Micah Australia raise Pacific voices for justice
Christians from across Australia’s mainstream denominations have converged on Canberra from 1 to 4 December. As part of the 2019 Voices for Justice conference, these delegates will lobby politicians, urging them to support more and better aid.
The conference is taking place at what may be an opportune time, as the federal government has announced a review into Australia’s international aid program. Micah Australia have welcomed the review, which the government has acknowledged is the first of its nature in six years.
This year, Voices for Justice focuses on hearing Pacific voices, raising the concerns of those affected by climate change, gender inequality, and cuts to Australia’s aid program with decision makers.
Micah Australia CEO Tim Costello said that the event aimed to achieve the government’s “Pacific step up” in a manner that was “smart and inclusive.”
“We know how you do this,” Rev. Costello said.
“It’s by coming together and actively listening to the issues our Pacific brothers and sisters say need addressing most – like work on gender equality, development partnerships and climate change. That’s why we are here and what we are doing in Parliament with our delegation.”
The group was officially
welcomed to Parliament on Tuesday 2 December by Prime Minister Scott Morrison
during the ‘Friends of the Pacific’ launch, a new parliamentary group
Co-chaired by the Member for Wentworth, Dave Sharma and Shadow Minister for
International Development Pat Conroy.
Pacific Conference of Churches General Secretary Rev. James Bhagwan the event, including both Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Antony Albanese.
“We do not seek a hand out or a hand up. We of the Pacific are a resilient people. We seek to journey hand-in-hand, for as we do so, we will contribute to the flourishing of both peoples,” Rev. Bhagwan said.
Rev. Bhagwan and General Secretary of the Tongan National Council of Churches Rev. Ikani Taliai Tolu were both part of Micah Australia’s delegation.
Australia’s aid program has previously had several cuts under the Coalition Liberal Government, which has previously indicated that aid would increase once the federal budget returned to surplus.
“At a time when our region needs Australia more than ever, we have cut aid to the lowest level ever in history,” Rev. Costello said.
“In the geopolitical competition for the Pacific, we must ensure poverty reduction is not lost. We must retain our focus on improving the lives of our Pacific friends and neighbours.”