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/

----
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.
----

"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

13 July, 2010

Whose land is it anyway??

So much feedback came through after the show on racism. But one of the things that got me thinking was this comment;
"I just want it to look like Australia"
And let me ask you, Australia...What do you look like?

Are we colonial England offspring?
Are we indigenous?
Are we multi-cultural?
Are we secular?
Are we confused?
Are we nothing?

What on earth does Australia look like? And what are we trying to hold on to? And is it even ours to hold??

I want to maintain the principles and values of our country...hard-working, easy-going, diverse, friendly, fair. But does that mean I need to keep Australia white?

Join us for further debate and discussion via the justsalvos facebook page, or via blog comments, or via the chat function during the show this Monday night, 6.30pm EST at:
http://salvationarmy.org.au/sstv/

peace,
gen

A side of the World Cup we don't celebrate

This is an email I got this week:

"I’ve been writing for a while now about our trip to Africa, teasing out the time we spent there to try and stop the memories from fading, eking out out our learning and hoping to pass on some of the beauty and joy we experienced there.

Whenever I speak to people they always ask about the negatives- were we ok? Were we robbed? I have purposely not mentioned the down sides because we personally did not experience any, but my conscience was pricked yesterday and I need to mentioned something specific:

In Chobe Marina Lodge we met a Policeman and his nurse wife from Pretoria, and they felt the need to get a few things off their chests. We were there a few months prior to the world cup, and one of the things they told us was of a friend who had been shopping in the local mall with her 11 year old daughter.

I was imagining a mall like we have here in Victoria, large and public and popular, and my daughter Rebekah when she was eleven. The two had been shopping for a while, the daughter was getting cranky so the mum asked her to sit on a bench whilst she visited one more shop.

Ten minutes later she returned and her daughter was gone. She immediately raised the alarm and the police went straight into action, though they told there was little chance they’d find the child by now. All the exists were locked and they began a systematic search of the bathrooms where they found the 11 year old drugged, her head shaved, a wig and a bag of clothes ready to dress her.

She had been kidnapped by the prostitution traders.

She was lucky. Readying for the world cup, a feast of prostitution opportunities for delegates and officials as well as tourists and fans, there has been a large drive to kidnap hundreds of children.

Chrissie and I live in this artificial world where this doesn't happen. We are informed that prostitutes prefer to be called sex workers and they choose that work as a well paid and lucrative job. So we have believed.

We were wrong.

Repeating the story to friends back in Australia, our hostess loaned us two books on the subject of international kidnapping for prostitution. She works with the Salvation Army who were preparing a group to go to South Africa to try to make some positive difference.

Obviously we don’t talk about things like this in polite conversation – and I wonder if that’s part of the problem. My silence and ignorance has secretly allowed others to form the impression that its ok to buy sex from a drugged 11 year old.

One of the books is about research into the issue and that’s what really got me fired up – interviews with long time ‘johns’, men who continually ‘use these services’ indicate that they see nothing wrong at all.

One ‘john’ is quoted as saying that he believes he’ll go to heaven, that God would not punish him for simply ‘following his urges.’

He is wrong. Paid sex is wrong. Kidnapping is wrong. Having sex with children is wrong.

I am disgusted with myself and my ‘Christian religions’ that we have allowed people like those quoted to get anywhere near the position where they think God condones such disgusting and immoral acts.

What can we do?

Well, what I can do at least is talk about it, and read a few books, and stop being so ignorant. So I am talking about it here, in this regular ‘article' I write and send out.

What can you do? Talk about it too. Forward this email. We have to start somewhere and maybe its as simple as saying clearly and loudly;

Paid sex is NOT ok.
Sex with children is NOT ok.
Kidnapping and drugging women to make money out of them is NOT ok."

----
The author of the books he refers to is Victor Malarek who recently took part in a speaking tour in Australia. Below are the links to both his speech and some other events he did:

http://salvationarmy.org.au/isalvos/?rp=6983663#t=meetings
http://salvationarmy.org.au/isalvos/?rp=7015143#t=meetings
http://salvationarmy.org.au/isalvos/?rp=7027411#t=meetings
http://salvationarmy.org.au/isalvos/?rp=7030096#t=meetings

You may not agree with everything in this email, but it should at least cause us to stop and think about the vulnerability of women, the choices available to vulnerable women, and your role in their freedom and hope. Are you complicit? Are you helpful? Are you ignorant? Are you indifferent? Think for a while, and let your thinking lead you to action.

peace,
Gen

11 July, 2010

Australians are racist??? But everyone loves us!

Australia just can't shake the label of being a racist country, and Australians continue to be baffled by the assertion. The latest comments by Gillard, and indeed her entire approach to the issue of asylum seekers only seems to confirm our racist persona. Her assessment that Australians are not racist make me wonder whether Australians really understand what it means to be racist. After all, most of us have stopped telling racist jokes in regular conversation and most of us even eat lemon chicken! Isn't that enough??

Gillard has boldly invited Australians to ''say what they feel'' in the asylum seeker debate without being constrained by self-censorship or political correctness. She said ''For people to say they're anxious about border security doesn't make them intolerant. It certainly doesn't make them a racist. It means that they're anxious about border security."

Sure Julia, but it's like when people start a sentence with 'no offence, but...'. You can't cover your ignorance and intolerance with a vague and unsubstantiated concern about border security. No offence, but if you do...you're a racist!

The Sonia Kruger debacle illustrates just how blind we are to our own racism. When asked about her dresses for the Melbourne Cup event, she stated, on a prime time TV show,
"Lets just say there is a sweat shop full of illegal immigrants working on them right now," She then turned to the shows Malaysian-born musical director Chong Lim asking "How is the family Chong?, Allright?"
Despite considerable backlash on blogs and complaints direct to Channel Seven, Kruger offered no apology and said she had no regrets about the remarks.

"I certainly didn't say anything with any intention for it to be racist," stated Kruger.
"Chong and I are in a friendship that we poke fun at each other all the time. In all honesty political correctness does get up my nose ... I poke just as much fun at myself. I would never ever, ever want to seriously offend anyone."

Well...I have some other things I want to put up your nose! But as bad as this is, it only illustrates that she is racist...oops, I mean ignorant and insensitive. For me the proof is in this yukky pudding of a botched apology.
Having apologised for her comments, a Seven spokeswoman said "In this instance, it's worth remembering that Sonia and Chong have been working together over eight series of Dancing with the Stars. "They're very good friends and enjoy each other's company very much.
That's all well and good for Son and Chong...but she wasn't just poking fun of Chong. Her comments made fun of the plight of the innocent victims caught up in the fastest growing and second biggest crime in the world (human trafficking) And they implied that a particular race of people (who surely outnumber whites, just by the way) are associated only with making goods for white wealthy pleasure. Thanks for your apology Channel Seven, but I think you have missed the boat on the cause of the offense.

But, haven't we all? When you can scam votes on a issue so insignificant in relative size, purely because it stirs up the fears of 'ordinary Australians', you have to evaluate just how tolerant we are. What other social 'problem' amounting to about 5000 in number even gets a mention in the media or politics??

I can't say it better than the Greens who recently wrote:
"Most Australians are sympathetic towards the plight of refugees; eight out of 10 people would help a refugee to settle into their community, according the results of an Australian Red Cross survey. This survey found:
• 86% of people would flee to a safe country if they lived in a conflict zone and were under threat;
• 94% of these people would use all their money and assets to get to a safe country;
• 83% agree that people fleeing persecution should be able to seek protection in another country;
• 83% are willing to assist a refugee in their community settle in Australia; and
• 67% agree that refugees have made a positive contribution to Australian society.

Right-wing critics of this poll were quick to point out that these results reflected the way the questions were framed. Of course. You get responses based on solidarity if you explain the reasons people flee their homes and ask respondents to put themselves in their shoes. But this is exactly what the capitalist media and the capitalist politicians (Labor included) never do. They refuse to tell the story of why there are at least 43.3 million refugees and displaced people worldwide. Why? Because it involves them and the powerful interests they serve and protect."

My point in all of this, is that we need to start a conversation (again) about race and difference. We need to get to the bottom of why as a nation we are so scared of 'others', and why we are so easily manipulated when it comes to issues involving race.

So, join us at http://www.salvationarmy.org.au/sstv/ on Monday at 6.30 EST (or later on demand at the same website) as we start the conversation on race and difference.

Peace,
Gen

PS: If that was a little too serious, watch this one to get you in the mood for the conversation
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9Qu3iP3RYA

Here is the clip for you to check out yourself...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5fTFEbf5oo&feature=related


-----
Quotes are from http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/sonias-foot-in-her-mouth-again/story-e6freq7x-1111117985419
and
http://www.perthnow.com.au/entertainment/perth-confidential/ch7-apologises-for-racist-slip/story-e6frg30u-1111118051537
http://www.theage.com.au/national/border-fears-not-racist-pm-20100704-zvte.html
http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/44728

09 July, 2010

Save the date: 10/10/10

Please check out the following website and see how you, or your church could take part in the Micah Challenge.



http://www.micahchallenge.org.au/micah2010



If you are interested, but don't know how best to get support for this event, then email justsalvos@aus.salvationarmy.org

Spread the good news!

Gen

08 July, 2010

Just when I thought it was safe to be female...

We have our first female Prime Minister, albeit unelected to that role...but she was elected in her electorate, and I am pretty pumped. She is no token lady. She is not there for her looks, and she is no scape goat puppet of the Labor Party. She is competent and smart, and hardworking. She is a role model for myself, and for many women, I'm sure. We cannot underestimate the impact this will have on our culture.

However, just when we think it is safe to be seen as an educated and strong female, another horrendous commercial will be shown depicting women as nothing more than a plaything for men. Two ads have been particularly unclever lately. One is the Brut ad, and the other the Lynx ad. The article attached below will give you more detail.

It is not that there is anything particularly wrong with women being seen as beautiful and playful and skinny. I don't want to discriminate against beautiful women. But I think of Derek Zoolander who asks us "do we ever think there is more to life than being really, really, really, good looking?" I don't have an issue with beauty. I have an issue with the assumption that 'good looking' is how men like their women. That to have anything other than a 'really hot woman' is settling for second best. Can we not start to train boys that there is more to women than walking really slowly in a bikini?? Is it not insulting to men too?

Anyway, here is the article...

http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/heres-a-spray-of-my-own-this-stuff-really-is-on-the-nose-20100707-100ji.html

Gen

07 July, 2010

This piece from the Refugee Council of Australia must be seen and understood:

------
Statistics released by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) highlight that political scaremongering about asylum seekers entering Australia has little to do with the facts, the Refugee Council of Australia says.

An analysis of UNHCR’s 2009 Global Trends reveals that just 0.5% of the 1.18 million new asylum applications in 2009 were lodged in Australia.

South Africa received 222,324 people seeking asylum in 2009, with other leading countries for asylum applications being Republic of Congo (95,945), Kenya (87,879), Ethiopia (45,763), France (42,118), Malaysia (40,063), Uganda (36,878), Ecuador (35,514), Yemen (34,471) and Canada (33,970). Australia was ranked 33rd for total asylum applications with 6206 new applications in 2009 – 41st on a per capita basis and 71st relative to national Gross Domestic Product (GDP). During 2009, 631,905 asylum seekers were recognised as refugees, with just 3441 (or 0.5%) in Australia. The leading countries for refugee recognition were Republic of Congo (94,126), Kenya (76,133), Ethiopia (42,693), Malaysia (35,524), Yemen (33,541), Chad (33,366), Syria (30,696), Uganda (29,558), Sudan (26,496) and Ecuador (26,342).

The UNHCR report highlights that most of the world’s refugees are being rotected in countries much poorer than Australia.

Of the 10.4 million refugees under UNHCR’s mandate, the largest numbers were being hosted by Pakistan (1,740,711), Iran (1,070,488), Syria (1,054,466), Germany (593,799), Jordan 450,756), Kenya (358,928), Chad (338,495) and China (300,989).

By contrast, Australia was ranked 47th, hosting 22,548 refugees (0.2% of the global total). Australia was 68th on a per capita basis and 91st relative to national wealth. Australia continued to perform creditably in refugee resettlement, with the 11,080 refugees resettled from other nations making up 9.9% of the global total of 112,442. The United States alone received 71% of all refugees resettled in 2009 (79,937).

Refugee Council CEO Paul Power said the UNHCR statistics emphasised the myopic and selfserving nature of much of the political debate about asylum seekers in Australia.

“It’s disappointing that Australians’ natural scepticism of political spin is not being applied to politicians who are trying to create fear and misunderstanding about the numbers of people seeking asylum in this country,” Mr Power said.

“Australians must look beyond the hype and scaremongering and understand that just 3441 asylum seekers were given refugee in Australia last year, roughly 1% of total migration to Australia during the year. Every one of those refugees underwent a detailed assessment of their need for protection from persecution, as well as rigorous health and security checks.”

-----

Why don't Australian's want asylum seekers to be in Australia? It can't be money. We are spending far more on off shore processing than if we were to just accept asylum seekers into our communities (after all, we don't give them any money when they are here!)
And, apparently, it can't be because we are racist???
Then, why is it?!
What are we so afraid of????????

Please try to educate others on the importance of showing respect and dignity to asylum seekers.

06 July, 2010

Bernard Keane, from Crikey.com.au writes:
“Gillard hasn't exactly tried to outflank Tony Abbott to the right on the issue, but that's primarily because there is little new policy here. A promise to try to coax East Timor and the UNHCR into allowing us to dump Christmas Island detainees over there, a statement that asylum applicants who are knocked back will be sent home as happens now, vague talk of "shouldering obligations", are of a piece with Gillard's weekend encouragement of people to have their say on the issue, as if xenophobes had felt in any way stymied until now in attacking asylum seekers.
If the one hard commitment Gillard made proceeds, it will be hideously expensive. The Pacific Solution was estimated to have cost around $1b over five years. The Dili version won't be any cheaper. We're also forking out for eight new patrol boats to patrol our north-western and northern waters.
Taxpayers will be wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on several thousand asylum seekers, to assuage the xenophobic instincts of a few swinging voters in marginal electorates. Unedifying indeed."

For more information see:

http://www.news.com.au/features/federal-election/julia-gillard-tony-abbott-announce-tougher-policies-on-asylum-seekers/story-e6frfllr-1225888456714

05 July, 2010

Just Salvos Live with Jarrod McKenna

A few technical difficulties, but here is tonight's Just Salvos Live! Stick with us, we are getting better...I think!
http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/8089423
And, it's NAIDOC week! See more at:

http://www.naidoc.org.au/index.aspx

More on NAIDOC tomorrow,

Gen

04 July, 2010

Keeping it in perspective

More on asylum seekers today:

- Julian Burnside QC reminds us that there is only 1 Asylum seekers to every 20 permanent immigrants to Australia.
And who are those permanent immigrants? Mostly tourists who like the beaches and find a way to stay. I have a couple of friends who fall in that category. Do you? And how many asylum seekers have you met?

- Abbott fires us up with news that in 10 weeks we have had 31 boats arrive (about 1500 people)
Wow...1500 people in a fifth of a year! How will we cope???

- Gillard tells us that "People should feel free to say what they feel and for people to say they're anxious about border security doesn't make them intolerant"
It might make them a little irrational though! But, as long as they are not deciding immigration policy, I won't call them intolerant or racist. Though what in the definition of intolerant???

Read this article for the latest updates, and hold out for the announcement on asylum seekers that Gillard will apparently make this week!
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/07/04/2944329.htm

peace out,

Gen

02 July, 2010

Loving the earth

From New Zealand's policy unit:

"We’re starting to see the consequences of our exploitation of the earth. There is no denying the impact of our destruction and we have enough information to realise that we need to respond.

Wendell Berry - theological fuel for our attempts at creation care: 'The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.' 'We learn from our gardens to deal with the most urgent question of the time: How much is enough?'

Things you can do to make a difference:

Fan ovens reduce the amount of time needed to cook and also use less power

Electric pressure cookers, pans or woks use less power

Collect rain water or re-use water from sinks, washing machines and baths to water the garden

Barbequing is a great way to save power

Use plastic packaging from items already bought, newspaper or just the bin instead of plastic bin liners

Turn the shower off when shampooing your hair, shaving or soaping

Stainless steel reusable water bottles help eliminate the use of plastic bottles

Make your own cleaning products

Support local organic farmers

Use a cup of water to brush your teeth. It reduces the amount of water used by running the tap

Composting provides essential nutrients for your plants, it will also cut down the amount of your rubbish being sent out each week

Use insulated curtains

Turn off the power by the power point

Buy green, organic or natural products next time you shop

Buy energy efficient appliances such as a front loader washing machine – they use less water

Use rechargeable batteries

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Buy recycled materials

Grow a garden and share the produce with neighbours

Change your light bulbs to energy saving bulbs

Buy a green bag at the grocery store - and use it!

House insulation reduces the need for heating

Thaw food instead of using the microwave

If and when you can, travel on public transport or walk to work

As demanding as these changes are to our everyday lifestyle, it is something that we all need to do if we are to reduce the damage caused by our lack of care and protection of
earth. We owe it to ourselves, to other species sharing the earth, our neighbours and to the future generations yet to come."

Thanks NZ Social Policy Unit. See more at http://www.salvationarmy.org.nz/uploads/Sustainable-Living-Archive-April19-2010.pdf

Now, for those people who don't believe climate change has anything to do with human interference in the earth, know that in doing most of these things, you will save money! Motive enough! And remember, if you do these things and you were right, you have not really lost anything, but if you don't do anything, and you are wrong, you have just hindered every generation to come...

More tomorrow. And don't forget to tune into http://www.salvationarmy.org.au/sstv/ to hear more on the as a social justice issue on Monday at 6.30EST

Good times,
Gen

01 July, 2010

Big things ahead at Just Salvos...

Just Salvos Live has a big show this Monday at 6.30. We will be talking all things environment...from the oil spills to climate change to cute little orangutans. Join Amanda McKenzie from the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and the awesome yet peaceful Jarrod McKenna! Tune into http://www.salvationarmy.org.au/sstv/ from Monday 6.30, or anytime after that!

The first Surrender Truth Lab will be held on July 16th in Melbourne. Ron Sider (author of a tonne of books including Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger) will be sharing his thoughts on Christians, wealth and hunger (not surprisingly!) You will have a chance to ask him all those curly questions on how much wealth is too much wealth for a Christian.
Go to http://justsalvos.com/index.php?page=events&id=121 for more details.

Till tomorrow, peace out greenies!
Gen