Thursday, May 31, 2007


*** NOTE IMPORTANT : Ideally a response, even of serious interest to consider, is required by June 6 at the latest as any additional evidence needs to be submitted to the Australian Immigration officials in Pretoria by June 7.

However, the best summary is given by her nephew, now in South Dakota, USA , who first contacted the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) office by phone & after my contact by email. The nephew’s brief explanation is helpful and I reproduce it below, corrected for some grammar points or explanation points.

The woman is a Rwandan refugee, a widow, presently in Togo. She has three children.( Christian World Service, National Council of Churches in Australia, NCCA –CWS does not have details of the ages of the mother or children). She applied for resettlement for Australia via the United UNHCR and she passed the interview in September, 2006. As other refugees, she had to pass the medical examinations with her 3 children. But she is HIV positive, but all of her children are HIV negative.

The Australia immigration in South Africa (Pretoria) advised she did not meet the health requirement. The cost of treating serious health conditions over a lifetime is estimated and influences the decision as to whether to offer resettlement. Before the Pretoria High Commission staff make a final decision, they asked her to give other information that may help the immigration service to waive her medical history. When she got the message, she tried to meet a physician who wrote another report (apparently very well, and she is taking treatment).

The report is saying that she is under treatment and she is able to work (because even in Togo she works for her children), and she has sent the report.

The nephew thought that if an Australian group was able to offer to help her for the first few months once she arrives in Australia this may strengthen her case for a waiver. NCCA staff person, John Ball, was advised by an Immigration Department officer in Canberra that such Australian support would be helpful but weighing the need of the woman and her children against the medical cost issue would be the main consideration.

John Ball, NCCA-CWS staff, understands that, if accepted, the airfares of the woman and three children would be paid by the Australian Government as they are accepted under the strict refugee category, and have not had Australian proposers. On arrival they would be entitled to usual social services payments and provisions, eg Medicare. I suppose key factors to consider in offering support would be for how long a group is offering to provide support, the likelihood of needing to help buy medicines for HIV treatment ( I can’t estimate the cost of this ) and the emotional support needed for the family due to resettlement needs and this special health situation and the unpredictability of health needs. With modern HIV drug treatment and proper nutrition, etc it would be hoped that the woman would live many years.

While not having any more details than the above if anyone wishes to offer support or wishes to discuss this matter please contact John Ball on 03 9650 6811 (work- NCCA-CWS-Victoria ; or email:


Sunday 17-24 June*

The United Nations estimates that over 115 million young people around the world are denied basic education. Simply Sharing Week 2007 will focus on our spiritual motivation to seek education for all children and young people. Australian Christians have the opportunity to make a positive global change and stand up for education for all.

Christian education resources are available to use in Church services, community groups and schools from

Simply Sharing Week will be held 17-24 June to prepare for International Literacy Day on 8 September and Anti-Poverty Week on 14 October.

ENQUIRIES: Contact Kaylea Fearn on (03) 9650 6811 or email

*If these dates do not fit into your school calendar, feel free to change the dates. We like to say that ‘Any week can be Simply Sharing Week and every week should be a Simply Sharing Week!’


Thursday 7 June, 6.15pm
Ross House, 247 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

Want to know how you can help MAKE POVERTY HISTORY? Wish to support the campaign but don’t know where to start? Interested in volunteering? Want to learn how to lobby your local politicians? Want to find out about upcoming campaigns and how you can get involved? Got questions? Well – we’ve got answers!

The Make Poverty History campaign is looking for people of all ages and all walks of life to get involved in upcoming campaigns. Whether you have lots of spare time on your hands or perhaps you’d rather help out every now and again, there are various opportunities to get involved. Letter writing, utilizing your creative skills, helping us distribute white arm bands, starting up a MPH group or club in your local area, or taking on an ongoing volunteer coordination position, are just some of the ways you can help make poverty history.

The info night will cover:

    • An overview of the Australian Make Poverty History Campaign
    • Upcoming campaigns and actions
    • Volunteering opportunities

The session will be followed by a Lobbying info session hosted by National MPH campaign co-coordinator Leanne Minshull:

If you can’t quite wait that long here’s a couple of things you can do in meantime:

If you can’t attend the info session – the google group will be the best way to stay tuned into local information, resources and opportunities


Justice and International Mission Convention

God's Economics - The Divine Economy?
Saturday 2 June, 9.00am
Centre for Theology and Ministry, 1 Morrison Close, Parkville

Economic considerations seem to dominate much of our society. Sometimes this may serve a greater good, ensuring efficient use of resources for meeting the needs of a greater number of people. However, too often the economic focus puts aside human needs and human dignity, encouraging greed and environmental destruction.

The convention will consider what the Christian faith has to say about economic systems we live with and what principles should guide a Christian view of the economy.

The Convention will also seek input from participants on Synod policy for the 2008 Synod.

The full program and workshop details can be downloaded from our website:

COST: $25 for Metropolitan participants/ $15 concession and non-Metropolitan participants
ENQUIRIES: For a registration form contact the Synod Justice and International Mission Unit on (03) 9251 5271 or email


June 17 – June 23

The Refugee Council of Australia is once again coordinating Refugee Week across Victoria and New South Wales. The week will now be celebrated in June to coincide with UN World Refugee Day on June 20. Refugee Week is a time to acknowledge and celebrate the amazing contribution that refugees make to Australian society. This year’s theme provides an opportunity to explore and try to understand the refugee experience from the perspective of children and young people.

With June not far away the Refugee Council would like to invite you to start thinking and planning how you, your school, your community or your workplace could participate in Refugee Week 2007. Whether through celebrations, fundraising for asylum seekers or activities that promote awareness of the issues, by doing something to mark Refugee Week we send a message that refugees are a welcome and important part of the Australian community.

This year to counter some of the negative media that refugees have been receiving we would like to see a positive refugee related story in every local newspaper. Download our resource kit from for more information about how to make this happen.

For more information about Refugee Week please contact the Refugee Council on:

NSW – (02) 9211 9333
Victoria – (03) 9348 2245

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Churches of Christ Social Justice Network invite you to
Focus on Africa
Saturday 26th May 2007
2:30pm - 5:00pm
Panel discussion and workshop
Surrey Hills Churches of Christ
1 The Avenue Surrey Hills VIC
Cost: $5 includes afternoon tea
RSVP: Kristen Hobby on or (03) 9558 7462
We welcome Visier Sanyu from the National Council of Churches to assist in the facilitation of the workshop.

2-3:30 pm—Hear from an expert panel with representatives from Africa discussing the current situation in Sudan, Zimbabwe the Congo and other parts of Africa. Hear personal stories with opportunities for Q&A to follow.

4-5pm — Two Workshops. One will focus on how individual churches can assist African churches who are currently welcoming African families into their congregations. The second workshop will look at how we as Christians can respond to the current African situation.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


World Environment Day, commemorated each year on 5 June, is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action.

The World Environment Day slogan selected for 2007 is Melting Ice – a Hot Topic? In support of International Polar Year, the WED theme selected for 2007 focuses on the effects that climate change is having on polar ecosystems and communities, and the ensuing consequences around the world

World Environment Day can be celebrated in many ways, including street rallies, bicycles parades, green concerts, essay and poster competitions in schools, tree planting, recycling efforts, clean-up campaigns and much more. In many countries, this annual event is used to enhance political attention and action.

Heads of State, Prime Ministers and Ministers of Environment deliver statements and commit themselves to care for the Earth. More serious pledges are made which lead to the establishment of permanent governmental structures dealing with environmental management and economic planning. This observance also provides an opportunity to sign or ratify international environmental conventions.

On this World Environment Day, let us examine the state of our environment. Let us consider carefully the actions which each of us must take, and then address ourselves to our common task of preserving all life on earth in a mood of sober resolution and quiet confidence.

For ideas on how the day can be commemorated, please visit The World Environment Day Alphabet - 77 Ways to Celebrate

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

May 27 What it could mean? Letter to the AC editor

Dear Editor,
May 27 What it could mean?
Doug Nicholls,pastor and black activist,stood before a Sydney crowd(1) on April 29 1957, and announced the referendum campaign.
For the next ten years,Nicholls was in every street demonstration,deputation and public meeting,agitating,promoting and demanding a referendum on Aboriginal recognition and rights.
May 27 2007, marks the fortieth anniversary of that referendum(2).
I suspect that Nicholls preaching today in one of our churches,would still be angry with our feeble efforts to ensure the recognition and well being of Aboriginal communities.
Is it not possible on this day, for Churches of Christ to commit themselves, to renewed support and solidarity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders?
Could we, for example, commit ourselves to:
*ensuring that the legacy and ministry of Doug Nicholls and white leaders such as Stan Davey,are recognised and remembered,
*providing targeted Indigenous employment and training opportunities in our aged care homes and services,
*encouraging congregations to ensure the effectiveness of the stolen wages campaigns(3),
*cooperating with Aboriginal communities in their celebrations, such as the Long Walk(4) in Victoria,
*standing with,and supporting the continuing struggle for land rights,
*funding the telling and publishing of the stories of Aboriginal women in our congregations,
*organising "faith and culture" young adult exchanges and placements in indigenous communities,such as the UCA's F.A.C.E. program,(5)
*encouraging partnerships between urban ethnic - both white and overseas born -congregations, and Aboriginal congregations and communities,
*providing a visible sign on our congregational and conference buildings that we recognise the land of their tribe and clan,
*allocating a proportion of congregational and conference departmental budgets, to the well being and support of Aboriginal congregations and communities,and finally,
*actively promoting and participating in the events and celebrations around the Day of Reconciliation(Sorry Day May 26);May 27-June 3 Reconciliation Week(6),and May 27 the fortieth anniversary of the 1967 Referendum.
Nicholls was also one of us.
Is it not possible for us to continue his ministry with a renewed commitment and passion?
Alan Matheson

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


ALP policy change
This weekend the Australian Labor Party held their National Policy Conference. Along with other organisations, A Just Australia lobbied hard on ending Temporary Protection Visas and granting work rights to asylum seekers on Bridging Visas. The change to Bridging Visas was something AJA and National Council of Churches worked particularly hard on together - working with Labor for Refugees, traveling to Canberra to lobby key MPs as well as negotiating implementation models directly with the Shadow Minister for Immigration.

We are pleased to tell you that this work paid off, with both amendments being accepted by vote at the conference. See the ALP website for more details, although as of Monday 30th they said it will be a few days before they upload the new platform. (But see below for the TPV and BVE changes)

We could not do this work without your support, both in your letter writing and your financial support. There is still a long way to go on issues such as offshore processing where asylum seekers do not have the same access to legal rights as onshore applicants. If you are not yet a financial member of AJA, please consider becoming one for only $50 per year. Membership gives you voting rights at our annual general meeting, as well as being able to run for a position on the board. Many of our members or general supporters also pledge monthly donations. This core funding allows our lobbying work to continue, with successful results such as the above changes to ALP policy.

Sign up for membership or regular donations or donate online

Thanks for all your support.

Kate Gauthier
For the A Just Australia team

TPV change
Asylum seekers who are independently determined to be refugees under the Migration Act 1958 will be given permanent protection.

BVE Change
Labor recognises that the arbitrary 45 day rule results in legitimate asylum seekers on Bridging Visas being unnecessarily denied the right to work while their claim is being processed. It also prevents immigration officers from denying work rights to frivolous claims within the 45-day period. Labor will work to develop guidelines based on merit so that frivolous or vexatious applications will be denied those rights, instead of applying an arbitrary 45 day time limit.
Asylum seekers in Lombok, Indonesia
From Felicia Di Stefano:

Thank you for your past help. We urgently need your help once again.

The good news is that from about 67 there are now 21 Afghan asylum seekers detained on Lombok. Mohammad has been accepted by NZ and is now studying English, others have been moved to Jakarta and interviewed by representatives of countries that will resettle them.

The bad news, and this is why we urgently need you help again, is that the 21 Afghan asylum seekers who are left on Lombok do not have protection status and are now illegal immigrants. The three families (eight children ages ranging from three to 19) and seven single people, are being coerced by IOM and Indonesian officials to return to Afghanistan which is becoming a war zone.

The people are at risk of being arrested by the Indonesian police and are being threatened with quarantine. People who have been in quarantine report a tiny cell with the bare floor to sleep on, starvation rations and an indefinite time, depending on how much money you have to bribe the guards.

Attached is a form letter addressed to Kevin Andrews, the minister for immigration. You are welcome to put your name, date and signature and post it off, or write your own letter. Also, it would be good to write to the federal representative for your electorate and any one you feel may be able to take notice for whatever reason.

Here is the form letter. Every letter does count. Please send letters urgently.

Thank you, once again for your support.

Warm regards, Felicia Di Stefano, member South Gipplsand RAR