Cyclone Seroja crossed our coast at about 8.00pm on Sunday 11 April, beginning its destructive journey in Port Gregory, just south of Kalbarri. Winds of up to 170km/hr, the strongest recorded in more than 50 years, tore homes, businesses and trees apart, leaving behind masses of debris.
Coastal areas south of Kalbarri saw about 70 per cent of homes damaged. Residents huddled in bathtubs or hid in pantries and toilets. Yet, miraculously no-one was injured.
Most Australians don’t realise that we put kids in prison. In a public opinion poll by the Australia Institute, 73% of Australians had no idea that children as young as ten are currently locked up in our prison system.
It’s not surprising, since most people imagine kids at that age to be, well… kids.
But the facts tell us that for some, this is not the case. The Commissioner for Children and Young People in WA reports that in 2018-2019, 143 children in WA spent time in unsentenced detention. This unsentenced detention can range from an average of 25 days for non-Indigenous children and 46 days for Indigenous children – keeping in mind that 78% of kids in detention are Indigenous.
Years ago, Alison Xamon began to envisage a new kind of ministry. A church community that would be truly welcoming and safe for all. A group that would see the fight for justice as simply part of being Christian.
It was a type of worship that Alison longed for, but over time it became clear that if she really wanted it to happen, she would have to make it happen. So, she did.
Uniting WA are proud to support hundreds of people experiencing homelessness every day, but there are still up to 900 people sleeping rough across Perth every night and more than 9 000 people experiencing homelessness in WA.
With Winter and the cold weather now upon us, it has never been more important to support people experiencing crisis and homelessness.
Uniting WA’s recently renovated Tranby Engagement Hub provides all the basic services you would expect from a homelessness service, as well as some you might not. It’s the first purpose-designed-and-built crisis intervention space in WA that supports an active referral and engagement service model for people experiencing homelessness.
A simple: “How can we help you?” to every person that walks through the door marks the beginning of a support journey that includes all the basic services you’d expect, as well as some you might not. As well as access to food, showers, laundry and medical support, the Tranby Engagement Hub also provides customised support that’s focused on understanding the individual needs of each person we meet and working with them to identify the challenges they need to overcome to move forward in their lives.
But together, we can do more.
Your donation will help Uniting WA provide more warm breakfasts, showers and wellbeing packs, and enable them to support more people with the understanding and support they need to achieve positive outcomes that drive long-term change in their lives.
Did you know that socks are the #1 requested item at homelessness centres globally? A clean pair of socks can make the world of difference to someone experiencing homelessness. And they’re in short supply. Uniting WA are welcoming socks for men, women and children in all sizes, which can be donated at your local Uniting Church.
Swan View Uniting Church is hosting a fundraising concert on Saturday, 1 May at 7pm in aid of Bush Chaplaincy.
Bush Chaplains all over Australia fulfil a difficult, yet much-needed role. They are often on the frontline and can identify any issues being faced by communities and individuals in the bush through sharing a cuppa and a chat.
They lend a sympathetic ear, refer people to other service providers as appropriate and provide practical, pastoral and spiritual support to those in need.
Travelling tens of thousands of kilometres each year, our Bush Chaplains collectively visit thousands of families and individuals, but getting to remote locations is one of their biggest expenses.
Pastor Lindsay Ginn is both the Uniting Church WA Bush Chaplain in the Remote Area Ministry, Goldfields Patrol and a talented musician. He will be performing a range of music from iconic musicals and films such as Phantom of the Opera and Chariots of Fire. Plus, there will be opportunities for audience participation through singalongs and a game of ‘guess the song’.
The concert will run for approximately one hour with supper served afterwards.
Donations to further the work of the Bush Chaplaincy will be gratefully received.
Please RSVP to Ray or Winsome Richards on 0488 504 285 for catering purposes.
To read more about Lindsay Ginn, check out this article from the March edition of Revive.
Young people from Trinity North Uniting Church and the remote Mowanjum Aboriginal Community, just outside of Derby in the Kimberley WA, spent an evening sharing stories over ice-cream in the January school holidays. The teenagers from Mowanjum were in Perth for a trip organised by the Boab Network, operating out of the Creative Living Centre at All Saints Floreat Uniting Church. The trip is part of their School Holiday Program, which engaged kids in fun activities when fewer activities are available in their area. Continue Reading
Justice for Refugees WA, a network of more the 40 community organisations, faith groups and human rights agencies, is calling on Australia’s political leaders to abandon the current harsh and unjust policies of detention, uncertainty and limbo, and to instead provide permanent protection for people seeking safety. Instead of prolonging the despair of people seeking asylum, the group calls for political leaders to provide protection, security and freedom, through a fair and just process.
Over several years the group has coordinated the Palm Sunday Walk for Justice for Refugees along with groups around the country. This year, as a precautionary approach in light of COVID-19, the group hosted a live webinar event at the Uniting Church in the City Hall, Perth, which was watched by small groups gathered in community centres and homes across the state.
Farhad Bandesh, a Kurdish asylum seeker who was recently released from a Melbourne immigration facility following eight years of detention, called into the Perth Palm Sunday event to share his experience. Mr Bandesh said, “I can’t describe how good it feels to be out of detention – freedom is beautiful. We just need everyone to be free.”
Joanna Josephs, General Manager of the Centre for Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Detainees (CARAD) was a guest speaker at the event. CARAD provides essential case management, emergency relief and volunteer support for people from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds in Perth, and they are concerned at the increasing demands on their service.
Ms Josephs explained that it was a particularly challenging time at the moment, saying, “We have been experiencing a significant increase in need among our client community.
“There continues to be drastic cuts to the Department of Home Affairs’ (DHA) Status Resolution Support Service (SRSS) program. In WA, out of the thousands of people seeking asylum living in our community, only 78 people remain eligible to receive just $36 per day from Centrelink (through the SRSS program). All of the other people seeking asylum are completely ineligible for any form of Centrelink.
“The federal government must not continue to deliberately force people seeking asylum to live in the community with no financial support while they take years to process asylum claims.”
Associate Professor Caroline Fleay, Co-Director of the Centre for Human Rights Education at Curtin University added her voice to the call for a humane response to people seeking safety saying, “Let’s be guided by compassion in how we respond to others. Instead of limbo and uncertainty, we can offer freedom and a future where people seeking asylum and their families are safe.
“The cruelty of immigration detention, forcing people to live on temporary visas indefinitely, and refusing to reunite families, none of these are humane solutions for those who have turned to us for refuge.”
Susy Thomas, Moderator of the Uniting Church Western Australia said, “Australians have had enough of the cruel marginalisation of refugees. People want to see some real change in the way people seeking asylum are treated. Indefinite detention and temporary visas create terrible anguish that we cannot, with good conscience, continue to allow.”
Refugees and people seeking asylum currently languish in either the limbo of detention or the uncertainty of temporary protection visas. People in Papua New Guinea and Nauru are approaching their eighth year in limbo.
Approximately 30,000 refugees in Australia (the “legacy caseload”) await visa grants or live on temporary visas with their futures shrouded in uncertainty and limbo. Many families are separated with no hope for reunification due to the cruelty of current policy, and live in constant fear of deportation to danger.
Bay Life Op Shop, out of Busselton Uniting Church, has opened in a new, revamped premises. The new shop stands on the site of the old Match Factory, which burnt down in an electrical fire in March 2019.Continue Reading
As part of the Uniting Church WA’s pastoral and material response to people affected in the recent Wooroloo and Hills bushfires, a $20 000 donation has been committed to the Lord Mayor’s Distress Relief Fund (LMDRF), Western Australia’s official State emergency fund, to help ease the financial burden of people’s loss.
During the fires, the Uniting Church WA’s Disaster Relief and Community Recovery Working Group held emergency meetings to discuss immediate support to congregations who are ministering in affected communities.Continue Reading