Friday, September 15, 2006


Working for Justice one sip at a time!
(report from Oxfam)

It was a great year for Fairtrade sales in Australia and New Zealand in 2005. With 95% of data collected for the year, the total sales for 2005 total over 150 000kgs of coffee, tea, and chocolate, representing approximately AU$6 million in estimated retail sales. This is in comparison to AU$1.5 million in estimated retail sales in 2004, representing growth of 250%. Coffee remains the biggest product category, with almost AU$5million in retail sales (100 000kg).

Thanks to everyone who supported the trial of an expanded range of Fairtrade products at Coles recently. Sales of Republica coffee went very well in 5 of the 6 trial stores in Vic and NSW. As a result Coles have agreed to roll out Republica to a further 20 stores in NSW. While we had hoped they would do this in Victoria also, we are hoping this might be the start of a national expansion given the good sales results.

Thanks to everyone who has supported the Fairtrade Coffee campaign for this great result. Fairtrade is still a small player in the multi-million dollar coffee industry and needs your continued support, but we've come a long way!

Find out where to buy Fairtrade click HERE

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Please find below the September Update from the Churches of Christ Social Justice Network for your action and involvement.

  • Next SJN Consultation
  • Preparing for the State Election
  • Petition against the murders in the Philippines
  • ANTI-POVERTY WEEK 2006 – 15-21 October 2006
  • International World Day of Prayer
  • Movies with a Message
  • Support Fairtrade!
  • Make Indigenous Poverty History
  • Human Rights in an Age of Terror


Next SOCIAL JUSTICE NETWORK Consultation – The new Industrial Relations Legislation

Saturday 29th of October 2006. 9:30am – 12:30pm. Venue to be confirmed


Preparing for the State Election as a Christian community.

The coming State election (scheduled for November) provides a fantastic opportunity to engage in meaningful conversation with our politicians. Members of Parliament and candidates for election are never more keen to talk to the electorate than when there is an election coming. So now is the time to be planning.

The Social Justice Network is preparing a list of practical ideas for churches to provide opportunities for their members to interact with candidates about issues that are important to them not only as citizens but also as Christians. These ideas (E.g. “A meet the candidates forum” conducted by local churches) will be posted over the next month on the Social Justice page on the Conference website The aim is not to take political sides but to help Christians be well informed of what candidates are about and to reflect on issues with Christian values in mind as well as letting candidates hear what church people think.

Each of these suggestions will need to be handled thoughtfully and in a way that helps your members to look at issues in a way non partisan to any particular political party or candidate.

  • Establish a small group to set up a “Meet the Candidates” event. It is often best to do this in co-operation with other churches in your area.
  • Have a panel discussion with articulate members of your congregation sharing what for them are significant issues for Christians when it comes to elections.
  • Invite church members to identify issues that they would like raise with the various candidates standing in your electorate. Arrange for a small delegation of 2 or 3 people to set up a time with each of the candidates to discuss these issues and then do a brief written report which can be made available to your membership.
  • Try to identify the issues that you consider to be important for Christians and the church at this time and make your congregation aware of these. Don’t take sides on these issues – just invite your congregation to think, pray and research about these issues before voting. Make sure your list covers issues of justice and compassion and is not just what is only in your membership’s own interests.
  • Be creative in coming up with your own ideas about how to help your church grapple with issues from a Biblical and compassionate Christian perspective.
  • Make sure that you do not take or appear in any way to take sides or support any one side. Concentrate on raising issues and seeking answers and let your people do the deciding with their vote.
  • Publish in your newsletter the websites where your members can read the policies of each of the Parties and candidates.



There have been approximately 290 people murdered in the Philippines since 2004 in circumstances suggesting the involvement of security forces. Most of those murdered are human rights defenders, church ministers, anti-corruption campaigners, journalists, lawyers, environmentalists, indigenous people and left-wing politicians. A total of 15 members and ministers of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, the partner church of the Uniting Church in Australia, are amongst those that have been murdered. To sign a petition calling for the Government of the Philippines to take action to put an end to the murders and provide protection to those being targeted visit


15-21 October 2006

Anti-poverty Week is an Australia-wide initiative that began several years ago and continues to provide opportunities for grass roots events to be held in your local community about poverty. Visit the website for more information


21st of September

"Praying for peace is an essential part of Christian worship and, indeed, of human existence," says World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia about the International Day of Prayer for Peace, to be celebrated on 21 September 2006. For more information and resources to use in your church go to

Prayers and resources are available on the Decade to Overcome Violence web site for this year's event, with more to come. The DOV has published a brochure for distribution with a special focus on the Annual Focus in Latin America. This brochure is available on the DOV web site


Maria Full of Grace

The Women's Project of Churches of Christ for 2004-2008 connects us with our partner church in Columbia, South America. "Movies with a Message" will show Maria Full of Grace, the story of one young woman’s journey from a small town in Columbia to New York City, to help us better understand the situation our brothers and sisters face in Columbia. A discussion will follow.

In the film, the offer to leave her job ripping thorns off roses in a factory to "travel" – become a "drug mule"-- leads 17-year-old Maria into the dangerous world of drug trafficking. This HBO Movie (rated R), directed by Joshua Marsten, presents determination and grace in the face of both hope and tragedy. Catalina Sandino Moreno was nominated in 2005 for the Best Actress Oscar award. The movie won the 2004 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award.

Venue: Churches of Christ Theological College
Sponsored by: Churches of Christ Theological College and Churches of Christ Social Justice Network
Movies with a Message meets monthly on the third Friday. Future showings:
20 October "Australian Rules," 17 November "Joyeaux Noel."


Support Fairtrade!

Thanks to everyone who is standing up for justice and drinking Fairtrade coffee and tea! Want to get an update? Not yet familiar with Fairtrade and wanting to learn more? Click on these web sites for:


Resources for the Campaign to Make Indigenous Poverty History

New CD-ROM - Available now. This CD_ROM contains a wealth of resource material in easy-to-use PDF and Video format. It includes interviews, a case study, how to make your own poverty pole, worsksheets, prayer materials and other useful information.
Cost: $20.00 plus p&p Order from NATSIEC

16th Maurice Blackburn Oration - Moreland City Council


Public Lecture given by Professor Hilary Charlesworth
7.30pm, Thursday 28 September, 2006
Brunswick Town Hall
- 233 Sydney Road, Brunswick
RSVP by 25 September on 9240 2373 or email

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


This article was recently published in the Australian Christian - an online magazine, and knowledge base of the Churches of Christ in Australia.

If You Want Peace, Then Start Fighting For Justice
By : Kristen Hobby
I read a bumper sticker recently that said “if you want peace, then start fighting for justice”. It seems like a paradox to fight for peace. Peace doesn’t just happen because a group of people want it (though that is a good start) it happens because people question and challenge the way things are and envision a better way of living.

The Churches of Christ Social Justice Network (SJN) in Vic/Tas exists to provide resources to churches and individuals who have an interest (or even passion!) for making the world a better place. There are five of us who volunteer to work on the SJN Executive: Gerald Rose, Ian Smith, Ana Gobeldale, Simon Clemow and myself.

So why do we do it? For Ian Smith (Thornbury Church of Christ), participation in social justice is inherent to discipleship. From his formative years he has discovered that God is interested in the whole: the whole of creation, the whole person, not just the individual parts. Thus any faith response towards creation or another person, needs to embrace the whole of the other. This often includes asking the question why? “Why has this denigration of creation occurred” or “Why does this person feel disempowered or abused?“ As Ian wrestles with these issues he finds through the Kingdom of God people are responding.

The reason Simon is passionate about Social Justice, is due in part to the challenge of the prophet Micah to the people in Micah 6:8 “…seek justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God…" which Jesus reframed and reiterated in his Matthean (22:37-39) summary of the ‘law’, which we can translate as: “…Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence." This is the most important, a first on any list. But there is a second part alongside it: "Love others as well as you love yourself." How can we truly love someone (place their needs ahead of our own) from a position of a power imbalance? Through his role as the Discipleship Development Program (DDP) National Coordinator, he hopes to expose other young adults to the social justice call of their faith tradition.

For Gerald Rose, social justice is an imperative. He says he doesn't have a choice. If he takes Jesus seriously, he is committed to working for goodness, justice , compassion and fairness in human society, which is another way of saying "working for the kingdom of God in human society". To do anything less is to betray all that Jesus stood for and died for. As Martin Luther King said, "a threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

Ana writes: “Growing up during the 50s and 60s in the USA with a clergy father meant that I attended civil rights marches before I could walk (pushed in a pram by my parents), and my church youth group was active in peace activities during the Vietnam war years. Living in South Africa under the oppressive laws of apartheid, ministering to a black community, meant that our Christian faith demanded we provide, in word and deed, a witness for justice and change. Christ calls us to follow him, to abandon our desires for personal security, to be agents of peace and justice in the world. I fall quite short of doing this well, but being part of groups like the SJN helps me stay focused on what Christ expects of me”.

And I do it because I have hope that we really can make a difference in the lives of people who don’t have access to adequate food or water or basic human rights. I do it because I believe as followers of Christ, it is who we are called to be and that human rights really are worth fighting for. A little like glimpsing the Kingdom of God and finding a way to bring it into the present.

For the past three years, we have contributed articles for the CEO’s news and the Australian Christian, presented motions for conferences and organized a number of SJN training days and events. The SJN also helps with issues of education such as the Religious and Racial Tolerance Act, or legislation pertaining to refugees and those seeking asylum. It can be a tough job: sometimes the problems seem too numerous and insurmountable, the victories few, the disappointments kind of endless, and we all do it on top of our other busy roles and responsibilities.

But how do we maintain a sense of hope when sometimes the odds aren’t quite stacked in our favour? I think there are two ways: the first is that you really need to celebrate your wins, no matter how small. Celebrating wins such as changes to unjust laws that keep women and children in detention facilities. Celebrating wins such as events like Live8 that demanded the wealthiest of nations to reduce the debts of 19 of the world’s poorest and celebrating times when large companies buy Fair Trade teas and coffees so the farmers can receive an appropriate amount for their goods. I think the other way of sustaining hope is to recognise that we can’t do this alone. We need to share the load, encourage each other and support one another.