News

Framed Journalists Released in Myanmar - JustAct

In February we requested that you write letters seeking the release from prison of two Reuters journalists in Myanmar who had been sentenced to seven years in prison for reporting on a massacre of the Rohingya ethnic group.

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NAIDOC Week 2019 (July 7-14) - JustAct

NAIDOC (The National Aborigines and Islander Day Observance Committee’) Week is a time for celebration. It’s a time where across Australia, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians celebrate the history, culture and achievements of First Peoples. The theme for the 2019 NAIDOC Week is “Voice. Treaty. Truth. Let’s work together.”

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Post 2019 Federal Election: What Will a Re-Elected Morrison Government Mean for Social Justice? - JustAct

A re-elected Morrison Government will be a disappointment for further action on many of the social justice issues of greatest concern to Uniting Church members. However, there is some good social justice news as well.

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2019 Refugee Week

When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:33-34)

From its beginnings the Hebrew story was the story of a people in exile, of aliens resident in foreign lands suffering oppression and persecution.  This history of exile and exodus, particularly the escape from slavery in Egypt, revealed to the Israelites the nature of their God and defined their relationship with God and other people. Throughout the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), God is identified as the God who cares for the exiled and the persecuted refugee. Hospitality to the stranger became one of the strongest moral forces in ancient Israel.

The Christian story continued to uphold God's call to solidarity with the homeless. Mary and Joseph were forced to take Jesus and hide in Egypt as Herod sought to kill the baby Jesus. Jesus travelled through strange lands, choosing to spend time and share meals with the most marginalised and oppressed people of his society. He called on people to love their enemies, give all they had to the poor, and offer hospitality to strangers. He taught that faithful obedience to God was marked by such deeds. In fact, it would be the way people responded to strangers and to the poor that would identify them as people of faith.

There is no question about the Christian response to asylum seekers and refugees. The Church is called to be a place of welcome. As faithful disciples we are to provide care and comfort to those who come to this land as strangers, seeking safety.

The Uniting Church advocates for a just response to the needs of refugees that recognises Australia's responsibilities as a wealthy global citizen, upholds the human rights and safety of all people, and is based on just and humane treatment, including non-discriminatory practices and accountable transparent processes.

For more worship resources produced by the Uniting Church, check out this website: https://www.unitingjustice.org.au/refugees-and-asylum-seekers/about 

Resources for Refugee Week, June 16th - June 22nd 2019

Across Australia people are sharing meals in honour of Refugee Week. Conversations over food are a great way to engage in the issue and talk about values surrounding the issues that many refugees and people seeking asylum face today.  If you and your church would like to participate, head to this website where you can learn how to run your own event and register it on the Refugee Week website. Thanks to the Refugee Council of Australia for organising this project. 

 

You could also choose to help out people seeking asylum during Refugee Week. How about making a donation to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre's Winter Appeal? Check out all their great work at this site: https://www.asrc.org.au/bethedifference/ 

 

Another idea for Refugee week is advocacy. You could:

- hold a letter writing party and get your friends and family to write to your local senator or MP on the plight of people seeking asylum 

- set up a meeting with your local MP or Senator to discuss the issue 

- Sign the SRSS petition to help asylum seekers make ends meet:  http://backyourneighbour.com.au/petition/

- Sign and share on social media,  the I CHOOSE HUMANE Pledge https://www.choosehumane.org.au/

- send a postcard to the Victoria State government asking for concessions for water and energy bills by emailing us at jim@victas.uca.org.au

  

National Reconciliation Week

May 27th - June 3rd

& May 26th :  SORRY DAY

Ngulu Festival
Honouring Sorry Day & The Indigenous Community

Sunday May 26th 1-5pm. 

Ngulu Festival presented by Yarra Valley ECOSS & Sponsored by The Australian Government Indigenous Languages and Arts Program. Is the Official Opening for the ‘Woiwurrung Translations signage’ displayed around ECOSS to help preserve the critically endangered Woiwurrung language of the local Wurundjeri people.

The day will comprise of Indigenous performers such as Kutcha Edwards & Amos Roach.

Welcome to Country with Aunty Kim Wandin

Wayapa Wuurrk & Didgeridoo workshop and more....
Get Tickets at this link:
https://events.humanitix.com.au/ngulu-festival

May 27th - June 3rd : Reconciliation Week


Click here for further resources:
https://www.reconciliation.org.au/national-reconciliation-week/

https://www.tear.org.au/resources/tear-reconciliation-resources

A National Reconciliation Week guide for places of worship:
https://www.reconciliation.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Guide-for-Places-of-Worship.pdf

2019 Election Resource

The 2019 Federal Election is coming up this May 18th.

Have you considered hosting a candidates forum?
Election forums are a great way to engage with the local community and express your values as a congregation.

If you would like to organise a candidates forum, we have resources to assist you in that.

Click here to download the resource.

Interview With a Refugee - JustAct

Mark Zirnsak, who also attended the conference, interviewed Pacifique about the conference...

Can you tell our readers something about how you ended up in Australia?

I was studying law at a university in Burundi and in 2010 I became involved in leading a student organisation of 10,000 members. It was a time when the government was killing students because they were demanding civil rights and an end to the killings of other people asking for change. I was speaking publicly and to the media. I was imprisoned a number of times. In 2011 I was abducted by Burundi security forces, imprisoned and tortured. After I was released I went into exile in Uganda for seven years. Life in Uganda was hard. Uganda was hosting almost one million refugees. I was Frenchspeaking and English is the language used in Uganda, so the language barrier made it hard. It was very hard to access school due to the language barrier. It was a hard time for refugees, with their children not at school due to the excessive fees, lack of food, lack of school supplies and the language barrier. It was a miracle that I ended up in Australia. As a refugee you do not know when you might be called on and offered a refugee place in another country. It can happen at any time. It is then a lengthy process that can take two to three years. You need to go through a medical check-up. I was sad to leave behind members of my family, but glad to go to Australia. After seven years in exile in Uganda I came to Mildura on 11 April 2018.

What were the highlights of the Refugee Alternative Conference for you?

The best thing was the commitment of the Refugee Council of Australia to give a platform for change to Australian refugee policy. It is better where refugees are not seen as simply a source of information, but rather as a partner for the change. Refugees know what they need. As Ghandi said: “Whatever you do for me but without me, you do against me.” People now have the consciousness to allow refugees to be partners in leading the movement for change.

What do you plan to do as a result of being at the conference?

I will use the ideas from the conference to continue advocacy around education and human rights impacting refugees. I will work with media and other partners so people know of the needs of refugees. I will continue to work for my community and other refugees.

Is there anything you would like to add?

I would like to say thanks to the Uniting Church, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania. Without their support I would not have been able to attend the conference. I hope to continue the partnership to bring about change in Australia and in Africa where I have family and there are other refugees.

Increased Funding for Addressing Family Violence

In good news, on 11 February 2019 the Prime Minister announced an additional $78 million to assist people affected by family violence. Of the funding, $60 million will be available as grants to organisations that provide emergency accommodation for people escaping family violence. It is estimated the funding will help about 6,500 people a year.

The other $18 million will be used to provide security upgrades to help survivors of family violence stay in their own homes, when it is safe to do so. The Prime Minister said in announcing the funding: “We can’t ask women and children to leave dangerous homes if they have no place to go. And where it is safe, women and children survivors should be helped to remain in their homes and communities.”

On 5 March 2019 this was followed by the Prime Minister announcing $250 million over the next four years to fund additional initiatives. The funding includes $68 million for prevention strategies and $35 million in support and prevention measures for First Peoples communities. A Prevention Hub will be established to support mothers groups, sporting clubs and churches to help people better recognise signs of family violence, while teachers and coaches will be encouraged to act on comments from children and be equipped on what steps to take to intervene.

Thank you to everyone who wrote letters or sent postcards to the Federal Government on providing increased funding to address family violence.

Our Vision for a Just Australia

The Uniting Church in Australia has articulated its vision for a just, compassionate and inclusive nation in a new statement and resource.

In launching the statement, UCA President Dr Deidre Palmer said the Uniting Church’s vision for Australia was a nation where all people and all creation could flourish.

“We believe that our participation in God’s mission calls us toward the transformation that God desires for us all, marked by reconciliation, love, justice, peace, abundance and flourishing for all people and the whole earth,” said Dr Palmer.

The Uniting Church Vision Statement for a Just Australia is a collaboration of those working in justice across the church, including in Synods, Agencies and the Assembly.

The statement’s release has been timed with the lead up to the Federal election.

“Articulating our vision for Australia at this time is critical,” said Dr Palmer.

“Many of the issues identified in this document will be prominent in public debate as Australians consider the leadership they want for our country.”

She urged people to think deeply and engage in conversations about the kind of nation we want to be and to reflect on where our faith in Jesus is calling us to seek out justice for all.

The Vision Statement is expressed in seven foundational areas. It includes witness from the Bible and statements made by the Uniting Church.

There is a snapshot of the current situation in Australia across the seven foundations and key actions that are needed to move us toward the vision.

The resource is intended to assist people who want to think about the issues in small groups or host public forums with local candidates ahead of the Federal election.

Each section of the Statement includes key questions for reflection or to engage with political candidates.

“I commend this resource to congregations and Uniting Church members, as we seek to live out our Christian discipleship in every aspect of our lives,” said Dr Palmer.

“As followers of Christ, each one of us is called to be a voice for justice and hope in our communities, in Australia and in the world.”

Read more about the statement here: Assembly's website

Click here to download the entire vision statement.

 

2019 Social Justice Dates

Happy New Year!

Get into 2019 with all the dates for social justice and human rights.

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Click here for the downloadable 2019 Social Justice Dates.