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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Coronavirus updates

The health, safety and wellbeing of Uniting Church members as well as the wider community is front and centre of everything we do.

As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to evolve, we at the Uniting Church WA are adapting and responding to the global pandemic while adhering to the latest Government advice.

The Uniting Church WA website has gathered some information to provide much-needed certainty and hopefully some reassurance, during this most uncertain time. You can access the information, including updates, prayers, reflections, ideas for digital ministry and important links here.

Love in a time of Coronavirus

We have all seen or heard the stories. Maybe we have told some ourselves? I certainly have. “It was unbelievable at the shops! Empty shelves everywhere, the carpark was a nightmare!”

As inconvenient and even stressful as this is, there are of course impacts for some people that are harder to see in the struggle to adapt to the impacts of COVID-19. Many of us know people who are immuno-compromised, have an existing medical condition or are simply in an older age bracket that is more vulnerable to the virus.Continue Reading

A girl and her horse: Minna’s Creations

I’ve never met anyone who loves horses as much as Minna Sanders. And from this love of horses, a beautiful endeavour has grown.

Minna, having just finished Year 12 at Seton Catholic College, recently won a Good Sammy Business Start-up Award. This bubbly, passionate teenager was one of six recipients who received a cash grant to go towards setting up her own business.

Good Samaritan Enterprises (previously Good Samaritan Industries), is a Uniting Church WA agency providing employment options for people living with disability. They’re lovingly known throughout WA for their ‘Good Sammy’ op-shops, but they also provide a range of services helping people find meaningful employment. The award has been a huge asset for Minna, who will use  the grant for advertising and supplies for her micro business – Minna’s Creations. She is now well on her way to getting her pyrography woodwork into the market. Continue Reading

Art exhibition supports bushfire appeal

An art exhibition held at Willetton Uniting Church in February has raised over $1 500 for the Uniting Church in Australia National Disaster Relief Fund, supporting those impacted by bushfires around the country. Willemina Foeken, artist and member of Willetton Uniting Church, held the exhibition in February, with a second one to be held from Sunday 8 to Thursday 19 March, at the Diamond and Jewellery Centres of Australia (DJCA), 97c Flora Tce, North Beach, Perth.

Now retired, Willemina previously worked as a school art teacher. These days, she still teaches art, but to small groups of up to six people in her home studio. She has been passionate about drawing her whole life, and inspired by her environment. Continue Reading

Hope and recovery this bushfire season

This summer’s bushfire season has left Australia damaged and sore. In true community spirit, we’ve also seen some amazing stories of people coming together to volunteer their time, donate their money, and support each other in harsh times of need.

The Uniting Church in Australia has been, and continues to, provide a range of support for people and communities affected by devastating bushfires around the country – both in crisis care and long-term recovery. In the first 11 days of 2020, 63 Uniting Church chaplains were engaged at 36 bushfire crisis centres. Together they volunteered 1 677 hours of chaplaincy with people directly  affected by the fires, some of them experiencing the worst days of their lives. Continue Reading

Uniting Church WA calls on WA RSL to reconsider its stance

The Moderator of the Uniting Church WA, Rev Steve Francis, has today called on the RSL of WA to reconsider its position to ban the flying of the Aboriginal flag and the performance of Welcome to Country ceremonies during ANZAC and Rememberence Day services.

“This is an extremely disappointing decision by the RSL WA that creates real hurt for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” he said. Continue Reading

Ministry into the unknown

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Rev Simon Goddard, a Baptist minister from Fresh Expressions UK, will be visiting Perth to share his experiences and knowledge in pioneering ministry and church leadership.

Simon will be a keynote speaker at two events in March: The Pioneer Ministry Gathering; and Tools for Resilient Church Leadership in Changing Contexts, which will also feature Rev Dr Adam McIntosh, the Associate Director of Mission (Pastoral Care) for the Uniting Church Queensland, and Peter Kenyon, from the Bank of IDEAS.

Brought to you by the Uniting Church WA’s Thrive Mission Committee, these events will encourage those attending to explore Pioneer Ministry, while sharing their own experiences and learning from each other.Continue Reading

Building peace, beating poverty: Lent Event 2020

UnitingWorld’s Lent Event is your chance to join others who are pledging to live simply during the 40 days of Lent. You can sign up as an individual or with a team to raise funds for and learn about projects that are building peace between Muslims and Christians as they beat poverty together. Lent Event will be held from Wednesday 26 February to Friday 10 April 2020.

This year’s feature project is in Ambon, Indonesia, where unthinkable violence in 1999 left 5 000 dead and 70 000 homeless. UnitingWorld’s partner, the Protestant Church of Maluku, is running projects that bring people together for peacebuilding workshops and livelihood projects. The aim is to create bonds of friendship between Muslims and Christians while generating desperately needed income in a province where most people live on less than $1 a day.

How can you be involved?

  1. As part of a team or as an individual, take up the challenge to live simply for 40 days. The new Lent Event website allows you to easily create a personal challenge- forty days of prayer; forty days on one meal a day? Share your goal via Facebook or email with friends and family to help raise money for some of the poorest people in our global neighbourhood. Track your progress, create a blog post, engage your children and young people.
  2. Be inspired by stories of peace building and transformed lives, told through our weekly video series, Bible studies, prayers and reflections.  You can download these directly in the one simple package here, including an inspiring promotional trailer to use with small groups and congregations.

All funds raised support Uniting Church partners in Ambon and beyond to fight poverty, raise up women and girls, build the capacity of leaders and run peacebuilding activities.