27 November, 2009


Prime Minister
25 NOVEMBER 2009

I acknowledge the First Australians on whose land we meet, and whose cultures we celebrate as among the oldest continuing cultures in human history.
I also acknowledge the excellent work of everyone involved with White Ribbon Day, particularly the White Ribbon Ambassadors here today, in raising the profile of the battle to end violence against women and children.
It’s not often that a Prime Minister is asked to swear - in public.

But when it’s for White Ribbon Day, I want to hear every man in this building swear out loud today, because we are swearing an oath; a commitment to end violence against women; to never excuse violence against women.We must have zero tolerance when it comes to violence against women.All Australian men must take responsibility for ending violence against women.The statistics are horrific.Over their lifetimes, almost one in five Australian women will be sexually assaulted.Almost one in three will be physically assaulted.Almost one in four children in Australia will witness violence against their mother or stepmother.Less than one-third of victims will report it.And the cost of this violence to the Australian economy has been estimated as $13.6 billion last financial year.From impacts on health, on working life and other costs – in addition to the incalculable emotional and psychological harm.That is why the Australian Government is emphatically committed to reducing violence against women.
In April, we received the Time for Action report from the National Council to Reduce Violence Against Women and Their Children.And as an immediate response, the Australian Government has invested $42 million in initiatives to reduce this violence, including $26 million in measures such as Respectful Relationships programs for young people across the country.And a social marketing campaign which is focused on changing the attitudes and behaviours that contribute to violence against women. We have referred the Time for Action report to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG). And my colleagues - the Attorney-General Robert McClelland and the Minister for Women, Tanya Plibersek - have been working hard with a cross-section of State and Territory Ministers on the next step of a National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women.A draft of the Plan will come to COAG next month.And it will be finalised next year.
Our Violence Against Women Advisory Group has held its first meeting.We are assessing applications to run a second round of Respectful Relationship programs for young people.And we have gone out to tender for the establishment of a 24 hour, 7 day a week national telephone and online crisis services for victims of violence. We have also commissioned a survey on attitudes to violence against women – the first since 1995.And today I can release the results of that survey.The National Community Attitudes Towards Violence against Women Survey 2009 was conducted by VicHealth, in partnership with the Australian Institute of Criminology and the Social Research Centre.10,000 Australians were surveyed: women and men in equal numbers.
I’m pleased to report that there has been a significant shift in the attitudes and beliefs Australians hold about violence against women.This survey confirms that respect for all people is a fundamental Australian value, that the vast majority of Australians agree that relationships must be respectful and free of violence, and that Australians want to live in a community where all women can live free of violence. 98 per cent of respondents to this survey acknowledged that domestic violence is a crime, an increase from 93 per cent in 1995.Very few people – in fact, only one in 20 - now believe that victims of sexual assault ‘ask for it’. That’s down from one in seven people in 1995. But disappointingly, the survey shows that some Australians still hold attitudes which excuse or trivialise violence against women.One quarter of people surveyed disagree with the statement that ‘women rarely make false claims of being raped’. One in five thinks that violence can be excused if the violent person later genuinely regrets what they have done. And disturbingly, the proportion of people who think that women are as likely as men to commit domestic violence has more than doubled.The statistics simply do not bear this out.Data from the most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics Personal Safety Survey shows that for those women who had experienced physical assault in the past 12 months:31 per cent were attacked by a current or former male partner;28 per cent by a male family member or friend; and15 per cent by a male stranger.For those men who had been physically assaulted in the same period, only four per cent were attacked by a current or former female partner.65 per cent were attacked by male strangers.Men are victims of violence but the violence they experience is much more likely to be at the hands of a male stranger than a female partner.
No violence is acceptable – not domestic violence, not sexual assault, not elder abuse, child abuse or neglect.Teaching kids from day one about respectful relationships should reduce a range of violent behaviours. We must do more to change attitudes and, even more importantly, change behaviour.Our next steps will include our $17 million social marketing campaign which we will launch early next year. We’ve come a long way in changing attitudes but – for the 1,000 women each day who are still victims of violence – this is no time for complacency. At the launch of this year’s White Ribbon Day I said I would encourage every honourable gentleman in the Australian Parliament to take this oath.
That night I swore the oath. I applaud all the White Ribbon Day Ambassadors across Australia who swore this oath. And I applaud the men who have come here today to swear the oath - every Aussie man should.

12 November, 2009

STUMP in 90 Seconds - Best viewed in HD

Salvation Army to set up stall at Melbourne's Sexpo

Cheryl Critchley
Herald Sun
November 11, 2009

SEX and the Salvos are not the most obvious bedmates.

But the Salvation Army will join the likes of Club X, Condom Kingdom, Fluffy Cuffs, Kinky Boots, Savage Lingerie and Awgasm at Melbourne's Sexpo this month.

Its stall will promote "Christian understanding of sexuality" and raise awareness about the human trafficking in prostitution.

Salvos social justice director Capt Danielle Strickland will distribute material on human trafficking, the sexualisation of girls and "Jesus loves porn stars" New Testaments, which tell how a porn star found God.

But she won't be preaching moral messages.

Capt Strickland is no stranger to sex; she visits many brothels as part of her battle against people being forced into prostitution.

While her stall may end up next to Sex Machines Australia or Dare Fetish and Fantasy, Capt Strickland is well prepared.

"We're not going there to condemn anybody. We aren't going to lecture people. We're going there to be available," she said.

Salvation Army officers attended Brisbane's Sexpo this year, where Capt Strickland said they had a great time and were warmly welcomed.

Coincidentally, the Salvos will also hold their annual commissioning of new ministers at the same venue - Melbourne's Exhibition Centre - on the same weekend as Sexpo.

Next door patrons will be enjoying an erotic film festival, a pole dancing competition and lingerie parades.

Sexpo runs from November 26-29 at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre.

Should the Salvos be at Sexpo? Please take the time to vote on our poll.

05 November, 2009

Asylum seekers threaten suicide

Danielle Strickland's thought provoking blog from 2nd November relating to an article on the ABC News website about Assylum Seekers is one well worth doubling up on. If you haven't already done so, I would suggest taking the time to read through the full article and Danielle's thoughts....

Some of the 78 Sri Lankan asylum seekers onboard Australian Customs ship the Oceanic Viking have threatened to kill themselves rather than go to Indonesia. Speaking to the ABC from a phone hidden from customs officers, the asylum seekers pleaded with Australia to give them a new home. read the rest here...

Asylum Seekers and how we receive them will remain a major justice issue in our future (and our past). Jesus once asked a question about who our neighbour is... I think these situations are opportunities to answer him. How's your hospitality these days? Ever consider hosting an asylum seeker family in your corps/church? You may be surprised to learn that The Salvation Army's history is well rooted and experienced in helping migrants find new opportunities and possibilities - including community and support and new family... perhaps we could be digging that old well for new opportunities to share the love of Jesus with those in need... just thinking.

26 October, 2009

Just Give...

Have a read through the following article and then consider the significant difference you could make by purchasing something from the Just Gifts catalogue...

“In mid-September a joint group from UNICEF, the World Health Organisation, the World Bank and the United Nations Population Division, released the mortality figures for 2008 of children under five. The central statistic was that last year 65 children out of every thousand died before the age of five. That translates to 8.8 million children.

Although 8.8 million children is an enormous figure, there is some consolation in the knowledge that there could have been many more. In 1990, for example, the global child mortality rate was 90 deaths per 1000 live births or 12.5 million children. Comparing the two figures we see that today 10,000 fewer children die every day than did nearly 20 years ago. Still, it is frustrating to know how easily preventable most of those 8.8 million deaths were.

While the child mortality figures are believed to be the lowest in world history, it is feared that next year's figures will tell a horrifying story. Food and fuel prices have backed off but remain high, and the full impact of the global financial crisis is yet to be felt. With poverty and health so inextricably linked, there are obvious grounds for fear.

But amidst the speculation, simple, low-cost measures like vaccines, insecticide-treated mosquito nets and Vitamin A supplementation continue to show just how easily preventable many, if not most, child deaths can be.

Countries like Malawi are a perfect example. In 1990, Malawi had an extremely high under five child mortality rate of 225 deaths per 1000 live births. That rate has now dropped significantly to 100 per 1000.

Correlative to those figures is the knowledge that in 2000 only three per cent of Malawi's children aged under five slept under a mosquito net — a key means of preventing malaria. By 2006 that had increased to 25 per cent. With limited resources, Malawi focused on a simple intervention that saved countless children's lives.

As expected, Australia's under five child mortality rate is among the lowest in the world at 5.8 deaths per 1000 live births (Save the Children figures show the indigenous rate at 12.5 deaths for every 1000 live births).”

Eureka Street “Child Mortality Breakthroughs” Matthew Smeal, October 21, 2009

The new Just Gifts catalogue is available now. Click here to request a copy to be sent out.

23 October, 2009

Trade as One - Just One

Just One Fair Trade purchase from all of us would lift One Million families out of poverty for one whole year.

To learn more or get involved, go to tradeasone.com

Surrender Youth Nite

We would love for you to bring your people along to the SURRENDER Youth Night 7:00pm on March 5, 2010 at Belgrave Heights Convention Centre in Melbourne. Would you consider adding it to your 2010 calendar and letting other youth leaders and pastors know?

What’s it about and how can you help...
  • Bart Campolo (yes he is Tony’s son) from the USA will be speaking together with a great line up of bands including Levi McGrath, Vox Congo and Hip Hop artist Ezeldin Deng.
  • The aim of the night is to inspire kids to See Poverty around them, Hear from the lost and the least amongst us and Join in solidarity with those in society who are doing it tough.
  • Attached is the flyer for you to send around to your networks – cost is only $10 per person

Check out our promo video on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36IZptQHbYk featuring some amazing young people on the journey!

There is also a Facebook page where you can encourage your friends to become a fan of SURRENDER

20 October, 2009

Further safeguard for survivors of trafficking – Complementary Protection

“Complementary protection is about helping vulnerable people – people at risk of the most serious forms of harm if returned to their home country”, Senator Chris Evans, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship

The Australian Government is attempting to pass a law that will provide further protection to the survivors of trafficking in Australia, to give them protection if being returned to the country they were trafficked from would place their safety in serious danger (such as those responsible for the trafficking targeting them for retribution). The proposed law is called the Migration Amendment (Complementary Protection) Bill 2009.

Australia is currently one of the only developed countries who do not have a complementary protection process in place. For example, Canada and the European Union already have systems of complementary protection in place.

Complementary protection refers to legal mechanisms for protecting people who fail to meet the definition of a refugee under the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. This would be the situation for most survivors of trafficking in Australia. STOP THE TRAFFIK Australia member organisations have had experience of a number of women trafficked to Australia where it was too dangerous for them to go home but they weren’t eligible for a refugee visa in Australia. Under the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, a refugee is someone who faces persecution on the basis of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.

Under the current system people who do not meet the definition of a refugee, but whose lives or well-being would be in serious danger if returned to their country of origin, can be granted protection in Australia but only by a decision directly by the Minister of Immigration and Citizenship. This usually only happens at the last stage of the process of seeking protection, meaning that a person must go through a very long process to have their claim of protection actually considered.

Australia has clear obligations not to return a person seeking protection to a place where their lives or safety could be threatened (non-refoulement) through a number of the international treaties that Australia is signed on to such as the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (Refugee Convention), the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Australia adheres to the Refugee Convention obligations of non-refoulement through the current protection visa process however the proposed Complementary Protection Bill ensures that Australia will fulfil the non-refoulement obligations of all of these international treaties.

The Migration Amendment (Complementary Protection) Bill 2009 is set to be debated in one of the next Parliamentary sittings. While the Greens and Senator Xenophon have publicly indicated support for the Bill, the Coalition has indicated that they will oppose the Bill. Senator Fielding has not yet publicly declared his position on the Bill. Unless Senator Fielding supports the Bill or a Coalition Senator votes against the position of their party, the Bill will not be passed and Australia will continue to return people seeking protection, including survivors of trafficking, to situations of danger or even death.

For the text of the Migration Amendment (Complementary Protection) Bill 2009 go to:

Write a polite and respectful letters or e-mails to the following selected Senators (writing to the Senator in your state):

Senator Gary Humphries
Canberra Centre
148 Bunda Street
Salutation: Dear Senator Humphries

Senator Marise Payne
PO Box CC18
Parramatta, NSW, 2123
Contact Link:
Salutation: Dear Senator Payne

Senator Sue Boyce
PO Box 143
Albion DC, Qld, 4010
Salutation: Dear Senator Boyce

Senator Mary Jo Fisher
Ground Floor, 75 Hindmarsh Square
Adelaide, SA, 5000
Contact Link:
Salutation: Dear Senator Fisher

Senator Guy Barnett
Senator for Tasmania
33 George Street
Launceston Tas 7250
Salutation: Dear Senator Barnett

Senator Judith Troeth
Level 9, 601 Bourke Street
Melbourne, Victoria, 3000
Contact Link:
Salutation: Dear Senator Troeth

Senator Steve Fielding
Family First
255 Blackburn Road
Mount Waverley Vic 3149
Contact Link:
Salutation: Dear Senator Fielding

Senator Michaelia Cash
Suite 8, Level 2 5 Tully Road,
East Perth, WA, 6004
Contact Link:
Dear Senator Cash

Points to make in your letter or e-mail (Please note that letters are more effective than e-mails, but sending an e-mail is much, much better than doing nothing):

· Request that they vote in support of the Migration Amendment (Complementary Protection) Bill 2009.

· Australia is one of the only developed countries in the world who currently do not provide complementary protection.

· Australia has been urged to implement a complementary protection process by domestic and international bodies such as the Australian Human Rights Commission, the United Nations Human Rights Committee and the United Nations Committee Against Torture.

· Implementing the Migration Amendment (Complementary Protection) Bill 2009 will ensure that Australia upholds its non-refoulement obligations under the international conventions it is signed on to such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

· Voting for the Migration Amendment (Complementary Protection) Bill 2009 would ensure that Australia has a stronger system to prevent the return of those seeking asylum, including some victims of human trafficking, to situations of danger or where they may be murdered or tortured.

RCOA calls for no scaremongering


Political scaremongering and grasping for hardline deterrents will do nothing to resolve the complexities associated with asylum seekers seeking protection in Australia, the Refugee Council of Australia says.

Refugee Council president John Gibson said the recent debate about asylum seekers arriving by boat had revived memories of past destructive debates which had demonised vulnerable people and diminished Australia’s reputation as a just nation.

"A decade ago, the then Australian Government introduced temporary protection visas, expecting that this measure would stop the flow of people escaping persecution in their countries of origin," Mr Gibson said.

"In fact, the policy achieved the opposite, with the three years following the introduction of temporary protection being the three highest years in Australian history for asylum seekers arriving by boat. It beggars belief that Opposition MPs seriously believe that the reintroduction of this policy will result in a different outcome this time around."

Mr Gibson said a far more constructive historic precedent was the experience of the late 1970s and early 1980s, when Australia’s political parties worked in a bipartisan manner, under Coalition leadership, to contribute to effective regional solutions for Indochinese refugees fleeing persecution.

"As we learned 30 years ago, international cooperation is critical to responding to large-scale human tragedy," he said.

"We are contending with difficult regional issues, including gross human rights abuses in refugee source countries and complex social and political issues in countries receiving asylum seekers. Rather than backing away from our international responsibilities, Australia could play a significant role in promoting open and transparent cooperation with our neighbours and UNHCR to find durable solutions for the region’s refugees.

"Prime Minister Kevin Rudd pointed out in his recent address to UNHCR’s Executive Committee that Australia was the sixth country to sign the Refugee Convention and a founding member of UNHCR’s Executive Committee. This, too, was the result of bipartisan political action, from Coalition Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, and Labor Opposition Leader, Dr H.V. Evatt.

"As a nation which has championed human rights, it is important that we do not back away from the Refugee Convention, recognising that it is never ‘illegal’ for a person to enter our country to seek protection from persecution.

"Much of the recent debate about asylum seekers has lacked perspective. It is extraordinary that some commentators are engaged in such a shrill public debate about the arrival by boat of 1704 asylum seekers this year, given that nations such as Pakistan and Syria are currently hosting more than one million refugees each."

18 October, 2009

14 Days of Prayer - DAY FOURTEEN

Muslim extremists raided a Christian village in Mindanao, Philippines leaving hundreds homeless. Pray for their strength.

"Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty"
(Psalm 91:1).

Voice of the Martyrs

17 October, 2009

14 Days of Prayer - DAY THIRTEEN

Jiang Yao was kicked out of her state-sponsored church in China for attending a Christian conference. Pray for a church family.

"First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world" (Romans 1:8).

Voice of the Martyrs

16 October, 2009

14 Days of Prayer - DAY TWELVE

In Laos, village leaders kicked Nuaysuay out of his home when he would not renounce his faith.

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?" (Romans 8:35)

Voice of the Martyrs


15 October, 2009

Start Freedom Launch Film

Just to let you know that http://www.startfreedom.org/ is now live in 7 languages. 3 more to follow in the next week or so.

Also, the launch film is up and ready for today! It’s on youtube, so you can also take it and imbed it in your websites and blogs.

14 Days of Prayer - DAY ELEVEN

Officials in Turkmenistan continue to falsely accuse Shageldy Atakov to sway his faith in God. Pray that he is encouraged.

"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. Rescue me from my enemies, LORD, for I hide myself in you" (Psalm 143:8-9).

Voice of the Martyrs


12 October, 2009

14 Days of Prayer - DAY TEN

Kalila's parents beat and ridiculed her for her Christian faith before kicking her out in Mauritania.

"So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God..."
(2 Timothy 1:8).

Voice of the Martyrs


11 October, 2009

14 Days of Prayer - DAY NINE

Churches in Iraq have been targeted by bombs; believers are afraid to meet there. Pray for courage.

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you" (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Voice of the Martyrs


10 October, 2009

14 Days of Prayer - DAY EIGHT

Luis, 18, spends his school vacations trekking into guerrilla territory, sharing the Good News in Colombia. Pray for young evangelists.

"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12).

Voice of the Martyrs

~ Rob

09 October, 2009


In the last 3 months, 18 million people all over the world have heard the message of the Global Poverty Project. Twelve thousand people worldwide have attended over seventy presentations. The movement is in motion...

Join the movement and Stand Up for poverty on the 16th-18th October

As one of over 5000 people to make the commitment to end extreme poverty, your voice has been heard. Now it?s time to continue and to be the change that you want to make in our world.

Leading the movement is about action. Last year, over 117 million people worldwide stood up to say that extreme poverty must end.

In two weeks, the world again Stand Up as one to say that each life is important and extreme poverty has no place in our world. Working with the UN Millennium Campaign and Make Poverty History, we need you to lead from the frontline in the fight against poverty.

Commit now to Stand Up for Poverty

Every generation has the opportunity to do something great. Lets make our generations challenge, to end extreme poverty. Lets all commit to doing something about it.

The Global Poverty Project will support you in spreading this message that needs to be heard.

The Global Poverty Project team

PS -
Click here to take your NEXT STEP on the journey to end extreme poverty.

14 Days of Prayer - DAY SEVEN

Hindu extremists attacked Pastor Daniel inside his church in India. Pray for pastors.

"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints" (Ephesians 6:18).

Voice of the Martyrs

08 October, 2009

14 Days of Prayer - DAY SIX

House church members risk arrest and imprisonment by Chinese officials every time they meet. Pray for God's protection.

"I lift up my eyes to the hills— where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber" (Psalm 121:1-3).

Voice of the Martyrs


07 October, 2009

14 Days of Prayer - DAY FIVE

The Eritrean government imprisons Christians in metal containers, denying them food and medical care. Pray for their health.

"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners..." (Isaiah 61:1).

Voice of the Martyrs

06 October, 2009

14 Days of Prayer - DAY FOUR

Colombian guerrillas shot Marcella, Lydia and Jeffrey's parents because they shared Jesus with others. Please pray for their safety.

"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father's care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows" (Matthew 10:28-31).

Voice of the Martyrs

~ Rob

05 October, 2009

14 Days of Prayer - DAY THREE

Shi Weihan was sentenced to three years in a Chinese prison for printing Bibles to give away. Pray God's Word spreads.

"As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it" (Isaiah 55:10-11).

Voice of the Martyrs


04 October, 2009

14 Days of Prayer - DAY TWO

Muslim extremists attacked Christian families, burned 50 homes and killed livestock in Pakistan. Pray that families find peace.

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:8-10).

03 October, 2009

14 Days of Prayer - DAY ONE

For over a decade, my wife and I have been receiving the monthly magazine from Voice of the Martyrs. We've been able to pray for brothers and sisters who have been persecuted around the world because of their faith in Christ. VOM also provides global maps that show where the areas of persecution is heaviest around the world. Recently, we've participated in sending an Action Pack to a Christian family in Iraq through VOM. These action packs are filled with clothes, blankets toiletries and other items that are difficult for families to obtain in Iraq, Pakistan and Sudan.

Yesterday, in the magazine a pull-out card was included that called for 14 Days of Prayer on behalf of persecuted Christians around the world. For the next 14 days, I'm going to post the prayer guide for the day in the hopes that you will join me in praying for our brothers and sisters.
"Ruth is a widow whose husband was killed in a religious riot in Nigeria. Pray for Nigerian widows."
"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous" (Matthew 5.43-35).

~ Rob

28 September, 2009

Opening Remarks at Combating Violence Against Girls Event

From Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
Event hosted by the Government of the Netherlands
New York City, NY
September 25, 2009

I want to start by saying something that I believe with all my heart, and, obviously, those of you who are here believe it also, that the issues related to girls and women are not an annex to the important business of the world and the United Nations, they’re not an add-on, they’re not an afterthought; they are truly at the core of what we are attempting to do under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that is the guiding message of this organization and what each of us in our own countries is called to do on behalf of equal opportunity and social justice.

So for me, this is a tremendous opportunity to speak about an issue that has basically been relegated to the backwaters of the international agenda until relatively recently: violence against girls and women, and particularly today, violence against girls.

I wish that we could transport ourselves into a setting where we could be in the midst of girls and women who have been suffering from violence, but we don’t have to because it’s all around us. It is in the home, it is in the workplace, it is on the streets of many of the countries represented here, including my friends Maxine and Celso. And it is in the places that make the headlines from time to time, and then in the very bottom paragraphs, there’s a reference to the violence that is a tactic of war and intimidation and oppression to prevent girls from going to school by throwing acid in their faces, by raping girls as a way of intimidating them and keeping them subjugated and demonstrating power.

So this, for me, is one of the most important events that I’ve done at the UN. I worked this week with President Obama on our agenda, on everything from nonproliferation and the threats posed by Iran to the P-5+1, to the ongoing challenge of the Middle East, and so much else. But oftentimes, my press – I’ll only speak for the American press – will pose a question that goes something like this: "Why are you spending so much time on these issues that are less important or not as significant as the ones that are really at the heart of foreign policy?"

And I usually patiently explain, for about the millionth time, that this is the heart of foreign policy. Because after all, what are we doing? We’re trying to improve the lives of the people that we represent and the people who share this planet with us. And we do it through diplomacy, and we do it through development, and occasionally we have to do it through defense. But violence against any one of our fellow beings is intolerable. And when it is part of the cultural fabric of too many societies, when it is an assumption of the way things are supposed to be, then it is absolutely a cause for our action collectively.

As some of you know, I traveled to Goma in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo last month. I went to a refugee camp that is home to 18,000 people in a very small plot of land; in fact, land that is covered by lava from a volcanic eruption. And it was a stark reminder of a conflict that has left 5.4 million people dead since 1998. And walking through that refugee camp was, as I’ve often felt walking through camps in other places, both the best and the worst of humanity: the worst because of what drove these people to this extreme measure of fleeing their homes, leaving their fields, running from danger; and the best because of the international response.

But the people leading me through the camp – they had a man who was the president, a woman who was the vice president – were talking about what life was like day to day, because the camp provides no security. You are there, but if you venture out, as too many of the girls told me, for water or firewood, or literally just to breathe because you’re living arm-to-arm with thousands of other people, you put your life at risk. Something like 1,100 rapes are reported each month in the Eastern Congo; that’s an average of 36 women and girls raped every day.

I heard a lot of terrible stories. A 15-year-old girl who looked younger than her years, who was fetching water from the river, when two soldiers – she wasn’t sure who they were, were they irregulars, were they militias, were they the Congolese army. They were just soldiers who told her if she refused to give in to them they would kill her. They beat her, ripped her clothes off, and raped her.

I met one of the nine-year-old girls who was nabbed by two soldiers, who put a bag over her head, and raped her repeatedly in the bushes; and a woman who was eight months pregnant when she was attacked, and after being so brutalized and losing her baby, she was no longer accepted in her own home.

And then I met a woman who was about my age, who had four children and a husband. They were farmers from one of the small holding farms that so many of the world’s poor try to survive by. And she called them bandits. They took her husband out, shot him. Two of her children ran out to try to help their father, shot them, came into the house, shot the other two children all in front of her, and then repeatedly gang-raped her, left her for dead. And she told me she wished that she had died.

Well, these are the most extreme examples, but there are so many that we could point to. And since I believe that the progress of girls and women holds the key to sustainable prosperity and stability in the 21st century, this is a matter of great concern to me and to my country. When women are accorded their rights and accorded equal opportunities in education and healthcare and employment and political participation, they invest in their families, they lift them up, they contribute to their communities and their nations. When they are marginalized, when they are mistreated, when they are ignored, when they are demeaned, then progress is not possible, no matter how rich and well-educated the elite may appear.

The problem of violence against women and girls is particularly acute in conflict zones, but that’s not the only place we find it. The UN has done some excellent work in the last years in war-torn areas. And while boys are pressed into service as child soldiers and trained to kill, and often drugged to do so, girls are raped and often forced into becoming sex slaves. And this has happened to thousands and thousands of children. We also know that despite the best efforts of those of us in this room, all too often these acts of brutality and de-humanity do not just affect the individuals, they affect the fabric that weaves us together as human beings.

Next week, I will chair a Security Council session here in New York on the epidemic of sexual violence against women and girls in conflict zones. And the United States will introduce a resolution to strengthen our efforts to curb these atrocities and hold all those who commit them accountable. We will call for a special representative of the Secretary General to lead, coordinate, and advocate for efforts to end sexual and gender-based violence in armed conflict.

But violence against women and girls happens everywhere. You have not only domestic violence, but female feticide, dowry-related murder, trafficking in women and girls. It’s quite alarming that even among well-educated people in some countries, the rate of selective abortion against girls is alarming. There are millions – some estimate as many as 100 million – missing girls. And they are missing because they’re either aborted or they are still subjected to infanticide or they are denied nutrition and healthcare and allowed to die in alarming numbers before the age of five.

In Thailand in the 1990s, I met girls who’d been sold into prostitution by their fathers, when they were as young as eight. And by the time they were 12, many of them were dying of AIDS. I drove around the area in northern Thailand, and one of the people with me said, "You can tell which homes have sold their girls, because they’re the ones with the satellites" and that there’s a lot of peer pressure; it would go satellite, satellite, then you’d have no satellites, and then satellite, satellite.

So we know these statistics. A third of all women will face gender-based violence at some point in their lifetime. In some parts of the world, the number is as high as 70 percent. The United Nations estimates that at least 5,000 so-called honor killings take place each year. Nearly 50 percent of all sexual assaults worldwide are against girls aged 15 or younger. And more than 130 million girls and young women have been subject to genital mutilation.
All over the world, you find a higher value on male children, girls being coerced into early marriages, denied access to schools, adequate nutrition and healthcare, and enslaved in forced labor. And so there are many stories. We have two young women with us today, and we have many more who they represent.

The problem is that very often there is no legal action taken against those who perpetuate this violence, even when they are members of a nation-state’s armed forces. We are pressing the government of the DRC very hard to bring to justice five officers of the military who have been implicated in either these actions themselves or in a permissive environment for them.
And there are many young women who are standing up and who need our support. The story of Mukhtar Mai, a young woman who I’ve come to know, who was gang-raped in 2002 on the orders of her tribal council in rural Pakistan because of something her brother had done. She was forced to walk home naked in front her village, and she was expected to kill herself. I mean, that’s what you do. You get humiliated, you get shamed, you get attacked. It’s your fault, you go kill yourself. And the crime, the best we could determine, was her brother was seen walking with a girl from an upper caste village.

So what happened to her? She refused to kill herself, and she refused to hide, and she refused to give in to the cultural milieu in which this attack had taken place. And her case became something of an international cause. And people began asking: What can we do for her? They donated money. She built the first school in her village. She herself enrolled in that school. And now, because of the money that has come in since she was courageous enough to speak out, the school has an ambulance service, a school bus, a woman’s shelter, a legal clinic, and a telephone hotline.

Now, she’s a remarkable young woman, but she’s not alone. And what we need to do is support those who are standing up. I have a friend here, Molly Melching, whom I first met and worked with more than 10 years ago in Senegal, where she very deliberatively began to build community rejection of female genital mutilation by going from village to village and making it a health issue, making it an issue that the tribal elders and the imams began to recognize was not in keeping with their views of themselves or of Islam. And this is possible. It takes time, and we can’t, can’t give up.

So let me just end with a call to action from the leaders of many religious faiths who came together last year to advocate for an end to violence against women, and here’s what they said: Each of our faith traditions speaks to the fundamental value of all human life. Violence against women denies them their God-given dignity. We cannot afford to remain silent when so many of our women and girls suffer the brutality of violence with impunity.

So this meeting could not be more timely or important. Now, we’ve got to follow up. And hopefully, in UNGAs to come, we will fill larger and larger rooms. We will have people making commitments. I know the Dutch Government is very intent upon trying to make sure that action follows. And we can work with our friends not only from Brazil, but I see many of my other colleagues here today. And I hope that we will be the voices for those women who will never appear before the Security Council, they will never leave Goma, they will never leave rural Pakistan, they will never leave their village in Latin America or anywhere else, to come and plead their case before us. So it falls to us to make sure their voices are heard.

Thank you very much.

UNICEF, MTV EXIT and The Killers: Goodnight, Travel Well

25 September, 2009

Human Trafficking Positional Statement

Dear Colleagues in Christ:

We are pleased with the General’s call to prayer on Human Trafficking to take place on Sunday, September 27, 2009. In conjunction with this call the International Moral and Social Issues Council have developed a draft positional statement on the subject of Human Trafficking which has been approved by the General.

Attached please find this resource for distribution within your territory/command as together we address this darkness of captivity with the light of the gospel.


M. Christine MacMillan, Commissioner
International Moral and Social Issues Counsel


Statement of the Issue
Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery. Reliable reports show that millions of people around the world are subjected to it. The techniques used by traffickers and the forms in which trafficking is manifested are various, but what is common to them all is the exploitation of some people by other people. Those who are victimized include babies, children, teenagers, women and men.

The following statement created by the United Nations and adopted by many others, is both a definition of human trafficking and a clear call to action:

"The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs. "

Statement of Position
The Salvation Army is deeply committed to fighting human trafficking however it may be manifested. We seek to exercise care in restoring the freedom and dignity of those affected.

Human trafficking is contrary to the principles of freedom and dignity. The exploitation of human beings dehumanizes the individuals who are trafficked, rewards the inhumanity of the traffickers, and weakens the moral and social fabric of society at large.

Restoring dignity to persons who have been exploited is not easy, and the danger of paternalizing trafficked victims in the name of aiding them must be kept in view.

Traffickers need to be stopped and held accountable, but they also need those who will help them to a transformation of heart and mind.

The Salvation Army is opposed to the corrupt abuse of power against other human beings that is inherent in trafficking for personal economic gain. We therefore have the responsibility, both individually and collectively, to work for the liberation of those who have been enslaved in this manner, and to establish the legal and social mechanisms by which human trafficking can be stopped.

Biblical and Theological Background
Humankind is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26 ). All people are valuable to God, holding a special place in God’s creation (Psalm 8:5). The Bible teaches that nobody should be exploited or damaged. Psalm 10 describes the wickedness of those who entrap others and the Psalmist calls on God to intervene. This Psalm is as relevant now as it was when it was written many years before the birth of Jesus.

Isaiah 42:22 says, ‘But this is a people plundered and looted all of them trapped in pits or hidden away in prisons. They have become plunder, with no one to rescue them; they have been made loot, with no one to say, “Send them back.”’ Joel 3:3 says, ‘They cast lots for my people and traded boys for prostitutes; they sold girls for wine that they might drink.’

Jesus taught that no one should live in physical or spiritual bondage. He said, ‘The Lord has sent me to announce freedom for prisoners, to give sight to the blind, to free everyone who suffers, and to say, ‘This is the year the Lord has chosen.’’ (Luke 4: 18 – 19). He was quoting Isaiah 61: 1 – 2. Later in Isaiah 61 are these words, ‘I, the Lord, love justice! But I hate robbery and injustice.’ (v. 8).
Consequently, Christians are called upon to work for the elimination of all forms of human trafficking.

Practical Responses
Since its inception, The Salvation Army has sought to reduce the worldwide phenomenon of abuse of individuals or groups of people for personal gain, now defined by the United Nations as human trafficking. It has established places of refuge for victims, sought legal changes that would both prevent trafficking and punish those involved, and it has created alternatives for those vulnerable to trafficking. Through its constituent territories, corps, centres and individual members, The Salvation Army continues to plan and undertake culturally and biblically appropriate responses which will help to eliminate the development or continuation of any form of human trafficking.

The Salvation Army recognises that there is a great deal of sex trafficking, and that the majority of those trafficked for sex are women and girls. It rejects this commodification of women in any circumstance – including pornography, prostitution and sex tourism - and works both to eliminate human trafficking for this purpose and to create alternatives for women who would otherwise be forced into prostitution.

The Salvation Army will work against any activity that trafficks people for the sale of human organs. The Salvation Army seeks to develop strategies and methods which assist trafficked people to re-enter and make a home in their chosen place of residence.

Often the incidence of human trafficking is hidden within a society. The Salvation Army takes an active role in researching where human trafficking is occurring and aims to raise public awareness as a result.

The Salvation Army calls upon all legislators in local, national or international jurisdictions to create laws and enforcement mechanisms which criminalize trafficking and which will punish those engaged in such activities.

The Salvation Army also encourages all law enforcement agencies to actively prosecute perpetrators of human trafficking and to work with other government and community organizations to free people from any present or future coercion or threat.

Human trafficking flourishes because there is a demand for the services trafficked people are forced to provide. The Salvation Army therefore undertakes education and awareness raising activities so that those who use products or services supplied by trafficked people are confronted with the human misery, suffering and injustice created by their continuing use of these services or products.

The Salvation Army recognizes that there are a number of credible organizations working locally and globally on the issues of human trafficking. The Salvation Army encourages cooperation and networking with these agencies to achieve the elimination of human trafficking and to provide support to trafficked people.

The Salvation Army calls upon Salvationists and other Christians worldwide to seek God’s face and pray.

Reference Documents
United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. Definition of “human trafficking”, at Annex II, Article 3, paragraph (a)(http://www.unodc.org/pdf/crime/a_res_55/res5525e.pdf)
humantrafficking.org: A web resource for fighting human trafficking (http://www.humantrafficking.org/)
United Nations Global Initiative To Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT) (http://www.ungift.org/)
The Salvation Army, ‘Opposing and Preventing Global Sexual Trafficking’ (

The views expressed in this international positional statement constitute the official position of The Salvation Army on the issue addressed, and they may not be modified or adapted in any way without the express written permission of International Headquarters.
(Approved Draft: 14 September 2009)

22 September, 2009


Get involved. Get informed - be the change you want to see in th world. Come on people...

20 September, 2009

Pray for Peace

Some prayer you can pray on this day of global prayer for world peace in The Salvation Army.

Join us as we invite God to change us and make us instruments of peace. Some other resources here.

Prayer for Peace and Forgiveness

We confess that in our lives we do not
Always choose the way of peace.
We spread gossip which fans the flame of hatred.
We are ready to make any sacrifices when Caesar demands -
but few when God invites.
We worship the false god of security and nationalism
We hold out our hand in friendship -
But keep a weapon in the other behind our back

We have divided your body of people
Into those we trust and those we do not.
Huge problems challenge us in the world -
But our greed, fear and selfishness prevent
us from uniting to solve them

Lord, we pray for your help,
Your forgiveness and your
Reconciling power in our lives.

Pax Christi Daily Prayer

Thank you loving God
For the gift of life
For this wonderful world which
we all share
For the joy of love and friendship
For the challenge of helping to build
your kingdom.


My determination to work for a world
of peace and justice
My conviction that, whatever our
nationality or race,
we are all global citizens,
one in Christ
My courage to challenge the
powerful with the values of the Gospel
My commitment to find nonviolent
ways of resolving conflict
- personal, local, national and international
My efforts to forgive injuries and to love those I find it hard to love.

Teach me
To share the gifts you have given me
To speak out for the victims of injustice
who have no voice
To reject the violence which runs
through much of our world today.

Holy Spirit of God

Renew my hope for a world free from the cruelty and evil of war so that we may all come to share
in God's peace and justice. Amen

Blessed are you peacemakers,
who say no to war as a means to peace.

Blessed are you peacemakers,
who are committed to disarm weapons of mass destruction.

Blessed are you peacemakers,
who wage peace at heroic personal cost.

Blessed are you peacemakers,
who challenge and confront judges, courts & prisons.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
who help those who are hurting.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
who befriend perfect strangers.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
who open doors for acting justly,
loving tenderly and walking humbly with God
and all people of good will.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
who welcome, encourage and inspire.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
who offer hope and healing.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
who care and comfort.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
who help find answers.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
who provide stability not insanity.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
who help restore faith and love.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
who delight in creation, art & creativity.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
who see the good in others.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
who never give up.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
who give and give and give.

Fr. Paul Milanowski Grand Rapids, Michigan

16 September, 2009

Buying Sex Is Not a Sport

Join us for the first Fall event of Buying Sex Is Not a Sport on September 18 at 10th Avenue Alliance Church in Vancouver.

Buying Sex Is Not a Sport is a grassroots campaign to raise awareness and effect change around sex trafficking and the 2010 Olympic games. The demand for sexual access to the bodies of women and children fuels human trafficking. Women and children in Metro Vancouver and Whistler are routinely coerced into the flesh trade to meet this demand, and a large sporting event such as the 2010 Olympics will only further exploitation through a rise in the demand for paid sex.

Come hear how you can help end trafficking by engaging your community in change!

Speakers: Michelle Miller - Resist Exploitation, Embrace Dignity (REED)
Trisha Baptie - Honor Ministries and Consulting
Alice Lee - Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter
Phil Reilly – 10th Church

Event Details:
September 18, 2009 7pm-9pm
11 10 Ave.
West Vancouver, BC

For more further information call Michelle at 604.725.3838

11 September, 2009



Here is a youtube clip many of you have probably seen before. We were watching some clips with friends the other day, and this one was put on. Everyone laughed, as did I, but then I started to put myself in the place of the child. How strange for him. Here he is, trying his hardest to get someone with power to do something for someone he loves that he thinks is in need. The desperation in his voice and face are obvious. But the response he gets from that person in power is quite baffling to him. The person in power laughs. And does not help. No matter how hard the child tries to communicate the situation, he gets no where. This frustration, not surprisingly, leads him to anger.

So two thoughts for you today from this initial reflection. First, how often you take the words, the warnings, the questions, and the passions of children seriously. Or do you simply place their moments of need and reflection in the same place as most others...the cute box.

Second, how often do those in the position of power do nothing for those crying out in need? Perhaps we don't take the time to discern their need, or worse, pretend that we do not understand them. How often do we see images of those in situations of hunger, abuse, war, desperation...and then do nothing? We are in a huge position of power in the West, and in The Salvation Army, and yet our general inaction must lead those crying out for help into frustration, and anger. You see this isn't a case of the poor being silent and then grateful. This is a case of those in need demanding our help, because we are capable of it. When we choose not to act, don't expect the response to be one of silence, or perhaps a comforting "that's ok, thank you for listening". The response will often be one of anger and frustration. Don't be surprised when the powerless rise up against the powerful. It is, after all, not your power to hoard. We have our opportunity, and we must take that opportunity promptly.

The Old Testament is filled will loud desperate need that is met by a silent, yet powerful people. God does not like that. My point? When someone asks, demands, pleads, or begs your attention, no matter who it is, how far away they are or how necessary or urgent you think their problem might be, take the time to respond as they know you can.

Hope this is helpful,

04 September, 2009

Malawi's children pay dearly for the world's cheap tobacco

Ian Wishart
September 2, 2009

Tens of thousands are just ''collateral damage'' to multinational companies.

THE tobacco industry in Myrtleford died in late 2006 when British American Tobacco and Philip Morris decided they could buy tobacco leaves cheaper elsewhere. Indeed they could, with about 85 per cent of global production now coming from developing countries such as China, Brazil, Zimbabwe and Malawi. What they didn't reveal is the human cost of this low-priced leaf.

Seventy-eight thousand children are employed in the tobacco farms of Malawi in conditions barely better than slavery, daily enduring gross violations of their rights. They are paid just two cents an hour, working up to 12 hours a day. The work is unrelenting and pay is often docked for the cost of any food the employer might provide. The children are routinely abused, both physically and emotionally, to make them work harder and longer. Girls in particular are subjected to sexual abuse, often coerced by threats of withholding food, pay or employment.

The children also work without proper protective clothing or equipment. As a consequence, many suffer from the symptoms of what is known as green tobacco sickness, essentially nicotine poisoning. Their handling of the green tobacco leaves is equivalent to a "50-a-day" habit. Consequently these youngsters experience severe headaches, abdominal pain, muscle weakness, coughing and breathlessness.

Economists often use words such as "externality" that hide the true meaning of things. This is where there is an impact - positive or negative - on a party that is not directly involved in an economic transaction. For the tobacco companies, the harmful impact of child labour on tobacco farms is, conveniently, a negative externality. Think of it as the economic equivalent of collateral damage.

Tobacco multinationals have form when it comes to externalities. They have consistently treated the adverse cost of smoking as an externality that is not their responsibility. Only aggressive regulation and legal action in the developed countries of the world has managed to rein them in.

Tobacco companies will argue that in a capitalist system it is their responsibility to purchase raw material cheaply to increase shareholder returns. They say that when they buy tobacco leaf in the markets of Malawi they are simply buying at the market price; that they are not responsible for how the tobacco is produced or who is involved in its production.

This view of economics and the limits to corporate responsibility is untenable in the 21st century. More responsible multinationals have already realised they must take responsibility for their global supply chains, which is why we can buy Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee (even in fast-food restaurants) and sweatshop-free sports shoes.

Tobacco companies try to suggest that it is up to the Government of Malawi to enforce child labour laws. This view conveniently ignores a massive power imbalance.

Children do not work in the tobacco farms because they prefer it to school. They work because it is a marginally better option than starvation. Malawi maintains a rock-bottom-priced tobacco production industry because it has precious little else to sell besides tobacco leaf, which makes up 70 per cent of its export revenue. Neither the children of Malawi nor the country are in any position to bargain. Poverty and vulnerability drive this situation at both the household and the national level.

Yes, Malawi should act to ensure that children are paid decent wages, treated with respect and given access to education and medical care. But the free-market response of multinational tobacco companies would no doubt be to stop buying tobacco in Malawi, finding somewhere cheaper.

This is effectively a race to the bottom in which the multinational companies hold all the cards - a painful experience of powerlessness that the people of Myrtleford know about.

The only way this can be stopped is for multinational companies to self-regulate their supply chains or for some form of global regulation to be enforced. But for now the free market seems completely free to impose nasty externalities on children without conscience or responsibility. No thought is given to the duties the companies have to these children.

It has become painfully clear that the damaging externality of carbon pollution must be internalised in our market system. It should be equally clear that global capitalism and the wonders of free trade need greater civilising limits if impoverished children are to be kept from becoming collateral damage.
Ian Wishart is chief executive of Plan International in Australia. The report Hard Work, Long Hours and Little Pay: Research with Children Working on Tobacco Farms in Malawi can be found at plan.org.au.

01 September, 2009


Let's celebrate the amazing news that by early 2010, Cadbury's Dairy Milk bars can be part of our diet again!

We congratulate Cadbury on their commitment to justice and now look to their policy being adopted across their entire product range. Cadbury's decision demonstrates the power of ordinary consumers in bringing change and freedom. Two years ago, STOP THE TRAFFIK met with Cadbury and was told that a fairtrade Cadbury's bar was impossible and impracticable. This is a victory for every person who has complained, campaigned and spread the message. But most of all, it is a victory for every child held in exploitative labour on West African cocoa farms. It is important to remember though that all exploited children will not be free until Mars, Nestlé, Lindt, Hershey and all the others have put human rights before profit and make similar announcements.
Click here to find out more about the trafficking of children to work on cocoa farms. STOP THE TRAFFIK has been calling for individual companies to take responsibility for the chocolate they sell and asking for it to be traffik free. This is a very significant step in our campaign.

If you've been campaigning for traffik free chocolate, e-mail the attached press release to your local press and tell them of the campaigning you did. Together we will STOP THE TRAFFIK

Coordinating TeamEnquiries:
75 Westminster Bridge Road,
London SE1 7HS
+44 (0)20 7921 4258
Go to the Press release

27 August, 2009

Fairtrade Cadbury Dairy Milk Goes Global

Fairtrade Cadbury Dairy Milk goes global as Canada, Australia and New Zealand take Fairtrade further into mainstream

Cadbury extends its commitment to Fairtrade by confirming that three more markets are to receive Fairtrade certification for the flagship Cadbury Dairy Milk brand by early 2010. This move in Canada, Australia and New Zealand will bring the independent FAIRTRADE Mark into millions more homes in five of Cadbury’s key chocolate markets.
Cadbury's Media Release

26 August, 2009

Mothers afraid to seek welfare

HOMELESS mothers are loath to approach welfare agencies out of fear they will be seen by authorities as unfit parents and lose custody of their kids, a new study reveals.

The report, The Right to Belong: Family Homelessness and Citizenship by Melbourne-based homeless agency Hanover and Swinburne University, finds increasing numbers of homeless women worry that child protection authorities see homelessness as failure to provide adequate care for their children, and opt to stay out of a system that could give them much needed help.

Foreign students 'slave trade'

Nick O'Malley, Heath Gilmore and Erik Jensen
July 15, 2009

Thousands of overseas students are being made to work for nothing ? or even pay to work ? by businesses exploiting loopholes in immigration and education laws in what experts describe as a system of economic slavery.

The vast pool of unpaid labour was created in 2005 when vocational students were required to do 900 hours work experience. There was no requirement that they be paid.

Overseas students remained bound to the system as completion of such courses became a near-guaranteed pathway to permanent residency in Australia.

Since then the number of foreign students enrolled in the sector has leapt from 65,120 to 173,432 last year ? about half of all overseas students.

The changes have created a $15 billion education industry, as comparable countries don't offer residency. But experts, teachers and students say many of the private college courses are little more than visa mills. Since 2001 the number of private colleges has risen from 664 to 4892.

One university-educated overseas student The Age spoke to spent $22,000 and two years doing a hairdressing course she will never use, just to secure her residency. She did her 900 hours' work experience in a salon closely linked to the college, where students are required to pay a $1000 non-refundable bond to use the equipment.

Other colleges charge their students thousands of dollars in "placement fees" only to then advertise their supply of free labour to local business. And a blackmarket has sprung up in fraudulent letters of completion.

"If you wanted to make a corrupt system, this is absolutely how you would do it," Sydney immigration agent Karl Konrad said.

He said the system began to go bad when the requirement for 900 hours' work was introduced.

"You've got the agents and the proprietors realising that there is a flood of free labour, but, of course, the demand for placements outstrips the supply, so even if they wanted to take all that free labour they can't use it all," said Mr Konrad, the former Victorian police officer famed for his whistleblowing exposure of corruption among fellow officers. "It's all about supply and demand."

He said a trade in fraudulent documents had evolved with employers and agents selling students verification they had completed their 900 hours. One agent told The Age he charged $15-20,000 for such paperwork. "They are slaves," he said. "They work for free from 11 o'clock to 11 o'clock, no breaks, no nothing. They have to pay the owner for the paperwork. They want to stay here. They will do anything."

He described the entire industry as a racket. "They work with no workers' compensation, no insurance. If they are injured at work, bad luck."

Mr Konrad said the colleges and employers had a dangerous amount of power over their students, who face deportation if their enrolments are cancelled.

Even the pretence of education has been abandoned at many colleges, say students and teachers who spoke to The Age.

One cooking trainer said if he did not keep passing students, migration agents would stop sending them to the college where he worked and his job would disappear.

"As for this 900 hours' work experience, at least 60 per cent of my students were paying for it. It made a lot of Indian restaurant owners very rich," he said.

"Two years ago a student would shudder if you asked them if they were here for PR (permanent residency). Now it's blatant."

Mr Konrad said many students had taken out loans or mortgages back home to pay the exorbitant fees.

"If you have taken a loan in Indian dollars of $20,000 to study here, that is going to take you nearly 20 years to pay off in India.

"At least if they make it into Australia they can pay that off within a reasonable time frame."

Foreign student 'exploited' by fast food outlet

Ben Schneiders
August 24, 2009

A FAST food store in Melbourne's CBD has been accused of systematically not paying international students employed while on ''trial'', in the latest claim of exploitation of foreign students .

Prateek Sahni, 23, has alleged a Subway manager did not pay him for more than 40 hours work at the fast food outlet in February and required him to do heavy labouring work for him at a property, also free. He is seeking penalties that could exceed $200,000.

The claim comes as the Fair Work Ombudsman has warned that young foreign students are vulnerable to exploitation and after a security guard at the 2008 Australian Open - who was also an international student - received more than $100,000 in penalties for under-payment.

Mr Sahni's claims have been denied by Biltan Besim, the manager of the Subway outlet at 1-5 Elizabeth Street, who said he tried to contact the accountancy student to pay him but had incomplete details and no surname. He said that Mr Sahni never returned his employment and tax forms and had left his final shift early and ''disappeared''.

Mr Sahni said he never received any forms and his requests for extra work after his final shift were rebuffed after he asked to be paid.

Mr Besim said he ''generally'' and ''predominantly'' paid trial workers but said some abandoned their work and could not be tracked down.

Mr Sahni's lawyers at Maurice Blackburn have lodged a statement of claim in Melbourne Magistrates Court and are seeking penalties for breaches of workplace laws against Mr Besim and Kaba Investments, the store operator.

Maurice Blackburn principal Anne Gooley said her firm has received instructions from other people that what had occurred to Mr Sahni was a ''pattern of behaviour'' from the Subway store, while Mr Sahni said he knew of at least five other students who had not been paid.

The Fair Work Ombudsman executive director Michael Campbell - who was not commenting on this case - said foreign workers were vulnerable to being taken advantage of, particularly in industries such as retail, hospitality and cleaning.

He said non-payment for trial periods was also a common complaint from young people and was mostly illegal. ''Unless you are in a work experience placement or you are a volunteer you should be paid for all hours worked.''

Global Recession Feeds Human Trafficking

The recession is feeding the global supply of sex and labour slaves in some countries and New Zealanders are helping drive demand says Salvation Army justice advocate Chris Frazer.

The Salvation Army, in conjunction with the Australian Institute of Criminology and The Pacific Immigration Directors' Conference, will host New Zealand's first major conference on human trafficking starting on September 2.

Deteriorating household living standards in countries where traffickers source their victims are making the impoverished more vulnerable to profiteering traffickers, Ms Frazer says.

A recent report released by anti-child sex trafficking network ECPAT and The Body Shop highlighted the increasing vulnerability of children and young people being coerced or conned into prostitution or the production of child pornography.

Kiwis who surf the internet for porn are likely to be contributing to misery of those trafficked for the production of pornography, Ms Frazer says.

Estimates of the number of trafficking victims range up to 4 million, of whom 79 per cent are victims of sexual exploitation. The overwhelming majority are women and children.

Most New Zealand homes will contain items or components of products that have been produced by slave labour, Ms Frazer says.

Industries as diverse as clothing, sports shoes, coffee, chocolate, sugar, fireworks, glassware, jewellery and mobile phones and laptops offer products that have been found to have been made with slave labour.

"These are not one-off crimes against mainly children and women - the victims suffer day after day, year after year and the damage to their lives is often permanent," Ms Frazer says.

The three-day Pacific Trafficking in Persons Forum will include speakers from government departments and NGOs from the Pacific region as well as UN and law enforcement agencies.

24 August, 2009

Call to Prayer for Peace

Sunday 20 September 2009

Conflicts between nations and conflicts within nations still claim lives on a daily basis, destroying stability, disrupting education and creating poverty. The United Nations International Day of Peace is 21 September, so The Salvation Army is called to prayer on this theme from Sunday 20 September. Many will want to continue praying for peace throughout the week.

Our Heavenly Father knows when his children suffer and there are many adults and children experiencing pain and bereavement because of war. Jesus said, Are not two sparrows sold for only a penny? But your Father knows when any one of them falls to the ground.' (Matthew 10:29). We pray for peace in the world.

18 August, 2009

Lost Generation

use it as a proclamation - then live it as a lifestyle.

Prostitution laws 'failing sex workers'

By Jonathon Hall
Posted Sat Aug 15, 2009 7:38am AEST Updated Sat Aug 15, 2009 7:55am AEST

A study has found only 10 per cent of Queensland's prostitution industry is regulated. Queensland's prostitution laws are failing to protect sex workers, and are forcing them into illegal brothels, a team of Brisbane academics has found.
Former premier Peter Beattie introduced the Prostitution Act in December 1999 which allowed boutique brothels with up to five rooms.
At the time he said if such rules had been in place there never would have been a Fitzgerald Inquiry, which had detailed the link between illegal prostitution and organised crime.
The new law established the Prostitution Licensing Authority to oversee the sex industry.
But almost 10 years since the Prostitution Act was passed, a major study has found the laws are failing...