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Medical staff at a Covid-19 drive-through testing site in Perth Medical staff at a Covid-19 drive-through testing site in Perth  (ANSA)

Australian Catholic social services highlights solidarity as key for economic recovery

Catholic Social Service Australia (CSSA) calls for a new spirit of solidarity and work, pointing out their importance to creating a new, equitable economy in a post-Covid-19 economy.

By Vatican News staff writer

“The solidarity that inspired the national effort to suppress the health effects of Covid-19 must also shape Australia’s economic recovery,” urges Catholic Social Service Australia (CSSA).

A report published on Friday by CSSA titled “Strong Economy, Stronger Australia – Building our Prosperity to Serve the Common Good,” highlights that though the Covid-19 pandemic is rightly a source of sadness, “the behaviour of Australians to limit the spread of Covid-19 shows a genuine concern for our fellow citizens.” The benefits of those efforts, noted CSSA chief executive officer Ursula Stephens, “have been observed nationwide, and it is critical that the financial rebound that we need also benefits the entire country.”

The recently-released report outlines the detrimental effects of the pandemic, including those felt by the most vulnerable workers, and offers strategies to foster a person-centered economy.

The common good

Stephens noted that the behaviour demonstrated during the pandemic was “in pursuit of the common good” - a principle in Catholic social teaching and in much of our society – even if “people might not recognize the Church as the origin of those principles.”

“While others may choose words like “mateship” or “community,” she added, we used words like “common good or solidarity.” 

The dignity of work

Stephens went on to underscore that the Catholic understanding of the dignity of work, aligned with the provision of a social safety net, is at the base of the Australian recovery.

However, the CSSA report notes that even before the pandemic, the Australian economy and workforce were faced with challenges including “underemployment, instability of work, slow wages growth and some immoral behaviour by employers.”

“The seminal Catholic document on the dignity of work and on social teaching was written in the 1890s, but its relevance today could not be clearer,” Stephens explained. “The value – financial and psychological – of people having a job, when appropriate, was outlined in Rerum Novarum 130 years ago. It continues to be affirmed in studies across various disciplines today.”

Looking ahead

“Many people are speaking of a ‘bounceback’,” Stephens said, “but we are focused on seeing this renewed sense of communal interdependence demonstrated over the past 12 months drive a modified, better situation for Australians.”

She added that rather than seeking to restore what existed before the pandemic, the report says that “a new, more equitable economy should emerge.”

The full “Strong Economy, Stronger Australia” report can be accessed on the website of Catholic Social Services Australia.

01 February 2021, 15:11