Musings of an antipodean contrarian

Archive for the category “poverty”

Churches fight world poverty

Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 20 Jan 2013

The Anglican Alliance has called on the United Nations to give faith communities a bigger voice in the fight against world poverty.

The call comes in the Alliance’s response to the consultation by a high level panel established by the UN to identify new priorities for the world’s development community when the current Millenium Development Goals come to an end.

The MDGs which set out goals to halve poverty and achieve goals in education, health, infant mortality and women’s health, guide the international development community’s work until 2015.

The Anglican Alliance found that faith communities provide great potential for effective partnership in building consensus for pro-poor development; their work in providing services for some of the poorest and most marginalised communities in the world should be recognised and brought into the mainstream; and faith communities should be involved in monitoring the effectiveness of a new framework to combat world poverty.

I’m Rod Benson for the NSW Council of Churches.

Speak out for the poor!

Formal Christian prayers are said at the opening of every parliament in Australia, but that is only a small part of the strong and legitimate Christian presence at the centre of our public life.

On August 16, the NSW Parliamentary Prayer Fellowship held its annual luncheon at Parliament House, where MPs from various political parties stood and declared their faith as Christians, and challenged those present to do likewise in their workplace and community.

The guest speaker was the Superintendent of Sydney’s Wesley Mission, Dr Keith Garner, who called on Christian leaders in the church and parliament not to lose their nerve in speaking out for the poor, especially those who are homeless, and those suffering from alcohol abuse.

“We must not be afraid if we are considered ‘dated’ on matters of morality or ‘ill-judged’ in our friendship with the modern-day outcasts.  This could be the missing jewel in the contemporary Christian landscape,” he said.

Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 26 Aug 2012.

Don’t cut foreign aid to the poor

The federal budget will be handed down on 8 May, and as the Gillard Government seeks to meet its commitment to bring the budget back into surplus, there is strong pressure to cut spending.

Micah Challenge, a global Christian movement to help reduce poverty with strong links to Australian churches, has two great ideas for those wanting to send a message to Canberra that cutting foreign aid targeted at helping the world’s poorest people is just wrong.

First, you can write to the new Foreign Minister, Senator Bob Carr, asking him to ensure that Australia gives more and better aid to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Second, organise a “Give Poverty the Flush” event in your church, school or local community to shine the spotlight on sanitation, and save millions of lives in the developing world through improved water, sanitation, and basic hygiene.

I’m hoping you’ll be inspired to do both.

Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 15 Apr 2012.

Seven billion reasons to share the love

Who’d have thought that the divine command in Genesis 1:28 for our first parents to “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the Earth” would lead, in 2011, to seven billion people all alive at the same time on Planet Earth?  But that’s what happened on Monday October 31, when baby Nargis, born in a small village in India’s Uttar Pradesh state, became the symbolic 7 billionth baby.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was right to focus attention not on the individual but on the whole human family.  He warned of rising public anger at the lavish lifestyles of a few, but poverty for too many others.

A majority of the world’s population today experience deprivation and limited opportunity in a world that has never before known such abundance and material prosperity.  A majority of people today are poorly educated, face poor health, poor employment prospects, housing stress, and a declining quality of life.  And a majority of people are separated from their Creator by religion and ideology.

A massive challenge for the privileged few to do more, care more, and love more.

Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 6 November 2011.

Abbott to rescind gambling reforms

This week saw federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott predicting a Coalition government will “rescind” any mandatory pre-commitment scheme introduced to deal with problem gambling. 

Mr Abbott’s solution seems to be to encourage the clubs and pubs as they fleece Australia’s poorest and most vulnerable families of their hard earned cash, while offering “more counselling” to punters who get burned and need to talk to someone about their ruined lives.

Perhaps if Mr Abbott and fellow Liberals spent less time courting the clubs, and more time talking to real people affected by gambling addiction, and those who pick up the pieces after the pokies have done their worst, he would have something sensible to say.

As it is, this week’s empty threat by Mr Abbott to rescind an ethically sound and progressive policy on poker machines merely leaves him looking silly, doing nothing, and in the pocket of the self-serving and money-grabbing clubs.  Hardly a place from which to take a punt at the nation’s top job.

Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 30 October 2011.

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