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The importance of social inclusion

The importance of social inclusion

Social inclusion is about feeling accepted within your local community and being able to contribute your skills and perspectives to society in a meaningful way. In an inclusive world everyone benefits.

What is social inclusion – a definition

Social inclusion means everyone can participate fully in life and exercise their basic rights. This includes equal opportunities to:

  • Access education and training,
  • Have fair employment,
  • Have a safe, secure home,
  • Use healthcare, public transport and other services,
  • Connect with family, friends and the local community,
  • Deal with personal crises such as ill health, and
  • Be heard and influence decisions that affect them.

In an inclusive society everyone has a meaningful, valued place in society, regardless of their

  • Age,
  • Cultural background and ethnicity,
  • Sex, gender identity and sexual orientation,
  • Differing abilities,
  • Religious beliefs,
  • Education, and
  • Life experiences.

Sadly, Australia still has a long way to go to become a fully inclusive society: To date, more than 1.2 million people in Australia are experiencing profound social exclusion, and 25 percent of all Australians are subject to some degree of social exclusion.

Discrimination often leads to social exclusion

Did you know nearly one in four Australians experience ‘everyday’ forms of discrimination at least weekly and every fifth Australian reports having experienced a form of major discrimination?

In the last few decades, legislation has been introduced to address this - but there are still significant challenges:

First Nations peoples, the LGBTIQA+ community, religious minorities and people living with a disability are among the groups that continue to experience the most discrimination and are facing marginalisation and additional barriers to access services and participate in the community.

As a consequence, people experiencing discrimination are more likely to have poor health wellbeing outcomes and are at greater risk of homelessness.

Why is social inclusion important?

Social inclusion is important for a person’s dignity, security and opportunity to lead a better life.

It has been proven over and over again how important it is to support individuals to feel connected and valued within society and address any form of social exclusion people are experiencing every day.

Research shows participating in society and having people you can rely on are key determinants of health and wellbeing and one of the most powerful predictors of positive outcomes following exposure to trauma.

Social inclusion is also inextricably linked to economic participation. Without opportunities to work, study and access training, it leaves people facing entrenched poverty.

But social inclusion is not only vital for a person’s wellbeing; the wider community and our economy benefit too:

Social inclusion is good for our community – and the economy

Social exclusion affects millions of people in Australia. It forces marginalised communities to opt out of markets, services and spaces, with significant tolls to both individuals and the economy.

Researchers have calculated social exclusion costs the Australian economy $45 billion each year.

Experts estimate by making our society more inclusive, we could boost Australia’s productivity, improve employment outcomes and reduce costs for our public health and social system – which would lead to a GDP growth of $12.7 billion per year.

Social inclusion and homelessness

Social exclusion is one of the primary causes for homelessness. Without strong support networks, traumatic life events can leave people with nowhere to turn.

At the same time, homelessness can lead to increased and persistent social exclusion.

When people lose their homes, they often lose their social networks and support too. The feeling of not belonging in our society that many people experience can impact their sense of self-worth and self-confidence.

With no opportunities to connect with the community or contribute to society, it can be incredibly hard for them to break the cycle of homelessness.

How Sacred Heart Mission achieves social inclusion for people experiencing homelessness

Many people who access Sacred Heart Mission’s services have experienced persistent social exclusion and the majority have been exposed to multiple traumatic events in their lives.

Through our programs, such as our successful Journey to Social Inclusion program (J2SI), we support people to achieve a sense of social inclusion; because we know how vital it is for people in order to exit homelessness for good.

Our experienced staff works with people to identify goals that are meaningful to them and to achieve outcomes around housing, health and wellbeing, independence and social and economic participation.

Acknowledging that marginalisation comes from structural exclusion, we also continue to address the underlying causes of deep, persistent disadvantage and social exclusion in our society through our advocacy work in public and behind closed doors.

What is Social Inclusion Week?

Social Inclusion Week is held annually in November, and aims to help all Australians feel included and valued, giving everyone the opportunity to participate fully in society. It is designed to connect local communities, colleagues, family and friends, in order to build and strengthen relationships or networks and address isolation and exclusion of those who may be marginalised.

How you can help create an inclusive community

If you would like to get involved and help promote social inclusion in your network, here are a few ideas what you can do on a personal level to make our world more inclusive:

  • Accept everyone is different and be welcoming to people of all sorts of backgrounds and experiences.
  • Support organisations like Sacred Heart Mission that promote social inclusion. The first step to getting involved with our community is to sign up for our monthly newsletter:

  • Add your voice to advocacy campaigns that promote equality or tackle racism and other forms of discrimination.
  • Talk to your local MP about the benefits of social inclusion and ways to enhance inclusion in your community.
  • Keep an eye out for and spread the word about national awareness days, such as Pride Month in May, Homelessness Week in August, Anti-Poverty Week in October-Poverty Week in October and Social Inclusion Week every November.

Do you have more ideas how we all can help create a more inclusive society? Then message us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook or complete our contact form. We can’t wait to hear from you.

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0136,596Meals served through our meals program over the last year
069,269Hours contributed by our volunteers over the last year
05,740Responses at our Women’s House over the last year
Sacred Heart Mission acknowledges the traditional Aboriginal owners of country throughout Victoria and pays respects to them, their culture and their elders past, present and emerging.

 

Sacred Heart Mission believes that the diversity of abilities, genders, sexualities, relationship identities, bodies and cultures in our community enriches us all and should be celebrated. Everyone is welcome at our table.