The Australian poor

The Australian poor

Christmas is a time when concern for the poor seems to be sharpened a little. It’s easy to find ways to give to the vulnerable in other parts of the world. I have been concerned about the vulnerable in my local community.

As I look around, I wonder who the poor are in my region. I know they are here. But, people who are “technically” poor don’t always look it. Some who are most vulnerable are not always in the obviously poor communities. I’m convinced God would have our family and church providing for the vulnerable. But who are they, and what do they need?

When I was growing up, mum and I lived in the type of housing where a charity would give us a hamper at Christmas time. It was a lovely treat, but we were usually given things we ordinarily bought ourselves. All the kids in the neighbourhood still seemed to have Christmas presents and plenty of food. Looking back, it seems like that act of kindness was better suited to another time and place.

Some acts of kindness to the poor, are perhaps not what the poor need. Love needs to be done with knowledge.

Poverty and vulnerability in Australia is not a simple problem of money. It is because other social and family conditions are not working properly. These problems won’t be fixed by a food hamper. Of course, there are people who are served well by crisis support. But there are broader and deeper needs as well.

So, if I am going to do something and help our children to grow in their understanding and care for the vulnerable in our community, I need to do some research. Any ideas?