The Language of the Unheard

The Language of the Unheard

John Falzon, Garratt Publishing

In a recent article advocating an increase in the dole, St Vincent de Paul’s Dr John Falzon was quoted as saying it’s a matter of deep shame that unemployment benefits are kept low deliberately “as a means of humiliating the very people they were originally designed to assist” (see

In his latest book Falzon says the same happens to other marginalised groups — Aboriginals, asylum seekers, those with disabilities, the homeless, people with mental health issues, sole parents and so on. The problem he addresses here is mainly the Australian government’s paternalistic and punitive social policy towards people doing it tough.

John Falzon trained in sociology and poetics (a neat combination, in my view). He runs a large charity but agrees with Martin Luther King that important social change will not come from above.

He reminds us that “charity” can be a mechanism simply to distinguish between the deserving and the undeserving poor. But it can also be the Good Samaritan’s “charity”, which makes no such distinctions — where we suffer together in solidarity with one another, responding to need not ethnicity or cause.

Justice goes even further, and listens to the poor, empowering them to own any program of change which directly affects them.

These stories/vignettes/poems are offered, says John Falzon, to help you sleep; or better, keep you awake!

Rowland Croucher


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