Tuesday, November 20, 2007


1. Season of Creation: This truly is a marvel with one of the richest resources on the web:news;prayers and Scripture not only for a series of special Sundays thru the year,eg land,mountain and ocean Sundays,but also sermon suggestions.While an Australian site it is linked to both the USA and European Christian Environmental Network.One great resource.

2. California Interfaith Power and Light: A diverse site containing not only info on the Disciples commitments, and some thoughts on a theological basis for ecostewardship, but also info on green technology.Note particularly the link to the Web of Creation: www.webofcreation.org/.

3.Christian Ecology Links: Includes a daily prayer guide,festivals and green sermon notes,as well as a handy listing of info on issues such as sustainable transport,genetically modified crops and mobile phone masts.

4.Catholic Earthcare Australia: The PowerPoint audit is a must see.

5.Faiths and interfaith links.

* The Climate Institute: Note the series of interfaith statements;CofC is not a signature to any of them.

* Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life: Of particular interest are the resources related to the Jewish festivals:eg. Passover and Shabbat.

* Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences: Note a couple of their documents: "Islam and the Environment", and "Environment and Poverty: 2 sides of one coin".

And if you're interested in finding out who in your street or neighborhood is interested in the environment,check out: http://www.whoonearthcares.com/woec/home.action/ (Type in your post code and check out your neighbors;a product of ACF).

Thanks again to Alan Matheson for these links and resources - SJN.


Following are some internet based resources on issues facing Indigenous Australians. It is assumed that organisations such as ANTAR ( http://www.antar.org.au/), and Reconciliation (http://www.reconciliation.org.au/) are already known.The links contained in the following sites will take readers into such issues such as the stolen generation, land rights, racism and stolen wages.

1. 30 Years of Reports into Aboriginal Australia.

There is no longer an excuse for not knowing what has been happening to Aborignal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI)communities.This site lists all of the reports,royal commissions and enquiries which have been conducted over the years.

2.Women for Wik

A rich and varied site;important because of its women's perspective,but also because of its current and breaking news section (ABC,SBS,Koori Mail,Indigenous Times),blog watch,video,as well as an invaluable listing of black resources.

3.Religion,Spirituality and Worship

There are 3 sites which provide both information and resources which can be used in services as well as with children and young people.

a. Australian Museum

An easy to read and accessible site on timelines as well as detailed information on Aboriginal spirituality.Also contains a good collection of stories of the dreamtime.

b.Catholic Education SA.

Not a site to be missed.Covers everything from justice,spirituality,education kits,liturgical resources,and music. For Victorians do not miss the link to Yarra Healing to provide all the information on the Aboriginal communities from whom land was stolen to build your churches!

c.Australian Catholic Ministry

A comprehensive resource of indigenous prayers and liturgies.

4.Black History and Action

This is the site of one of the best known black activists.Gary Foley's collection of more than 3500 pages covers,reproductions of historic statements,photographs,time lines,articles,as well as one of the best collections of cartoons covering some of the significant black actions over the years.Great for browsing.

SJN thanks Alan Matheson for these resources.

Monday, November 05, 2007


As part of What’s Fair in Anti Poverty Week, a forum was held at RMIT called “What’s Fair in Education?” (October 17th 2007) The presenters were:

Dr. Helen Kimberly (Executive Director of the Equity Research Centre),

Professor Richard James (Director the University of Melbourne’s Centre for the Study of Higher Education) and

Ms. Maree Bovell (Manager for Employment and Training Services at the Brotherhood of St Laurence).

The forum was hosted by the wonderful and witty Father Bob Maguire (JJJ radio presenter).

When we talk about fairness and equity in higher education we need to start with a definition of equity. Richard James from the University of Melbourne came up with a useful one; higher education populations should reflect the general population (except for age). This is a good starting point but is it true? No it isn’t, anyway you look at it, universities are filled with more students from higher socially economic backgrounds than from lower socially economic backgrounds. The higher education sector is split between Universities and the VET (Vocational Education Training) sectors. Within the VET system there are a number of groups; Tafes, ACE (Adult Community Education) RTO (Registered Training Organisations) and Enterprise training (Training programs created by large corporations).

The latest OECD report on education shows that the Australian government does not spend enough money on education at all levels from kindergarten right through to higher education.

“Most revealing was what Education at a Glance 2007 showed in relation to how much Australia invests in education, both public and private, across all levels: pre-primary, primary, secondary, tertiary and post-secondary, non-tertiary education.

Our public investment in education at every level has declined to the point where we are investing less than most other developed countries. As a proportion of GDP, public expenditure on all levels of education in Australia is 4.3 per cent, compared to an OECD average of 5 per cent. This places Australia behind countries such as the US, Britain, Switzerland, Sweden, Portugal, Poland, Norway and New Zealand. Only six out of 30 OECD countries had less public investment in education.

The OECD notes: "Differences in spending on educational institutions are most striking at the pre-primary level of education. Here, spending ranges from 0.1 per cent of GDP in Australia and South Korea to 0.8 per cent or more in Denmark and Hungary." As a proportion of GDP, our investment in pre-primary education is just 0.1 per cent compared to an OECD average of 0.5 per cent.” (Source The Australian Sep 24 2007)

Australia has seen a drop in detention rates in secondary schools in recent year, money spent on tertiary education fall as a percentage of GDP and a greater reliance on fees from international students.

When we look at accessibility for all students, there has been a tendency in the past to put all students labelled ‘disadvantaged’ in the one group. We have recently seen a move away from this model to a more complex model which considers the wide range of factors which impact students attending higher education.

Despite record levels of economic growth in Australia in the last decade, many Australians are still missing out on education. So who is missing out? Students from lower socially economic backgrounds (SOSE), rural students and indigenous people consistently miss out on educational opportunities. Rural students make up a third of the secondary student population yet they only contribute 17% to those in tertiary education. Students from a high or medium socially economic background are twice as likely to attend University.

Professor Tony Vinson for Jesuit Social Services and Catholic Social Services Australia wrote a report in April 2007 titled “Dropping off the edge, the distribution of Disadvantage in Australia” which raises a number of pertinent questions:

· Is equity built in or bolted on the education model? He asks the question “why are the disadvantaged on the edges of the system?”

· Is equity an issue of human rights or ethics?

“The report highlights the particularly strong link between intergenerational poverty and low educational attainment. By detaching individuals, families and whole communities from the modern economy in this way, the report argues that disadvantage is holding back the nation's economic potential. Concentrated disadvantage of the kind demonstrated in the report, robs the nation of needed skilled workers, adds to labour shortages and, by inflating welfare expenditure, reduces government expenditure than would otherwise be necessary.” (Source www.catholicsocialservices.org.au/node/976)

The second part of the forum was three focus groups who each looked at providing recommendations for assisting people to get to education, staying in education and then beyond education. The recommendations are below:

1. Recommendations from the Getting There Facilitation Group

· More welfare agencies should move away from a welfare model towards more of an education model

· Young people hoping to access tertiary education should have access to mentoring partnerships during their secondary school years

· Properly resource and support individuals so they are able to make their own decisions about higher education; irrespective of parents post code etc

Careers teachers should have improved access to students before they reach year ten.

2. Recommendations from the Staying There Facilitation Group

· Identify and offer support to first generation higher education students

· Revamp university processes for applying for support

· Improve eligibility conditions for income support

· Work on integration during critical first two weeks

· Improve housing support

· Cost of text book/computers/ material costs too high (investigate subsidising these costs)

· Fix curriculum so students can integrate work

Build better campus communities.

3. Recommendations from the Beyond Facilitation Group

· Strong support for building course connectedness with world of work and for course related work experience

· Strong support for increased provision of on-campus careers counselling

· Tighter regulation of the promotion of universities and future career prospects of graduates

· The level of expenditure on student recruitment should not exceed the level spent on student welfare and employment support.

4. Father Bob’s Recommendations

· All prisons should provide tertiary education

· People working with street people require accredited training (develop a system similar to “Doctor’s without Borders” in the education system).

The main aim of this forum was to develop a network of people interested in the issues of access, equity and poverty within education. At the forum we were lucky enough to have a number of interested people join however we would love to add more names to this list!

If interested in joining this network please send an email to Antony.McMullen@victas.uca.org.au with your name and a contact phone number. We will then contact you with further details. Your confidential contact details will only be used by the Justice and International Mission Unit for the purpose of informing you about our social justice campaigns (particularly education) and won’t be given to a third party without your consent.


Do you wonder how your favourite political party stacks up against the MAKE POVERTY HISTORY policies? Now you can find out by clicking HERE and reading the report card on all the major parties.

Monday, October 29, 2007


Following are some value links to help in making heads or tails of the upcoming Federal Election from a Christian perspective:

1.GROWING A NATION OF HOPE:Federal Election 2007 - Your faith,your vote,your voice.

Probably the best resource on linking faith and voting. Produced by the UCA it covers issues such as a faith imperative for political engagement, indigenous Australians,work justice,peace and climate change. There is no more comprehensive site than the UCA one.


2. A VOTE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE: Australian Catholic Social Justice Council leaflet.

A handy 2 page leaflet setting out a number of priorities, as well as justice issues for indigenous people,workers,the poor,asylum seekers and the environment. Its value lies in the set of suggested questions which could be directed to candidates at community meetings.


3. A Litany for use during an election campaign: The Liturgy Commission of the Anglican Church of Australia.

It can be found at the end of the Social Issues page on the Federal Election


4. Christian Principles in a Election Year. Victorian Council of Churches.

This 2 page leaflet "lists 10 principles to guide decision making at election time", together with a group study guide.(NB. Open page and hit "the brochure")



A comprehensive collection of key election statements including issues related to poverty reduction,housing affordability,health and aged care.


Thanks to Alan Matheson for these excellent links.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Thursday 11 October 6.30 pm - 7.30 pm

Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne, 185 Pelham St, Carlton (room to be confirmed)

The University of Melbourne Human Rights Forum and the School of Political Science, Criminology and Sociology present a forum on the current crises in Burma.

In recent days the large demonstrations in Rangoon and the aggressive response of the ruling military junta have once again thrust Burma into the global spotlight. Are there any prospects for democratic change in Burma? What can, and should, states such as Australia, and their people, do in support of such change? And is there anything we can learn from Burma’s history to help answer such questions? In this public seminar these issues are addressed by:

Dr Garry Woodard - Senior Fellow, School of Political Science, Criminology & Sociology Australian Ambassador to Burma, 1973-75 Australian Ambassador to China, 1976-80

Alison Tate - International Officer, ACTU Former Program Officer for South-east Asia for Union Aid Abroad Former Burma Research and Information Officer, AUSTCARE

U Teddi Buri - Member of Parliament, National League for Democracy, Burma. Exiled in Australia.

Ample time will be allowed for questions from the audience.

Please pass this information on to others who might be interested in attending.

All welcome: Please RSVP to human-rights@unimelb.edu.au

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Cause for Celebration and Repentence!

On Sunday 16 September the halls of Churches of Christ Theological College filled with people gathered to continue the Centenary Celebrations with an art show, "Reminiscence: Reflection upon Life’s Journey," and a vibrant tribute to Sir Doug Nicholls, co-sponsored by the Australian Churches of Christ Indigenous Ministries and the Social Justice Network. A magnificent photographic portrait of Sir Doug, donated to the College, was hung by his three daughters – Pam, Lillian and Nora in the foyer beside a certificate of recognition reading,

"On this occasion of celebration & remembrance, the Churches of Christ Social Justice Network recognizes "Pastor Doug" Sir Douglas R. Nicholls MBE OBE Pastor in the Churches of Christ with gratitude for his inspiring Christian commitment to Justice and his outstanding contribution to the Fight for Aboriginal Rights in Australia."

Many people shared reminiscences in word and song including Pastor Neville Lilly, Pastor Richard Radcliff and Bruce Alcorn. Dick Menteith, National President of Churches of Christ, drove down from Sydney for the occasion. Darren Wight of ACCIM, flew in from NSW with his didgeridoo, the tones of which filled the campus. Greetings were brought by Alan Griffin MP for Bruce and Greg Warmbrunn, Chair of Council for the Vic-Tas Conference. A book of greetings included a letter from Premier John Brumby and Churches of Christ around the country. A "Table of Memories" held books, photos and newspaper clippings about the life of Sir Doug Nicholls. An article by Alan Matheson in the special edition of the Churches of Christ Historical Digest, called upon us all to seek out action for justice in relationship to our Aboriginal sisters and brothers and to reflect upon the budget of Conference and how that demonstrates our commitment (or lack thereof) to the plight of Australian Indigenous peoples

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Make a Faith Witness: A congregational response

The Social Justice Network of Churches of Christ invites you and your congregation to reflect on issues of importance to you, your community, our nation and the world. What is God calling you to do? How can you make a faithful witness as you add your voice to those crying for justice? How can you put your hands and feet behind your words? We hope that together we can identify areas of concern and ways to respond as faithful Christians serving our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Congregational Covenant of Caring:

We invite you to choose at least one area to covenant to become involved with:

Caring for God’s People: Aboriginal Issues

Caring for Creation: Environmental Issues

Caring for the least of these: Issues of World Poverty and Hunger

Caring for our Community: An Issue within your local community



DJAN is a multi-racial, multi-ethnic grassroots network of individuals, congregations, and organizations within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), all working together for greater justice, peace and diversity in our churches, our communities, our nations (Canada and the United States) and our world. Click HERE to check out their website.

CARE FOR CREATION (aka "a slot of green")

For the picking...tangible actions you can take to make the world a better place and inspiring quotations to get you moving!

Share these in your church newsletter or in a "Care for Creation" moment in worship.

This month’s tip:

Register on line to receive one realistic, nature-friendly tip each weekday from www.idealbite.com "At 85,000 subscribers and counting, the Web site is nibbling away at ecological destruction one in-box at a time."

This month's quote:

"The issues that confront us may seem so huge, so complicated, so difficult to deal with that it’s hard to believe that anything we can do will have a meaningful impact. But there are a lot of us in the world. A lot of people doing a lot of little things could have a huge impact. And by doing something, we are also demonstrating that lots of people really do care." –Michael Norton, "365 Ways to Change the World" (Free Press)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

What’s Fair in Anti-Poverty Week 2007

The National Council of Churches in Australia (Christian World Service), the Justice & International Mission Unit of the Uniting Church in Victoria and Tasmania and FairWear Victoria are organising a series of events throughout Anti-Poverty Week 2007 called “What’s Fair in Anti-Poverty Week 2007”. People will be coming together from a range of perspectives - from faith communities, educational institutions, trade unions and community organisations to tackle various issues relating to poverty and social justice. There are also a range of challenges that are set for all participants.

Details of our program:

What’s Fair morning tea – a Christian Perspective - Monday 15th of October - 10-12am

Kilbride Centre, 52 Beaconsfield Parade (corner of Foote St)., Albert Park.

Join us as we begin the What’s Fair in Anti-Poverty Week campaign. This will be an opportunity for all Christians to learn about the issues involving Fairtrade and how we can respond in a way of fairness and justice as we purchase products. Try out Fair Trade tea, coffee, herbal tea and chocolate and discover what you and your church can do to support this growing and important movement. This forum features material by the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance as part of the Trade Week of Action.

RSVP/Contact: Kilbride (03) 9690 1076 contact@kilbridecentre.come.au

Ecumenical Service of Thanksgiving - (with prayers for people in poverty)

Wed. 17th October - 12.45-2.15pm Gryphon Gallery (1888 Building), University of Melbourne, Carlton

Contact: Wes Campbell (Revd Dr), Chaplain, University of Melbourne, Uniting Church in Australia, (03) 8344 6034 / 0431 847 278 / wesleyc@unimelb.edu

What’s fair in the ragtrade?

Thurs 18th October - 6:30-8:30pm. University of Melbourne, Melbourne Law School, University Square, 185 Pelham Street, Carlton 3053

High profile speakers will talk about fair trade and justice for workers in the clothing industry here and overseas. Features a showing of China Blue - shot clandestinely, this is a deep-access account of what both China and the international retailers don't want us to see: how the clothes we buy are actually made.

Contact: FairWear Victoria Coordinator, Liz Thompson, (03) 9251-5270 / Liz.Thompson@victas.uca.org.au

What’s fair in education?

Wednesday, October 17th between 4.20-6.30pm

There will be a 4.20pm welcome at the RMIT University Spiritual Centre, Building 11B. The forum will then be held at RMIT Building 13, (Emily McPherson College), Ethel Osborne Hall.

The forum aims to establish a church presence regarding issues of access and equity and tertiary education; as well as influence public debate through building a community network for this area.

Contact: Justice & International Mission Unit Social Justice Officer Antony McMullen, (03) 9251 5241 / antony.mcmullen@victas.uca.org.au