What kind of community do we want to be?
State politicians fronted an Assembly of the Sydney Alliance and the Everybody’s Home campaign to address some of their key asks. In an assembly held a little over a week before the NSW State election, more than 2000 people packed into the Sydney Town Hall on 14 March.
The event was comprised of church organisations, unions, community groups, and members of other faith communities.
Co-chairing the event was Uniting Church Minister Rev. Alimoni Taumopeau, a leader of Sydney’s Pacific Island community and of the Sydney Alliance “Voices for Power” campaign.
“We all have to ask ourselves, what kind of community do we want to be?
“We want to build one where no one is left behind. That’s why we’re here tonight,” Rev. Taumopeau said.
The event was attended by both major parties’ housing spokespeople. A number of crossbenchers were also present, including independent State member for Sydney, Alex Greenwich, the Christian Democratic Party’s MLC Paul Green, and the Greens’ Member for Newtown Jenny Leong.
The politicians heard directly from members of the public who had been directly affected by housing insecurity and high energy prices.
— Everybody’s Home (@_EverybodysHome) March 14, 2019
They engaged in unique public negotiations, indicating their responses to the key asks and what they would commit to.
The Uniting Church was represented by the Synod of NSW and the ACT General Secretary Jane Fry, Uniting Executive Director Tracey Burton, and UCA Assembly Associate General Secretary Rob Floyd and a contingent of about 250 Uniting Church members.
A highlight of the evening was a rollcall of over 100 organisations, culminating in a call by Tracey Burton: “To our political leaders, we say: Your community has spoken as one. Please, get this done!”
Commitment to the principle of justice
Pitt Street Uniting Church hosted a pre-Assembly service welcoming attendees ahead of the event.
Rev. Dr Margaret Mayman said that the church’s involvement stemmed from its commitment to the principle of justice.
“Drawing on the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah, we believe that our faith requires us to seek the welfare of the city,” Rev. Dr Mayman said.
“This evening all of us are raising our voices in solidarity with people who are vulnerable – because of lack of affordable housing and energy…And In resistance to neglect of basic human needs by the systems of power.”
“God sent the Jesus to bring good news, and the Spirit to be with his followers to embody good news in our time – good news in its particularity (housing, renewable energy) – necessary for thriving, for abundant life.
“Good news is not something airy fairy – it is specific and material as well as spiritual. In our city, and state, being and bearing good news means responding to the needs of vulnerable people for secure housing and affordable energy.”
SO inspired by the people who told powerful personal stories of housing stress in NSW. Thank you for using your courage for the common good 🙏 #TownhallAssembly19
— Leichhardt Uniting (@LeichhardtUC) March 14, 2019
The Everybody’s Home campaign seeks to get a better deal for renters, a target to abolish homelessness by 2030, and a national housing strategy.
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor