Monday, 29 April 2019

Inclusive + equal = a safe society

As pre-polling opens for the 2019 Australian election and the leaders face off in their first debate, we encourage Uniting Church members to think deeply about their vote.

Our pre-election vision statement Our Vision for a Just Australia invites us to think beyond ourselves to the big concerns for our country today.

Prepared by those working for justice in our Church, the statement expresses our hope for an Inclusive and Equal Society where all are equal and free to exercise our rights equally.

In particular, we seek to create a society where women and children are safe in their own homes and communities.

There continues to be high rates of Domestic and family violence (DFV) in Australia, with around 1 in 4 women having experienced violence by an intimate partner since the age of 15.

DFV is the leading cause of illness, disability and premature death among women aged 25 to 44.

A recent report by Mission Australia titled Out of the Shadows highlights DFV as the largest driver of homelessness for women and children.

According to the report, DFV is the most common driver for people to seek support from Specialist Homelessness Services, and this number has increased an average of 9% every year from 2012-13 to 2017-18.

The report also shows that Indigenous women are more likely to experience family violence, and women from refugee and migrant backgrounds face additional barriers when seeking help.

In launching the report, Mission Australia’s CEO James Toomey said that in order to end homelessness we must work at preventing DFV.

“As a society, we need to be doing more to reinforce gender equality and normalise respectful relationships to reduce instances of domestic and family violence across Australia,” he said.

Our UCA vision statement calls for a comprehensive approach to preventing gender-based violence. This includes challenging the social norms and practices that underpin it.

This Sunday a number of Uniting Churches in South Australia organised “Break the Silence Sunday” services to open a conversation about sexual violence.

Within the context of worship, congregations were invited to explore how the voice of survivors may be heard, honoured, and their pain acknowledged.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Explore the Questions in the Our Vision for a Just Australia with your local candidates or in small groups.

QUESTIONS for your candidates or for small groups:

  1. What is your commitment to the equality of women across our community and what actions will you take to promote this?
  2. How will you tackle the high rates of domestic and family violence, both in terms of prevention and supporting people who are affected?
  3. What initiatives are already happening or could happen in your local community that could promote awareness of domestic and family violence and offer support for people impacted by this violence?

Consider having a Break the Silence Sunday in your congregation. A resource guide has been created with prayers, liturgies, sermon starters, music suggestions and more.