on Vulnerable In Budget
Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand welcomes a stronger focus on New Zealand’s most vulnerable people and indications of a long-term, integrated approach to climate change in this year’s Budget.
“Earlier in the year, we supported the intergenerational wellbeing approach being taken in this year’s Budget,” said Caritas Director Julianne Hickey. “It is good to see a longer-term approach being adopted for social investment."
Caritas welcomes the greater focus on mental health, young people and children, housing long-term homeless people and increased support for beneficiaries. The litmus test of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable citizens.
However, Caritas is disappointed to see no significant increases for refugee resettlement and support and refugee family reunification in 2019/20. While increases are projected for the years 2020-2023, it is only an additional $69,000 per year.
“With the annual refugee quota rising next year, and more settlement centres planned, we need to ensure new arrivals are properly welcomed and included,” said Mrs Hickey. “Migrants are an integral part of our nation. They add to the cultural diversity and richness of our communities. We still have some way to go to truly ‘welcome the stranger’.”
Caritas is seeking a commitment to expand the Community Organisation Refugee Sponsorship scheme, following the successful pilot scheme last year. “This has made good progress and is an excellent example of a community-led initiative supported by government.” said Mrs Hickey.
Caritas also welcomes a stronger commitment in the Budget to cut carbon emissions, encourage sustainable technology, and adapt to climate change. “But the transition to a zero- carbon economy must not come at the expense or neglect of the poor,” said Mrs Hickey. “Adaptation to climate change in Aotearoa New Zealand needs to take into account the needs of low-paid workers and people living in isolated or poorer areas. We have highlighted these issues for people in South Dunedin and coastal Northland through our annual State of the Environment for Oceania reports.”