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Friday, 29 November 2002

Don't forget Bali: Message from UCA President

Speaking from Bali this week, the President of the Uniting Church in Australia, Rev Professor James Haire, says that “I am deeply troubled by the obvious impact the Bali bombings are having on the local community.”

“People are in desperate trouble”, says Professor Haire. “They are traumatised by recent events and as many as 80% of Bali’s population are in some way dependent on tourism.” After visiting the bomb site on Jalan Legian and travelling around the tourist district, Professor Haire says “Kuta is like a ghost town. Local Balinese have no income and future is very bleak. This situation will continue to get worse while tourists stay away.”

Professor Haire is in Bali to participate in a special joint church service this evening, Friday 29th November 2002. The service will focus on healing and peace in Bali. Up to 5,000 people will meet in Bali’s cultural centre in Denpasar and the occasion will involve the Governor of Bali, the Protestant and Catholic Bishops of Bali together with the President of the Uniting Church in Australia.

“I am here to support the local Balinese church and the local Balinese community”, says Professor Haire. “It is vital this community knows that the church in Australia and the church around the world supports them in their time of crisis.”

While possible threats remain and the Australian Government is warning people against travel to Bali and Indonesia, Professor Haire says we must not overlook the plight of the Balinese people. “Bali has been a significant holiday destination for Australians over many years and the Balinese have been great hosts.

“We must never forget this.”

Professor Haire is available for comment today in Bali on his mobile phone (+61 409363362) or tomorrow in Sydney (0409363362).