For immediate release

The Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) of the Uniting Church is urging the Australian Government to revise its approach to its emergency response reforms to tackle Indigenous child abuse in the Northern Territory if it is to affect real improvements.

UAICC National Administrator the Rev Shayne Blackman said he fully supported moves by the Australian Government to provide positive intervention to tackle child abuse but questioned their hasty emergency response approach in an election year which he said lacked full and proper negotiation with relevant Indigenous stakeholders.

‘This rapid reform approach taken by the Government needs to be negotiated from the ground up in conjunction with those Indigenous community leaders with a demonstrable record of achievement and not just solely imposed from Canberra” said Rev Blackman.

‘“The Government’s ferocious and hasty reforms are laced with military style coercion and have not been fully negotiated with those Northern Territory communities in a manner and timeframe that will enable all Indigenous stakeholders in this issue to be in a position to support the reforms in any cohesive fashion.

“While positive intervention is required we do not welcome this fierce approach by the Government which further marginalizes Indigenous community decision makers and which will serve to create further resentment.

“Every Australian child deserves a secure future free of abuse and if the Government is impartial in its dealings with the citizens of this nation then the same heavy handed tactics it is employing in Indigenous communities of the Northern Territory should be applied rights across every town and city, with abuse perpetrators to be dealt with under our existing legal framework.

‘We are calling upon the Government to enact policy in collaboration with Indigenous leadership that encourages individual empowerment and ownership of responsibility and this requires a new structural governance framework that conduits Indigenous wisdom from a community level into legislative decisions.

“In the interests of equality and justice I call upon the Government to reassess its approach” said Rev Blackman.

UAICC Media Contact: Ramon Peachey (07) 4773 5077

The National Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia has today welcomed the Rudd Government’s initiative to end the detention of asylum seekers on the island nation of Nauru.

Rev. Elenie Poulos, National Director of UnitingJustice Australia, praised Immigration Minister, Chris Evans’ decision to provide resettlement to seven Burmese men currently detained on Nauru.

“We congratulate the Federal Government on taking important steps to provide resettlement opportunities to these seven men who have been held on the island for more than a year,” Rev. Poulos said.

“We are pleased that the Minister has promised to quickly review the cases of the remaining refugees and asylum seekers and to end once and for all this damaging practice of detention on Nauru.”

Rev. Poulos said the Uniting Church was fully supportive of the dismantling of the Pacific Solution, set up by the previous Federal Government.

“The Pacific Solution has placed us in breach of our international refugee obligations and adversely affected our reputation as a country committed to upholding human rights.

“It has been a cruel policy and its detrimental effects on individual refugees, some of whom were detained for more than three years, have been well documented.

“This policy, which has cost millions of dollars, has seen refugees languishing on Nauru and Manus Islands for years with no access to proper services and appropriate representation, and no clear hope for future resettlement, as the Government played politics with their lives.

 “We welcome action to dismantle the Pacific Solution policy, and to provide refugees with resettlement opportunities within the Australian community.”

Uniting Church in Australia members, congregations and agencies around the country are involved in caring for refugees and asylum seekers and advocating for just and appropriate policies which uphold their rights and respond positively to their needs.

The Uniting Church has spoken out against the Pacific Solution since its inception.


For immediate release Church in Australia President, Reverend Gregor Henderson, has on the occasion of the United Nations International Day of Peace, this Sunday 21 September, called on Australians to believe in peace.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Ministry of Pastor Rules now available

In August the Ministerial Education Commission has finalised the Rules for the Ministry of Pastor. The Rules can be found on the Ministry of Pastor page.

The Uniting Church was today one of 50+ organisations from across the country to call on the Federal Government to engage in a public consultation on human rights protection.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

UCA consults with federal opposition

Continuing the UCA’s dialogue with leaders in the National Parliament, the UCA President and General Secretary have met with the Liberal Party leader. 

The Uniting Church has been one of the key instigators of a multi-faith call for action on climate change.

Church leaders from across Australia, including the Uniting Church, gathered in Canberra last Friday to keep poverty on the agenda in the lead up to the Federal election.

Vote [1] No More Poverty is a joint campaign of the Uniting, Anglican and Catholic Churches and their social services agencies and aims to raise awareness among members of our community and our political leaders about the growing rate of poverty.

The Uniting Church was represented at the launch by UnitingCare Australia National Director, Lin Hatfield Dodds and National Assembly ex President, Rev Prof, James Haire.

Ms Hatfield Dodds, said poverty is a growing problem in Australia and not just among unemployed people.

“While Australia has experienced economic growth in the last two decades much of this prosperity has passed by many Australians. Today, we have the dubious honour of being ranked fourth on the OECD list of countries with the highest percent of population living in poverty,” Ms Hatfield Dodds said.

“Today, 852,000 Australian children live in jobless households and 3.6 million Australians live on a household income of less than $400 a week.

“Agencies like UnitingCare which deliver the majority of community support in this country, see the despair and deprivation of Australia’s poor every day.

“Each year more and more Australians are suffering an unacceptable standard of living and poverty is no longer just about unemployed people.

“Many working Australians now find themselves struggling with poverty and as a caring church it is time we took a stand to see something done. That’s why we started this campaign.”

The campaign was launched at Parliament House in Canberra on June 24 following a national newspaper advertisement in the Australian that day.

Church leaders, including Prof Haire, told politicians and media representatives of the desperate need for the Federal Government to take a national leadership role in tackling poverty.

“Our faith and ethical traditions call us to ensure the health and well being of our communities. With this in mind we believe all Australians have the right to a decent life including access to work, education, housing, food and recreation.

“The message that we sent to our political leaders was that sadly, for more and more Australians, this is a pipe dream.

“There are no easy answers to solving poverty – it is a multi faceted problem often caused by more than one factor. However, the first step is to acknowledge the problem and work together at all levels of government to find real solutions.

“We called on the Federal Government to take a national leadership role on this issue and work through the Council of Australian Governments with State and Territory Government’s to develop a well resourced national action plan working across government and in partnership with the broader community.

“This is an issue we all need to be concerned and we are asking church members for their help to make politicians and political candidates aware of this issue. Please, in the lead up to the next election take the time to write to them or call them and ask …‘Do you care about poverty in Australia and what will you do to address it?”