Catholics and Salvation Army agree: NZ Pacificans ‘hardest hit’ by recession

More government action is needed to address high unemployment and a widening income gap for Pacific people according to a Salvation Army report, “More Than Churches, Rugby and Festivals”.

The report claims Pacific people now have the highest unemployment, the lowest incomes and a widening income gap that could mean they’re left behind when the economy recovers.

The average Pacifican income is $479 a week compared with $721 for non-Pacific adults, which represents an increase of just $2 in five years for Pacific adults, compared with $54 for everyone else.

One of the report’s authors, Ronji Tanielu, says the huge income gap and painfully slow growth in pay affects everything from housing, to problem debt and putting food on the table.

Mr Tanielu says there’s been a big spike in demand from Pacific families for Salvation Army food parcels, budgeting advice and drug and alcohol addiction services.

Speaking with CathNews, Parish priest of Otara, Auckland, Fr Brian Prendeville SM, agrees with the report’s findings.

Fr Prendeville says he is noticing an escalating demand on the parish’s social outreach programmes.

“We’ve a lot going on in the parish to help, and we’ve noticed a marked increase in the call on our family services, food parcels and counseling.

“Our parish branch of St Vincent de Paul is also reporting increased activity,” Fr Prendeville said.

Fr Prendeville said that some have used the excuse of the economic recession to benefit themselves.

“Pacificans need to be paid a just and comparable wage”, he said.

It is a story echoed by the Auckland Diocese’s Catholic Caring Foundation.

Clare Wade, General Manager says that this year the Foundation received a record level of grant applications and it has a huge challenge allocating $650,000 towards families in chronic hardship.

“We have seen a massive jump in requests for help with food-parcels, budget advice, emergency housing and problem gambling.

“Pacific Island families without homes or incomes are the group most affected by poverty in Auckland,” Wade said.

Salvation Army urges NZ Government action

The Salvation Army is urging the Government to revive its Pacific Wave unit of work brokers and extend Pacific youth training schemes.

The report’s authors say that unless something is done to reduce unemployment and lift Pacifican income, Pacificans will need more handouts and debt to loan sharks will only get worse.

Finance Minister Bill English says the Budget 2013 will help the most vulnerable people in society “who the Government has served very poorly in the past”.

Mr English told TVNZ’s Q+A programme, Sunday, “Closing that gap is a pretty big challenge.”

Pope urges Catholics to seek out those needing help

Speaking, Sunday, from the steps of St Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis lamented a world where homelessness and hunger was not news.

“If we step outside of ourselves, we will find poverty,” he said, repeating his call for Catholics to do more to seek out those on the fringes of society who need help the most.

“We cannot become starched Christians, too polite, who speak of theology calmly over tea. We have to become courageous Christians and seek out those (who need help most),” he said.


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News category: Asia Pacific, Original.

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