Dr John Falzon, Chief Executive Officer of the St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia, will launch the Australian Catholic Bishops’ 2012–2013 Social Justice Statement on Friday 21st September.

The respondent will be Dr Lisa Bridle, practitioner and disability advocate. The launch will take place at 11.30 am on Friday 21st September at the Australian Catholic University’s Leone Ryan Auditorium, 40 Edward Street, North Sydney.

The title of the Statement is The Gift of Family in Difficult Times: The social and economic challenges facing families today. The Statement urges all Australians to consider the pressures and challenges that families face today – especially those families who are most vulnerable or in crisis.

Bishop Christopher Saunders, Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, says, “In the 21st century, Australia’s families confront new pressures. Our workplaces are changing: more and more workers are employed on a casual basis, many of them forced to find two or more jobs just to make ends meet. There are growing demands to work late hours or on weekends, or to be away from home for weeks on end. These stresses can make it ever harder for Australians to be with their families, to nurture love, to strengthen bonds, to learn and to teach.

“Some families are particularly vulnerable and require our special generosity – many Indigenous families, asylum seekers and refugees, those in poverty, the homeless and those with special needs with regard to disability”, Bishop Saunders says.

In the Statement, the Catholic Bishops call for a renewed commitment by governments to ensure that all public policy is evaluated in terms of the effect it will have on families and children. Family impact statements should be made public and adopt a preventative approach – addressing the causes and not just the symptoms of disadvantage.

The Statement highlights our task as a nation to have the humility to listen and respond to the most vulnerable, for they show us what needs to change in our society.

Social Justice Sunday is celebrated on 30 September 2012. The Statement and associated resources can be downloaded at: www.socialjustice.catholic.org.au from 21 September.