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19th June 2019: Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce calls for transparency for offshore refugee solutions 

 In the wake of recent reports of increases in self harm and distress in Nauru and particularly on Manus Island, PNG, the ACRT is deeply concerned there are still no transparent solutions for safely re-settling all vulnerable people in both locations.

Taskforce Chair, the Mr Rob Floyd: “The transfers of people to safe dignified locations that have occurred to date are welcome. But the damage that has been done to people in these locations over the past six years continues and is increasing. The current situation for vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers is completely unacceptable. I call on the government of Australia to be transparent about the situation on Manus and Nauru in regard to these reports.”

Numerous studies have shown that prolonged detention and uncertain timeframes when applying for refugee status, results in significant adverse mental health impact and financial cost for rehabilitation years after people are released. The impact of trauma if it remains unresolved for survivors, can directly impact the next generation. The harm being done to refugees in Nauru and on Manus Island, PNG may have long lasting affects for families well beyond the time people are re-settled safely.

Taskforce Deputy Chair, Ms Carmen Lazar: “We have seen the intergenerational impact of trauma for refugees arriving in Australia from refugee camps around the world and for those in Nauru and on Manus Island there is no difference. Yet this situation is entirely preventable and now is the time for transparency on how this situation is going to be resolved.”

The ACRT supports the recent calls from the Governor of the Manus Province, Charlie Benjamin, calling for action from the Australian Government and the Chief Inspector Yapu, who is concerned that the situation is increasing beyond the control of the Province. The ACRT acknowledges the local challenges faced by communities hosting refugees. Despite the local hospitality that has been provided, the situation is well beyond the capacity of a small community not familiar with extensive experiences of self-harm, psychological distress and trauma related hospital admissions.

Taskforce Chair, Mr. Rob Floyd: “The time for political point-scoring has passed. These reports of self-harm and the pleas of our friends in PNG cannot be ignored. Transparent solutions, with bipartisan support, must be brought forward to prevent further harm as a matter of urgency.”

Media inquiries may be directed to:

Mr. Rob Floyd
Chair Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce 0407 944 417

Ms. Carmen Lazar
Deputy Chair Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce  02 9728 2594

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Receptive Ecumenism seminar -Toowoomba

From Friday evening 31st May – lunchtime Sunday 2nd June a group, from four denominations (Anglicans, Catholics, Lutherans and Uniting Church) spent time together at Kelly House, James Byrne Centre, exploring the subject title of the Seminar “Receptive Ecumenism “. The Seminar was organized by Downs and Toowoomba Churches Together.

Key note speaker, Dr. Antonia (Toni) Pizzey , a Lecturer at Aust. Catholic University Brisbane Campus, with able back up from Rev. Canon Richard Tutin (General Secretary of Qld. Churches Together), broke open the concept of Receptive Ecumenism. They explained how we receive what other denominations bring to the equation without any of us trying to convince one another that our ideas are “right”. It is not a competition or a situation where we meet each other at the lowest common level but a sharing of the gifts that each denomination has to offer. It is unity in diversity not unity to form a mega Church. 

On the Saturday evening four young people from Brisbane and surrounds, joined us for dinner and then   shared their prospective of Ecumenism. These young people had been involved with a Youth Summit in Brisbane late last year and are keen to have young people from this region be involved. It was good for our group to hear these young people’s views.

On the Sunday morning, as it was the first day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Canon Richard used the prayer service set for the week as a basis for our Worship Service. 

At our final session of the Seminar we looked at how to move Ecumenism forward in this area and plan future activities.

Denis McAleer (secretary Downs and Toowoomba Churches Together)

Global support grows for “Season of Creation”

 Global support continues to grow for the Season of Creation, an annual celebration of prayer and action to protect creation that is celebrated by tens of thousands of Christians of all traditions around the world. Running from 1 September to 4 October, the Season of Creation’s beginning and end dates are linked with the concern for creation in the Eastern and the Western traditions of Christianity, respectively.

Plans are now underway to celebrate the Season of Creation during 2019 with the theme of “The Web of Life.”

The proposal to celebrate a "Time for Creation" during these five weeks was made by the Third European Ecumenical Assembly in Sibiu in 2007. The following year, the World Council of Churches Central Committee invited churches to observe a "Time for Creation" through prayers and actions.

The first of September is observed as a World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, proclaimed by Patriarch Dimitrios I for the Orthodox Church in 1989 and endorsed by Pope Francis in 2015.

On 4 October, Roman Catholics and other churches from the Western traditions commemorate Francis of Assisi.

The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development (Roman Catholic Church) recently extended an invitation to its constituency to join in celebrating the Season of Creation. In a time of climate emergency, the celebration of Season of Creation can work as a spiritual grounding of our action to change the world to a more sustainable home for all forms of life that share the gift of life. It is also a way of showing ecumenical unity in our efforts to lessen the ecological footprint of humanity by praying and acting together.



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