Category Archives: community

Commission Calls for Consistent Australian Position on Human Rights

Monday 22 November 2010

Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has urged the Prime Minister to adopt a consistent approach to promoting human rights and democracy in the Asia/Pacific region.

The Commission’s call comes in response to Prime Minister Gillard’s comments on the release of Burmese political leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that Australia should seek to apply the same human rights standards to all its neighbours including Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

“The Prime Minister welcomed the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, but called on Burma’s authorities to release other political prisoners and work towards free and fair elections and political reconciliation,” Mr Arndt said.

“We support those calls as they are consistent with a respect for the human rights of the people of Burma,” he said.

“However, we are concerned that Australia is not as strong an advocate of these values when it comes to other countries in the region,” he said.

“Why isn’t the Prime Minister publicly calling on Indonesia to release people in West Papua who have been jailed for flying flags and peacefully protesting?” he said.

“Why is there no decisive intervention to put an end to the brutal repression of Papuans who are not happy with the way they have been treated since Indonesia took control of the province in the 1960s?” he said.

“It seems to us that the Australian Government is equally reluctant to challenge the Sri Lankan Government’s treatment of the Tamil minority and its political opponents,” he said.

“There are long-standing concerns, both from inside and outside Sri Lanka, about the Government’s level of respect for human rights and democracy, but Australia seems more concerned with maintaining the on-going cooperation of the Sri Lankan Government in relation to stopping boat people coming to Australia,” he said.

“The legitimate concerns of indigenous West Papuans and Tamils should not be ignored if we are genuinely committed to human rights,” he said.

“People who are locked up or mistreated because of their political views in Sri Lanka or West Papua deserve the same strong advocacy as is being given to Aung San Suu Kyi and the Burmese people,” he said.

“At the same time, we should always be looking at our own human rights record and seek to address those issues where we have failed to respect the dignity of vulnerable people in our own land,” he said.

Mr Arndt said the Commission would continue to speak to the Government and local MPs and Senators about the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, West Papua and in our region.

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.  The views expressed in it do not necessarily represent the views of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.

Oldest Justice and Peace Commission Celebrates Milestone

cjpclogoAustralia’s oldest diocesan Justice and Peace Commission, the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Brisbane, celebrated twenty-five years of service to the Archdiocese of Brisbane this year.

The Commission was established by the late Archbishop Francis Rush in 1985 and held its first meeting in what was, then, the Indooroopilly Parish Education Centre in October of that year.

Its first Chair was the late Fr Morgan Howe who was Parish Priest of Indooroopilly Parish at the time.

With the opening by the Sisters of Mercy of Justice Place in Woolloongabba in 1992, the Commission established an office and moved its meetings there.

Former Deputy Director of the Queensland Catholic Education Commission, Mr Garry Everett, and Principal of St Agnes Primary School, Mt Gravatt, Mr Rick Sheehan, have followed Fr Howe in the role of Chair of the Commission.

The Commission has been served by three Executive Officers, Mr Brian O’Halloran, Sr Annette Arnold rsj and the current Executive Officer, Mr Peter Arndt.

Over seventy Catholic women and men, religious, priests and bishops have served as members of the Commission in its twenty-five years.  Among those who have served on the Commission are Bishop John Gerry and Bishop Joseph Oudeman, President of the Senate, Senator John Hogg, Member for Morayfield in the Queensland Parliament, Mr Mark Ryan, Aboriginal elder, Aunty Joan Hendriks an former Josephite Provincial Leader, Sr Margaret Robertson rsj.

The Commission’s current Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that the Commission had walked with many people who face injustice, violence and discrimination.

“The Commission has been there with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as they struggled for justice in relation to native title, the Stolen Generations, stolen wages, deaths in custody and the Northern Territory Intervention,” Mr Arndt said.

“We have tried to bring Catholics face to face with the indignities confronting refugees as they sought protection in Australia,” he said.

“The Commission has also tried to support the struggle of people for their human rights and for justice in places like East Timor, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and West Papua,” he said.

“Many Catholics around Brisbane joined with the Commission in challenging Australia’s participation in the Iraq War,” he said.

“In recent years, the Commission has also put more emphasis on caring for the Earth with our Cool Communities Project in 2003 and 2004, our collaboration with the Social Action Office in the holding of a Climate Change Conference in 2007, and our more recent collaboration with Catholic Earthcare Australia on the ASSISI Project,” he said.

The Commission  marked its silver anniversary with a Eucharist  led by Archbishop John Bathersby on Friday 5 November  at Holy Family Catholic Church, Indooroopilly.

Sr Annette Arnold rsj, the Commission’s second Executive Officer, delivered an address: Mary MacKillop and the challenge to the Australian Church after the Eucharist.  Sr Annette is now a member of the Provincial Leadership Team of the Sisters of St Joseph and was heavily involved in the recent celebrations surrounding the canonisation of Mary MacKillop in Rome.

For further infomation, 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.

Commission Welcomes Increased Protection for Queensland Clothing Outworkers

Media Release

Thursday 21 October 2010

Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has welcomed the Queensland Government’s introduction of a mandatory code of practice for the protection of clothing outworkers.

The Commission has been involved in lobbying for the introduction of this code for the last two years.

The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that the new code would help to protect the rights of vulnerable clothing outworkers and also support employers who treat their workers fairly.

“We have been very concerned for some years about the plight of some women who work at home to make clothing for unscrupulous employers,” Mr Arndt said.

“Many of these outworkers are being paid very low rates for their work and do not enjoy the protections and conditions that other clothing workers have,” he said.

“This new mandatory code provides them better protection by ensuring that employers who are exploiting outworkers can be identified and prosecuted,” he said.

“Employers who are doing the right thing and providing fair pay and conditions for their workers will also benefit because they will not have their clothing prices undercut by those who underpay their workers,” he said.

“The code will come into effect on 1 January next year and brings Queensland into line with New South Wales and South Australia where a mandatory code has been in force for some years,” he said.

“The only disappointment we have is that the Government has taken so long to complete its consultation process and introduce the code,” he said.

“We are very grateful to the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia and FairWear, a community organisation which promotes the rights of outworkers, for their tireless advocacy of this code,” he said.

“It has been wonderful to collaborate with organisations with such great expertise and a passion for justice for vulnerable workers,” he said.

“The Catholic Church has advocated the rights of workers as part of its social teaching for many years,” he said.

“Indeed, Pope Leo XIII’s 1891 social encyclical, Rerum Novarum, gave the highest priority to providing decent pay and conditions to vulnerable workers,” he said.

“There is no human dignity for women who are being underpaid for their work and who work under poor conditions,” he said.

“Our participation in efforts to get this better protection for outworkers is in line with the Gospel commitment to the fundamental dignity of every human being,” he said.

 

The Commission will collaborate with other organisations to monitor the introduction of the code and to continue promoting better protection for vulnerable workers.

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.

Commission to Support Parish Responses to Statement on Violence

Social Justice Sunday 2010

Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission will seek to help parishes to respond to the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference’s 2010 Social Justice Sunday Statement, Violence in Australia: A Message of Peace.

The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that the violence which is becoming so common in communities across the country needs to be challenged with Christ’s radical message of peace.

“The Bishops’ Statement encourages us as Christians to focus on the many forms of violence in contemporary Australia, to understand the causes and to take action in the spirit of Jesus’ teaching,” Mr Arndt said.

“The Bishops’ Statement presents us with a whole series of questions to help us to consider how we might become messengers of peace in our families, our communities, our nation and our world,” he said.

Mr Arndt is currently holding meetings in the deaneries of the Archdiocese to help Catholics to explore the issues and insights contained in the Statement and to provide information on what resources are available to promote and use the Statement.

The Justice and Peace Commission is also currently discussing possible collaboration with the Franciscan organisation, Pace e Bene, in order to offer Catholics concrete opportunities to develop skills for living nonviolently.

“We are aware of the many faces of violence in Australia from bullying in schools, violent video games, domestic violence and road rage to the so-called structural violence of poverty and racism,” Mr Arndt said.

“The Bishops ask us to do more than shake our heads at the growing presence of violence in our country and to take up the challenge to be active in making peace in our hearts, our homes, our communities and our nation,” 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.

2010 Social Justice Statement: Sample Editorial for Parish Use

2010 Social Justice Statement Summary

2010 Social Justice Sunday  Powerpoint Slide

2010 Social Justice Statement OHT

Supporting 101 Days of Prayer for a Peaceful Referendum

Logo From Sudan Catholic Bishops Web

Logo From Sudan Catholic Bishops Web

The Sudan Catholic Bishops have urged southern Sudanese to choose a life of freedom with justice and equal rights for all during the forthcoming referendum.

All the Bishops from all the states in Sudan gathered for an extraordinary plenary meeting in Juba to deliberate on the current situation in the country and delivered their message of hope.

The President of Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Rudolf Deng Majak told the press on Thursday in Juba that there are still worrying signs in Sudan that discourages integration of the north and the south. (See interview on Sudan Radio here)

SCBC Pastoral A future full of hope A Mesage of Hope and a Call to Action. Addressed to all the people of Sudan, the Sudanese leaders, and all people of good will

Sudanese Bishops Call for Peaceful Vote

101 Days Campaign Poster (pdf file)

Spanning the 101 days between the United Nation’s International Day of Peace on September 21, 2010, and the Church’s World Day of Peace, January 1, 2011, a campaign has been launched to help Catholics become advocates for peace. The campaign brings together the Sudan Catholic Bishops, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Catholic Relief Services, in an urgent call for peace.

Sudan is a nation with a long history of war, and finds itself at a historic crossroads. The country is bracing for a January 11 referendum, a crucial provision of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, on whether the South will secede from the North. If the referendum comes off peacefully, with an outcome that is respected by all, it could lead Sudan into a new era of peace and prosperity. If it does not, the result could be catastrophic violent conflict.

Sister Patricia Murray is the Executive Director of the initiative “Solidarity with Southern Sudan”, she tells Vatican Radio’s Festus Tarawalie more about it… “one of the challenges in a country that has suffered from long periods of war is – as one young man said to me – is: “I have to learn to make peace” – he said “I’ve learnt how to make war, but now teach me how to make peace (Source: Vatican Radio Web)

Solidarity with Southern Sudan trains teachers, nurses and pastoral personnel in several locations throughout Southern Sudan. This initiative was inspired by the 2004 Rome Congress on Consecrated Life, Passion for Christ Passion for Humanity.

Action: Print, pray and distribute the Prayer Text for 101 Days of Prayer for Sudan

Death Row Prayers Continue as Final Appeals Lodged

Monday 16 August 2010

Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission is calling on Catholics to continue praying for the three members of the Bali Nine who have now all lodged their final appeals against their death sentences to Indonesia’s Supreme Court.

The Commission has held an annual Good Friday prayer vigil for those on death row around the world since 2008 and has started an additional monthly prayer vigil this year in the Brisbane Parish of Corinda-Graceville, the home parish of Scott Rush, one of the three Australians on death row in Bali.

Scott Rush lodged his final appeal against his death sentence in July and the other two Australians, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, lodged their appeals last Friday.

The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, urged Catholics to pray for all three Australians and their families.

“Whatever their wrongdoing, they all have a right to life and should not face execution as punishment,” Mr Arndt said.

“All these men and their families are facing enormous stress and pain and need our prayers,” he said.

“One of the Indonesian lawyers lodging the appeals last week said that the death penalty on his client violated his right to life which is guaranteed by the Indonesian Constitution,” he said.

“We strongly oppose these death sentences for the same reason,” he said.

Church Teaching effectively rejects the use of capital punishment as a violation of the right of every human being to God’s gift of life,” he said.

“Our Commission will also be urging our Federal politicians to do everything they can to support these three men and to encourage the Indonesian Government to abandon its use of the death penalty,” he said.

The Commission’s next prayer vigil will be held at Christ the King Catholic Church, Churchill Street, Graceville, next Tuesday 24 August at 7 p.m.  All are welcome to join with the Commission and the local Parish community in prayer for the three Australians and all those on death row around the world.

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.

Christians Urged to Engage in Election with the Eyes of Faith

Monday 26 July 2010

Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has urged Christians to get involved in the current Federal election with their faith as their guide.

The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that it was important for Christians to promote values which are at the heart of Christian faith.

“We hope that Christians will actively engage their local candidates in discussions about the values which shape their views on important social issues from taxation to foreign aid,” Mr Arndt said.

“Values such as the inalienable dignity of every human being, the common good and putting the welfare of the weakest and the most vulnerable first are values that Christians can encourage politicians from every party to embrace in every policy they adopt,” he said.

“We have a calling to be witnesses and agents of justice and peace and we can do that by getting involved in the election and, just as importantly, after the election,” he said.

“The Church should not be telling Christians how to vote, but the Church can be a voice for people who do not have power or influence,” he said.

“While we won’t tell Christians how to vote, we will try to give them opportunities to hear representatives of major parties and to ask them questions on important issues,” he said.

The Commission has sent parishes a guide to help them organize meetings so that local candidates’ views on important issues can be heard and discussed.  Prayers focused on the elections have also been distributed.

In addition, the Commission is working with representatives from the Anglican and Uniting Churches to organize two forums at which Senators and Senate candidates from the ALP, LNP, Greens and Family First will speak and be questioned on a range of election issues.

The first forum will focus on Mental health, refugees, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policy  and climate change.  It will be held on Wednesday 4 August at 6.30 p.m. for 7 p.m. at the Broadwater Road Uniting Church, 481 Broadwater Road, Mansfield.

The second forum will be held on Monday 9 August at St Paul’s Uniting Church, corner of Mimimine Street and Webster Road, Stafford at 6.30 p.m. for 7 p.m.  Its focus will be taxation, poverty, housing and homelessness.

In both forums, a series of questions will be addressed to the party representatives by a panel representing the three churches followed by a period of questioning from the floor.  All are welcome to these forums.

The Commission also hopes that a meeting at which a thorough examination of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policy can take place will be arranged with the collaboration of Indigenous Christians.

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.  The views expressed in it do not necessarily represent the views of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.

Commission Urges Catholics to Hold Politicians to Account on Indigenous Policy

Wednesday 7 July 2010

Report of the Northern Territory Board of Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse (Also known as the “Little Children are Sacred” report.) Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission today urged Catholics to hold politicians of all parties to account during the forthcoming Federal election for their policies concerning Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Commission issued this call with the full support of its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advisors.

The Commission has called for particular attention to be given to the Federal Government’s continuing use and extension of income management measures in the Northern Territory.

The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that many Aboriginal people in the Territory, in particular, and around Australia are unhappy with the impact of income management on individual Aborigines.

“Income management means quarantining half of a person’s Centrelink payment for food and other basics and is applied to all Centrelink beneficiaries irrespective of how they manage their money,” Mr Arndt said.

“Whether you feed and clothe your children or spend your money on alcohol and gambling, you get the same treatment,” he said.

“Having a ‘one size fits all’ measure applied to all Centrelink beneficiaries in the Territory shows no respect for people’s dignity,” he said.

“Having to use a special card to buy your groceries is also humiliating,” he said.

“I am sure the Minister, Jenny Macklin, has heard some positive comments from Aboriginal people in the Territory, but she seems to be ignoring the many stories of people getting into serious difficulty as a result of this measure,” he said.

“We are also concerned that income management is not improving the situation,” he said.

“A number of reports are even suggesting that things are not improving and may be going backwards in some cases,” he said.

“We strongly support the Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, Bishop Christopher Saunders, when he recently urged our political leaders to develop supportive and empowering initiatives to address problems for Aboriginal communities in the Territory,” he said.

“Decades of paternalistic action which does not include Aboriginal people in the process of developing initiatives have failed and wasted a lot of money,” he said.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities need to participate in efforts to address the problems they face,” he said.

“We urge Catholics to ask their local candidates who support the current policies for clear evidence that things are getting better,” he said.

“We also urge Catholics to encourage their local candidates to back initiatives which support and empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” he said.

For further information, please contact Peter Arndt on (07) 3336 9173 or 0409 265 476.

This media release is issued with the approval of the Commission under the provisions of its Mandate which enable it to speak in its own right. The views expressed in this media release do not necessarily represent those of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday

NATSICC Assembly 2009

NATSICC Assembly 2009

Today is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday. The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council provided liturgy resources.

As web editor of this site, I would like to invite you to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday 2010 with images and reflections I have prepared from some of my documentary work among Indigenous people.

Refugee Week 2010

Refugee Week
ImageWorld Refugee Week runs from Sunday 20 June to Saturday 26 June.  This year’s theme is Freedom from Fear.  The Refugee Council of Australia has produced a series of resources for the Week including a poster, facts and figures about refugees, an event planning guide and teacher materials.  The resources are available atRefugee Council

The Brisbane CJPC has also produced a resource for reflection and action: Welcoming the Stranger

A broad coalition of community groups, including the Commission, have joined together to organise a rally and march to express opposition to the actions and policies of both the Government and Opposition in relation to refugees and asylum seekers.  This is an opportunity to publicly reject the lack of compassion and respect for the dignity of those seeking asylum in Australia.  The rally will be held on World Refugee Day, Sunday 20 June, at 1 p.m. in Brisbane Square (next to Treasury Casino), George Street, Brisbane.  For more information, contact Paul on 3392 3843 or e-mailrefugeeday2010@gmail.com

Other World Refugee Week activities in Brisbane include:

  • Candlelight Walk & Lantern Parade, celebrating the contribution of refugees and remembering those in refugee camps around the world, Friday 18 June, 5.30 p.m., Southbank Cultural Forecourt near Wheel of Brisbane, safe candles provided, concert to follow at Suncorp Piazza.
  • World Refugee Week Film Festival, Sunday 20 June, 6 p.m., Yungaba, 120 Main Street, Kangaroo Point, presented by the Romero Centre, BEMAC and the Australian World Refugee Film Festival, $25 ($15 concessions), enquiries and bookings to 3846 3250 or admin@romerocentre.org.au
  • World Refugee Week Festival, music, dance, art, workshops, sport and food, Annerley Soccer Club grounds, Ridge & Juliette Streets, Annerley, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Amnesty International is running an on-line petition directed at local MPs calling for an end to the Government’s freeze on the processing of Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum claims and for an end to ‘an ugly game of politics with utter disregard to the cost of human suffering.’ The message of the petition is: ‘this is not how we treat vulnerable people in Australia. And as your constituents, we will not stand for it.’ Personalised emails directed to the individual’s particular electorate can be sent via the following Amnesty webpage: Amnesty