Sister Brigid Arthur, Acting Chair of the Australian Churches’ Refugee Taskforce, said today that the people had spoken, and this time the Government had listened.

“I prayed that Australia would open its hearts and its doors to people facing the greatest need for protection, as did so many others from churches and homes all across Australia”. She said that “it’s not yet clear what Mr Abbott means by prioritising persecuted minorities, but we need to remember that people of all faiths have suffered enormous loss, and that’s why they fled.”

“I’m so glad that people fleeing Syria and Iraq will be offered places that are additional to our existing quotas. The initial announcement would have been robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

“I’m also so relieved that people will be offered permanent places in Australia – we still have so many thousands of people who are languishing in detention or even in the community, with no certainty about their lives, which is literally sending them crazy.”

The Taskforce is also calling on the Government to now process and release Syrian and Iraqi asylum seekers who are rotting in Nauru and Manus Island, or who are in detention in Australia. Sister Brigid said: “the Government has recognised that people from these countries have no choice but to run for their lives, so there is no basis for not processing those that have already made it here,” she said.

“I am very distressed though to learn that included in this wonderful announcement today, is the decision to participate in the bombing campaign in Syria – how will Mr Abbott ensure that innocent people won’t be killed in strikes undertaken by the Australian Defence Force?”

Misha Coleman, Executive Officer of the Taskforce, said that “the increased aid money to neighbouring countries and refugees who have no food, clothing or shelter, via the UNHCR, is an enlightened move on behalf of this government. But I call on the Abbott Government to release the estimates of what it will cost the Australian taxpayer to participate in the bombing of Syria.”

Available for comment:

Misha Coleman
Executive Officer, Australian Churches’ Refugee Taskforce, 0428 399 739

Sister Brigid Arthur
Vice Chair of the Australian Churches’ Refugee Taskforce, 0408 101 134

Statement on Syrian and Iraqi Humanitarian Crisis

The Faith Communities Council of Victoria (FCCV) has issued the following statement in response to the Syrian and Iraqi Humanitarian Crisis:
As faith community leaders, we add our collective voice to that of many people in our Australian community who are appalled at the ongoing humanitarian crisis unfolding before the world and call on all countries to act quickly and concisely in addressing the plight of fleeing people.

Please click here to read the full statement.

The Uniting Church is renewing its call for the immediate closure of the Nauru Detention Centre! Please consider signing and sharing our petition to Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Peter Dutton Minister for Immigration and Border Protection: http://www.justact.org.au/offshore_detention



Please find attached a statement from the Standing Committee of Victorian Council of Churches.

Pope Francis and Other Prophetic Voices are calling us to reject the ways of greed and violence and breathe new hope in the search for peace and justice.  These voices invite us to focus our attention on how we relate to God, to one another and to the earth. They remind us that we live in a troubled, unequal, often violent and anxious world, and that this places on us heavy responsibilities to renew our commitment to the public good, and respect the dignity of all human beings, especially the poor and the vulnerable. This event is open to members of all faiths, cultures and communities. Join us 17th and 18th September at St Michael’s on Collins.

Youth are also invited to come along and explore how to become the best you can be in a changing and diverse society. The youth forum Reshape Your World is a space where school and university students will engage with questions such as what is the world Pope Francis sees and is responding to? Are Francis’ eyes seeing right? Are these the issues? Are youth fired up about these same issues? If yes, what are they doing about them? If not, why not? What are you hearing from your peers? These are just some of the questions that youth will explore at the youth forum on 16th September at St Michael’s on Collins. Youth of all religion and faiths are welcome to attend.

Register at www.acu.edu.au/popefrancis

email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or tel: 02 9701 4176

Visit us on Facebook  reshapingthepublicsphere and Twitter at #reshapingthepublicsphere 

The Victorian Council of Churches held its annual Oration on the 4th August. It was held at Melbourne City Mission and the guest Speaker was Rev Tim Costello, the CEO of World Vision Australia.  His Theme was: The Challenges for Faith in a Globalising World.

The Focus of the thoughts I want to share tonight is Faith – and the responsibility (and opportunity) that people of Faith carry in an ever changing, ever emerging global community…   Read more… 

Dear Friends,

As you would know there has been an increasing degree of activity by a number of parties that would seek to create fear and unease regarding our cultural diversity.


On the 16th of July the Primer of Victoria Daniel Andrews launched a new #EmbraceDiversity campaign which aims to promote inclusion and harmony in Australia and around the world.

There is interest in ensuring a clear recognition of the strength of our Multicultural Society and the benefits it brings not only in social terms but also the economic benefits.

We are hoping to demonstrate the resounding commitment by political leaders, business, community, philanthropic and the not for profit sectors to the embracing of diversity.

A number of high profile people have joined the campaign to show their support for diversity in the community. Click Here to watch the video.

We’re encourage you to promote and share #EmbraceDiversity within your networks

Follow us on –

-        Twitter -  https://twitter.com/EmbDiversity

-        Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/EmbDiversity

-        Instagram - https://instagram.com/EmbDiversity

Get involved

-        Post a photo of yourself holding the #EmbraceDiversity sign;

-        Change your profile picture to the Embrace Diversity logo; or

-        Share your thoughts on what #EmbraceDiversity means to you;

-        Remember to include #EmbraceDiversity in your posts.

partners include but not limited to– AFL, Netball Victoria, FIFA Victoria, Twitter Australia, Facebook, Google Australia, Australia Post, Australian Super, VECCI, Westpac, Victorian Trades Hall, Scanlon Foundation, Breast Cancer Network Australia, Melbourne Writers Festival, Portland House Foundation, Cricket Australia, Google Australia, Melbourne City, Melbourne Victory, Linfox and Commonwealth Bank.

If you need more information please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Join the conversation. Help us #EmbraceDiversity

Dear Friends

Today is the 21st anniversary of the inauguration of National Council of Churches in Australia. We are celebrating this anniversary with the launch of our new website. I hope that you will Like us– and pass the link to others. It is a work in progress. Please let us know if you wold like us to add any news, request from your church or NCCA activity.

Many will recall the event in St Christopher’s Cathedral in Canberra.

Margaret Roberts, one of the artists involved in making the mantle, wrote:

The biggest thrill for me was the impact the mantle had on the service. It was indeed very moving to witness the mantle being processed in, unfolded, passed from the representative of the Australian Council of Churches to the representative of the National Council of Churches and then unfurled further and in the hands of the dancers to flow over the heads of all those in the cathedral. This was accompanied by the most wonderful music of the ecumenical choir and instrumentalists singing 'You are my inheritance, 0 Lord'.

May we continue to give thanks for the blessings received and continue to strive to fulfil the hopes expressed on that day.



Elizabeth Delaney SGS

General Secretary

National Council of Churches in Australia

The Victorian Council of Churches notes with sadness the passing of Michele Harris OAM. Michele has been at the forefront of the movement for recognition of our First Peoples and has worked closely with Churches through her involvement with NCCA.  

The Council sends its prayers and sympathies to Michele’s family and friends as they mourn a wonderful person. 

Statement from Rev Ian Smith 

On behalf of the Victorian Council of Churches      

As the Churches approach our most sacred period, Easter, the Churches again affirm the Christian tradition of finding life in compassion, inclusion and in welcoming the stranger.

This tradition reminds us of how Jesus reached out to the weak and vulnerable, including those on the fringes of society, and that today, Palm Sunday, is an expression of his life and teachings and the gift of peace for all.

Also this Easter period reminds us that as followers of Jesus, the Church is called to reach out also; to show love, compassion and acceptance to all.  

One of the saddening aspects of the current political climate in Australia is that there appears to be a lacking of this sense of human values, compassion or vision.

The rhetoric out of Canberra highlights that political ends are more important than the lives of people.  The behaviour of recent governments in refusing to use names, or in anyway refer to those seeking asylum as people demonstrates a clear intent to dehumanise.  

However, these are real people, just like us, people fleeing for their and their children’s lives, people living in desperate situations because of race, religious affiliation, political instability or gender, people not breaking any laws, people seeking security, comfort and a assured future.

It’s incumbent upon us as all, to ask, what sort of society we contributing to or ascribing to? One that has, as its hallmark, short term political gains, or, and this is my hope and prayer, a society based on the values of compassion, welcome, inclusion, hope and a fair go. 

Rev Ian Smith     

Executive Officer

Victorian Council of Churches

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