Rev Steve Francis, Moderator of the Uniting Church WA, and Geoff Bice, Social Justice Consultant for the Uniting Church WA, have sent a joint letter to the church encouraging them to write to their Federal Member of Parliament, asking them to act with compassion for some of the most vulnerable people in Australia.
The letter writes:
“We write to request your assistance for the sake of people in our community who have been left particularly vulnerable as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and the associated restrictions. We are hoping you will take with us a small but powerful action.
“We give thanks to God for the care that Uniting Church people have been showing; by following the safety precautions, learning new ways of connecting, and supporting each other along the way. It is a difficult time to demonstrate the love of God and yet the most needed time in many ways.
“We have all had our challenges in adjusting to the circumstances of this pandemic and we know that some of you have had direct impacts that are particularly difficult. Our hearts and prayers are with you and we encourage you to keep living with all the hope that is ours in Christ.
“We ask now that you continue to act with compassion by writing a letter or email on behalf of people in our broader community whose welfare is at risk.
“There are a number of groups who are particularly vulnerable at this time and for more options of how you can assist those groups please read this article.
“Our immediate focus at this moment is on people who are living in Australia, have been contributing to our communities, working and paying taxes but are stuck here with no way of returning to their country of origin. Worryingly, they have been excluded from key elements of the Australian Government’s COVID-19 safety net. These are people like Pacific workers, refugees and people seeking asylum who are already vulnerable to workplace exploitation and now are at risk of destitution simply because of their type of visa.
“We are an outward-facing church that cares for our neighbour in need. When we can’t meet in person or physically assist others, we can still speak up for others in need.
“If you have some extra time at home and are looking for a meaningful way to assist others in need, please consider writing a personal letter to your Federal Member of Parliament about this issue. The more of us who take this action, the more impact we can have and the greater our demonstration of the love of God for all people.
The letter came with an advocacy briefing document from the Uniting Church WA Social Justice Commission, in collaboration with the VicTas Synod. It includes information about the issues, real-life examples and suggestions for what to write. You can download that document here.
“Don’t feel like you need to address everything in a lengthy letter, but please write your own personalised version drawing on the information provided,” the letter continued.
“Ten minutes of your time to write and send a letter will be a valuable contribution to making sure no-one is left behind at this time. Please pass this information on to others in your congregation and community who may also wish to write.
“We know that our lives may look different but the calling in our hearts remains strong and this is one practical way we can continue be the church in the world.”
If you choose to send a letter, let Geoff and Steve know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org so that they can notify those they are advocating for – it will be an immense encouragement to them at this time when they are feeling so anxious and excluded.