24 November, 2010

Eliminate Violence Against Women





White Ribbon Foundation Goal

To prevent violence against women in Australia.

White Ribbon Foundation Mission

To change attitudes and behaviours that support or excuse violence against women in Australia.

Campaign Objectives

1. To create wide-scale awareness about the positive role that men can play in bringing an end to violence against women;
2. To enable leadership, particularly by men and boys, to bring about social change;
3. To build collective knowledge and understanding of the effective prevention of violence against women.

For more information go to:
http://www.whiteribbonday.org.au/

16 November, 2010

Abolitionist Sunday

Join the next generation of Abolitionists by dedicating Sunday November 21 at your church to learn, pray and speak up against the injustice of human trafficking and slavery.


Click the pic to download resources:

15 November, 2010

Charities expect to see an influx of new families seeking help.

"Charities expect to see an influx of new families seeking help. New data
indicates that 36% of NSW homeowners are under mortgage stress,
following a decisions by the big four banks to lift rates beyond the Reserve
Bank's increase."

It's interesting to see Capitalism continuing to effect those who have no ability to change/challenge or even benefit from it. Many homeowners will go into further stress, rents will increase and again the most disadvantaged will have the least ability to "find their feet" in the current economic situation.

Do these institutions just expect people to cope, expect NGO's to pick up the pieces or continue to have no regard for those most vulnerable in the economic climate?

Of course we can argue, which is the best of all systems.. but when will there be a social conscious that makes decisions based on the effects this will have as opposed to the benefits it already brings the most priviledged and positioned in society.

These are questions I am happy to hear your thoughts on, but for now I continue to be frustrated and sadden by a country that wants to thrive on economics rather than the people who make a nation great.

12 November, 2010

Is income management the soultion we've been waiting for?

This is a must read article on income management, and the reasons why we can't implement this as a policy solution.

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Just Real stories betray Abbott's homelessness untruth
JOHN FALZON FEBRUARY 18, 2010

In 1994 I started working in community development in some of the large public housing estates around Sydney. There I learnt a valuable lesson: that everyone has a story. That might sound obvious. It is however the most obvious truths that sometimes need to be spoken.
Now is one of those times. On one hand we have a Government committed to the humiliating blanket imposition of compulsory income management on the basis of race and class. On the other hand we have a Leader of the Opposition who persists with the most offensive attitudes to our sisters and brothers who are doing it tough.

Everyone has a story. And they don't happen in limbo. They happen in the context of developing social and economic structures. Each person's story is a unique intersection of the personal and the political. Each intersection continues to change.

Tony Abbott's recent comments on poverty and homelessness reveal an inability to understand these intersections. If you don't know how intersections work you're sure to come a cropper!

The deeply offensive aspect of Abbott's comments is that he blames people for being left out or pushed out. Nothing could be further from the truth. Choices are constrained for those who have been systematically locked out of the nation's prosperity. There's not much choice between a rock and a hard place. But of course, such a world view lets governments off the hook. It denies the reality of the social.

When I was forced to engage with what was happening in people's lives I was able to see the bigger picture emerging. I found myself being completely re-educated on the causes of inequality and how these social relations intersected in the lives of the people who were pushed to the edges of society. Every day the members of the St Vincent de Paul Society and many NGOs across Australia see and touch the Australian face of marginalisation.

Many of us see this experience as a sacramental encounter. Many of us believe in the real presence of Christ in our disadvantaged and demonised sisters and brothers. We are driven by the truth of what we see and touch. And the truth is that we, as a society, have within our means the ability to change the structures that cause or exacerbate poverty and exclusion. The question is whether we, as a nation, have the political will. We continue to be subjected to social policies that mimic the paternalism exemplified in Margaret Thatcher's contention, 'there is no such thing as society'.

Paternalism starts (and ends!) with a highly unequal relationship of power. It is described by Lawrence Mead, one of its leading US proponents, as 'the close supervision of the poor'. The New Paternalism is a relatively recent version of this approach. The focus is on the supposed individual deficit rather than structural deficits. The very name bespeaks the manner in which people are objectified and treated like young children who have no capacity to make decisions or take control. Any decision imputed to them is roundly condemned by a moralising discourse from on high.

The New Paternalism is exemplified by such policies as compulsory income management or using the threat of financial penalties on sole parents or people in receipt of unemployment benefits. The New Paternalism assumes that people are largely to blame for their own marginalisation; that people who are marginalised are naturally without power; that power naturally rests with those who deserve it; that those with power can, at best, use their power to bring about a change in the behaviour of those without power; and that the problems experienced by people who are marginalised are their own problems, but bleed into the 'mainstream' through increased costs, increased crime, loss of productivity, market constraints and disorder.

These assumptions are as pernicious as they are unproven. They lead to either treating people as if they are 'sick' (pathologisation) or as if they are morally bad (criminalisation). Being locked up often follows hot on the heels of being locked out.

Nothing good can come out of these approaches. They are cursed not only by their lack of compassion but also by their denial of justice. We should be listening to the people who are most oppressed by the structures that cause inequality and marginalisation. We are obliged to engage in bringing about the necessary social change.

The only lasting liberation is won collectively by the people who hunger for it, to paraphrase the Beatitude. Jean-Paul Sartre once noted that no matter how terrible the situation a person finds themselves in, the impetus to seek change does not come automatically. Someone does not wake up one morning and decide that this is enough, that something must be done. Rather, you will do something about the situation only when you realise that an alternative is possible. This must happen on a collective level if we are serious about creating genuine pathways out of homelessness and poverty.

We must create the alternatives rather than condemning our own to be imprisoned in an oppressive status quo. More than this, we must have the courage to imagine the possible together if we are to build the kind of society where homelessness and exclusion are prevented in the first place.

11 November, 2010

Eleven year old girl gives birth

The article below appeared in The Age newspaper today and tells us of an 11 year old girl who gave birth here in Victoria having been raped by a 30 year old man. Can you imagine the pain and despair this little girl had to go through during years of abuse? And, as a permanent reminder, she now has a baby…as innocent as her.

I could write about the failure of Child Protection, or perhaps the failure of community to notice this little girl's pain. I could write about the sex-crazed society that has probably always been with us, but seems to take on new and violent forms as each year passes. Or I could write about the value of human life and the confusion I feel knowing the depravity that exists in individuals.

But right now, I feel like all the writing is done. Now, I feel like we need to stand up and get righteously angry. No more will we accept little girls being used as objects of sexual desire for adults. No more will I accept the transformation of young girls into sexualised women. We must stand up and take back the innocence of childhood.

When we see an item of clothing in the children’s section that should only be worn by an adult, we need to make our disapproval clear. When we see music videos and magazines with very adult themes, complain. It’s time to raise our voices! Will this action stop the future rape of children? Possibly not. But at least let us show the generation of children growing up too quickly before us that they are free to be kids. Let’s stop the thinking that it is ‘cute’ to see children in high heels and short skirts and padded bras. Let us stop calling young children ‘sexy’ (I hear it too often!). Let’s stop giving our children dolls that are devoid of positive influence, or even gravitational reality!

There are so many complexities to this issue, and perhaps I sound naïve for suggesting we can reclaim childhood, but for what it’s worth, I am going to try.


Gen
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The Age, 11th November, 2010.
AN 11-YEAR-OLD country Victorian girl who was abused for years has had a baby.
Police last night confirmed they charged a 30-year-old man in September with 18 offences relating to rape, sexual penetration of a child under 16 and assault with intent to rape.
The man was a family friend of the girl's grandparents, according to AAP. Police last night alleged the abuse had been going on for several years.
The girl gave birth to a healthy baby, believed to be a boy, last month. It is understood she and her family were not known to child protection services before she became pregnant. A medical professional is believed to have alerted the authorities after the girl presented for treatment. Police said they could not reveal the identity of the suspect, who was in police custody, because it could identify the victim. A Department of Human Services spokesman last night would not comment. The family was believed to be receiving government support.
REID SEXTON

Connecting with Aboriginal People in your Community

Aboriginal people represent approximately 4% of the population of Australia. In some locations the proportion in the population is much higher. In any given area, there will be Aboriginal people living there who will be traditionally connected to that area. There will also be Aboriginal people in that area who have traditional connections in other geographic locations.

Aboriginal people have a deep connection to spirituality, relationship networks and creation. These deep connections exist whether they live completely in the culture of modern multicultural Australia or not.

Corps and social programs can find much more effective ways of connecting with Aboriginal people in their community. Here are several important steps:

1. Recognise that Aboriginal people are inherently spiritual
2. Read and find out more about Aboriginal people
3. Fly an Aboriginal Flag
4. Plaque to acknowledge Original Stewards of the land
5. Hang the Reconciliation Painting in a prominent place
6. Visit the Local Traditional Elders in the area where your corps or centre is located
7. Provide facilities and opportunities for Aboriginal people to gather
8. Understand significant Aboriginal issues
9. For corps, ensure worship is culturally appropriate
10. Subscribe to Aboriginal newspapers
11. Engage with special events in the Aboriginal calendar
12. Invite the Territorial Indigenous Ministry Consultant.

You can contact Lloyd Hollingsworth (03) 8878-4766 to seek his advice, guidance and assistance in connecting with his people in your community.

09 November, 2010

worship and justice

I watched this video on worship and justice. It again reminds us that the injustice in this world can not be fixed by man alone but by God and his people. How many of those people are listening, are responding and are walking alongside those whom the world has forgotten. No matter how much we know about justice or how far the journey takes us, it is God's journey of restoration and today I was reminded of that, as we all need to play a part. No more excuses, no more holding back, being God's person is responding to the cry in my community (local and global. Even if we don't know what to do, doing something (praying, serving, loving) is the beginning of God showing us how we can further respond.

Boat people victim of a big fat lie!

This is a great article that I would love you to read from The Daily Telegraph

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MY FATHER dug up a photo from the family archives last week of my late Great Aunt Rita, his father’s sister. She is standing aboard a boat that had just arrived in Port Melbourne in the late 1940s. Staring at her across the deck is a crowd of well-dressed, young smiling faces.

You’d have to wonder why they were smiling. They had just travelled six weeks across the ocean from southern Europe after fleeing the ravages of World War II.

Many were alone, many had lost entire families.

Perhaps it was because they knew that interest rates in Australia were then controlled by the government.

Rita was this country’s first welfare officer, having served as immigration minister Arthur Calwell’s secretary.

Her job was to ensure safe passage of post-war displaced people to this country under the government’s policy of Populate Or Perish.

I’m told she would often get on the boat herself and sail to Europe to collect the lost and bewildered, travel back with them, many with little or no English, and help them resettle as the New Australians.

She was a pioneer in a program that eventually transformed the mono-cultural character of Australia. Most would say for the better.

Looking at these pictures, it struck me, as odd as it may sound, that the big four banks have done the political debate on asylum seekers a service this past week, by making too much money and charging people more to have some of it.

They have put the issue in context. And in doing so they have exposed the great lie of the recent election campaign and the moral perversion that accompanied it.

Today, unless you live in Inverbrackie, the only thing in your hand would be a calculator and the last thing on your mind would be the threat of a population explosion or cultural dilution. One of the burdens of living in Australia is that you have to invent horrors to be outraged by.

In the past week, as people recalculate their monthly mortgage payments, hundreds of asylum seekers have quietly arrived at our shores.

A daily missile from the Government heralds the arrival of yet another boat from unknown destination.

But you wouldn’t know it unless you’re on Brendan O’Connor’s email list. And what of the new Paul Erlich-inspired population bomb? But barely a word mentioned.

It simply goes to prove, in a stark demonstration of electoral caprice, that the recent federal election was fought, largely, around a big fat lie - that Australia was at risk of being swamped by boat people. Again.

It’s no wonder that there is some deep soul searching going on in the Labor Party at present. Much of it is about how it approached this issue during the election in response to the Coalition’s well-worn dog whistle. Greg Combet called it for what it is last week when he suggested the values of compassion, equity and social justice had been abandoned in favour of focus groups and polling.

And so it is with this deliberately confused debate around immigration, population and illegal entrants and the push polling of fear that has driven it.

Its effect has been a wilful distortion which encourages the issue of illegal entrants to be confused and demonised in the community as an excuse for failures to deal with the broader discussion on immigration levels and population numbers, which neither side of politics has an answer for.

The fact is that the number of boat arrivals in the past year numbered 5237, which is 3.15 per cent of the total immigration program of 168,623. If you take it as a percentage of the 2009 net overseas migration figures or population growth which was 320,400, the percentage is down under 1 per cent.

Here’s another figure. In 2008, there were an estimated 42 million displaced people in the world, 15.2 million refugees and almost one million asylum seekers.

Australia is abou tNo. 22 in the world in the ranking of countries most likely to have people lining up at the border to get in. More people actually apply to get into Cyprus and Malta than they do Australia.

YESTERDAY, the Sunday papers warned that we have hit record high numbers of people arriving by boat, although the figure is only marginally higher than it was in 2001.

Julia Gillard was right when she said it would take 20 years to fill the MCG with asylum seekers as they arrive at their current rate to Australia.

More backpackers are in this country illegally than people who arrive by boat.

But what she failed to do - and still fails to do - is clearly articulate the issue as not one about a bigger Australia and immigration levels but one that has distinct and separate obligations, which we as a country have signed up to.

With every wave of migration to Australia - whether forced or encouraged, and largely in reaction to war - there have been accompanying campaigns of fear that white European heritage and culture would be further diluted.

Whether it was the Greeks and Italians, Eastern Europeans, Russians or Turkish, or the Indochinese that followed, the same fears were raised in the community and fostered for political advantage.

How ironic that there is probably not an Australian alive today who hasn’t eaten at a Vietnamese or Chinese restaurant. Beer companies now even make ads about kebabs. We all eat Greek salads and spaghetti bolognese.

Hell, there is even a North African diner in Neutral Bay that is permanently booked out.

Sadly, the current hysteria is a case of history repeating itself under a different racial and religious banner. This time the fear being cultivated is that we are to be swamped by Muslims.

Again, the notion is an absurdity. Not just because many fail, sometimes deliberately, to make distinctions between Islam and extremism, but because the numbers simply don’t stack up.

For a start, of the three main groups currently dominating illegal entrants to the country, the Tamils from Sri Lanka are predominantly Catholic or Hindu. They are not Muslim.

Of the Afghan refugees, the majority are Hazara. And while they are Muslim, the reason most are fleeing their country is because the Taliban are terrorising them for not being Muslim enough.

On both sides of politics, there are decent men and women who privately see this issue through a prism of compassion, humanity and reason.

But the politics of fear that has been allowed to fester in the community has swamped the judgment of those whose responsibility it is to lead by example and principle, and not by misguided populism. Populism should be reserved for bashing banks and a bit more humanity put back into the debate about asylum seekers

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See the article at:

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/opinion/boat-people-victims-of-a-big-fat-lie/story-e6frezz0-1225949065238

04 November, 2010

Arnotts statement on fairtrade

"In late October 2010, Arnott's Australia New Zealand announced it has commenced working with Fairtrade Australia New Zealand to ensure the farmers who grow and produce their cocoa beans in West Africa get a better deal.Although Arnott's sources only a small amount of cocoa from West Africa (less than 0.1% of that region's total supply), the announcement signals the Company's commitment to playing its part by purchasing Fairtrade Certified cocoa that prohibits the use of the worst forms of child labour, ensures a fair and stable price and a Fairtrade Premium, which is reinvested back into community projects.

According to Stephen Knapp, Executive Director Fairtrade Australia New Zealand, this move by Arnott's is a win for the cocoa farmers of West Africa."Fairtrade is excited to be taking this step with Arnott's, which demonstrates their commitment to making a difference in West Africa by purchasing Fairtrade Certified cocoa and empowering cocoa producing farmers to build a better and brighter future for themselves, their families and communities," he said.

World Vision also welcomed Arnott's commitment to sourcing ethical cocoa that has not been made with the use of child labour. In a media statement issued by World Vision, CEO Tim Costello said, "We are very pleased with Arnott's commitment..."

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Check out Just Salvos Live with Jarrod McKenna for more on that...
Slavery - JSL Ep 18, Recorded on 1/11/10 salvostudios on USTREAM. Christian

27 October, 2010

White Ribbon Against Pornography Week

Dear Friends:

This is a friendly reminder that this coming weekend begins White Ribbon Against Pornography Week.
I hope many of you will take advantage of this opportunity to share about pornography's harms with your family, friends, and congregations. For inspiration, here is what Captain Mark Czanderna of Gaffney, SC, plans to share about with his corps:
"This Sunday, I plan to talk about how Christians are not only to abstain from works of darkness, we are to EXPOSE them (Ephesians 5:11). Psalm 97:10 says that those who love the Lord are to hate evil. My primary objective is to thwart people from going down the porn road and to rescue those who are on that road (a road to destruction). My secondary goal is to expose how monstrous and enslaving the porn and trafficking business is... just as William, Catherine and Bramwell did so many years ago. While many media outlets normalize the pornification of people, our media outlets seek to protect them and uphold their dignity. We need to keep hitting this giant head on and trust like David did that one small person with God can take off a giant's head."
Additionally, Captain Mark has developed a terrific sermon outline that may be of help to those of you who want to attack this issue but feel ill equipped to do so. You can find his sermon notes (developed with resources from http://www.porn-free.org/) and the 2010 WRAP flyer attached below. For additional resources please visit: http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/anti-pornography. 2010

WRAP Flyer

Sermon Notes

Abolition!

Lisa

22 October, 2010

The State of World Population 2010


"Ten years ago, the United Nations Security Council passed a landmark resolution calling on governments to protect women from rape during war time and to tap the power of women to keep the peace and rebuild societies once the fighting has stopped.

Has the resolution made any difference in the struggle against gender-based violence? Are women in war-torn countries faring any better today than they were a decade ago? Do women finally have a place at the table in peace negotiations and in reconstruction?

The State of World Population 2010 will show what has been accomplished in places affected by ongoing conflicts or by military occupation. It will also show the special challenges of countries that have endured both political instability and natural disaster."

12 October, 2010

Walk Against Family Violence 2010

Join us at the
Walk Against Family Violence 2010

Did you know 1 in 3 women will experience some form of violence
throughout their life?

Show you care by taking part in this year’s Walk Against Family
Violence and raise awareness for this cause.

Join Father Bob Maguire and the Melbourne Storm as we show our
support to end violence against women and children.

This event is being organised by many agencies working in the area
of preventing and eliminating family violence.

Last year, we had over 250 participants, and we would like to make
this year even bigger.

Thursday 25th November 2010
From 10:30am
Outside AAMI Park, Olympic Blvd, Melbourne
Melways Ref: 2G D9

We will then be walking to join the Not1More event at
Federation Square.
Contact Gae Old, Family Violence Outreach Worker on
9536 7735 for more information and find out how else you can be
involved.

Look forward to seeing you there,
Walk Against Family Violence Organising Committee 2010

Our Generation


Here is the beginning of my post.And here is the rest of it.

Ukrainian woman 'tries to sell toddler'

When I check my emails, I open the yahoo homepage, and a news feed of five headlines will appear. I am often amused by the selection of stories, and wonder what the criteria might be. It wouldn't be unusual to have a the latest political news next to a story on parrot that sings a repertoire of Elvis songs.

And today, they had the story of the Ukrainian woman who tried to traffick her toddler. It struck me, as it is the first time in my memory I have seen the issue of trafficking on Yahoo. With an estimated 27 million people trafficked every year for all sorts of horrible reason, you would think it would be reported more often. And while I am happy to see this horrific injustice hitting the spotlight, I wonder if this story made the same criteria as quirky parrot as opposed to world news. Regardless, the story is worth a read, and if you go to the link, keep your eye on the comments below. It is always interesting to see what the average Joe sits.
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Ukrainian woman 'tries to sell toddler'

Ukrainian police have detained a woman suspected of trying to sell her 2-year-old daughter to human organ traffickers.

The woman, 28, is described as an unemployed resident of the village of Uspenovka, in the eastern Zaporizhia region.

Police have evidence she intended to sell the toddler to human organ traffickers for $12,600, the Interfax news agency reports.

Law enforcement officials reportedly detained her on Saturday evening, shortly after she accepted payment for the child and its organs.

The baby girl was now "safe, healthy, and in the custody of a regional hospital," a Zaporizhia police statement said on Monday.

The woman will face charges of human organ trafficking with intent to sell abroad.

If convicted, she faces a prison term of between eight and 15 years, police said.

In recent years, Ukraine's government has attempted to reduce trafficking of people and human organs, with a state-run media campaign warning of the illegal trade's dangers.

The campaign has reduced the numbers of human organs exported from the country illegally and Ukrainians sold abroad into slavery, law-enforcement officials say.

http://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/-/world/8115818/ukrainian-woman-tries-to-sell-toddler/

11 October, 2010

silent = deadly

When flicking furiously through the Herald Sun while you wait for your morning coffee, looking for the Sudoku which conveniently changes location in every single issue, you may have noticed that somewhere around the weather section there’s a little box in the corner that details the Daily Road Toll Update. It offers readers the current total of deaths caused by car accidents in Victoria and a statistical comparison of the same day in the previous calendar year? In case anyone was interested the tally stands at 234 deaths (7th October) and this is a 12% increase on last years total for the same date. This modest little box stands not only as a memorial to those lives that have been lost on our roads but also as a reminder of the destructive capability for which we are responsible every time we get behind the wheel.

Needless to say, this is pretty serious stuff. But what should be more alarming than these printed digits is the fact that significantly more people die every year from suicide than from motor vehicle related fatalities. This is meant as no disrespect to our rectangular shaped friend from the Herald Sun but as one of Australia’s leading cause of death, it would seem that the issue of suicide perhaps deserves a little more attention.

So we’re going to give it some.

According to the World Health Organisation’s Annual Report, in 2008 there were 2,191 registered deaths from suicide and nearly 80% of these reported cases were males. While this makes up only 1.5% of all registered deaths in Australia, it is alarming to recognize that this figure accounts for a significantly greater proportion of deaths within selected age groups. For example, of all the registered deaths of males aged 15-24 years, 24% were due to suicide.

Put simply… one quarter of all young males who die – die because they kill themselves.

Another disturbing statistical standout is that the age-specific suicide rate for indigenous males aged 25-34 lies at ten times the national standard rate. It is this elevated rate of suicide among Aboriginal communities that accounts for the Northern Territory consistently reporting the highest number of suicides in the country.

Now while the national standard suicide rate has declined slightly over the past decade it should come as little comfort when we recognise that an increase in larger and less personal communities, mental health problems including depression, substance abuse issues, conflicts over sexual identity, violence and abuse, and even bullying in schools is causing individuals such emotional grief that they feel the only way out is to simply stop living.

This is the horrific reality that we as justice seekers must confront. I mean there are a plethora of social justice issues to be faced and suicide may even seem like the least of them, but what lies as the common foundation to all of these indignities is a flawed understanding of the inherent worth of humankind. So as the euthanasia debate rages on and the casualties of global conflict continue to rise, as human beings are considered nothing more than commodities to be consistently sold into slavery, and while individuals continue to remove themselves from reality believing it’s there only choice… we must respond with Hope.

A counter cultural response to the indignities of humanity must be a hope filled espousal of the sanctity of life.

03 October, 2010

The Girl Effect

"Over and over, studies have found that the level of poverty reduction and economic growth in a country is directly correlated to the levels of education attained by women - more so than any other factor. " Doug Saunders - Globe & Mail

Did you take that fact in? It means that we have a place to start when considering the eradication of poverty. We know that whatever plan we come up with must redress the issue of inequality, persecution and violence against women, but we also know that it all starts with education, both access to and involvement in. What is going on now that prevents women from accessing education? War and conflict, inequality, a need for women to work or rear children…a whole range of reasons I am sure. We must realise the complexity of factors contributing to their inability to access education, because any success in providing education will first have to address these additional issues.

There is no silver bullet that will ‘fix’ the world. We are going to have to peel back the layers of injustice. And with that, we are surely going to realise that we too contribute to the injustice experienced by others. We are going to each have to examine our lifestyle and decide what we are doing to perpetuate injustice experienced by so many of our brothers and sisters around the world. From the clothes we wear (find out about ethical shopping), to the food we eat (think about environmental issues as well as ethical trading), to the places we travel and the ways we spend our money there, to the political regimes we support both directly and indirectly, to the charities we fund (we need to support the current need while also investing in new and transforming models like micro credit schemes). Take some time to think over how your life could impact negatively on another’s. And then, make a change.

This is a cool little youtube to watch. Yes, it is more complicated than illustrated, but it helps simplfy things a little.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIvmE4_KMNw

02 October, 2010

Mānawa!

I have just spent the last week in New Zealand. It confirmed for me again just how much work we have to do to embrace our Indigenous brothers and sisters in Australia.

In New Zealand, Maori culture and language is everywhere, and speaking and singing in Maori is quite common for all who live in New Zealand. Even the kids programs on TV include Maori language as a I watched my son learn that a cow or Kau says moooo. The 'welcome to country' for the Just Action conference almost brought me to tears as I watched a genuine exchange of respect and understanding. To then witness the American Teritorial Commander speak for the first five minutes in Maori said to me that learning the language and culture of the Indigenous people is not a token, but a given. It blew me away.

I have two questions. One, why is New Zealand so much more advanced than Australian in their acceptance of Indigenous people and culture? And two, what does Australia need to do to follow in their example?

I would love for some discussion to start, otherwise, I guess I will research and get back to you!!

Oh, and look out for the upcoming Surrender Truth Lab to be held on Saturday 6th November at Box Hill Baptist Church/Art Gallery (Melbourne).

The Jisas wantaim Art Exhibition will be opening will be from 4-6pm and the SURRENDER Truth Lab: ’First things first – how your faith is linked to Indigenous Australians and what to do about it’ at 7:30pm. Speakers include AUNTY JEAN PHILLIPS, GRAHAM PAULSON, BILLY WILLIAMS, LLYOD HOLLINGSWORTH, GOMA CONLON

Come and chat with passionate Indigenous Christians in a safe space. Explore the history of Christian interaction with the First Australians, begin a journey through listening and find out why the country needs to look to Aboriginal leadership for true reconciliation.

20 September, 2010

Indigenous kids must speak like us – just don’t teach them “Ketchup”!

Two stories appeared on news.com.au today and their comparison is a glaring example of how our many in our community (or at least, some news editors) are yet to understand the cultural ramifications of gentrification – when it comes to Aboriginal people anyway!

In this piece newly appointed Indigenous Employment Minister Mark Arbib says Indigenous Australians must be taught English ahead of their traditional language if they are to get jobs. http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/breaking-news/english-first-for-indigenous-kids-mark-arbib/story-e6frea73-1225926332548

In another article (see link below) it seems Australia is up in arms because Heinz are trying to change the name of “Tomato Sauce” to “Ketchup” here in the Great Southland.
In response to this proposed name change business and community leader Dick Smith (himself a warrior for Indigenous rights) says the move is “disrespectful” and "They don't give a stuff about Australian culture or our way of life".
Channel 9 star (and all round “great Aussie bloke”) Scott Cam goes even further – “They’re infiltrating us – it’s not our way of life”.
http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/business/condiment-shake-up-as-heinz-plays-ketchup/story-e6frez7r-1225926114013

Ummmmm… Need I say more?
We are – as a nation, it seems – up in arms when a multi-national company attempts to change one word that has American connotations.
We are - as a nation, it seems, happy for our Government to openly state (again) it’s intentions (again) to impose our culture, our way of life and our language (again) on a people who have already had so much of their culture, way of life and language wiped out by us, well meaning white fellas (again)?

I took the liberty of changing the two articles around a little to address the huge contradictions…
Kris

IT IS enough to make Kevin Rudd shake his sauce bottle. Or at least stir a dead horse.

INDIGENOUS Australians must be taught English ahead of their traditional languages if they are to get jobs, Indigenous Employment Minister Mark Arbib says.
Senator Arbib said while he wanted to see traditional languages kept alive, the focus had to be kept on English.

Dick Smith labelled the move "disrespectful", "They don't give a stuff about Indigenous culture or their way of life," Mr Smith said.
Channel 9 star Scott Camm said the final remnants of the thousands-year old Indigenous culture and heritage would be lost to future generations.
"What, are they gonna start walking down the sidewalk?" he said.
"We’re infiltrating them - it's not their way of life."

Senator Arbib said he would work with School Education Minister Peter Garrett and all state governments to ensure that literacy skills were being taught to indigenous children.
"Because they need it," he said.

08 September, 2010

Suicide - silent and deadly

Suicide claims on average the lives of seven Australians a day. There are approximately 65,000 suicide attempts each year – and more than 2,200 loved ones will die by suicide in Australia annually. Despite these horrifying numbers, suicide remains a taboo in Australia and is still horribly misunderstood and mistreated.
Friday, 10th of September is World Suicide Prevention Day, a global awareness day operating internationally as an initiative of the World Health Organisation and the International Association for Suicide Prevention. This year’s theme is ‘Many Faces, Many Places: Suicide Prevention Across the World’.

‘Suicide can affect anyone and it is up to us to get to know the signs of suicide and how we can not only get help – but how we can also give help’ said Suicide Prevention Australia CEO, Ryan McGlaughlin.

‘We hope that World Suicide Prevention Day can be the catalyst for a national stigma reduction campaign that the recent Senate inquiry The Hidden Toll: Suicide in Australia has called for. This is a day in which we can start to remove the stigma of help-seeking and mental illness and ensure that embarrassment or fear of what others may think never claims another life through suicide.’

Suicide Prevention Australia Chair, Dr. Michael Dudley lamented ‘Australians are more than aware of how to perform CPR after seeing it glamorised many times on television and movies. But if you were to ask how we as people can help those around us with suicidal thoughts, many would be left scratching their heads. Suicide is now the most likely cause of death for men under 44 years of age and for women under 34 years of age – yet no one outside of the sector is actively working to reduce these staggering figures’.

Most people are still shocked to learn suicide claims more lives than motor vehicle accidents, cirrhosis and liver disease, influenza, skin cancers or deadly assaults. It is with this that suicide now deserves the national attention, funding and nation-wide initiatives to raise awareness, dispel the myths and save thousands of lives each year.

Suicide Prevention Australia has launched www.wspd.org.au to raise awareness for World Suicide Prevention Day. The website offers a fantastic range of resources for all Australians to get involved in reducing suicide in Australia.

(info from http://suicidepreventionaust.org/Home.aspx)

Check out http://salvos.org.au/suicideprevention/ for Salvo specific information...

06 September, 2010

Some great quotes from the UN Health Conference...

"Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good" Dharmapriya Wesumperuma

"When big brother gives aid, he usually wants something in return" Dr. Caleb Tyndale O.Otto

"We must raise the profile that peace is an achievable goal. People wrongly believe that war will bring stability and security. We must change our understanding and know that it is peace and not war that will bring stability and security and life" Dr.Sue Wareham

Following on from this, Dr.Wareham talked about the culture of war that is celebrated and honoured so highly. In reference to Canberra, and the campaign to build two more war memorials, she said:
"We already have 38 war memorials in Canberra...do we really need two more? When are we going to start memorialising peace?"

"Australia must start preparing itself for climate change refugees. We could build rafts for ourselves, but I don't think they are going to last very long!" Dr. Caleb Tyndale O.Otto (this one got a few laughs :-)

02 September, 2010

Over 24,000 children die every day around the world.

That is equivalent to:

•1 child dying every 3.6 seconds
•16-17 children dying every minute
•A 2010 Haiti earthquake occurring almost every 9-10 days
•A 2004 Asian Tsunami occurring almost every 10 days
•An Iraq-scale death toll every 16–40 days
•Just under 9 million children dying every year
•Some 79 million children dying between 2000 and 2007

Can you handle more??
•2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation
•1 billion children are deprived of one or more services essential to survival and development
•148 million under 5s in developing regions are underweight for their age
•101 million children are not attending primary school, with more girls than boys missing out
•22 million infants are not protected from diseases by routine immunization
•8.8 million children worldwide died before their 5th birthday in 2008
•4 million newborns worldwide are dying in the first month of life
•2 million children under 15 are living with HIV
•>500,000 women die each year from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth

The wealth and good will of Christians alone could end a large portion of this needless pain and suffering. The fact that we are no where near reaching the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 says to me that people are more interested in God's 'other' priority areas. I wonder what they are?

gen

01 September, 2010

More information from the UN global health conference


More information from the UN global health conference:

  • One billion people do not have access to adequate and appropriate food.
  • 2.6 billion people around the world lack access to an improved sanitation facility.
  • 8 out of 10 people who are without access to safe drinking water live in rural areas.
  • Almost 9 million children die before the age of five, uncounted more have preventable disabilities.
  • At least 340000 women die each year of pregnancy related causes, including the lack of trained health care professionals during childbirth.
  • Millions of people die prematurely of non communicable diseases, as well as TB, malaria and complications of Aids every year.
  • An estimated 420 million people in developing countries have a disability; 267 million world wide have preventable visual impairment.
  • Human induced environmental degradation causes short and long term health threats including climate change.

Tomorrows blog will give us an idea as to what the UN want us to do. But until then, pray!

And wow, while typing this, I just witnessed Reverend Tim Costello making an unrehearsed plea to help Pakistan. Very inspiring. He calls for a debt moratorium while they deal with the current crisis crippling their nation.

31 August, 2010

Violence against women

The UN estimates that one in 3 women experiences physical or sexual violence.

One particularly gruesome practice is the act of female genital mutilation

Here is some info...

FACTS
·Female genital mutilation (FGM) includes procedures that intentionally alter or injure female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
·The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women.
·Procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later, potential childbirth complications and newborn deaths.
·An estimated 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of FGM.
·It is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15 years.
·In Africa an estimated 92 million girls from 10 years of age and above have undergone

International Response
Since 1997, great efforts have been made to counteract FGM, through research, work within communities, and changes in public policy. Progress at both international and local levels includes:
·wider international involvement to stop FGM;
·the development of international monitoring bodies and resolutions that condemn the practice;
·revised legal frameworks and growing political support to end FGM; and
·in some countries, decreasing practice of FGM, and an increasing number of women and men in practising communities who declare their support to end it.
Research shows that, if practising communities themselves decide to abandon FGM, the practice can be eliminated very rapidly.

For a full report on what’s being done, see http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2008/9789241596442_eng.pdf

Here is a youtube clip on the issue, but I warn you, it is confronting and hard to watch.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQSgIoSTgVU

24 August, 2010

Balancing the church and the state

During this election campaign, we have had some concern that the Salvos are getting too far into the political arena, and that they should remove themselves from the affairs of the state.

This statement concerns me. I understand the purpose of separation being one of protection of the people of the state; so that my values that flow from my beliefs are not unfairly placed on those who profess no such faith. I both understand and support this notion. However, if I am called to remove myself from the advocacy of those oppressed by the unjust structures inherent in capitalist democracies simply because I have both a faith, and an allegiance to a denomination, then I will have to disagree.

Some of our greatest political activists were Christians, and were active because of their faith. William Booth, Martin Luther King Jr, William Wilberforce, President Lincoln!! To be Christian does not make you silent on issues of government. The Salvation Army must speak for those who are not heard, and they must speak to the people in power. That includes business leaders, community leaders, and yes, politicians. The Salvation Army is apolitical, and will criticise any political party or position that does not represent the needs of the most disadvantaged. We will always be, unashamedly, involved in advocacy for those most in need, and that will always involve us in the political arena and at times in fierce political debate.

And let us remember, that to be political does not mean one needs to always be critical. Very often, those engaged in politics will come to The Salvation Army and seek the wisdom of our practical experience, or ask us how a policy could be shaped. We work together, regardless of the party, to better the justice outcomes for the most disadvantaged. However, when we find that a Party is taking us down a path we believe to be detrimental, we will speak out against the policy (not the party, or the person). Politics is all around us. To turn our back on it would be to turn our back on our people. The Salvation Army will continue to work apolitically until fair outcomes are a reality for all.

Here is a Papal encyclical on this topic that I found helpful, and hope you will too:

“Founded to build the kingdom of heaven on earth rather than to acquire temporal power, the Church openly avows that the two powers—Church and State—are distinct from one another; that each is supreme in its own sphere of competency. But since the Church does dwell among men, she has the duty "of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel." Sharing the noblest aspirations of men and suffering when she sees these aspirations not satisfied, she wishes to help them attain their full realization. So she offers man her distinctive contribution: a global perspective on man and human realities.” ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PAUL VI ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF PEOPLES, MARCH 26, 1967

Gen

22 August, 2010

Confused?

Australia had its election yesterday, and no one won! It says a lot about the state of Australia, and we will be talking about that and what's to come on Just Salvos Live on Monday, 6.30pm EST.

But for now, here is a summary of some of the key elements of yesterday printed at the ABC website:
Key points of the 2010 election:

•Australia set for first hung parliament since 1940
•Greens hold balance of power in Senate with nine seats
•Liberal Ken Wyatt elected first Indigenous member of Lower House in WA seat of Hasluck
•Adam Bandt first Greens member elected to the Lower House at a general election
•LNP's Wyatt Roy, 20, becomes youngest person ever elected to Parliament in seat of Longman
•Veteran Liberal MP Wilson Tuckey loses O'Connor to Nationals candidate after holding it since 1980
•Labor's 2007 star recruit Maxine McKew loses seat of Bennelong

In the end, Labor finished with 70 seats and the coalition 72, but you need 76 to take a majority so it will be up to the five Independent seats to decide who they will join to make a minority government. Early suggestions are a Liberal minority government by one seat.

One thing is for sure, the country is not overly impressed or inspired with either of the two parties. There was a 16% informal vote (turning up but not voting correctly) which is huge (and very disappointing) and a massive swing for the Greens in the senate who now hold the balance of power and picked up their first seat in the House. It is all very intersting.

So join us for more on Monday at http://www.salvationarmy.org.au/sstv/justsalvos.htm

18 August, 2010

A lament and a prayer for Pakistan...

Have you abandoned your creation to destruction, and your children to despair?
Have you left us with nothing but our own selves to guard against the evil that surrounds and invades us?
Why Lord can you not come quickly to the aid of our brothers and sisters in Pakistan?
Will you continue to let the enemy have his way?
When will your justice flow like the floods covering the homes of millions of innocent victims?
When will your grace pour like the rains that cause such devastation?
When will you show us your powerul and merciful hand?
For you, oh Lord, are the mighy one...mighty to save.
You Lord are the creator God who parts seas and governs kings.
You Lord are the army leader who gathers soldiers and crushes the enemy.
Lead us now to help one another through the trials that seem to hurt some, but not others.
Be our Lord and come to our rescue.
Show us Your ways and lead us in the ways grace, justice, mercy and love.
Come to our rescue.
Be our salvation.

16 August, 2010

Compulsory democracy...an oxymoron???

Mark Latham is up to his usual silliness in the week leading up to the election. He is encouraging people to vote 'informally'.

He says 'They say voting is compulsory in Australia but it's not compulsory to fill out the ballot paper, you can put it straight into the ballot box totally blank. That's what I'll be doing on Saturday and I urge you to do the same.'

In an article (link below) from the Sydney Morning Herald, Jacqueline Maley comments on the immaturity of his stance. "No matter how disillusioned we become with the political process, the soullessness of election campaigns, the mindless slogans and the baby-kissing, the moment we decide to vote informally is the moment we weaken our democracy." She rightly goes on to point out the lengths individuals will go through in oppressive regimes to get to the ballet box, some risking death and persecution in both the demanding of free and fair elections, and in the voting process itself. "Elderly villagers queueing to vote in the first free East Timorese election in 2001. The great civil rights marches of the American south. The felling of the Berlin wall. (As an addendum, it was after the sabotage by militia groups of that 2001 East Timorese election that the Australian government sent in troops: the ultimate expression of how strongly we value the right to vote.)"

Elections are one of the foundations of the democratic process, and a component that we must not take for granted. As helpless as I feel right now over the treatment of asylum seekers, of our indigenous mothers and fathers, of our very earth, at least I know I can go to the local primary school and make my voice heard on Saturday. Is there a party I can vote for the resembles exactly what I think should happen? No. But the very act of voting reminds me that the power to vote, to advocate, to rebuke, to choose is the accountability politicians need to ensure the foundational principles of our country, as enshrined in our constitution, are maintained. The minute we fail to see the power of the free voice in Australia, we begin to allow power to clot where is should be free flowing. Encouraging people to devalue their vote encourages people to devalue their freedom. Latham's comments aren't too problematic as I am pretty sure that nobody listens to him, but still, one has to wonder how he entered politics (and with relative success) with this perspective.

I am however often challenged by those outside Australia who assert that the democratic value of free elections is somewhat devalued when made compulsory. Its a good debating point, but with such a small population, Australia needs a compulsory vote to legitimise the process. Maybe when we start letting more 'boat people' in we will be able to stay home on election day :-)

Bottom line...vote. And vote according to the parties values, and not the flashy media issue of the month. Never underestimate the gift of freedom you have, and exercise that gift for the benefit of those in need, and not just for yourself.

The link for the full article is at http://www.smh.com.au/federal-election/lathams-blank-vote-blather-from-mouth-of-truculent-teen-20100816-125ns.html?autostart=1

gen

13 August, 2010

"He's as mad as a cut snake!"

Great article in the Age today. Have your comment on the just salvos facebook site!
---

Bob Hawke says there is no way to "stop the boats" as Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has claimed he will do to the asylum-seeking craft regularly arriving on islands off Australia’s north-west coast.

The former Labor prime minister repeated his attack on Mr Abbott describing him as "mad as a cut snake" and said Australia needed people like those arriving by boat to claim asylum because they had initiative and courage.

Mr Hawke offered a range of thoughts across many issues to a Financial Services Council conference in Melbourne today.

Mr Hawke admitted he had early concerns about Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s re-election prospects but believed the Labor campaign was looking up for her now.

He also said there was no way to "stop the boats" as Mr Abbott had promised.

"We’re all bloody boat people," Mr Hawke said.

"That’s how we found the place."

Mr Hawke said he understood the frustration of many voters at "queue jumpers", but said "we have to look at the other side of the coin".

He said the Coalition’s approach to the boat people question was "nonsense".

"We cannot turn the boats back," Mr Hawke said.

"These people have got initiative, guts and courage and Australia needs people like that."

He pushed Indonesia as the location for an asylum seeker processing centre, saying it would be "fair enough, as long as the conditions there are humane".

Mr Hawke also spoke about his South Australian-based work with a centre focused on improving relations between the Islamic community and others, saying the real challenge for Australia in his eyes was not to "demonise Muslim people".

On the wider question of the August 21 poll, Mr Hawke was happy to admit the five-week campaign had not started well for Labor, after a series of damaging leaks and the issue of former leader Kevin Rudd’s rolling.

"Julia hasn’t been able to shine in the first half of the campaign," he said, but he genuinely felt that Labor would win.

http://www.theage.com.au/federal-election/the-leaders/abbott-mad-as-a-cut-snake-says-boatperson-hawke-20100813-122fr.html

10 August, 2010

Federal Election Resources

Please find two resources available for your use in preparation for the upcoming election.

The Federal Election Statements 2010 will help you further understand the eight priority areas and the corresponding recommendations The Salvation Army believe are necessary for our political leaders to acknowledge. This document can be accessed here:


The Federal Election Prayer Guide focusses on the major issues affecting the nation, and can be accessed here:


Whilst The Salvation Army shows no preference to particular political parties, it is important to be aware of the political state of the nation, and advocate where possible for the most marginalised and vulnerable of our community.

We trust these documents will help you to prepare for the national election on August 21st. Please feel free to print both documents and distribute as required.

Let us unite in prayer seeking wisdom for the leaders of our country and discernment for all voters.

09 August, 2010

Conclusion to the $2 challenge

Sorry all, I have been without net and time.

I want to conclude my thoughts on the $2 a day challenge.

On the second last day, I decided to increase the difficulty. I left home without my wallet. It is one thing to pretend to be poor, knowing that if anything went slightly wrong that day, you would have a credit card to fix it. But to give yourself no option of cash was an exciting addition to the challenge. I remember blogging on a similar lesson when my husband and I were stranded in America and in dire need of medical attention. We were faced with the likelihood of a ten thousand dollar or more procedure, and were judging whether to risk it (despite the fact that infection had set in) or pay the money. I remember being thankful for my 'rainy day' savings, while at the same time wondering what on earth those without a spare ten thousand dollars would do.

My friend made it through the challenge successfully, however on one day, when hit hard with a migraine, she was able to relieve the pain with medication. While this wasn't against the rules, it did bring home the great security of medical care, even in the simplest form of pain relief. We are able to live through some of the most complex diseases and horrific accidents in the western world. We are able to prolong life beyond all reasonable expectations. While in the developing world, lives are still lost to what should be benign dieseases such as malaria and diahorrea.

On the final day, I spent money. Not on food, but on an item of clothing I needed (seriously!) And so, I am thinking about doing the challenge once more, but without a credit card altogether.

I encourage you to take up the challenge...for a week, or a day. For me, the challenge enabled great clarity on some basic welfare and community development principles, and also gave me some solidarity with the poor, even if only in the most limited sense. If you do, please write your experiences on the blog, or on the Justsalvos Facebook page so we can learn from your journey.

And, check out http://www.salvationarmy.org.au/sstv/ for the latest edition of Just Salvos Live (that wasn't that live today!)

Good times,
Gen

05 August, 2010

40 US billionaires pledge half wealth to charity

Bill Gates and Warren Buffett think fellow US billionaires should donate most of their vast fortunes to charity, and they revealed Wednesday that 40 are set to do just that.

"Forty of the wealthiest families and individuals in the United States have committed to returning the majority of their wealth to charitable causes," said a statement released by www.givingpledge.org.

The idea is to squeeze morally-, not legally-binding pledges from the super wealthy.

"You don't have to wait to die to give it away," said Bloomberg, a media entrepreneur and major philanthropist whose worth is estimated by Forbes at 18 billion dollars. "It never made a lot of sense to me why you'd want to change the world for better and not be around to see it...You can't spend it if you have over a certain amount," he explained.

Read more from this article at: http://au.news.yahoo.com/a/-/world/7710834/40-us-billionaires-pledge-half-wealth-to-charity/

----

I know we can be skeptical, and I am sure there are a lot of questions we could ask about where the money will go, and what oppression they caused in the making of their fortune...but ultimately, getting money from the super rich is a good thing.

Good on ya rich dudes!

Gen

04 August, 2010

Nothing over $2!

Day three:
Well, I have made it three full days without cheating, despite being offered the most fragrant and free kebabs at the launch of the Greens campaign in Melbourne tonight. It was a struggle today, as my tardiness caused me to run out of the house without first eating breakfast, and without my lunch! That tupperware container full of delicious plain rice sat in my fridge all day while I worked thirty long minutes away. That brings us to our next lesson: be very organised.

When you are living life on a small budget, you can’t leave home without your supplies. I can’t tell you how many times I have forgotten my lunch without any fear of going hungry. With about 20 cafes in the street, there has never been any reason to worry. Today, I learnt to wait for food.

It was interesting to think of the transferable skills those living with little have to the world of employment. While working at Employment Plus, I had a lot of clients that were deemed nearly unemployable by employers as they had no ‘skills’. I realise more than ever today, that to live on a small budget, one learns orgainsation, money management, time-management, patience and thriftiness. Sounds like an employable person to me!

03 August, 2010

Another day of $2 a day...

Day two. I have made it through the day despite walking through a food court and living with the constant smell of glazed danish. (I live above possibly the greatest bakery in Melbourne)

The lesson of today? When you have little, you take great care. Of course I didn’t learn that lesson until after I lost my precious chillies! I had two tiny chillies in a small bag, and they must have been thrown out. It was surprisingly disappointing even though their worth was just 10cents.

I can understand how the developed world produce far more than its share of waste. Our possessions and our food are dispensable. It seems even people are dispensable.

Perhaps if we learnt to value what we had more, we would be ok with having less. Perhaps we would look after our things a little better. Perhaps we would even be able to afford to pay a reasonable price for our goods? Wouldn’t that be crazy?

02 August, 2010

Day two of $2

If you read yesterdays post you can catch up with what's going on, but basically, I am taking the $2/day challenge. The first obstacle of the day came at breakfast. Never a good start. But I realised, I really dislike oats. It was the cheapest breakfast option and I am certain I will adjust my taste buds by the end of the week, but for today, I went without and waited till my ricey goodness lunch.

So the old saying 'beggars can't be choosers' is taking on a whole new meaning for me. Sure, when you are hungry enough, you are grateful for anything. But there is less joy in the receiving.

Perhaps we can think about that when we are making up our food parcels to give away. We can't change what we have to give, but we might need to adjust our attitude a little. I can understand why some people don't jump for joy when they are given their parcel of beans and canned soup. Sure, it's better than nothing, but still nothing to get excited about. So perhaps we need to expect less gratitude? And maybe we need to be more humble in our giving and acknowledge our failure to deliver greater things. Perhaps a sharing of their despair may mean more than an attempt to bring joy with bland food.

But maybe I'm just hungry and talking gibberish :-)
More tomorrow,
gen

01 August, 2010

Diary of two dollars a day…

A friend and I have decided to take on the ‘Live for under $2 a day’ challenge. So for the next five days, we have $10 each. It actually sounded do-able until I went to Safeway for my week’s worth of food. As I strolled through the aisles, I realised lesson one: you can eat for a week on $10…but it’s going to be bland. The rules stipulate that if you want to spice up your food with salt and chillies, you need to buy them with your $10. That makes the whole thing a little trickier. And, forget spices, I was really worried about quantity. I realise now that $10 does not get you far, even when sticking by lesson two: always buy homebrand. Once you have a carb, a dairy and a vegetable, there is really not a lot of room for much else. There in lies lesson three: team up and double your supplies. It was at that point that I realised the importance of a community approach to poverty. I couldn’t buy everything, and needed to share the costs with my friend. I worked out, that by halving our quantities, we could double our variety. Even still, I am looking ahead to a bland week of eating, and have cut out anything remotely resembling a luxury. And by luxury I mean meat and fruit, not chocolate. In my shopping experience, I also understood why welfare quarantines can never work. For me to stretch my budget as far as possible, I cannot shop at Coles or Safeway exclusively. While some of their items are cheap, I really needed a market and a $2 store to get the most out of my buck. The quarantine requires you shop at selected stores, and that limits your savings a great deal.

So, what did I manage to buy?

Milk $1.54
Sweet chilli sauce $2.15 (an expensive item, but necessary to spice up the plain rice
1Kg Rice $1.99
Margarine $1.09 (needed it as I anticipated reduced energy with the reduce fat intake)
Oats .99c
Frozen mixed vegies $2.19 (could have got fresh, but couldn’t guarantee the price)
Total $9.95

There were some things missing that I really needed. I think sugar is necessary for the oats (and without any treats in the basket, possibly just as a snack on its own!), and I would have loved salt for the rice. So I split my oats and my margarine with my friend and she bought sugar and salt to split with me. With my extra five cents and the sharing costs, I had enough left over to get a packet of pasta too! Very excited about that.

I realise that this $2 a day is exclusively for me. I could probably stretch it out to my husband, but little Wesley requires formula and that would totally break the bank. Keep in mind as well, that the $2 a day is being spent exclusively on food, and doesn’t take into account heating, electricity, water etc. This is an incredible awakening.

I will blog each day to let you know how I am going, and encourage you to join in at anytime! Go to the site at http://livebelowtheline.com/

Peace out!
Gen

30 July, 2010

THE SALVATION ARMY FEDERAL ELECTION STATEMENT 2010

The Salvation Army has developed 8 key election statements which we believe will assist policy makers redress structural inequalities that continue to contribute to hundreds of thousands of people living in poverty and experiencing homelessness or inadequate housing, poor health, limited education options and few employment opportunities. These statements are:

1. National Poverty Reduction Statement
2. National Homelessness Statement
3. National Housing Affordability Statement
4. National Asylum Seekers and Refugees Statement
5. National Health Policy Statement
6. National Youth Policy Statement
7. National Aged Care Statement
8. National Workforce Capacity Statement

We are asking that all political parties give due consideration to these statements as in the end we as a country will be judged by our treatment of the poorest and most disadvantaged.

This document can be accessed on the home page or by clicking on the following link:

http://www.salvationarmy.org.au/salvwr/_assets/main/documents/reports/election2010.pdf

29 July, 2010

Could you live on $2 a day???


Can you imagine living on just $2 a day? For the majority of the world, they don't have to imagine it, they live it. Oaktree Foundation and Glogal Poverty Project are running a campaign highlighting the severe poverty experienced by too many in our world. I encourage you to check out the site and see how you could get involved. This could be an excellent activity for your corps to engage in, and an easy way to start the conversation on global poverty and our response.

26 July, 2010

Sitting in the sadness

I was on a tram today and picked up my copy of 'The Catholic Worker' to pass some time. The time didn't pass. The time stopped, and I found myself overwhelmed with sadness. Read this reflection by Bill Quigley on Haiti

"Hundreds of thousands of people are living and sleeping on the ground in Port au Prince. Many have no homes, their homes destroyed by the earthquake. I am sleeping on the ground as well - surrounded by nurses, doctors and humanitarian workers who sleep on the ground every night. The buildings that are not on the ground have big cracks in them and fallen sections so no one should be sleeping inside.

There are sheet cities everywhere. Not tent cities. Sheet cities. Old people and babies and everyone else under sheets held up by ropes hooked onto branches pounded into the ground.

With the rainy season approaching, one of the emergency needs of Haitians is to get tents. I have seen hundreds of little red topped Coleman pup tents among the sheet shelters. There are tents in every space, from soccer fields and parks to actually in the streets. There is a field with dozens of majestic beige tents from Qatar marked Islamic Relief. But real tents are outnumbered by sheet shelters by a ratio of 100 to 1.

Rescues continue but the real emergency remains food, water, healthcare and shelter for millions.

Though helicopters thunder through the skies, actual relief of food and water and shelter remains mimimal to non-existent in most neighborhoods.

Haitians are helping Haitians. Young men have organized into teams to guard communities of homeless families. Women care for their own children as well as others now orphaned. Tens of thousands are missing and presumed dead.

The scenes of destruction boggle the mind. The scenes of homeless families, overwhelmingly little children, crush the heart.

But hope remains. Haitians say and pray that God must have a plan. Maybe Haiti will be rebuilt in a way that allows all Haitians to participate and have a chance at a dignified life with a home, a school, and a job.

One young Haitian man said, "One good sign is the solidarity of the world. Muslim doctors, Jewish doctors, Christian doctors all come to help us. We see children in Gaza collecting toys for Haitian children. It looks very bad right now, but this is a big opportunity for the world and Haiti to change and do good together." "
(written in January, 2010)

As social justice advocates, we press on and fight and educate and help out. We know there is injustice and brokenness in the world. That's why we sacrifice and persist. But every now and again, you read something that causes you to sit in the sadness. My heart breaks when I think of the despair people go through throughout our world. And I look around me and I am surrounded by wealth and opportunity. Wealth chokes our nation. We have no idea how much is enough and rather than resting in satisfaction, we continue to strive for more and more and more. We demand a tightening of our borders for fear our resources will dry up, without considering those we shut out or 'turn around'. We accumulate wealth for our own protection and think little of the protection of others.

Can you argue against these generalisations about wealthy developed nations and their citizens? Of course! But just for a moment, let's sit in the sadness, let down our defensive guards, and intercede for our Haitian friends in prayer. Let us honestly ask God what we can relinquish, and in great humility, ask how we can be a part of God's will for earth.

Oh, and I encourage you to check out The Catholic Worker newspaper. You have to subscribe, but it is only 30 cents! (though you can of course give more!) http://www.catholicworker.org/help/faq.cfm#1

So that is Eureka Street and The Catholic Worker...what can I say...those Catholics know how to do justice!

Gen

25 July, 2010

Clothed in justice

Just Salvos Live will be talking all things ethical shopping tomorrow from 6.30pm EST (or anytime from then on demand at salvationarmy.org.au/sstv.)

For a taster, have a look at these five principles for ethical shopping:

1) Ask yourself: "Do I need it?" We often buy things we don't need. 80% of consumable products end up in the bin within 6 months.

2) Remember: Every choice makes a difference. You may be only one of 6.7 billion people on the Earth, but your decisions count. Your dollar is your vote.

3) Don't be overwhelmed. Learn about the issues behind your shopping, but just take on one issue at a time.

4) Go for the best buy. You won't find the right product all of the time. Choose as best you can, based on your values and availability.

5) Make new habits. Once you learn about a product, put your decision into action every time. Give feedback to the shop or manufacturer - let them know what you want.
* Adapted by Michael Green for The Age 20/4/08
Check out the whole thing and more at: http://www.ethical.org.au/getinformed/principles/

And, youtube 'the story of stuff' (youtube.com) if you have some time as well, and sift through the presentations there. All food for thought as we gear up for a conversation on sweatshops, supply and demand, our constant 'need' for more, and as always...how to change the world :-)

Join us!

Gen

23 July, 2010

Hundreds made homeless by mass forced eviction in Kenya

"Amnesty International has called on the Kenyan authorities to halt the forced evictions in a Nairobi settlement that have left hundreds of families homeless and destitute.

A bulldozer from the Nairobi City Council flattened market stalls in Kabete NITD on Tuesday night for the second time this week. On Saturday, authorities had demolished around 100 homes and 470 market stalls.

Despite rumours in the community that forced evictions were imminent, no official notice was given to residents or traders.
"The residents of Kabete NITD, who were already living in poverty, have seen their homes and livelihoods destroyed without warning - these mass demolitions must end immediately," said Justus Nyan'aya, Director of Amnesty International Kenya.
When some traders continued to work on the rubble of their former stalls, the bulldozer returned just before midnight on Tuesday to re-flatten the site.
A toilet block that was partially destroyed on Saturday and then re-built by residents was also entirely demolished on Tuesday night. Police and city officials then filled the remaining pit latrines with rubbish so that they could not be used.
Angry residents reportedly clashed with armed police on Wednesday as tensions flared in the settlement. Many residents were still inside their homes when the bulldozers first arrived, giving them just minutes to evacuate."I woke up suddenly and heard the tractor as it was demolishing everything. We'd had no warning they would be evicting us. We tried to salvage some of our things but it all happened so fast. We even lost all of our clothes and bedding. I have nowhere to go, nowhere to run to. The government should give us land where we can build," Beverly, a 61-year-old resident of Kabete NITD, told Amnesty International.
The evictions have left hundreds of people, mainly women and children, without shelter. Many are sleeping outdoors without blankets or warm clothes, or money to buy food or other essential items. It is currently winter in Nairobi and cold at night.
Most of the market traders - the majority of them women - lost all their goods and have had their livelihoods destroyed. Residents believe that another part of the settlement is also at risk of being demolished.
"The government is treating us like dogs. They don't think that we are human beings. They say that they are fighting poverty but really they are promoting it by carrying out evictions in this way," said Sella, a 78 year-old woman from the part of Kabete NITD under threat of forced eviction.
Kabete NITD (Native Industrial Training Department) was established in 1974 by workers constructing a road. The land is owned by the Veterinary Department of the government of Kenya, although there have been other claims of ownership and repeated threats of forced eviction.
In May 2010, market traders operating from the road reserve in Kangemi were relocated by the provincial administration to unused land in Kabete NITD. The relocation took place after months of consultation and negotiation and was peacefully carried out.
By contrast, the forced evictions from Kabete NITD have been carried out without any such safeguards and completely disregard the relocation plan that had earlier been agreed with the communities.
BackgroundUnder international human rights law, evictions should only be carried out as a last resort and only after all other feasible alternatives to eviction have been explored in genuine consultation with affected communities. Governments are also obliged to ensure that no one is rendered homeless or vulnerable to the violation of other human rights as a consequence of eviction.International human rights monitoring bodies and NGOs have for many years highlighted concerns about the pattern of forced evictions and threats of mass forced evictions in Kenya.In November 2008, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recommended that protection against forced eviction should be included in Kenya's new constitution. In 2009 it called for the establishment of a legal framework for eviction based on internationally acceptable guidelines.The Kenyan government has committed to creating national eviction guidelines that would ensure adequate safeguards are put in place, but it has not yet done so.In the absence of such guidelines, large-scale forced evictions of people living in informal settlements are regularly carried out in a manner that contravenes international human rights standards."
Taken from http://www.amnesty.org.au/news/comments/23365/

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Can you imagine waking up to trucks ready to bulldoze your home? Just a few minutes to grab any possession you could carry before your life was crushed? With no where else to go, and all possessions gone...what would you do? Imagine this is the way the government handled the forced acquisition of homes in Footscray??? Fortunately, this is not the way our government handles 'problems', because we live in a country where human life is valued more than a road.

If you would like to help people in this specific situation, or other oppressive situations, please contacthttp://www.salvationarmy.org.au/childsponsorship

18 July, 2010

Why Nauru is not an option we can pursue...

Here is a great piece from Eureka Street written by Susan Metcalfe.
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"While many countries are concerned by talk of a return to processing asylum seekers in poor Pacific countries, Nauru's caretaker president, Marcus Stephen, is raising his hand to be involved. While I empathise with the impoverished conditions in Nauru, Australia should never again be engaged in dodgy deals with this Pacific neighbour. For Nauru, it's all about the money.
Along with its past reputation for offshore banking, money laundering and selling passports, Nauru has a history of arbitrarily banning outside entry to the small country. Australians were largely denied access for much of the time the Nauru camps were in operation. I was only able to enter the country for the first time in 2005. I made 10 visits to the camp between 2005 and 2008 but there were times when the Nauru Government simply stopped replying to my visa requests. There was never a guarantee I would be allowed back in.

I was acutely aware of a separation between the local population and the people in the camps. I discovered quickly that most Nauruans had no understanding of the refugees or their past experiences. I was deeply concerned that church groups on the island and those travelling from Australia rarely took an interest in the detainees. Resentment among Nauruans was widespread, particularly when food was being given to refugees while many Nauruans were going hungry. The refugees were tolerated only because of the cash they represented.

Such was the level of dislike for the outsiders that an IOM Nauru medical report from 2002 noted: 'Many doctors from the local hospital staff showed reluctance in attending to the needs of the migrants that were referred to the hospital. This has been the subject of an ongoing discussion in our public health liaison with the RON.'

If an asylum seeker or refugee breached the conditions of their visa in Nauru, if they wandered into an off-limits area or argued with authorities, they could be jailed. One man tells me 'if anyone does any mistake he is sent to jail for seven days or eight days without clothes, and mosquito ... and if you want to do shit they told them to do shit in same place ... it was terrible, we are refugee we are not criminals'.

Being assessed as a refugee in Nauru was no guarantee of freedom. In June 2002, when more than 100 people who had been found to be in need of protection were still detained, UNHCR's Marissa Bandharangshi said: 'We have been particularly disturbed by the fact that these are people who now, despite having been recognised as refugees are still in detention.' Others who were initially rejected languished for years until they became suicidal.

The Nauru parliament is currently deadlocked and unable to govern itself but the current caretaker administration is so eager for a deal on refugees that Stephen says he is willing to consider signing the refugee convention. But Nauru was not prepared to do this during the six and a half years it held people under the Pacific Solution and this alone would not guarantee a change in attitude. The other country involved in John Howard's Pacific Solution, Papua New Guinea, was a signatory to the refugee convention but the problems were still significant.

I understand the financial difficulties faced by Nauru and for many years I offered my support and empathy for a country that was reluctant to let go of the income generated from a deal that had been struck by the late President Rene Harris in 2001. But Nauru will receive $26.6 million in Official Development Assistance from Australia in 2010–11, much more than before the Pacific Solution, and if Nauru wants to retain its independence as a nation state it cannot be built at the expense of vulnerable and already traumatised people.

Holding refugees in Nauru was designed as a punitive measure by the Howard Government and it lingers as a dark era from which many are still recovering.

Australia's involvement in implementing a future regional solution for refugees must focus on solutions for refugees who have little chance of ever finding a resettlement place. According to UNHCR, only 10 of every 100 refugees in need of resettlement are now resettled every year. This is the problem in need of a solution, it is why many refugees get on boats, and any notion of returning to our past treatment of refugees in Nauru and Papua New Guinea must be taken off the table by both major parties in Australia."

You can find this article at http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=22399 And, I highly recommend you sign up for the daily emails from Eureka Street. It is an excellent resource for justice minded people. God bless the Catholics! Here is the link: http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/subscribe.aspx

17 July, 2010

Jesus loves the little children, and so should we.

I was at a kid's programme this week in a fairly poor area of Melbourne, and I noticed a couple of things. One, they are wonderful creations of God, and deserve the best that God has for them. Two, they are unlikely to reach that 'best' unless a whole lot of support is given, and a bunch of structures are put in place to overcome the disadvantage already present. That may seem prescriptive and pessimistic, and that is not my intention.

My aim is only to alert us to the fact that we have a responisibility to act now. We must do what we can to increase the skills and experiences of children. We must take time to tutor, and inspire, and engage and feed, and clean, and babysit, and listen to them read. We must intentionally involve ourselves in preschool activities to promote reading and interaction and language akills. We must also pressure government and community members to provide more resources for schools in poorer areas, and even volunteer in classrooms where possible to support individual learning in the larger classroom times.

The following exerpt comes from a report from 'Child Trends' and explains some of the dangers for children growing up in poorer communities. It is American, but the same trends can be seen in Australia.


"Child poverty merits attention because a substantial body of research links poverty with lower levels of child well-being. For a variety of reasons, when compared with children from more affluent families, poor children are more likely to have low academic achievement, to drop out of school, and to have health, behavioral, and emotional problems. These linkages are particularly strong for children whose families experience deep poverty, who are poor during early childhood, and who are trapped in poverty for a long time.

How does poverty influence cognitive and educational outcomes? Researchers suggest that the pathways are often indirect. Poor children are more likely than their more affluent peers to be raised by parents who have completed fewer years of education, and to grow up in households that are less cognitively stimulating, which can negatively affect children’s cognitive and academic attainment. They are also more likely to attend schools that lack the resources and rigor of schools in more prosperous neighborhoods. Moreover, emerging research is finding that socioeconomic status affects neuro-cognitive brain functioning. One recent study finds that chronic stress due to family poverty undermines children’s working memory. Poorer health and social behavior due to poverty also undermine educational achievement.

Poverty is also related to children’s social and emotional development. Children in poverty have a greater risk of displaying behavior and emotional problems, such as disobedience, impulsiveness, and difficulty getting along with peers. Children in poverty display fewer positive behaviors (such as compliance) than their non-impoverished peers. Family poverty is also associated with a higher risk for teen childbearing, less positive peer relations, and lower selfesteem compared with children who have never experienced poverty. One study found that longterm poverty is associated with children’s inner feelings of anxiety, unhappiness, and dependence, while current poverty is associated with acting out, disobedience and aggression."
The full report can be seen at: http://www.childtrends.org/Files//Child_Trends-2009_04_07_RB_ChildreninPoverty.pdf

The Salvation Army has a whole host of programmes that are useful for helping kids develop skills in spite of thier financial situation. Junior Soldiers is a great way to be in regular contact with kids, to teach discipline, and to be a second family that provides love and stability. Mainly music will allow you to not only stimulate the child's brain and learning, but engage with their parent and provide much needed nuture and support. And would you believe SAGALA is designed to teach kids a whole bunch of fundamental skills that are often missed when a child grows up in a disadvantaged area. It is a fantastic programme and a way to bring justice to children everywhere.

So, contact your DHQ for more information, and get started! It's time we got proactive about structural injustice against children. We need to help build the supportive foundation and give the hope and future all children deserve.

And, if you don't actually like working with children, then find a way to support either financially, or by advocating for more services and activities for children in disadvantaged areas. And, pray! It's amazing what God could do if you involved Him every once and a while!

In the words of Whitney, 'I believe the children are the future'...so don't mess them up!

Gen

Rich hungry Christians...

If you didn't get to hear Ron Sider tonight at Collingwood, then here it is:

http://www.salvationarmy.org.au/sstv/

Just scroll down a little and you will see it!

Thanks to Surrender for continuing the message...

14 July, 2010

Truth Lab

All Melbournians should try to attend this great and challenging night this Friday night!!!

Join us for conversations with Ron Sider (Ph.D., Yale), the author of Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger. Ron is Professor of Theology, Holistic Ministry and Public Policy and President of Evangelicals for Social Action.

WHEN: 7:30pm, Friday July 16, 2010
WHERE: St Martins, 215 Wellington St, Collingwood VIC 3066 (Melways Ref: 44 C4) and afterwards at Suede in Smith St for a coffee
EMAIL: enquiries@surrender.org.au
COST: Donation