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  • Peter Francis Fenwick


We shall not be free if we are not compassionate. We should always be ready to assist those experiencing hardships, particularly unanticipated ones such as the loss of a job or a death in the family. We should want to provide ways to help those suffering from trauma or mental or chronic health problems.

Our current welfare systems do not work well. The following article from an Australian Community Health brochure describes the practical difficulties:

We have a problem in the way we have established public services such as housing, hospital, Centrelink, and immigration. Services are really hard to navigate and can be very complex due to various eligibility criteria based on age, gender, location, parenting status, health status and identified issues. For refugees or asylum seekers this difficulty is compounded by them having no experience in their own country of such services. Language and cultural barriers make things even worse. This is further complicated with displacement, grief, loss and trauma.

A young Afghani man arrived in Australia as a refugee … When he presented to the counsellor he was disoriented, confused and unsure why he was referred to so many workers and services. He showed the counsellor16 business cards that he had been given in just 3 weeks. He told the counsellor that all he wanted was somewhere to live and somewhere to study English.[1]

The state is not the appropriate institution for delivering compassion. It provides inefficient, untargeted and impersonal delivery of services. It diminishes virtuous behaviour. Gratitude is replaced by a sense of entitlement and mutual respect vanishes. Charity is better delivered by small, local, caring, voluntary organisations than by large, remote, condescending, bureaucratic, government agencies.


[1] North Yarra Community Health, The NYCH Story

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