Review: Reflections on Faith

Inspired by COVID and Inspired by Seniors By Phil Ridden, Edwest Publishing, 2020

I recently read two of the volumes from Dr Phil Ridden’s ‘Reflections on Faith’ series: Inspired by Covid and Inspired by Seniors. Phil is a retired Head Teacher and now works as a consultant and writer, based in Joondalup, Perth WA.

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Uniting WA turns fifteen

In September 2005, the Uniting Church WA decided that eight of its community services agencies and parish missions would come together to form a new community services agency. UnitingCare West (now Uniting WA) commenced operations on 1 July 2006.

Now, on its 15th birthday, Uniting WA reflects on a history that goes back to the roots of the Uniting Church in WA, and the legacy of those pioneering visionaries.

The merger of Fremantle Wesley Mission, Mofflyn, Rainbow Project, Trinity Outreach Services, UCA Outreach Services, Uniting Community House Midland, UnitingCare Kwinana and Wesley Mission Perth into UnitingCare West provided a strong governance structure and more strength in adapting to the changing community services sector. However, many were worried that the unique and necessary programs provided by the smaller agencies would be lost in a bigger organisation.

Uniting team member Joanne Goodwin originally worked for Mofflyn, starting in 1996. “It was a very scary time when the organisation formed. There was lots of change. We went from being a tiny little program at Mofflyn to being part of a big organisation.”

All of the organisations that merged to form Uniting WA had begun in response to unmet needs in the community, and most had long histories of working to support vulnerable West Australians. The 2002 Marketing Plan for Wesley Mission Perth said, “Our programs of support focus on the gospel examples of empowerment. Empowerment is best achieved by identifying and working with people’s own natural strengths — working through the difficulties they are experiencing using these strengths to solve their problems.”

The Uniting Church also pledged in the 1977 Inaugural Statement to the Nation ‘to hope and work for a nation whose goals are not guided by self-interest alone, but by concern for the welfare of all persons everywhere.’
UnitingCare West was formed with these values at its core. And while it’s changed its look to become Uniting WA, it’s still the same at heart.

“There’s been so much change for the better since the organisation formed,” said Joanne, who’s still supporting vulnerable families after all these years. “We can definitely provide a better service for the people we support. We can link them to other services and give them wrap-around support.”

It’s exciting to be able to mark this next phase of Uniting WA with the recent relaunch of the Tranby Engagement Hub for people experiencing homelessness — still with the goal of bringing services together to support people, but now with an updated, co-designed, purpose-built space.

Donate now to Uniting WA’s Winter Appeal

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.

Learn more about how you can help and donate today.

Sock appeal

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.

To learn more about the Uniting Sock Appeal, visit the website.

Advice for ministering in disaster affected communities

Following recent bush fires just north of Perth, in which 86 homes have been lost, the Uniting Church WA Disaster Relief and Community Recovery Working Group have released this informative video, detailing the role of the working group and how they can support congregations and faith communities as they minister to fire-affected communities.

For more information, contact the working group on 0438 418 303 or de.jackson@bigpond.com. Continue Reading

Rally for refugees at home

On Palm Sunday this week (5 April) people across the country will urgently raise their voices so that refugees and asylum seekers will not be forgotten in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

A great justice tradition in Australia is that on Palm Sunday every year thousands of people take to the streets to call for a more compassionate response to refugees.

This Sunday, instead of gathering for rallies and marches in major cities, people are finding new and creative ways to raise their voices together.

Many of the organised Palm Sunday rallies are going ahead as online events and advocacy will take place across social media.

In the last week, refugee advocates have appealed to the Federal Government to ensure protections against COVID-19 extend to refugees and asylum seekers, and in particular that people in crowded detention centres are moved to places where physical distancing can be observed.

President of the Uniting Church Dr Deidre Palmer has written to the Prime Minister Scott Morrison to seek his assurance that the 1.5 million people living in Australia on temporary or bridging visas will have access to healthcare and income support.

In particular, Deidre stressed the importance of ensuring asylum seekers in the community have access to Medicare so they can and will seek help if they think they might have the virus.

“The situation for people living in Australia on temporary or bridging visas during this health crisis is urgent, and a direct response to their plight by the Australian Government will be an important measure to complement the strong measures already taken,” Dr Palmer wrote.

These concerns were echoed in a letter from the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce and National Council of Churches in Australia, noting that many of this cohort are already dependent on charities for necessities.

The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) called an extraordinary meeting with organisations across the country to bring together their concerns. Their most urgent priorities were:

  1. Move people urgently out of crowded immigration detention facilities
  2. Ensure a financial safety net and Medicare access for all in Australia
  3. Prevent people losing legal status and access to support
  4. Move refugees and people seeking asylum from PNG and Nauru.

RCOA Chief Executive Officer Paul Power noted, “With the international movement of people grinding to a halt, we need to take care of everyone now in Australia, knowing that the health of all of us is directly connected to how we treat the most vulnerable.”

How you can still participate in Palm Sunday for Refugees

This article was originally published on the Uniting Church in Australia Assembly website.

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A Christian response to racism

President of the Uniting Church in Australia Dr Deidre Palmer has called on Australians to respond with love, hospitality and inclusion to a surge in anti-immigration rhetoric in Australian public life.

“Jesus’ great commandment to his followers was to love God and love your neighbour. As Christians we believe all people are created in the image of God and deserving of respect and dignity. Racism is incompatible with the Christian faith,” said Deidre.

In recent weeks, inflammatory opinion pieces have suggested a ‘foreign invasion’, a neo-Nazi has been allowed to air his views on a news channel; there has been more fearmongering about so-called ‘African gangs’, and a Senator has used his maiden speech to honour the White Australia Policy and call for future migration to “reflect the historic European-Christian composition of Australian society.”Continue Reading