Social Justice – E news

 

 

SJF e-news April 2016

Well into 2016 now, and a federal election looms. This is a time for our campaigns to focus on how we can be better informed and make a difference in the political agenda – and in all kinds of ways at the local level.

 

Give Hope campaign: seeking a fair go for refugees and people seeking asylum

As talk grows of a likely July election, we see hopeful signs that public support for compassionate policies is getting at least some response from our leaders. The change in detention status recently announced by the government will improve at least for a time the living conditions of some children and their families, and is an indication that our government is aware of our concern.

Palm Sunday rallies say “Welcome Refugees”

march

On March 20, Palm Sunday, Uniting Church members weighed in with a passion to take an active part in rallies and marches across Australia to welcome refugees and people seeking asylum. In NSW and ACT there were well-attended events in Sydney, Canberra, Newcastle, Wollongong, Armidale, Murwillumbah and Lennox Head.

Uniting Church/Uniting marchers at the Palm Sunday Rally 2016 rally in Sydney – led by NSW/ACT Moderator Rev Myung Hwa Park (at R)  Uniting Church leaders and parishioners, and Uniting staff, attended, spoke, marched, organised, sang and drummed our message of hope in all these centres. Many more wrote, emailed and kept up the pressure on local politicians to #LetThemStay,

Read our full report on Palm Sunday actions on our Give Hope website.

Now the next step: “Australia, don’t drop the refugee ball!”

Now comes the next phase in our campaign: a new action, “Don’t Drop the Refugee Ball”.

Australia played a part in the world effort in the Syrian crisis, pledging to take an extra 12,000 refugees – now we need to keep up the momentum:  maintain our humanitarian intake into 2016-17, not let it slip back to its previous ungenerous level. We and others in the church have already made submissions to a departmental review of this intake. In the election leadup, we need to put it firmly on the political agenda of all parties and candidates.

Asylum seeker families continue to live in appalling conditions in Australia’s offshore detention camps – see the latest Uniting Justice submission to a Senate Committee. Meanwhile refugee claim processing is currently stalled to a trickle, as Minister Dutton has acknowledged.  Both government and opposition need to be reminded of the need to close the camps and boost our intake.

You can make an impact.  Go to our new campaign webpage – email your local MP to urge support for closing the cruel offshore detention camps and boosting our humanitarian intake to what an affluent nation like Australia should be offering. At the above link it’s easy to take action: enter your address to find your federal member, and an email is drafted and ready for your adaptation and sending at the click of a button. Please take this action, discuss it locally, and share it around however you can.

Opportunities for practical support

The Give Hope campaign offers ways of providing practical assistance to refugees and people seeking asylum living in the community. Options include:

  • The House of Welcome (at Carramar, western Sydney) is looking for churches and other groups to commit to a month of collecting and delivering household items needed by new arrivals. If interested please email House of Welcome.
  • A new appeal will be launched soon by the Bridge for Asylum Seekers Foundation, to provide practical support for some of the most vulnerable people seeking asylum, in the leadup to Refugee Week in June. Stand by for news of connected events and actions.
  • Check our Give Hope Get Involved webpage for more ways to make a difference.

Uniting Affordable Housing campaign

The Federal election is also an opportunity to highlight the need for reform of national tax laws, to encourage affordable housing and yield a fairer result for all. Then Uniting Church believes taxation should be both fair and efficient – and that Negative Gearing and the Capital Gains Tax discount for property owners fail both these tests.

These issues will be addressed by UnitingJustice Australia in its election resources to be released soon. They’ll aim to inform Uniting Church members and congregations on a range of social issues and help people assess the policies of candidates in the election. Please keep your eye out for these resources and consider how you as an individual can take the actions suggested.

Meanwhile we continue to campaign for better affordable housing at a state level… you can email your NSW state MP or ACT Assembly member at our action page.

A Place to Call Home: stories needed

We’re urgently seeking people with experiences of struggling to buy, rent or keep affordable housing in and around Sydney. We’re working with the Sydney Alliance to highlight human impact and advocate for more and better affordable housing. If you have relevant experiences you might share, or know someone who’s willing to share theirs, please email or phone us: (02) 9407 3204.

Upcoming events and keeping in touch

Please let us know if you have news, feedback about this newsletter, advance notice of a community social justice event you’d like to share, or an interesting story about what your congregation or individual parishioners or groups are doing or have done to address social justice issues. These stories can inspire and encourage others to make a difference in their communities.

If you have something you’d like to share, please email us at socialjustice@uniting.org – and you can also call us on (02) 9407 3204.

For online updates:  Give Hope website and Facebook page, and SJF Facebook page.

 

Jon O’Brien and Stafford Sanders Uniting Social Justice Forum

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