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Salvos lobby for a budget that supports the marginalised

Salvos lobby for a budget that supports the marginalised

Salvos lobby for a budget that supports the marginalised

17 May 2018

Salvationists joined Christian social justice movement, Micah Australia, to advocate for marginalised global citizens. Back row: Casey O'Brien Machado and Matt Cairns. Front row: Lieutenant Ben Clapton, Amanda Merrett, and Elise Paull.

By Simone Worthing

[To see The Salvation Army’s response to the Federal Government, click here.]

Prior to the handing down of last week’s Federal Budget, Salvationists from both Australian territories joined with Christian social justice movement, Micah Australia, to advocate for Australia's global neighbours experiencing poverty.

The Australian Government has extended the freeze on Official Development Assistance (ODA), or Foreign Aid, meaning that ODA remains at $4.2 billion. This is a record low of 0.22 per cent of Gross National Income. 

Micah Australia’s key message regarding ODA was that Australia has plenty to share.

On Tuesday night, 8 May, the Salvation Army group gathered with approximately 50 other young adults to watch the budget, then spent the evening in prayer and worship.

Elise Paull represented The Salvation Army at Micah Australia's Budget worship and prayer night.

Salvationists attending and participating included, from Sydney, Casey O'Brien Machado, Territorial Social Justice Coordinator, Matt Cairns and Elise Paull, Project Support for the Social Justice Department; Amanda Merrett, Assistant to the Social Justice Secretary, based in Melbourne; and Lieutenant Ben Clapton, Corps Officer at Rochester, Victoria.

“The Salvation Army joined with Micah Australia in acknowledging the call of God for us to be a people who bear witness to his grace and justice by living lives of self-giving love, seeking the good of all,” said Matt.

Casey emphasised that, “We in Australia have much, and as followers of Christ we have a responsibility to share it with those who have little. We have a long-term relationship with Micah (formerly Micah Challenge) and this is a partnership we find helpful in our advocacy for those who experience extreme poverty".

Campaign Director for Micah Australia, Matt Darvas, discussed with the group the importance of banquets in the Bible; they were always inclusive, generous and diverse, he said.

“On Wednesday morning 9 May, we met on the lawns of Parliament House where Micah Australia had set up a grazing table,” said Amanda. “During our Bible study, several politicians – including Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten, Tanya Plibersek MP, Chris Crewther MP, Senator Claire Moore, and Senator Pauline Hanson, came to talk to the group about our message.

“As Salvationists, we are motivated by our understanding of justice as a core part of our faith. We think it is important to advocate for the most vulnerable. This includes people in Australia, and those who are our global neighbours.

“We believe that God desires flourishing for all people and all systems. Freezing ODA doesn’t contribute to the flourishing of people – in fact in hinders it. We want a budget that ushers in God’s Kingdom – a budget that allows for each person to realise their potential, that creates systems in which people experience equality. Unfortunately, last week’s budget has largely ignored the marginalised.

“We see Jesus consistently engaging with people on the margins – people the rich and the powerful had either forgotten or ignored. Jesus brought them into the centre of society by healing them or their situation, and this lead to their empowerment.

“It is essential that The Salvation Army goes to people on the margins and listens to their voices, and desires. We have the opportunity to walk alongside people on the margins, lobby the powerful and usher in the kingdom of God together.”

Challenging cultural norms is another vital part of upholding principles of social justice.

“We must challenge the cultural understanding that extra money in our pockets is more important than our calling to justice; and we must use our voices to discuss these issues with those responsible for making these decisions,” said Casey.

The Salvation Army acknowledged that the Federal Budget handed down last week contained some positive initiatives, including: An extra 14,000 home care packages for the aged, over four years; an increase of nearly $340 million in mental health funding; and the establishment of an anti-slavery unit, committing $3.6 million, over four years.

However, The Salvation Army also said the Federal Budget failed struggling Australians by not delivering on one of the biggest drivers of poverty and disadvantage in the country – the cost of housing.

Another concern for The Salvation Army is the mandatory recouping of fine repayments, which is likely to see people who are marginally housed move further towards homelessness. 




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