President Stuart McMillan will join members of the Australian Pacific community and representatives of the Salvation Army, Catholic, Baptist, Hillsong, Mormon and other churches at the Service of Lament at Strathfield Uniting Church in Sydney.
The Service will share the tragic stories of Tongans who’ve passed away while working in Australia and play video testimonies from others who have been injured.
Family members of the dead workers will lay wreathes as part of the Service which will be attended by Workplace Minister Craig Laundy, who will be encouraged to take steps to minimise dangerous employment practices in the Australian horticultural sector.
The Service of Lament will take place at Strathfield Uniting Church, 11 Carrington Avenue, Strathfield at 3:30pm on Saturday 14 April.
The Minister at Strathfield Uniting Church, Rev. Alimoni Taumoepeau will conduct the Service which coincides with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting that gets underway in London next week, and at which Commonwealth nations are being encouraged to up their game on modern slavery in their supply chains.
“Australians must be vigilant to ensure that modern slavery and forced labour are kept out of our supply chains, both at home and abroad,” said Mr McMillan.
“Our Church members have reported slavery-like conditions in Australia and we are gravely concerned for the welfare of all workers in this area.”
“We mourn with those who have lost loved ones and for those whose lives have been damaged while harvesting the food for our tables and our export markets.”
“Pacific Island people are a large and important part of the life of the Uniting Church here in Australia and a great blessing in our church. We are in regular contact with our Pacific Church partners and we share this concern for the life and wellbeing of their people.”
“Migrant worker schemes have the potential to greatly benefit both Australia and the Pacific. However more checks and balances need to be put in place to prevent exploitation.”
“Christian communities across Australia need to step up, be vigilant, and offer care and support to our Pacific Island brothers and sisters,” said Mr McMillan.