Community gathers to hear experts on WA Gas and its Climate Impacts

Wednesday 28 August saw approximately 60 people gather at Nedlands Uniting Church to hear from key experts on WA Gas and its Climate Impacts. The event was co-hosted by the newly formed WA Chapter of Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC) and Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA).

Both groups are committed to advocating for climate action in a non-partisan manner, with a focus on evidence and ethical practice. The focus of the evening was on Western Australia’s contribution to global climate change, and the unique role our state can play in reducing greenhouse emissions. Continue Reading

Being a safe church is everyone’s business

Rev John Cox is the inaugural Director of the Uniting Church in Australia’s National Safe Church Unit. John previously served as Executive Officer of the National Royal Commission Response and Engagement Task Group, the group that guided the Uniting Church’s national response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

He shares some thoughts on his new role.

What is the background to the National Safe Church Unit?

The Uniting Church took a proactive stance to engaging with the Royal Commission and the work of the national task group was to make sure that the commission had what they needed from the church, and that the church learned from the commission.

In the last year of the commission’s work the national task group transitioned to be more forward facing—asking itself the question, how do we implement what we’ve learned in and through the life of the church?

The idea of a national safe church unit grew out of that. It’s a unique collaboration between all of the synods and the Assembly, so it is owned by the councils of the church, which gives it a level of responsibility to drive change in and through the life of the church.

What can we expect from the unit?

The new body is about cultural enhancement in the life of the church; how do we understand ourselves as church, what does safety mean and how do we live that out?

Our role is to resource the church to provide safe contexts in which people are nurtured and can engage the possibilities of faith in Christ. This is the call to be a Christian community. The unit’s work is intended to sit right across the church, not just the congregational life but also the agency and the school life of the church.

So, this work is about supporting the church to be who we are called to be through the creation of strong evidence-based policy frameworks and resources, further collaboration across the church to create consistency in processes and enhance our education and training, and sharing information to create the checks and balances the church needs to ensure safety.

Do most Uniting Church members accept the reality of abuse in our churches?

I think across the life of the church we have people in congregations, lay and ordained, whose experience and understanding is that this could never happen here.

The Royal Commission said one of the biggest hurdles to adequate reporting on child sexual abuse was the belief that the person working at the next desk could never do something like that.

That’s a challenge for the church, as we understand people of faith to be people of integrity as we know them in a particular sphere.

My experience is that it’s not so much the looking back and saying, ‘I don’t believe that’. The struggle I think is here and now—yes, we accept that that happened there and then—but that would never happen now!

The checks and balances certainly help, but in my view safe church culture rests with every member of the church owning a responsibility to ensure that it’s a safe space.

Helping the church to understand that a percentage of abuse is perpetrated by people intent on undertaking that behaviour but there’s also abuse that happens when boundaries are lax, when opportunities are presented—is going to help us to be that safe community.

What drives you to continue working in this difficult space?

The dissonance between what I heard and experienced at the commission and what I understand the church to be called to be—this is what drives me. You hear stories and you think to yourself, ‘how on Earth could we allow ourselves to not be who we were called to be, to allow that to happen?’

I understand some of the contextual differences that contributed to abuse, the power and position of leaders, the place of children… so I understand functionally how that happened. However, this has not magically stopped… and this is not who we are.

We have moved a long way since some of the stories I’ve heard—but I strongly believe that following Jesus involves being a community of Christ in which people are nurtured and loved by God and by each other, and that being a safe church is one significant part.

Top image: Rev John Cox, Director of the Uniting Church in Australia’s National Safe Church Unit

This article originally appeared in Journey, the publication for the Uniting Church QLD.

 

Ministry Expo set to inspire new ministry leaders

Are you feeling a call to ministry but haven’t quite made the leap?

The Ministry Expo will be a great place to get that conversation going.

Held on Friday 30 August, the Ministry Expo is a chance for people to explore the different types of ministry in the Uniting Church WA, how they can prepare themselves for ministry, and where it could lead them.

Rev Dr Anne Wright, Director of Education and Formation at the Uniting Church WA, said the Ministry Expo is an opportunity for our next generation of ministry agents to learn more about the process and begin the journey.Continue Reading

Australia needs a solution to homelessness

UnitingCare Australia is calling on our Federal and State Governments to urgently develop and commit to a National Housing Strategy to address the growing crisis of homelessness in Australia.

This week is National Homelessness Week. There are more than 116 000 people without a home and almost 195 000 families on social housing waiting lists across Australia. Continue Reading

Advocates celebrate the Asylum Seeker Hub Public Transport Concession

Refugee advocates celebrated today, as they publicly launched the Asylum Seeker Hub (ASH) Public Transport Concession.

Kim Ellwood, Acting Executive Director of the Office of Multicultural Interests opened proceedings, and said that 38 people have already been issued with the concession, which provides refugees and asylum seekers with a concession fare SmartRider, for use on Transperth services.Continue Reading

Outback Links volunteers lift spirits in the bush

 It’s been an incredibly tough time for people in the bush, especially our Aussie farmers. In the latest issue of Frontier News, Greg and Bethany Stace, share their struggle with the ongoing drought and how Outback Links volunteers made a difference to their family.

“It’s been really difficult with this drought, so having these volunteers really saves us…You can sit down and have a chat over a meal. It gives you a mental break from the stress,” said Greg.Continue Reading

UnitingCare warns of ‘perfect storm’ in aged care looming

UnitingCare Australia has warned the possibility of a ‘perfect storm’ emerging in aged care, as older Australians face the prospect of being unable to access the supports they need. This is due to a deepening crisis of providers lacking the financial resources to meet the demands of quality service provision.

Informed by numerous recent reports that reveal the unsustainable financial performance of aged care providers across both ‘in-home’ and residential aged care settings, National Director of UnitingCare Australia, Claerwen Little, said the perfect storm forming is a direct result of increasing pressure on providers to deliver services in an unsustainable funding environment.Continue Reading