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Uniting Church in Australia Assembly - News

The President of the Uniting Church in Australia, Reverend Gregor Henderson, has today expressed dismay about the attitude of the Australian Government towards the loss of life in Gaza.

Monday, 22 December 2008

November ASC minutes now available

The latest Assembly Standing Committee meeting was held from 14-16 November. The minutes have now been made available. Click here to view the minutes.

Transforming Lives, Transforming CommunitiesThe new-look Transforming Lives, Transforming Communities brochure is now available to purchase from the Assembly. The updated version may be purchased for just $0.30 each (ie. $30 for 100). Order yours today via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

dove iconPrejudice and bigotry continue to flourish in the world.

Year after year we witness the cycle of violence between tribal groups in Central Africa with mass killings and even more rapes. In Russia several young men have this month been sentenced for the racially-motivated murders of some 20 migrants.

The Uniting Church in Australia was represented by the Rev. Charity Majiza, minister at Waranga Uniting Church in North East Victoria and member of the Christian Unity Working Group, and Rev. Terence Corkin, Assembly General Secretary at the World Council of Churches Uniting and United Churches Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, October 29-Nov 4.

The Uniting Church has today expressed its disappointment with some of the recommendations handed down from the recent parliamentary inquiry into immigration detention in Australia.

“The Uniting Church has been advocating for many years for policy which upholds the human rights of asylum seekers and treats these already traumatised people with care, dignity and respect,” said Rev. Elenie Poulos, National Director of UnitingJustice Australia.

“Whilst we welcome the report’s recommendation to waive existing detention debts for all current and former detainees and cease charging people for their time in detention, we believe that the report’s recommendations do not go far enough in many respects,” Rev. Poulos said.

“In July of this year the Church congratulated the Immigration Minister on his announcement of a new direction for detention policy. The parliamentary committee had a crucial opportunity to make recommendations that would put these principles into practice but they have fallen short.

“In its submission to the inquiry, the Uniting Church outlined its commitment to a policy which fulfils our obligations under relevant international human rights treaties and accords asylum seekers full legal rights and protection. The Church does not believe that the recommendations in this report will ensure such a policy.”

Rev. Poulos welcomed the dissenting report from Petro Georgiou MP and Senators Dr Alan Eggleston and Sarah Hansen-Young, which highlights the significant deficit in the report’s recommendations on time limits and review mechanisms.

“The possibility that asylum seekers will be held in detention for 12 months is frightening. Numerous studies have shown the irreversible physiological damage detention can cause on already traumatised people, and that it occurs in a time frame far less than 12 months.

“Allowing public servants to detain a person for up to 12 months without allowing them access to an independent review of the merits of their detention is a violation of Australia’s international obligation not to arbitrarily detain people.”

“We urge the Minister to carefully consider this report and the need to go beyond its recommendations in order to develop a truly fair and just detention policy.”

Rev. Elenie Poulos is available for comment.

The Uniting Church today expressed its support for quick and decisive action to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions and urged an immediate end to the language of winners and losers.

“We have one atmosphere and one planet. Either we all win or we all lose,” said the Rev. Elenie Poulos, the National Director of UnitingJustice Australia.

“The Garnaut Review Draft Report has pulled together the best science in the world. This is not scare-mongering, but it is frightening. We are suffocating the planet and we are running out of time to make a difference.”

Rev. Poulos said, “We are particularly concerned about the lack of trust some of our political and community leaders and opinion makers appear to have in the world’s leading climate scientists.

“The Christian church has a poor history of not trusting scientists and most of us have learned from our mistakes. No matter how much the church wanted it to be different, the sun did not revolve around the earth.

“No matter how much we would like it to be different now, the world is suffocating from human-induced climate change and the problem is urgent.”

“We must put a price on carbon as soon as we can. We must ensure that the most vulnerable in our society are well supported as we change our economic base. We need to recognise that we must do it together, working co-operatively not competitively. We must be bold, creative and, above all, courageous.”

Uniting Church offices, agencies, congregations and members around the country are working to improve their own energy efficiency and reduce their carbon footprint.

Rev. Poulos said, “We know it’s not much in the grand scheme of things but like so many Australians, we want to live more sustainably and we want our governments to do all they can to help.

“It is time to move to a green economy that takes seriously our responsibility to the planet, all its creatures and future generations,” said Rev. Poulos.

Rev. Elenie Poulos is available for comment.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

During this week of International Church Action for Peace in Palestine and Israel, a group of Australian church leaders has called on the Federal Government to prioritise peacemaking in Palestine and Israel.

An historic event, it is the first time that a group of Australia’s religious leaders has come together to highlight the suffering in the region.

In a statement to the Government, leaders of the Uniting, Anglican and Catholic churches —among others — have said that, after 60 years of dispossession, military occupation, armed hostilities and violent deaths, it is now time for the Australian Government to work for peace in the Holy Land.

With some 40 signatories to the statement, the group is calling on the Government to lead the international community in working with Palestine and Israel towards a just and continuing peace.

PDF iconView the Heads of Churches statement in PDF format.




Parliament House, Canberra House of Representatives Alcove

4 June 2008 10.30am

Speakers Rev Gregor Henderson, President of the Uniting Church in Australia Archbishop Phillip Aspinall, Anglican Primate of Australia Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Catholic Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn Tim Costello, Chief Executive World Vision Australia

Morning Tea will be served after the launch.