The Australian Council of Social Service have come down to Addi Road today to set up a table outside our Food Pantry and encourage people to send a few Christmas cards to our politicians. It may not be a card they like to get. But every one them is certainly heartfelt, handwritten and true to the experience of everyday Australians dealing with unemployment, poverty and life on the proverbial breadline.
Bev Carter, ACOSS Community Engagement and Support Officer, says that ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie was looking to do “an action” in Sydney. “We thought Addi Road is already part of the community, it’s been supporting the ‘Raise the Rate’ campaign from the beginning, and we’ve had meetings here that have been very important to us. And just the range of the organisations and programs here run by the Addison Road Community Organisation that are so community focussed. It was an easy decision to do our press conference here and set up a table to meet people and get them to write a few Christmas cards for our politicians.”
She explains that the National Day of Action to ‘Raise the Rate for Good’ has involved sending cards to as many pollies as possible. “The campaign is for the base rate of income support to be sufficient to cover living costs,” Bev says. With the so-called Coronavirus Supplement due to end of January 1st and more cuts slated, Bev says that many people new to income support and struggling already to cover the cost of rent or mortgages are about to get a taste of the bad old days, days there were very bad indeed and not so long ago. You’re general lifestyle will become impossible after Christmas. People will start cutting back on pleasurable items. No more holidays. No more extra-curricular activities. Some might thing those are luxuries for anyone unemployed, but when you have kids and they begin missing out on what their friends are doing all the time you start to see the impact on families especially.”
ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie takes up a spot beside our street sign, Raise the Rate Drive. She’s been talking to a few people writing Christmas cards to the Prime Minister and others appealing for income support not to be cut. As valuable and easy as digital actions can be, a handwritten message from a constituent, a human being telling their story and making their argument, is very powerful and true. She echoes Bev Carter’s point about the deeply felt alliance between ACOSS and Addi Road as the heart of why ACOSS wanted to culminate the day here in Marrickville. “You have been such a strong supporter of our campaign.”
“But it’s about much more than that for us. I knew in my mind you would provide us with a place that really was a community space, that was inclusive, and that was a safe environment too. The things people want to write on the Christmas cards, or even just the stories they want to tell us and the conversations, they are really hard for many people to express. I knew Addi Road was going to give us that safe, warm, welcome energy we needed to really engage with people and get to those we most need to hear from. And we’re across the road at a table from Addi Road Food Pantry. How much more down the earth and nearer basic need than people’s food supply can you get?”
“It’s been a long haul, this campaign. It’s going to stay that way. We’re thinking about a permanent presence here for ACOSS as Addi Road because of all the work that’s has been done already and how much a part of the community you are.”
TAKING ACTION NATIONALLY
If you weren’t able to come to Addi Road to write a Christmas card today, don’t worry … you can still use digital tools to have a physical card sent to key Government leaders with your personal messages: https://raisetherate.org.au/holiday-message-2020/
Alternatively, you can send your own card or print out the one on ACOSS website and post it to other members of the Government: https://raisetherate.org.au/send-a-holiday-card-to-our…/
NOTE: The card was designed by RTR grassroots campaigner Cassie Francisco!