By Joe Montero
It’s taken a little time to digest the outcome of the fair Go For Pensioners (Victoria) 10 June conference that took place in Coburg (Melbourne).
A lot of discussion took place, and that produced some clear signs of a way forward.The conference was organised, not to just discuss what is wrong, but to help find answers to problems and start chartering a way to find positive answers work towards building the future. To help this along, the other purpose was to strengthen links between organisations and individuals active in making a difference in our communities.
Emphasis was put on moving past talking and developing strategies for action.
A brief summary of the conference is given below.
The tone was kicked off early in the with the keynote presentation by well known Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University academic Professor Rob Watts. He focused on the impact of neoliberalism on society and put forward the need for a new type of economy to meet the challenges of social, economic and environmental crisis.
He refereed to the concept of a Green New Deal, but emphasised, that in the Australian context, we should be talking about a Green Fair Go. The punchline was that this can only be brought about by building people power.
A range of panelists representing a range of community organisations, talked about the crisis in aged care, the lack of adequate public housing in conditions of a serious lack of affordable housing, the worsening situation of the unemployed, what single parents are facing, the challenges faced by migrant workers and refugees, as well as the diverging of money from people’s needs to spending on military build-up.
Carina Garland, the Assistant Secretary of the Victorian Trades Hall Council, spoke about the challenges faced by unions in today’s economic and political climate.
Despite the challenges, the response was positive. Comment after comment gave a clear picture of little faith in politicians as a vehicle for positive change. Participants talked about building cross-sectional unity and bringing together younger and older citizens.
A declaration to support Australia’s First Nations and the Uluru Statement was supported and adopted.
While there was a consensus on the need to continue to battle to overcome obstacles, there was also agreement on the need to come up with positive solutions. Efforts must be made to find new ways to bring together people to make them come about.
Many participated from the floor.
The next step is to consolidate the outcome and continue the discussion on the text part of the journey.