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Australian Christian women advocate for world’s poor at nation’s capital

A delegation of prominent Christian women met with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and MPs from both sides of Parliament in Canberra late last week to advocate for justice for the world’s poor.

The delegation, which facilitated by Tim Costello, executive director of Micah Australia, included various church and NGO representatives – among them Eloise Wellings, an Olympic runner and founder of Love Mercy, Sue Irwin, the senior pastor of The Grainery Church in Newcastle, Colonel Julie Campbell, national advocate for gender equity with The Salvation Army, Leigh Ramsey, senior pastor of Brisbane’s Citipointe Church and founder of ITS NOT OK Projects and She Rescue Home Cambodia, and Donna Crouch and Catherine Thambiratnam, both of Hillsong Church.

Womens delegation

The delegation of women which was facilitated by Micah Australia.

Also among those in the delegation was Kate Harrison Brennan, the CEO of Anglican Deaconess Ministries. Brennan said the delegation was about bringing to Canberra their heart for the nation “to continue on our proud tradition of being a generous country and speak with our elected leaders about what that looks like, particularly when it comes to foreign aid”.

They were also there to discuss how poverty disproportionately affects women and how an investment in foreign aid can lift whole communities, especially when targeted at women, she said.

Brennan said there was a “real interest” among those MPs they spoke to in talking about the effectiveness of foreign aid. 

“[It was] heartening to hear an interest in what we, as leaders in the church, seek to do in our own communities in building an understanding of how we serve our neighbour, whether that’s the neighbour across the back fence or our neighbours in our region.”

She said now was an important time for advocates like themselves to “register again with our elected leaders that we really do believe in courageous moral leadership that continues what is best about Australia – that we’re a generous nation”.

A recent report from Baptist World Aid Australia showed that Australia ranked 19th out of 20 OECD nations in terms of the proportion of foreign aid it gives (just 0.22 per cent of gross national income).

The group was also advocating for the release of the more than 100 children and their families still being held on the orders of Australian immigration authorities on the island of Nauru as part of the #KidsoffNauru campaign.

“We did take the opportunity to ask those leaders to get behind that campaign,” said Brennan.

More than 100,000 people have so far joined the campaign which aims to have all the children being confined to the island removed by Universal Children’s Day on 20th November.

Brennan said that with Micah Australia’s Voices for Justice event – a gathering of people from all over Australia in Canberra to advocate MPs on behalf of the world’s poor – coming up in early December, the delegation’s visit was also a good opportunity to have some in-depth conversations ahead of the larger event.

She encouraged all who could to take part in Voices for Justice.

“I think it’s a really important expression of taking action and if we take action as Christians, we can encourage our leaders to all take the type of moral action that we are advocating…”

Voices for Justice will be held in Canberra from 1st to 4th December.

Correction: This article incorrectly first referred to Malcolm Turnbull as the Australian Prime Minister. It is, of course, Scott Morrison.


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