Thursday, 16 May 2019

Our Vision for Flourishing Communities

For the past eight weeks we have encouraged Uniting Church members to think deeply ahead of the federal election using the resource, Our Vision for a Just Australia.

As the nation head to the polls on Saturday, we come to the final foundation of our Vision Statement: flourishing communities, regional, remote and urban.

We believe that Christ is calling us to be communities where we are connected, and we care for one another.

From our big cities, to our remote regions, we hope that all might flourish and that together we seek to uplift the people who sit on the margins.

This means:

  • A high level of social participation and sense of belonging
  • People with disability can choose the support and services they need to live a full life
  • Our lifestyle and culture promote good mental health and services exist to support that
  • Vulnerable people receive the support they need
  • People feel safe in their homes, communities, online and in our places of faith
  • Rural and remote communities thrive

Currently we need to do more to make this vision a reality.

One in five Australians experience a mental health condition in a given year and almost one in two will experience a mental health condition at some point in their lifetime.

Australians living in rural and remote Australia have experienced two or more years of severe drought, causing significant stress.

For many reasons, often associated with distance and access to services, rural and remote Australians tend to have shorter lives, higher levels of disease and injury and poorer access to and use of health services, including mental health care.

One in 33 children received child protection services in 2015-16, with 73 per cent being repeat clients.

Further, the Vision Statement notes that the roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme lacks adequate resourcing with some people not being able to access the support they need.

It also notes that current approaches to drug use which focus on policing and imprisoning, are increasing stigma for people who use illicit drugs and create barriers for people seeking treatment.

Our Vision Statement suggests a number of key actions to move forward.

  • Adequate funding of appropriate services for people facing mental illness, including new initiatives such as digital health services in rural and remote areas.
  • A whole-of-community approach to overcome stigma and discrimination for people who experience mental illness.
  • Community approaches to building resilience, teaching respectful relationships, and identifying abuse and neglect.
  • An NDIS that is fully funded and properly rolled-out where no one is left behind in the process
  • Refocusing policy and responses to drug use on helping people to access drug treatment and harm reduction services.

Before you vote on Saturday, you may like to read the Statement in full.

We thank all those who have engaged with the Vision Statement ahead of the election and encourage Uniting Church members to pray for Australia as a nation as our Government is decided for a new term.