National Update November 2013

Welcome to the November edition of National Update with latest news from the Assembly.

Just a Thought

Rev. Terence Corkin, General Secretary

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Who says so!” “Who gets to decide?” “Whose voice do we privilege when we are trying to work out what something means?”

Have you ever been in a discussion where people are trying to settle on a definition of something – “This is a beautiful piece of music” “That is an important idea”?

Recently I attended the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Busan, South Korea which ran from October 30th to November 9th. If you are someone who thinks that there is a lot of variety in the thinking, emphases, goals and ways of understanding faithfulness in your local congregation then you should get to an event like the WCC Assembly. It is mind boggling the amount of variety there is on these subjects! Read more

One of the documents under consideration is the convergence document The Church: Towards a Common Vision. This document is the fruit of years of work thinking about what it means to be the church. The Uniting Church will be considering its response to this document during the course of next year in anticipation of a response being offered in 2015.

Naturally the starting position of the document is the famous ecumenical text in John 17: 20, 21.

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

But who gets to say what unity is? Who will decide the markers of unity and therefore when it is present and absent? For people who are keen on Christian unity/ecumenism we need to think about who we privilege among the church communities on these matters. At this meeting I have heard it said that unity requires that a Church have Bishops, in some cases going back to the Apostles; others say it is having the same theology; others stridently that it is only possible if everyone agrees on a common view in relation to certain social issues. Sadly there are plenty of Christians and others who look at the church and see disunity based on our differences in theology, ordination and church order, attitudes to women in leadership, moral issues, etc. These are the dominant voices. We listen to them.

When these voices speak they seek to define unity by looking at people. However in the prayer recorded in John 17 unity is not defined by reference to people but by reference to the relationship between Jesus and God: “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. “ Jesus desires that his followers’ community is modelled on the “oneness” between himself and the Father. What might this oneness include? Unity of purpose, will, allegiance or mission?

Contemporary church life finds many examples of people working together across denominational boundaries on common projects of care, advocacy and social action; shared evangelistic efforts and witnessing, shared prayer and expressions of commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord without reference to their other theological differences.

Over the last 20 years or so Christian unity has found expression and forward movement through millions of people of faith being in unity in the way that Jesus and “the Father” are in unity. Perhaps it is time to listen to what God is seeking to say about Christian unity from the margins and not from the centre of the Church’s life. 

 

From the President

Rev. Professor Andrew Dutney, President, Assembly

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The 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches, held in Busan, Korea, has been described as one of the most diverse gatherings of Christians in history. I can believe it too. The 4000 or so participants came from every part of the world, speaking hundreds of languages, assuming many different cultural systems, and representing every form of Christian practice. The diversity of the Christian church is simply astonishing – and it was manifested at Busan.

But for all our diversity we gathered in the name of one Lord, children of the one God, sharing in one Spirit, praying together, “God of life, lead us to justice and peace”.

I am still processing the experience, but let me offer just a couple of initial impressions. Read more

First, I was encouraged to see how well the UCA measures up ecumenically. Most of the key statements from the Assembly – e.g. the statements on unity, mission and evangelism, economics, and peace – echoed core themes of our Basis of Union and our own Assembly, and affirmed essential aspects of the UCA’s ethos, values and practices. It was also interesting to see the WCC Assembly using a very familiar version of consensus decision-making in its business sessions (explained by our own Gregor Henderson). It was clear to me that, from the perspective of the world church, the UCA already has the scaffolding to be a healthy, fully-engaged, missional fellowship. Our forebears have provided us with a remarkable heritage, equipping us for the 21st century. Let’s use it well.

Second, in this gathering of the global church it was also clear that the Australian Christian experience is a rare one. In speeches, workshops and casual conversations I heard many, many stories of the suffering of the church – buildings confiscated or destroyed, Christians discriminated against, intimidated and subject to violence and murder. The stories came from Africa, Asia, South America and the Middle East – the “global South”, where about two thirds of the world’s Christians live. But from the same people I heard stories of the vitality, faith and joy of their communities. By the grace of God, and through the work of the Holy Spirit, the suffering church is thriving.
And I was genuinely surprised to realise how many of the leaders of these churches I knew, having met them in my role as UCA President. Through our international partnerships and ecumenical associations the UCA is deeply connected to the suffering, thriving church of the South. I came away from Busan wondering how we could make more of that in the local life of the UCA.

UnitingWorld offers several ways for UCA members and congregations to engage directly with these majority-world Christians, e.g. the “InSolidarity” program. The Christian Unity Working Group and local ecumenical organizations provide opportunities to deepen your understanding of the experiences of our fellow Christians as well – including diaspora Christian communities from the global South now established and growing in Australia.

As ever our young UCA leaders are stepping up. Our youth delegate, Emily Evans, has been elected to the WCC Central Committee. Congratulations to Emily on taking up this important responsibility and for embodying the UCA’s commitment to express the church’s unity in faith and mission through participation in ecumenical councils, to learn from their witness and to be strengthened by their fellowship (Basis of Union, paragraph 2).

A Letter to the UCCP

I have written to the General Secretary of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, Bishop Revel Norman Marigza to give my prayers to the victims and survivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan:

Dear Bishop Marigza,

We have heard from your Church about the terrible situation in the Philippines and I have seen and read the graphic media reports. Read more

At this time, I want to assure you on behalf of the Uniting Church in Australia, that we stand in solidarity with you and we join our prayers with yours for your Church and the people of your nation.

Our international agency, UnitingWorld, is in communication with your Community Ministries Program Coordinator and the ACT Alliance, of which we are members, in order that Uniting Church people can offer practical support.

We are also offering support to those in the Uniting Church whose families have been affected.
As you and others seek to offer leadership through this terribly tough time, please know that we in Australia are praying with and for you and for your people.

In Christ,
Rev Prof Andrew Dutney
President

National Ministers’ Conferences

These conferences are now open for registration and I am happy to announce that places are filling up quickly for our three conferences in Western Sydney, Jerusalem and Charleville. These conferences are open to Ministers of the Word, Deacons, those serving in specific ministries such as Pastor or Youth Worker and lay people serving in Presbytery, Synod or Assembly positions.

Information about the conferences can be found here: http://assembly.uca.org.au/news/item/1418-fresh-words-and-deeds

If you plan to attend one of the conferences it is now time to register your intention to assist us in determining exact costs. You will find registration details information here: http://assembly.uca.org.au/news/events. When registrations have closed, participants will be emailed with further details, including information about conference payment.

Register today to ensure you don’t miss out on this excellent opportunity.

 

Outback care and community services

Rev Alan White, Interim National Director, Frontier Services

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Melbourne Supporters Luncheon

Patrol Minister from Snowy River Patrol Rev Rowena Harris joined Interim National Director Rev Alan White, Major Gifts Officer Dan McAloon, and National Development Manager Grahame Ryan at a Frontier Services Luncheon for Melbourne Supporters. Read more

101 Years on: Flynn’s ‘Mantle of Safety’ Today and Tomorrow was the theme of the annual Victorian Supporters’ luncheon held in Melbourne on Friday 25 October. The event was well attended, with many of the 90 guests travelling from metropolitan and regional areas to meet in the ground floor rooms in the Uniting Church Vic/Tas Synod in Little Collins Street. Frontier Services National Director, Rev Alan White took the opportunity to make everyone welcome and update our guests on changes that have occurred at Frontier Services in the last year. Rev White told guests that the National Assembly had renewed its commitment that Frontier Services’ services continues to provide pastoral, medical and family support to the people of remote and isolated Australia.

He encouraged our Victorian supporters to organise themselves into a group with an executive able to coordinate activities and pool resources and ideas for fundraising.
After lunch, National Development Manager, Mr Grahame Ryan gave an address titled “Flynn was right to go the distance” in which he placed the beginnings of Frontier Services with the patrol padres and nurses of the Australian Inland Mission and the Federal Methodist Mission into the context of contemporary rural communities where services, employment and populations are shrinking and where Frontier Services is extending itself to give back to people who are isolated and in need.

Major Gifts Officer, Dan McAloon, also spoke about the work of the 22 patrol ministers. Dan shared some of the stories how the ministers are helping outback communities that are distressed by drought and financial hardship, including the ramifications of the ban on live cattle exports that has effected primary producers in Northern Australia for almost three years. Dan introduced Rev Rowena Harris who enlivened the occasion with her own personal experiences of building relationships with people on her Snowy River Patrol in the Snowy River region bordering Victoria and NSW.

New Associate Director Rev Colin Batt visits WA and SA synod

Our new Associate Director Rev Colin Batt who has recently moved down from the Gold Coast for his new position has been out and about since starting in September. Over that time he has been to all states except Victoria. He plans to get there shortly.
As he travels he has attended several Synods, had many meetings, talked with potential Patrol Ministers and one thing that he has reflected on is how diverse our Uniting church is. Ministry across Australia is diverse and from the remote to the crowded parts of Australia, the church is working on mission and ministry with great vigour and enthusiasm. The challenge is to continue in this mission in a way that effectively matches the evolving needs of remote Australia.

Are you called to the Patrol?

Frontier Services has some vacancies for Patrol Ministers around Australia. The Frontier Services Board has approved the following positions of Patrol Ministers for Frontier Services:

  • Broken Hill Patrol NSW
  • Cobar/Nyngan Patrol NSW
  • Cunnamulla Patrol SA
  • Parkin Patrol SA

We are also working with the UAICC to fill the position of Mobile Aboriginal Patrol. Please contact Rev Colin Batt on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Relations with Other Faiths

Rev. Glenda Blakefield, Associate General Secretary, Assembly

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Uniting Church Condemns Attack on Jewish family in Sydney

The Acting General Secretary of the Uniting Church in Australia Rev. Glenda Blakefield has joined other religious leaders in condemning last week’s attack on a Jewish family in the Sydney suburb of Bondi.

“The images of Jewish family members battered and bleeding after being attacked on the way home from a religious observance are deeply disturbing," said Rev. Blakefield who is responsible for the Uniting Church’s relations with other faiths. Read more

“I’m sure that all members of the Uniting Church will join with me in wishing the family involved a speedy recovery, both physical and emotional, from this traumatic experience.”

“They and the Jewish community can be reassured that we stand shoulder to shoulder with them and condemn absolutely this kind of appalling behaviour.”

“Anti-Semitism has no place in Australian society. If anything this incident highlights the efforts that still need to go into building a culture of respect for difference in our multi-faith, multicultural society.”

This week representatives of the Uniting Church were able to share prayers and sympathies over the attack directly with Jewish community counterparts at an interfaith dialogue in Melbourne.

“The freedom to follow our respective religious practices is one we celebrate together as part of these regular meetings,” said Dialogue co-convenor Rev. Dr Matthew Wilson.

“All members of our Dialogue were shocked and saddened at this incident. It was a sombre reminder that mutual understanding between faith communities is something that needs continued and more widespread promotion.”

“We committed ourselves anew to continue to develop respectful and constructive relationships as people of diverse faith,” said Rev. Wilson.

The national Uniting Church-Jewish community dialogue is now in its 23rd year.

 

Worship, theology and discipleship

Rev. Dr Chris Walker, National Consultant, Theology & Discipleship, Assembly

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A list of Resources for A Season of Teaching and Learning is now on the Assembly website home page. It includes not only studies but also a list of conferences for 2014. There are many options for people and congregations to choose from.

I have just returned from the WCC’s 10th Assembly in Busan, South Korea which went from 30 October – 8 November. It was a stimulating experience. As part of the conference a large group of us on the weekend went to the DMZ that separates north and South Korea and visited two large churches in Seoul. My thoughts on the conference will be posted on my blog shortly, a link to which will be posted on the Assembly Facebook page. Read more

The Worship working group met on 14-15 October. Among the matters considered was ensuring the Worship section of the website is up to date as there are some recent additions to some of the services. The Calendar of Commemorations is being added to as people send in brief biographies. These are useful for personal devotions, sermon illustrations and other uses. They are progressively being put on the website.

The National Mission and Evangelism network met in Canberra on 16-18 October. As well as discussing matters together, we spent time on site visits to Kippax Uniting, Canberra City Uniting and Queanbeyan Uniting Churches. The theme of this gathering was ‘community connections,’ so it was helpful to see where this was being done well.

A conference on Mission and Evangelism - “A Clear Call,” will be held in Adelaide on 28-30 March, 2014. Key speakers will be John and Olive Drane from Scotland. In the week following there will be an intensive led by the Dranes at Uniting College. Click here  to find out more.

A national lay preachers’ conference will be held in WA on 5-7 April. The presenters will be Nancy Ault, Bill Loader, Geoff Lilburne and Ian Tozer. It will be a weekend of music, prayer and ideas to support worship leaders and lay preachers in congregations and faith communities. For more information see www.unitingchurchwa.org.au/mandjar-2014.

The Doctrine working group met on 22-23 October. In particular we considered the Marriage issue drawing on a report from Rob Bos of a number of consultations that have been held. A discussion paper will now be written. We also looked at the draft studies that members of the Doctrine working group have written for the Season of Teaching and Learning. These will now be finalised and then published by MediaCom.

‘Back to back’ conferences on the Basis of Union and “Preaching for Transformation” will be held on 22 - 24 August and 25 – 28 August, 2014 at the Centre for Ministry in Sydney. The main speaker for the Preaching Conference will be Clay Schmit from the Brehm Centre for Worship, Theology and the Arts at Fuller Seminary.

The Christian Unity National Conference was held in Melbourne on 25-26 October. As well as hearing what was happening around the synods we also heard some international reports such as from the recent World Methodist Council meeting in London. A major influence on the national conference was the new convergence document from the WCC entitled “The Church: Towards a Common Vision” which is a very significant statement. People and churches around the world will be looking at it carefully and providing responses to it.

Advent – Christmas 2013 resources

MediaCom has released its annual Advent and Christmas calendar with books, resources and media for the 2013 Christmas period. Be sure to plan and order early to be ready for Advent on December 1. You can view their catalogue online atwww.mediacom.org.au or order by calling 1800 811 311.

Cross cultural and international ministry, relief and development

Rev. Dr Kerry Enright, National Director, UnitingWorld

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Philippines Typhoon Emergency Relief

Our prayers are with our partners and the people of the Philippines after Super Typhoon Haiyan struck last Friday, killing, injuring and displacing thousands of people and destroying whole communities.

UnitingWorld has sent a message of support to the General Secretary of the Uniting Church’s partner, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), as the Church coordinates its emergency relief efforts and responds to critical needs. Read more

It has been estimated 4.5 million people have been significantly impacted by the typhoon in 36 provinces. There are currently more than 400,000 people staying in evacuation centres, many with no homes to return to.

Initial estimates suggest around 10,000 fatalities in the Islands of Leyte and Samar alone.

“People in the Philippines are familiar with natural disasters but this is on an unprecedented scale”, says UnitingWorld National Director Kerry Enright.

“We are shocked by the extent of the damage and the impact on people and their communities. We need to stand with our partner and the people of the Philippines with prayer and practical support at this time.”

UnitingWorld is urgently seeking to raise support for our partner in the Philippines as it responds to critical needs. We are also working through the ACT Alliance network, of which we are a member, to co-ordinate effort.

Please click here to make an online tax deductible donation today. Alternatively, call us on 1800 998 122.

Materials are available for this Sunday's worship should congregations wish to support the victims and survivors of the typhoon: http://www.unitingworld.org.au/worship-resource-for-philippines-emergency-relief/

Climate Change and Tuvalu

When considering the impact of Climate Change on the Pacific nation of Tuvalu the Uniting Church in Australia’s 10th Assembly 2003 resolved “to express our solidarity with the Christian Church of Tuvalu in this predicament and to call on our people to remember the people and church of Tuvalu in their prayers.” Read more

Our partner church the Ekalesia Kelisiano Tuvalu (EKT –the Congregational Christian Church of Tuvalu) represents 92% of the total population of around 10,000 people and is watching the climate changes carefully and actively educating its congregation members about the impact of Climate Change.

Please encourage your congregation to pray for the people of Tuvalu and the EKT. If you would like further information please view the World Council of Churches short video on climate change, faith and hope in Tuvalu "Have you seen the rainbow?" This video features EKT General Secretary Rev Tafue Lusama, Rev Tofiga Faiani and other EKT members sharing their hopes and fears: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXxX6FeBh2c.

 

Multicultural and Cross-Cultural Ministry

Rev. Dr Tony Floyd, National Director of Multicultural and Cross-Cultural Ministry

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WA Synod visit for MCCM

Last month I visited Western Australia, strengthening the collegial and cooperative relationship between the National Assembly and the Synod of WA. This has become an annual event and involves sharing insights and happenings from the national church, along with supporting, encouraging, and participating as requested in the work of cross-cultural ministry within the Synod/Presbytery of WA. Read more

The visit took place from the 16th to the 22nd of October where I participated in a number of events including the Uniting Church Adult Fellowship (UCAF) National Gathering and the English as a Second Language Bible study program at Nedlands UCA.
I also was fortunate to meet with various Synod and Uniting Church representatives to discuss issues such as CALD candidates and our support of such candidates, the National Lay Preachers’ Conference (to be held in 2014) and a wonderful catch up with the Cross-Cultural Ministry Network and relevant synod officers in WA.

In addition, it was great, as always, to join in with the Marhaba Community for their picnic and I also had the opportunity to share in worship with the GKI Indonesian UCA Congregation.

I am greatly encouraged each time I visit the synod/presbytery of WA at the new things God is doing, the increasing number of questions and matters people want to explore and stories they have to share, and how cross-cultural faith and life are moving into the planning/dreaming stages of program development rather than as added on appendices or after thoughts.

Thanks again – and may God continue to bless, keep and encourage you in all things.

 

Relief and Disaster Recovery

stephenrobinson2smallRev. Dr Stephen Robinson

The recent bushfire emergency in NSW has caused a great deal of grief and fear in a number of communities with 200 homes destroyed and many lives changed forever. I recognise the extraordinary effort of the Rural Fire Service in preventing further destruction and loss of life.

Many agencies played an important part in the welfare of people during this time: The NSW Disaster Welfare Services Unit, the Adventist Development Relief Agency, Anglicare, the Salvation Army and others. Many people don’t realise that the Uniting Church plays a key role in coordinating chaplaincy response to evacuation and recovery centres in NSW. Read more

Over the emergency we managed 34 volunteer ministry agents from a number of denominations, in 9 evacuation centres including Raymond Terrace, Springwood and North Richmond. These were active over a 10 day period and did a superb job supporting evacuees and members of other welfare agencies.

Other support was offered through the Synod and Presbytery to ministers and churches involved in affected communities, and grants have been released for care of people through the distribution of food and other goods.

Donations for the ongoing support of these communities may be made through the Assembly via the webpage at assembly.uca.org.au/bushfires. Donations of $2 or more are tax deductible.

National Bushfire Appeal Launched

The President of the Uniting Church in Australia Rev. Professor Andrew Dutney has launched a national appeal to support those facing loss and hardship from the bushfires in New South Wales.

“The fires have destroyed and damaged hundreds of homes in the Blue Mountains and nearby areas," said Assembly President Rev. Prof Andrew Dutney. Read more

"At this time we ask Uniting Church members across the country to pray together and offer their support for all the people affected.”

"Many families have lost their homes and these communities face a long and painful process of rebuilding. I know that many members of our Church would want to be supportive at this difficult time."

There are ten Uniting Church congregations and faith communities in the Blue Mountains area, and several congregation members have lost homes.

The fires were the worst NSW has experienced for at least 45 years and a state of emergency was declared across the state.

"I encourage those thinking about how to help to make a donation through the National Disaster Relief Fund," said Rev. Prof. Dutney.

The Assembly’s National Disaster Recovery Officer Rev. Dr Stephen Robinson has co-ordinated the NSW Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy Network (DRCN) since its formation in 2009. The DRCN is trained, resourced and coordinated by the Uniting Church. Its chaplaincy teams were working in all the major evacuation centres throughout the bushfires.

While the fires broke out Rev. Robinson was working around the clock to ensure chaplains from a variety of denominations and faiths were available at evacuation and recovery centres.

“The current bushfire emergency is the most serious I’ve experienced in 17 years of involvement in bushfire response,” said Rev. Dr Robinson.

"I’m sure you will all be joining me in praying for the safety of people and homes and for all who are serving to protect life and care for so many this bushfire season.”

“Teams of chaplains from a wide range of denominations were active in five communities, some on a 24 hour basis."

Synod peer supporters have also been working to provide pastoral care, support, resources and knowledge of disaster recovery. They support the work of local churches in affected communities, working in conjunction with the NSW/ACT Synod and affected presbyteries to ensure that the Uniting Church gives due duty of care to those affected during, and after, the bushfires.

“At the moment cash donations are the most beneficial,” said Rev. Robinson. “Donating money is much better rather than donating goods. It makes it easier for workers to meet needs on the ground quickly and efficiently.”

 

Justice and advocacy

Rev Elenie Poulos, National Director, UnitingJustice

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It has been a busy few months for UnitingJustice as we have engaged with our new Government and Opposition and continued our advocacy across the areas of social justice policy that impact so many Australians.

Remember, as always, that you can stay in touch with us via Twitter or drop us a line via email - we always love to hear from you!

If you’d like to hear more from us, you can also sign up to our newsletter here: http://www.unitingjustice.org.au/subscribe-to-justice-newsRead more

A Week of Prayer and Fasting: 17-23 March 2014 In July 2012 in Adelaide, the members of the 13th Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia listened to members of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress tell stories about the effects of the Federal Government’s ‘Stronger Futures’ legislation (and the ‘Intervention’ before that) on their lives and the lives of their communities.

The Assembly members were very moved by the stories of harm and exclusion. They responded in two ways. The first was to ‘down tools’ and make a silent procession through the streets to South Australia’s Parliament House to pray and sing in a public vigil of lament. The second was to adopt a resolution calling on the Church to engage in a week of prayer and fasting for justice for the First Peoples, including a public prayer vigil outside Parliament House in Canberra to be led by the UAICC Chairperson and the President, and include representatives of every UCA presbytery. Representatives from other Christian denominations and other faiths will also to be invited to join the vigil.

That week has been set as the week of Monday 17th to Sunday the 23rd March 2014. Through this pilgrimage of prayer and fasting the Uniting Church seeks to express our grief at the continued injustice experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples; express our hope that justice will prevail for Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders; and act in solidarity and bear witness to reconciliation and the genuine transformation of relationship that is possible though God’s love in Christ.

Invitations have gone to all presbyteries to nominate at least two people to attend the Canberra vigil on their behalf.

The President and the Chair of Congress are hoping that many, many Uniting Church members will want to come and be a part of this public witness to justice and reconciliation. UnitingJustice is working with Congress and UnitingCare Australia to organise the week. Prayer and information resources will be produced so that presbyteries and congregations can hold local vigils during the week and special services on the Sunday, and individuals, small groups and congregations can exercise the daily practice of prayer and fasting throughout the course of the week.

Stay tuned for more information in early 2014.

UNHCR NGO Consultations

Elenie and Siobhan braved the Canberra weather to spend three days attending the UNHCR NGO Consultations. This annual event is a wonderful opportunity to connect with refugee advocates from all over the country and to work directly with the UNHCR Australia staff to learn more about their work on behalf of asylum seekers and refugees.

There have been a number of policy shifts in this area since the new Government took office, and the consultations gave us the opportunity to learn more about their scope and impact. With dramatic cuts to our humanitarian program, the implementation of remote offshore detention facilities, and the prospect of indefinite detention for children, this area of work will continue to be a primary focus for UnitingJustice over the coming months.

Temporary Protection Visas Factsheet

The reintroduction of Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs) was a key pre-election policy of the Government.

They were last used from 1999 to 2007 for those arriving by boat as a way to deny asylum seekers the opportunity of permanent resettlement.

The Government believes that TPVs will be an effective "deterrent" for those who undertake the journey to Australia by boat. There is no evidence to support this claim. When TPVs were last used, the fact that refugees were denied the right to apply for family reunification visas meant that we saw an increase in the numbers of women and children undertaking the perilous boat journeys to Australia.

We have produced a Fact Sheet to help you learn more about TPVs and their impact on asylum seekers and refugees. You can download a PDF here, or email us with TPV Fact Sheet in the subject line and we will be happy to send you a printed copy.

Give Hope Quilt

UnitingJustice are proud to support UnitingCare NSW.ACT and the Synod of NSW.ACT in the Give Hope: Uniting for Asylum Seekers campaign. The key focus for the initial part of this new campaign is on the detention of child asylum seekers.

These children occupy a space virtually devoid of human rights. They have been subjected to trauma and have often witnessed their family members being persecuted. They are frequently denied access to education and basic health services in their homelands, and continue to be denied suitable educational and recreational opportunities in transit countries and in immigration detention facilities. As children are so often denied a voice of their own in the asylum seeker debate, we chose to advocate for them and call for their right to a childhood to be preserved.

The first action of the campaign is the creation of a "quilt" where congregations throughout NSW and the ACT are able to express their thoughts about children in detention. You can see all of the amazing quilt patches and vote for your favourite here! We dug deep into the craft box in the office this month and produced two patches for this amazing action: this one for UJA, and this one to honour the Justice Staff in the Uniting Church all around the country.

Hot Potato Van Documentary

In August, Elenie and Siobhan spent a beautiful Winter's afternoon at Manly Beach in Sydney's north as part of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre's "Hot Potato Tour".

The Hot Potato Tour was designed to "cool the debate" on asylum seekers and refugees through great conversation, mythbusting, and delicious potato recipes from all over the world.

Elenie participated in a fantastic panel discussion on the shores of Manly with the ASRC's Jana Favero, Hunters & Collector's frontman Mark Seymour, Actor John Jarrett, and refugee advocate Imogen Bailey.

The wonderful team at ASRC have now released a documentary of the ten day tour, which you can watch online. In case you missed our photos from the day of Elenie and her fantastic co-panellists, you can see them here.

 

UnitingCare Australia

Lin Hattfield Dodds, National Director, UnitingCare Australia

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Engagement and constructive dialogue with the incoming Government has begun, including discussions with Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews and senior levels of the Australian Public Service.

I was delighted to participate in the ANU’s Crawford School’s 2013 PhD Conference in early November, which was appropriately themed Policy in Uncertain Times.

In recent weeks, UnitingCare Australia has made submissions to various repeal processes and will further engage with the Government during the Commission of Audit process.

Our submission to the Clean Energy Legislation Package repeal process focuses on energy affordability, set in the context of who we are as an agency of the Uniting Church National Assembly and as the national voice of the UnitingCare network. This gives our ongoing energy affordability project fresh impetus under the new government and a presence in the consultation process, opening the door to giving evidence at a later date. Read more

Another focus for the year ahead will be income support justice. On that basis, UnitingCare Australia’s submission to the Mineral Resource Rent Tax repeal process examined the repeal of the low income superannuation arrangements, schoolkids bonus and income support bonus, urging the Government to particularly consider the impact on society’s most disadvantaged and vulnerable people.

UnitingCare Australia farewells and thanks Wendy Middleton who brought many years of valuable experience to her role as Director of Services Development, and welcomes Dr Ian Holland who comes to UnitingCare Australia with a very strong background in policy analysis and political engagement. For the past eight years he has worked as secretary to a series of Australian Parliamentary committees, most recently the Senate Community Affairs Committee (giving him a terrific recent overview of aged care). These parliamentary roles have involved shaping committee’s inquiry processes, arranging public consultations, proposing recommendations and drafting policy positions and drafting the reports for each inquiry. Ian will start with us as the new Director of Services Development in early February.

 

Other Assembly news

 

Synod news

To find out about what is happening across the country visit the Synod news sites below:

New South Wales and the ACT - Insights
Northern Synod - Northern News
Queensland - Journey
South Australia - New Times
Victoria and Tasmania - Crosslight
Western Australia - Revive

To learn more about employment and other Assembly news go to www.assembly.uca.org.au

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