Monthly Archives: April 2010

The Church & Justice

The Church & Justice
ImageEvery day, staff in agencies like Catholic Care and Vinnies provide support to families struck by unemployment and the grind of poorly paid, insecure and intermittent work. They experience, first hand, the poverty caused by a market that has not provided worthwhile employment opportunities or training that would allow people to get into the workplace and bargain for pay above safety net wages.

They have also witnessed the impact of public policy that has sought to increase worker productivity by deregulating workplaces and to lift participation in the workforce by restrictions on social security. Broadly speaking, these changes may have benefited highly paid workers and unemployed people with skills. They have been of little benefit for workers and unemployed people who have minimal bargaining power and remain ‘unattractive’ to the market. The clearest indication of this is the declining value of minimum wages and income support.

ACSJC, Pastoral letter for the Feast of St Joseph the Worker 2010

Support UN Action on Racial Discrimination Act in NT

Concerned Australians are asking for signatures on a petition calling on the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to act to restore the full protection for Aboriginal people of the Racial Discrimination Act in Australia.

Background (Preamble):

Legislation currently before the Commonwealth Government includes plans to reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act which was suspended when the Intervention was introduced into the Northern Territory in June, 2007.

However, this new Act will be a very restricted version to the one which was suspended in 2007. It will NOT have the powers to protect Aboriginal people from the consequences of so-called special measures.

For example, when the RDA was suspended, Aboriginal people had no means of appeal against compulsory acquisition of their land by government on 5-year leases. When this new Act is reinstated, NOTHING WILL CHANGE. There will be no legal avenue to address this issue, or any other issue related to the measures.

Regarding the 5-year leases, former High Court Justice, Michael Kirby, said, “if any other Australians, selected by reference to their race, suffered the imposition on their pre-existing property interests of non-consensual 5-year statutory leases…….it is difficult to believe that a challenge to such a law would fail….”

If this new legislation is implemented, the government will have again failed to keep its promise to Aboriginal people.

Calls to the Australian Government to reinstate an uncompromised Racial Discrimination Act have been ignored.

For Australia to be classified as a racist country is shameful for all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous.

If you wish to assist by conducting your own hard-copy petition, please indicate this in the comments column Thank you.

‘concerned Australians’

Download Concerned Australians flyer-petition

Online petition – An Unrestricted Racial Discrimination Act for the Northern Territory


This is What we Said

This is What we Said

“This Is What We Said”

Australian Aboriginal people give their views on the Northern Territory Intervention

“This Is What We Said” was launched in February 2010. Using pictures and quotations taken from footage of actual consultations at Bagot, Ampilatwatja, Utopia and Yirrkala, this book provides a graphic account of the depth of frustration and despair of many Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory regarding the Intervention. It is therefore tragic that legislation, about to be debated in Parliament, pays scant attention to the views expressed by many Aboriginal people during the consultations process of 2009. Also included in “This Is What We Said” are quotes on the Intervention from other well known Australians and UN representatives.

The hard back book is available at A$15 + A$2 packaging and post, per copy, within Australia. Packaging & postage is free for orders of 4 or more copies. Please note for orders larger than 4 it is best to order in groups of 9.  e.g. 9, 18, 27 etc.

Download Purchase Order Form for “This Is What We Said”

Sea of Hands 2010

Sea of Hands
ImageNational Reconciliation Week is approaching!  Are you getting ready for this week, 27 may – 3 june?  Have you considered holding a Sea of Hands event as an expression of your parish’s, school’s or group’s commitment to reconciliation.  The Sea of Hands is a public art installation and you can borrow a Sea of Hands kit from Australians for native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR) for the cost of a courier to transport a kit to you.  For more information about the Sea of Hands and how to obtain a kit, go to sea of hands

Commission Criticises Asylum Seeker Decision

Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has expressed its concerns about the Federal Government’s decision to suspend processing of protection claims from Sri Lankan and Afghani asylum seekers.

The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that the decision shows no respect or compassion for Sri Lankan and Afghani asylum seekers.

“This blanket suspension of processing claims from Sri Lankans and Afghanis does not treat people as human beings with personal stories and experiences but as bureaucratic categories devoid of any human dignity,” Mr Arndt said.

“Our fundamental concern in relation to the refugee policies of both the Government and the Opposition is whether they prioritise the dignity of individual human beings who seek asylum,” he said.

“We are concerned to see that compassion and respect for human dignity underpin their policies and decisions,” he said.

“For us, these ‘strangers’ who come to our shores seeking protection must be treated in the same way as we would treat Jesus himself if he arrived in a boat,” he said.

“Jesus told us that we must welcome strangers and, when we do so, we are welcoming him,” he said.

“These asylum seekers challenge us to be signs of God’s love in the midst of much fear and mean-spirited attitudes,” he said.

“The Government’s decision, besides being heartless and inhuman, simply makes no sense,” he said.

“It is unbelievable that the Government needs time to assess what it says are changing circumstances in Sri Lanka and Afghanistan,” he said.

“It is the job of Foreign Affairs staff in Canberra and embassy staff in these countries to keep abreast of developments in those countries and to keep the Government informed,” he said.

“There should be no need for us to wait for three to six months to conduct an assessment which should be available to the Government and constantly updated as a matter of course,” he said.

“In fact, the Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Smith, made a statement to Parliament about conditions in Sri Lanka only a couple of weeks ago,” he said.

“We do not need to wait for months for a re-assessment when he has detailed a long list of human rights concerns in Sri Lanka which the Australian Government is monitoring,” he said.

“It is incredible that the Government thinks things have improved in Sri Lanka when there are on-going reports of human rights abuses including ones which suggest that journalists and newspaper editors were arrested or intimidated during this month’s Parliamentary elections,” he said.

“It is just as extraordinary to hear that the Government thinks things may be better in Afghanistan when fighting is still going on there,” he said.

“The Opposition’s policies are just as concerning because they want harsher, tougher and more inhuman treatment of asylum seekers,” he said.

“We, once again, urge Christians to adopt attitudes to asylum seekers which show the same love and generous compassion which Christ showed,” he said.

For further information, please contact Peter Arndt on (07) 3336 9173 or 0409 265 476.
NB  This release is issued with the approval of the Commission or its Executive under the provision of its Mandate which enables it to speak in its own right when required.  The views expressed in it do not necessarily represent the views of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.