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:

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.

Just Real stories betray Abbott's homelessness untruth

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.


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.

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


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

See the article at:


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..."

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