By Win Childs
"Reworking Australia" is a new campaign focusing on the unemployment crisis with its threat of the disintegration of community cohesion and the poverty and despair of more than a million Australians and their families.
The organising group is made up of representatives from churches, trade unions, academics, business, welfare and women's and environmental movements. It is not aligned with any party.
The campaign aims to have a major impact in political debate during the run-up to the federal election. It seeks to raise community awareness of the seriousness of the crisis and of the dangers of so-called "economic rationalism".
Reworking Australia hopes to engender community debate on the need to change government policy to give top priority to re-industrialising Australia by intelligent and compassionate interventions to reskill the work force, revitalise the productive sector and restore community services and infrastructure.
After extensive consultation with activists, the organising group has written a public statement which outlines the nature of the crisis and analyses its major causes and the specific policies to be initiated. This will be published as an advertisement in a major newspaper when sufficient sponsors and funds have been collected.
The advertisement will invite readers to endorse the statement by signing it and posting it back to the organising group. Those who would like to be active in an ongoing way will be put in contact with autonomous local groups which are being activated in all federal electorates.
Actions that the local groups are likely to organise would include using the statement to lobby candidates on the employment issue; convening public meetings where all the candidates would be invited to debate the issue; organising press stories in local newspapers.
Briefing papers on the major policy points of the statement will be prepared by a team of social analysts. This would initiate a dialogue between politicians and the local community about the issue.
Initial sponsors of the statement are Faith Bandler, the Reverend
Dr John Brown, Win Childs, Eva Cox, Father Tony Doherty, Dr John Hirshman, Associate Professor Michael Horsburgh, Sister Helen Lombard, the Reverend Dr Dorothy McRae-McMahon, Bruce Petty, Angela Punch McGregor, Professor Michael Pusey, Peter Robson, Jane Singleton, Professor Frank Stilwell, the Reverend Sir Alan Walker, the Reverend Ann Wansbrough, Professor Ian Webster, Freda Whitlam, Graham Williams and Kay Williams.
To obtain a copy of the statement and a sponsorship form, or for further information, write c/- 264 Pitt St, Sydney 2000. Or ring Win Childs, (02) 552 3599 or Rev Ann Wansbrough (02) 2677399 (w), (02) 664 2019 (h).