30 November, 2012

International Day for the Abolition of Slavery – 2nd December.

“Wihini, aged nine and her brother Sunni, a boy aged seven, lived on Thane train station in Mumbai, India with their parents who were both alcoholics. Wihini and Sunni were regular attendees of the Asha Deep Day Centre, run by Oasis India, where they learnt to read and write and were given the opportunity to play. After attending daily for three months they disappeared. The project staff went to look for them. Wihini and Sunni's father told them how a man had come and offered money for them and that he had sold them for the equivalent of $30. That was the last the father and the staff of Asha Deep Day Centre heard of them. In that area of Mumbai every two to three months children disappeared or were kidnapped and sold into prostitution, forced labour, adoption or child sacrifice”. (Direct quote from www.stopthetraffik.org)

Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon story. Human trafficking is an atrocious crime against humanity affecting up to 4 million men, women and children internationally. Victims of human trafficking experience severe violent and emotional abuse; are denied education and basic healthcare.

According to Stop The Traffik (www.stopthetraffick.org), human trafficking occurs when an individual is bought or sold against their will; human trafficking involves deception and manipulation into slavery for the purposes of sexual exploitation, forced begging, sacrificial worship or removal of human organs, as child brides or into sweat shops, circuses, farm labour and domestic servitude.

The UNODC (http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human-trafficking/what-is-human-trafficking.html) states that all countries are affected by human trafficking, whether as a destination for victims, transit, or country of origin.

What is our response to this injustice?

Our response to human trafficking, and indeed the mistreatment of the vulnerable, needs to be more than an emotional response, a re-tweet or a ‘like’ on Facebook. Our response to human trafficking should be an explicit Christian reaction to the abuse of the marginalised in our world. The Salvation Army acknowledges the worth and value of every human being as being created in the image of God. When people are trafficked, they are not treated with equality, nor is the glory of God within them acknowledged. It is part of our mission as The Salvation Army to rectify this.

On the 17th of February, Salvationists around Australia are uniting to combat human trafficking.

This is a day set apart to acknowledge victims of human trafficking, pray for their freedom and participate in actions that work towards their freedom.

Freedom Sunday is an initiative of Stop the Traffik and their website had has many resources available for this day – Prayer stations, creative responses, worship suggestions, liturgy and more.

Will you join Just Salvos and advocate for victims of human trafficking?

23 November, 2012

Guest Blogger: Marj Rava.

Buy Nothing New

Last year a friend challenged a group of us to buy nothing new. There is a group that encourages conscientious consumption by encouraging individuals to purchase nothing new for the month of October (http://www.buynothingnew.com.au/). The challenge we were given, was to purchase nothing new for an entire year. We were dared to see if we could survive 2012 without purchasing any new items for ourselves. I took on the challenge, thinking it wouldn’t hurt to be challenged about what I have and about the way I spend my money.

Whilst the basic rule was, ‘don’t buy anything new’, you could decide to what level you chose to do engage. Some people included not buying food (living off donations or growing their own food), some couldn’t purchase airfares – essentially, you decided on your rules based around the basic rule of nothing new. I decided that I couldn’t buy any new possessions for myself except for hygiene related stuff (toothbrush, shampoo etc) and also gave myself a limit on gifts. Any gift I would give couldn’t be over $20 (you’d be amazed at how hard it is to buy gifts under $20)! If you wanted to buy anything at all for yourself, it would need to be from a second hand shop/market or off a site such as ebay or gumtree.

At first this seemed pretty easy. I didn’t need anything new and life went on as normal. Then I started to notice little things…I went into a shop one day and thought ‘oh I like that’ and without thinking picked it up to buy. Instantly I’d be crushed by the idea that I couldn’t get that new item, ‘that would go so well with all my other things’, and I’d have to put it back. Slowly, that became normal. I reached a stage of ignoring any new thing I wanted.

The funny thing is I had got so excited about this little adventure that I hadn’t thought properly about what I was doing. For example, I’m not a real shoe person; I tend to like wearing flip flops as much as possible. I had this one pair of shoes I wore on days when flip flops were a pain – generally days that rained. The only problem with these shoes, were that they started to get holes in them last year…pretty decent holes in fact. What happens with shoes that have holes on a rainy day? Your socks get wet! Most days I would come home with soggy feet…and yes this started to get annoying! People started to feel sorry for me and I received a lot of offers for shoe replacements. Another of my rules: no one could buy you new things except for on your birthday. Now don’t get me wrong…I didn’t just stock up on cool, new stuff for my birthday…I actually asked people to give money to charity instead of getting me a gift. However, some people were determined to bless me with something. Some of my friends suggested it was okay for me to receive some things for my birthday, and so my sister bought me a $4.50 pair of shoes from Kmart (yay!). A gift out of ‘need’ rather than want! (And by the way I still use the shoes that have holes…I just used gaffer tape to fix them up)!

Early on in the year my car broke down and I had to get it towed. My car was sent into get repaired and a new fuel pump was put in. Without realising it…I’d purchased something new. I realised I had to be more careful – if I wanted to take this challenge seriously, I’d have to think of every angle. This meant working out what were my rules for things such as car stuff – buying new tyres etc. I decided safety couldn’t be compromised, but perhaps I could ask for a second hand part next time. I must admit I hadn’t been too prepared and some rules had to be developed along the way.

So apart from that slip up, what have been the serious challenges? There was the shoe thing, and also I had holes in some jeans…I can’t wear them anymore…is this a big deal? Not really…I have others! You see what I learned quickly is how much I waste money on things that I want as opposed to the things that I need. Even with gift buying, I was amazed at how in the past I would easily spend lots of money on presents for people without thinking about what I was really buying. When you can only spend $20 on a gift you have to be more creative in your purchases. I’ve loved doing that!

I’ve been seriously challenged about what I have and how I use it. I’ve realised more and more how blessed I am with access to wealth and have learned to use my money more wisely. The challenge of buying nothing new has also moved me to be better with the food I purchase. I don’t need to go out so much for meals and I need to make sure I don’t waste food. I truly believe that so many of us buy because we can, instead of buying because we need. I’ve had some amazing conversations with others in regards to what I’ve been doing this year and hope that all of this has in some way impacted others in how they use resources too. I am truly blessed…and as a blessed person I am in some way responsible for using what I have wisely and using it to help others. Purchasing nothing new this year has reminded me of that.

Marj is the Youth Pastor at TSA Hobart and runs City Youth Salvos, the youth and young adults ministry at the Corps. This involves connecting young people to the ideas of hope, self-worth and a relationship with Jesus through small groups, worship, service projects and socialising. Marj loves playing basketball, going to the movies and making songs up about her mates.

19 November, 2012

Social Inclusion Week.

Social Inclusion Week Saturday 24 November to Sunday 2 December 2012

What does ‘social inclusion’ mean?

The answer to this can be influenced by a previous personal experience – an ‘inclusion’ or ‘exclusion’ moment affecting our feelings and reactions. What did we feel when we were included or welcomed in a meaningful way?

A quick survey recently revealed varied short responses to the meaning of ‘social inclusion’, among them: including people on the fringes, space for everyone, time for everyone, equal opportunity, welcome, no prejudice, no exclusion, unity, participation, kindness, friendliness, hospitality, helpfulness, invitation, being open minded, face-to-face encounter, really listening.

Can we picture a world where these things are the norm? How inclusive is Australia? How do our suburbs, neighbourhoods, streets and households measure up? How do we deal with exclusion prejudice, disadvantage and inequality?

The founder of Social Inclusion Week, Dr Jonathon Welch, has a long-standing passion for social justice and an overarching commitment to the community. His ‘Choir of Hard Knocks’ [now the Choir of Hope and Inspiration] is an example of a light in the community that can achieve transformation.

When we are tempted to be complacent or pessimistic about change, let’s look to positive examples and see the power of the dream – that, in places of inequality & disadvantage, each person who is noticed, supported, included and empowered is part of a community that is changing, and taking steps in a positive direction.

Jonathon says: “Let's work together to make a difference, take a stand to fight loneliness and isolation. Let's put Australia on the map as the country that cares.

We want to touch the lives of even more people, and return to the values of a community that truly cares for each other and takes responsibility for supporting those who need a helping hand. Just a simple smile can make a world of difference in someone's life.”

The 4th annual Social inclusion week has a website with events and suggestions for involvement.

Collaborate, Connect and Celebrate in your part of Australia during Social Inclusion Week 2012! http://www.socialinclusionweek.com.au/

Personal challenge: Develop a habit that takes you beyond this week to all of life -consciously notice and think about the ‘other’, be alert to the ‘other’, reach out and be pro-active toward the ‘other in your relationships and connections.

Marion Weymouth

Territorial Social Justice Secretary

Read on for an in-depth look into social inclusion.

'...by the mid-1980s “social exclusion” had not only made its appearance in European Union documents but had also appeared in academic discourse emanating from the so-called “less-industrialised” world (Rodgers et al. 1995). It has been used even more frequently since the 1990s. The concept of “social exclusion” has become a core concept in the European Union and a foundational policy concept in Tony Blair’s New Labour Government in the UK. It has surfaced briefly (though not persuasively) in Australia in 1999 as an umbrella concept for a large social policy conference, and most recently has appeared in Aotearoa/New Zealand as part of the project of rethinking the direction of social policy. There is, however, no clear record of how the term came into use in English-language policy contexts. My own version of this history, however, and one that is backed up by a number of scholars, suggests that the concept of social exclusion, as a policy term, made its English-language debut in the European Union Poverty Programmes in the 1980s.'

From 'Christians for an ethical society', circa 2008/2009:

Among the innovations of the new Federal Labor Government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, was the appointment of a Parliamentary Secretary for Social Inclusion, Senator Ursula Stephens. The concept is important to our Government and we may expect to hear a lot about it in the next few years but most Australians have never heard the term. What is social inclusion and why is it important to Christians?

The meaning of social inclusion, or overcoming social exclusion, is multifaceted. Its modern use probably began in France in the 1970s when those who slipped through the social security net were called (socially) excluded. Conservative governments took up the term to describe efforts to reduce poverty without having to admit its existence; however, social inclusion is a much richer term than poverty reduction. For example, while poverty is a very widespread cause of inability to participate in society, it may be a symptom of social exclusion rather than the underlying cause which, for example, could be the inability to participate fully in the labour market due to poor English skills. The use of the term ‘social inclusion’ encourages attention on the causes of exclusion and encourages interest in the interaction of the various causes.


An Aussie reference, in a penal context from 2009:


The community can be viewed as a safety net, one which, prevents its members from being harmed in any way.

Ex-offenders are seen as a threat, and therefore they are excluded on purpose from joining the community.

Significant developments in exclusion/inclusion theory have permeated much social thinking in Europe and the

UK over the past 5 years...

A nice definition discussion from the Oz Govt's Institute of Family Studies:

What is social inclusion? What is social exclusion?

In the Australian policy context, social inclusion is conceptualised as four key domains of opportunity—the opportunity to:

..participate in society through employment and access to services;

..connect with family, friends and the local community;

..deal with personal crises (e.g., ill health); and

..be heard (Australian Government, 2010).

Social exclusion, on the other hand, is defined as the “restriction of access to opportunities and [a] limitation of the capabilities required to capitalise on these [opportunities]” (Hayes, Gray, & Edwards, 2008, p. 6). Social exclusion is not the equivalent of poverty (i.e., inadequate economic resources) or deprivation (i.e., an enforced lack of social perceived necessities) (Saunders, Naidoo, Griffiths, & 2007; Hayes et al., 2008). Rather, social exclusion is fundamentally about a lack of connectedness and participation.

Social exclusion is a useful concept because it can enrich our understanding of social disadvantage, highlighting, for example, the way in which the experience of disadvantage may not only involve financially difficulties but also extend to a sense of disconnection from the broader community. Social inclusion, when viewed as a series of opportunities, provides a framework for enhancing participation and connectedness and, as such, can be seen as a goal to work towards; a way of raising the bar and understanding where we want to be and how to get there (Friendly & Lero, 2002).

Although other countries’ understandings of the terms social inclusion and social exclusion may differ from the dominant Australian definition (outlined above), international resources on these topics can provide further insight into the meaning of the concepts...



15 November, 2012

Having Issues with Just Gifts?

Are you having difficulty accessing out Just Gifts website?

Our website is currently under going some maintenance which means there are some bugs in the system. Our friends in IT are working to resolve the issue, until then, please bear with us!

A link to Just Gifts can be found at the top of the website

Or you can clink on the following link and it will take you straight there!


Happy shopping!

02 November, 2012

Climate Change and the Poor

Climate change is a hugely debated topic – It has been seven years since Al Gore’s controversial film ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ was released, generating claims of conspiracy theories, urgency within governments and conversation among the people. Regardless of personal opinion toward the causes of climate change, our earth is changing and this has severe consequences for individuals and their livelihood.

Developed countries such as Australia have increased capacity to deal with climate change. Developing countries that do not have adequate infrastructure and already deal with high levels of poverty struggle to manage the affects of climate change on agriculture; the availability of food and water; and human development. The United Nations Development Fund states that, “Unless people have basic access to water, sanitation, food and energy, to institutions that work, and a say in the decisions that affect their lives, then they will not be able to cope with a changing climate”. (UNDP, 2012).

A report released by The International Social Justice Commission outlines how Corps in different territories of The Salvation Army are affected by changing environments and climate. A Call For Justice

What can we do?

1. Educate ourselves regarding the effects of climate change.

2. Continue to advocate for the marginalised.

3. Keep a global perspective - remember how we live in Australia affects the lives of individuals elsewhere.

4. If you are specifically passionate about environmental issues there are many ways to get involved. TEAR and Uniting Church Australia have environmental campaigns we recommend you get involved in