Emergency Relief (ER) is the name given to the Federal Government's financial assistance program for people in financial crisis. ER is primarily distributed in the form of food vouchers through agencies like our Community Support Services. This support system is a vital part of our response to people in need. Though it can be seen sometimes as a 'band-aid' measure, it is my belief that when people are bleeding, a band-aid can be just what's needed.
Unfortunately because these types of responses are rather unfashionable, ER services are chronically underfunded, which in turn tends to result in disappointing levels of service delivery. The ideal solution would be to address the income support issues that leave most people who rely on Centrelink benefits living below the poverty line. Until that occurs, it will be left to The Salvation Army and others to continue struggling to address overwhelming community needs with insufficient resources.
Where is God in this situation? I have no doubt that God is with the person in crisis, sharing their suffering. I believe that God is also with those who are trying to assist; those whose creativity in being able to multiply loaves and fishes is continually being stretched to its limits. I also believe that God is calling us to be a prophetic voice to our country, to let those in power understand the plight of those who are going through difficult times and to advocate for a way forward.