29 June, 2010

It's not easy being green...

A friend of mine was sitting in Hungry Jacks the other day, and some random guy asked if he could have one of my friend's fries. He gestured yes, and the guy leaned in and grabbed a very large portion of the fries. Now my friend, was gracious (or possibly just admired the audacity) and actually found the situation more amusing than incredibly rude!

When I think of that encounter, I think of the environment. Ok, a bit of a stretch, but hear me out. God has all of creation, and he extends that creation to humankind, and in return, we grab a far larger portion than was offered. Being like my friend, God remains gracious in this. However at some point, you would hope that the person holding the possession not belonging to them would treat that possession, and possibly even the proper owner, with care and respect???

This week on Just Salvos Live, we will look at the environment and its connection with social justice. We will try to iron out some of the propaganda spouted out by interest groups on both sides, and provide a potentially calm voice on issues of climate change, global emissions and basically, the degradation of the earth. Good times! SO tune into


on Monday at 6.30pm EST, or watch it later on that same web address.

For now, have a little gander at this clip (the purpose being the concept and not the actual competition!)


See you soon,

Global slavery and trafficking information night this Friday in Melbourne

World Vision would like to invite you to an evening of challenging input, stimulating discussion and moving lyrics as we explore and consider our response to issues of exploitation and injustice with international speakers David Batstone (Not for Sale - http://www.notforsalecampaign.org/ ) and Tim Costello and local musician Levi McGrath.

Friday 2nd July, 2010
Ashburton Baptist Church
8 Y Street, Ashburton

David Batstone and Tim Costello will speak on the issues around global slavery and trafficking and the opportunities we have for working together to bring an end to this kind of exploitation. Time for questions, further exploration and response will be included in the program.

If you have any questions or would like further information please contact Leanne Palmer at World Vision (9287 2477)

Hope you can make it. It will be an amazing and valuable night.

27 June, 2010

I was thinking about Abbott's plan announced today to 'turn the boats around', and I couldn't help thinking of the Disney, 'It's a small world' ride.

The boats sail past many nations, but the little nation people don't help or engage with the boat people. No, they just turn their heads from side to side. The boats keep coming, and coming, and we keep shaking our head from side to side.

So, what's one way you can help? You can go to the refugee council web site and get informed...

And, if these blogs have done anything, hopefully you want to get active. One way you can help out is simply to become a member of the refugee council...

Hope this helps you out!


26 June, 2010

Broken record going round and round...

It never ceases to amaze me why the Australian public cannot seem to be educated on the facts of asylum seekers. As soon as they hit the shores, they hit the headlines (actually, well before!). And now that Gillard is in, everyone wants to know what her stance on border security will be. Little do they know, this issue should not even be a blip on the radar if we looked at the issue numerically. Worst case scenario and we have 5000 asylum seekers in one year, Big deal! Some high schools have more people than that! Certainly not worth deciding an election on...let alone THREE elections!

Here is an article from the ABC website. I encourage you to read through the madness, (I mean comments section below the article) and understand why it is so important to keep on educating and advocating for asylum seekers...no matter how futile! And remember...asylum seekers ARE NOT illegal. And ARE NOT queue jumpers! Think of it as the engagment period before the marriage. Not yet with full legal rights, but a legitimate experience none the less.


Good times,

24 June, 2010

What happened to Kevin 07?!

In the interest of the future of the Labor Party, Kevin Rudd has stood down and handed over leadership to Julia Gillard. She becomes the first female Prime Minister of Australia.

A big day for women everywhere, but the cost to her and her leadership is of course unknown at this point. I am certain the waters of the Australian public will be well and truly tested before an election is called. She is going to have to work out Labor’s position on asylum seekers, the Emission Trading Scheme and the mining tax, and while she is left of left, it is assumed she would be pushed to the right on these issues.

Rudd stated last night that if he were to continue as Prime Minister, he would no longer be lurched to the right on these issues. It is uncertain whether he would hold true. But, I like to believe that this challenge was a ‘Bartlet’* jolt for Rudd, and that he would be a little less politically safe and make some solid moves on these important justice issues.

Left or right, the important thing from a justice perspective is not who is in power, rather, that the person in power will hold true to their fight for a ‘just’ Australia. For me, the lesson from Rudd in the justice realm is essential. If you are going to support a vulnerable group of people, you must continue to support them, even when your organisation, and indeed, your friends desert you. Ironically, in a practical sense, if Rudd had done that, he would likely be in exactly the same position as he is now.

The big issues for Gillard?
- Gillard needs to make a stand for climate change. Rudd had to cave on environment, even though this was a platform issue for him, stating it was the ‘greatest moral and economic issue of our time’. (In fairness to Rudd, the GFC hit, and he managed to get Australia through this time without going into recession, one of the only developed nations to do so. Perhaps Rudd can get a job in Greece!) Will Gillard do the same?
- The super profits mining tax, which calls for an increased tax on mining magnates earning astronomical profits, is another political hot potato. The argument for the tax states that multi billionaires making money off the natural resources of Australia should give more to the Australian people. The argument against says that if you annoy rich people, they will tighten their purse strings and lay off a bunch of ‘blue collar’ miners. What will she do? Who will she side with?
- And then there are asylum seekers. The call is for a ‘move to the right’ which will see more asylum seekers turned around and returned ‘home’, more asylum seekers detained, increased language calling asylum seekers ‘cheats’, and illegal. Will she stand up for the rights of this incredibly vulnerable group? Or will she buy votes from those who claim we have no room left in Australia to maintain our human rights obligations?
My hope is that she will pursue justice, and not let politics get in the way.

Let Bartlet be Bartlet, or in other words, let those who want to fight for justice be unleashed, regardless of their popularity in the polls. For the Liberal and Labor parties, this is incredibly difficult. For The Salvation Army, it should be easy. We don’t have constituents. We are apolitical. And yet, we too are often careful for fear of losing public and government money. The great irony is that when you flip flop on justice issues in order to please others, you lose support just as quickly. We are the most trusted brand in Australia. People expect us to advocate, serve, and fight for justice. But more than anything, people expect us to LEAD. This is where Rudd is seen to have failed. He did not stand firm and lead on issues he told us were important. Let’s not make that mistake. We are not here to make friends. We are here to lead people toward a just Australia. Let’s not pander, let’s learn from this, and be bold. And let’s pray for the state of our nation.

Goodbye to Kevin 07. You are still a hero of mine! You brought hope and reconciliation to Indigenous Australians. You brought dignity to the under and unemployed. You gave inspiration to women through paid maternity leave, and by giving real leadership opportunities. You championed the environment, in spite of your cynics. You kept our country financially viable where others sank around you. While not quite the level of Gough, you come close in my book.


* Josiah Bartlet is a fictional character from the TV series The West Wing. The character is the President of the United States, and is regularly pushed backwards on justice issues, but stands firms on most occasions in miraculous, dramatic and very politically unrealistic ways.

23 June, 2010

It's about trafficking

Wow, big news on the Australian political front coming through!!! But I wrote this earlier today, so I am posting this, and will write on the dramas of Australian politics tomorrow!!!

It is refugee week, which celebrates the diversity of cultures present in our country, and recognises the contribution refugees make to our society. Yesterday, we looked at asylum seekers (that I like to see as fiancés of the Australian people…awaiting their full rights, but in no way illegitimate). Today, we look at a slightly different form of refugee/migrant; Trafficked people.

The ‘Inquiry into People Trafficked for Sex Work’ final report has just been released by the Parliament of Victoria (you can find the full copy of the report at http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/dcpc I encourage you to take a look through the report so that you can be informed as to the devastating oppression present in our own neighbourhoods.)

Before we tackle the report though, lets cover some of the facts of trafficking:

- women trafficked to Australia are indentured by a $15,000-$18,000 debt, which they must work off before they are freed.
- Trafficked women and girls who are prostituted in Australia suffer with active infections, pelvic inflammatory diseases, acute herpes and traumatic pelvic syndromes
- There are 3,000 children, some younger than 10, in the Australian sex industry, which includes brothels, escort work, street prostitution, pornography, sex for favours and stripping

The report highlights two things for me. One, we, the general public, are so unaware of how prevalent and oppressive trafficking is in our own country. And two, there is a belief that with regulation, advocacy, awareness and action we can seriously impede the success of would be traffickers, and free women who have been oppressed and violated.

We need to be active in this fight, and we do this in the same way we care for all other people in need. We love, care, pray, represent, stand beside, and defend. We must get to know, and then help those engaged in this specific injustice, both the victims, and others trying to help.

Within the report there is a letter written by trafficked women, in thanks to the High Court of Australia. Part of the letter is written below. Let this be an inspiration and challenge to spur you into engagement.

“What happened to us was a nightmare. We can never forget. It comes back to us in dreams. This will affect us till we die. It has changed us.

We were treated very badly. We worked from 11am to 3 or 4am. We slept only three or four hours a night. Sometimes some of us worked for 24 hours. For four or five months, all we did was prostitution. Even when we had our period, we had to work. Sometimes we worked until we couldn’t walk. We had to work until we were very, very sick and the customers refused to take us. Only then were we allowed to rest, for one day.

Some owners were not so cruel, but even when they were friendly, they still treated us like slaves.
We were made to feel like animals. Customers were violent. Some of the customers were crazy. They treated us like animals. We were sexually abused, we were dragged, we were hit. Some of us were given drugs so we could work all the time. Some of the women we know have become drug addicts, and now they have to keep doing prostitution to pay for drugs.

It was like we were in jail – we had no free time, we couldn’t go anywhere, we never had freedom. The traffickers treated us as slaves. We didn’t have anywhere to go.

It felt like we survived and died at the same time. We had to keep doing what the traffickers said, for ourselves, and for the people we loved. The traffickers threatened us – we were scared they would hurt us, or our families. Some of us thought we could be killed. We blamed ourselves for what happened, because we had wanted to come to Australia.

This changed our lives.”

If you want to help, contact justsalvos, or check out http://www.stopthetraffik.org/takeaction/

Let God’s light shine through you into all of the dark places.

22 June, 2010

Who rocked the boat?

If you want a great summary of the asylum seeker process in Australia, particularly an understanding of the perceived issue with 'boat people', then please check out this article from Eureka Street. It is a little longish, but it will be very helpful in your advocacy for this vulnerable group of 'legal' migrants.

Remember to tune into http://www.salvationarmy.org.au/sstv/ to watch the JustSalvos live webcast this Monday night at 6.30 where we will be talking about all things refugees!

Be filled with a hunger for justice,

21 June, 2010

Here's another attack on asylum seekers...

Here is a leaflet distributed by the Liberal National Party in Wayne Swan's electorate...


To clarify, this is a motel that the government uses for families being detained while awaiting their refugee status. It is right that we don't place children in detention centres and so the government, both current and previous, place families in motels.

This is a piece of propaganda created to incite hatred and fear toward asylum seekers. And it works. We must be vocal in our advocacy and support of asylum seekers. They are legally seeking protection in Australia having fled persecution. They are not illegal, and they are not in jail. They are doing everything right, and are doing it for the welfare of their family. We must not allow either government to score politcal points by conjuring up racist sentiment, all at the expence of innocent and persecuted men, women and children.

It is going to be a hard fought and bloody election campaign, and we must protect those most vulnerable in the fight. And as hurt as big Kev is in the polls, he's not hurting as much as the six-year old Afghani girl looking for a new and safe home.


20 June, 2010

Refugee week starts today!

I stood on a balcony with my dad yesterday, and looked over the inner city suburb of Melbourne he grew up in. I asked him to describe what things had changed since he was a boy. What I saw was the number of cafes, the graffiti, the fast pace of shoppers, the cars, the massive twenty-storey high rise housing estates. But his first observation was the number of Asians and Africans. He was not being racist, and felt no despair that such rapid cultural changes had occurred. Rather he merely observed that this really was the greatest difference in his lifetime.

Time moves very quickly, and the changes imposed on us can jolt us into a longing for the security of the past. Unfortunatley for many Australians, this jolt can sound and look very much like racism.

It is refugee week this week, and it is an important time for those of other cultures living in Australia to gain some much needed advocacy and attention. I encourage you to take a moment to consider the following scenario and questions.

Imagine you have arrived in this country at last, having fled from persecution and war. You have managed to bring some, but not all, of your children with you to safety. You don't know how your remaining family members are faring back home. You are used to living in a small village, and you have never been exposed to the level of drug and alcohol abuse you see now. You have never lived on the 14th floor of a very noisy and unsafe building. The police and government officials you once knew were corrupt and untrustworthy, and yet now, you must visit Centrelink every few weeks and divulge your personal details. There are social workers who want to meet you in your home and tell you that you are no longer allowed to shop for your daily needs on a daily basis, and that instead you must always have tins of prepared food in your cupboard. When you go outside, people look at you like you are either bad, or stupid, and many people talk so loudly to you. You were once able to go to friends for work, for company, for support...but now you know nobody.

1. How would you feel if you lived in a place where you could not speak the language? How would you cope practically, and emotionally?
2. How would you feel being separated from the majority of your friends and family, with no prospect of being reunited any time soon?
3. How would you feel being looked at as though you were not a safe person to be near. Would you smile at others, would you try to talk to them?
4. How would you feel looking around and seeing nothing familiar, no childhood memories that can be jogged.
5. How would you cope with the thought of people judging you, and the way you raise your children? And how would you feel when your children started to adopt the bad behaviour of the local children?
6. How would you feel knowing you can't go home, while not feeling welcome in this new place you must make your home.

While at times anglo and indigenous Australians can feel despair, anger and frustration toward refugees, it is important to remember that refugees are experiencing loss and sadness and loneliness. They have not come to 'take over' Australia. They simply come to find a safe life for themelves and their children. They are no more violent, no more lazy, no less intelligent. And while struggling with a range of issues caused by forced migration, refugees need us to be patient and supportive though their settlement. We can offer so much to refugees, and we must do that with an open heart and mind. Why? Because they are you and me.

Check out this article from The Age on the experience of Africans living in Australia:


Just Salvos live will be discussing refugees and asylum seekers on Monday 28th June at 6.30pm. Tune into http://www.salvationarmy.org.au/sstv/


01 June, 2010

I'm Sorry.

I'm learning more and more about the essentials of free speech lately.
I've been part of speaking tour called Sex On Demand (and pretty busy - which is why I haven't blogged lately - sorry!)... none the less the speaking tour has been with a guy named Victor Malarek who has recently written a book called 'The John's: sex for sale and the men who buy it'.
Victor is very passionate about trying to limit and indeed shut down the sex industry - the people who profit from women 'for sale'. Victor points out the reality - when you legitimize the commodification of women's bodies you perpetuate the growing evil of the global sex trade and contribute to inequality.

Thankfully this is supported by The Salvation Army Internationally (see the positional statement on human trafficking which suggests that we combat both the commodification of women - the sex industry. AND the demand for sex - men who buy it).

Apparently the 'sex industry' was insulted by the advertisement for the speaking tour. I've attached it here for you to have a look at. The reality is that when you make women's bodies commodities, no matter how you 'dress it up' it is degrading.
It's not the poster you should be offended with - it's the reality.

So, to the sex industry I say that I am deeply sorry. I'm sorry for the hundreds of thousands of women and children that are exploited into sexual servitude EVERY YEAR - I'm sorry for the equality of women being hijacked and set aside by people who desire money over freedom. I'm sorry for the future generations that grow up believing that subjugation and humiliation are 'empowerment'. I'm sorry that I've been quiet for this long and I'm sorry that I haven't offended you more often. I'm sorry that I've been apathetic and indifferent to the plight of women stuck in the grinding poverty and the gradual death of their bodies and souls as a result of this prostitution.

Not only am I sorry - but I'm repentant. I'm going to change my ways. I'm going to speak up more. I'm going to remind society of the costs to real women with real names and real lives who live as virtual prisoners to men who demand sex and use their economic power to get it - at great costs. I'm going to remind myself of the names and faces of women and children who suffer the real pain of sexual servitude... the young 12 year old girl in Tasmania who was raped by over 100 men - pimped out by her own mother... the 14 year old boys charged with gang rape as they re-inacted what they watched the 'sex industry' pump out as 'normal behaviour' on the internet... the young girls lured into prostitution from TV shows that glamorize the life of prostitutes and LIE to bolster their industry at the expense of the innocence of girls and the health of society.

So, let it be known. I'm sorry. And I've changed my ways. I determine to stand up, speak up, and fight for a society that protects it's most vulnerable and disadvantaged citizens. I determine to protect and serve women and children who have been exploited from economically poor conditions to sexual slavery in Australia (they say this is a better life!). I determine to set my sights on a day where Australia and the rest of the world will believe deep within their hearts that women and children ARE NOT FOR SALE. Where men are held accountable for violence against women - ALL women. And where little children are taught the value and dignity of every human being!