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Wednesday, 08 September 2004

Our forgotten communities

The Uniting Church is urging our leaders to build communities which are more than just houses and infrastructure, but places where people can grow and work together for a better future.

Uniting Church President, Rev. Dr Dean Drayton, expressed concern at the growing disconnection between people who live in the same neighbourhood.

“The strength of a country is measured by the strength of its communities and this election is a perfect time for Australia’s political leaders to outline how they would work together with state and local governments, business and community groups to re-energise and enliven our local communities,” Rev. Drayton said.

The Uniting Church’s National Director of UnitingJustice, Rev. Elenie Poulos said the Church is concerned that the health of Australia’s communities is under threat.

“We can see it in places where unemployment begins its third generation, where amenities are few and services overstretched, and where the physical environment is damaged and polluted,” Rev. Poulos said.

“We also see it in the pressure to work longer hours and to consume more.

“This makes our communities vulnerable to cynicism, violence, greed and the intolerance of difference. The end result is that neighbours don’t get to know each other and local support networks fail those in need.

“There can be no security for Australian communities without a nationally coordinated approach to providing the services, resources and support they need to flourish.

“We need a commitment to careful planning in the development of new communities. We can’t afford to see more housing estates built where little or no consideration is given to local employment opportunities and the long-term need for essential services like hospitals, public transport, schools, childcare centres, parklands and recreation facilities.

“We also need a commitment to transforming existing communities. This calls for family and community friendly work policies, proper support for local spaces like libraries and parklands, decent funding for public schools, hospitals and transport, and encouragement of local initiatives that build supportive and inclusive neighbourhoods.

“No one level of government can do it alone, which is why we need real leadership from the Federal Government combined with a commitment from all levels of Government to work with communities to find solutions,” Rev. Poulos said.

Media contacts: Reverend Elenie Poulos, 0417 431 853
Gavin Melvin, Senior Communication Officer, 0417 416 674