Uniting Church WA says uranium is best left in the ground.

Rev Steve Francis, Moderator of the Uniting Church WA says that he is very disappointed that the Western Australian Labor government will allow the four inherited uranium proposals to proceed. While Rev Francis welcomed the reintroduction of a ban on all future uranium mines, allowing the existing proposals to proceed was still a matter of great concern.

“For a Labor government to allow uranium mining to proceed while it maintains a moral and ethical opposition to the approval of new uranium proposals is, in our view, a hollow moral position.”

The Uniting Church in Australia is committed to the development of environmentally benign, renewable energy sources and the cessation of uranium mining. Recognising the complexity of the issues the Uniting Church has called on individuals, churches, industry and governments to work together to end involvement in the nuclear fuel cycle.

The Uniting Church Western Australia has repeatedly expressed its concerns about the four uranium proposals due to the potentially significant and long-lasting impacts on the environment, nearby communities, and the workforce which would be involved in its extraction, transportation and processing. Furthermore, the unavoidable contribution of uranium mining to the nuclear fuel cycle, including the proliferation of nuclear weapons, remains an issue of great concern to the Uniting Church.

In 2014 the General Council of the Uniting Church Western Australia agreed to call on the Federal and WA State Governments to ban the production, deployment, transfer and use of nuclear energy and weapons and reintroduce the uranium mining ban in Western Australia.

The Uniting Church, nationally and in Western Australia, continues to hold deep and abiding concerns about the social and environmental costs of the nuclear fuel cycle, including concerns regarding the pressures placed on Aboriginal communities to accept uranium mining, the safe disposal of industry waste, the safety of nuclear reactors and the economics of nuclear power.

Rev Francis stated, “If the Government’s concerns about uranium mining are such that it will not approve new uranium mine proposals, it would be inconsistent to allow any mine to proceed regardless of any approvals previously granted.”

The Uniting Church in Australia is an active member of the World Council of Churches (WCC), which released its statement Towards a Nuclear Free World on 7 July 2014.

Please click here for full media release: Media Release 20 June 2017 – Uranium best left in the ground


Stop Work on Roe 8 we urge Premier

The Moderator of the Uniting Church Synod of Western Australia, Rev Steve Francis, and Rev Sealin Garlett, Chairperson, Uniting Aboriginal & Islander Christian Congress have written to the Premier urgently asking that the preparatory work on the “Roe 8 ” site be stopped immediately.

They write: “In March 2016 the Social Justice Board of the Uniting Church Synod of WA wrote to your Environment and Transport Ministers about concerns regarding proposals to construct the Perth Freight Link known as “Roe 8” though culturally and environmentally sensitive areas which include the Beeliar Wetlands.

“We write again – this time to ask that preparatory work on the “Roe 8” site be stopped immediately.

“We reiterate with concern the comments previously made by Rev Sealin Garlett, Uniting Church minister at Coolbellup Uniting Church and Chair of the Uniting Aboriginal & Islander Christian Congress (WA).  Rev Garlett says that the area is culturally significant for Nyungar people.

“As an Indigenous man, the old people told us the story of the importance of that place. Not only of that area as a camping ground, but it also was a birth place. Women would go to that area and give birth to their children; they would stay there until the children were weaned. And the reason for that is the abundance of food in the area. There’s work been done and houses there, but there are pockets of the land that are very important and need to be left alone.” (Taken from: http://revivemagazine.org.au/2016/02/04/standing-together-to-save-beeliar-wetlands/ )

We further note that the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council (SWALSC) have also issued a statement saying that the Noongar community is steadfastly opposed to the Roe 8 extension adding that it will destroy some critically important heritage sites and adversely affect others (http://www.noongar.org.au/news-and-events.html).

In 2006 the Uniting Church Assembly adopted a very strong resolution entitled “For the Sake of the Planet and All its People” regarding the value of protecting creation (http://www.unitingjustice.org.au/environment/uca-statements/item/481-for-the-sake-of-the-planet-and-all-its-people). In this resolution we find these words:

“Since its inauguration the Uniting Church in Australia has been concerned about the continued existence of all creatures and plant life and believes that nature is not to be plundered and abused.”

We note that the 2003 Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) report Bulletin 1088, highlights the ecological values of North Lake & Bibra Lake:

“the EPA concludes that any proposal for the construction of the alignment of Roe Highway Stage 8 through the Beeliar Regional Park would be extremely difficult to be made environmentally acceptable.”

and that:

“the EPA is of the opinion that the overall impacts of construction within the alignment, or any alignment through the Beeliar Regional Park in the vicinity of North Lake and Bibra Lake, would lead to the ecological values of the area as a whole being diminished in the long-term. Every effort should be made to avoid this…”

“The North and Bibra Lakes are home to more than 220 plant species and 123 bird species including the endangered Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo and Peregrine falcon.  It is used by migratory water birds such as greenshanks, dotterels, plovers and sandpipers, which are protected by International Governmental Agreements (JAMBA and CAMBA). The Australian Heritage Commission and the National Trust of Australia describe it as “possibly the least disturbed of all the remaining wetlands in the Perth metropolitan area”.

“We are also concerned that the Supreme Court decided that the environmental approvals given to the Roe 8 project by the EPA were not in accord with its own policies.  We note that there will be a further court case this week about the nature of the environmental approvals given.

“We ask you to acknowledge that there are significant community concerns about this proposal.  There will be an opportunity for your government to seek the community approval it needs for this project at the election due in March 2017. We therefore ask in the strongest possible terms that the plans to build Roe 8 in the face of strong community opposition not be proceeded with at this time”


Standing on Holy Ground


Rev Eira Clapton recently visited Sri Lanka with UnitingWorld staff, to see the work of the Methodist Church of Sri Lanka which is supported by the partnership of the Uniting Church in Australia Synod of Western Australia

I start a new notebook for this Sri Lanka trip, because a pen and paper are quickly accessible when you want to make notes in a foreign country. On the title page I write these words: “What if we were standing on holy ground”?

Holy ground is difficult to get to. For us it involves a very early start. At 3.51am I climb into a small bus and we set off on crowded roads out of Colombo to the more remote north and east of the country. These are the areas which have been devastated by the double disaster of civil war and tsunami. There are fewer people to do the work in these areas – many of the young were killed in the war, or the disaster, or left disabled by them. The roads are poor so the villages are hard to get to, isolated from each other and from government services. The bus rollicks over dry creeks beds and picks its way at a snail pace around deep potholes.

I visit a Church hall in Muthur, where some tiny children have gathered to greet us with their mothers and preschool teacher.  They place garlands of flowers around our necks as we enter. This is a Church run school for those who can’t afford to send their children to government run preschools. One mother explains that she sells goods to provide for her family. Sometimes there is money for education, sometimes none. In this place everyone is welcome to come – it is a multi-faith school.  The preschool turns no-one away, even though the Church has no funding to support it.  The teacher has not been paid for months, and the only food provided to the children comes from what the parents can bring.

The children sing us a song, which sounds like “head and shoulders, knees and toes”, and we all smile at each other.

Eira’s Law of Spiritual Economics says “you know you are getting close to the kingdom of God when there is not enough money to do the work”. I conclude that we are very close today.

In the next district we visit more preschools in which teachers work for next to nothing and the churches provide emergency aid type nutrition packs for children, as the whole population is under-nourished.We are treated as special guests each place we go.

If you feel jaded about the church, visiting the projects that your church supports with funds, and meeting the passionate workers at the other end, will make you feel better.

In my notebook I write that I am thinking of all the faithful donors to appeals, and wishing they could have been with us.  We are thanked over and over by each preschool community, but of course they don’t mean to thank us personally -we just represent the Australian churches.

Anyone seen the kingdom of God? Maybe they could start looking around here.

If you want to be part of sharing the work of the Kingdom of God in this place, you can support the preschool project by donating to:

BSB 036-001  Account 92-1834Uniting Church in Australia

Reference Sri Lanka Preschools

Cheque – made payable to Uniting Church in Australia

Send to: Social Justice Unit, Uniting Church Synod of WA, GPO Box M952, Perth WA 6843

or email social.justice@wa.uca.org.au

Please note that donations to this appeal are not tax deductible.




Pastoral Letter from the Moderator regarding support for asylum-seeker families at risk of offshore detention


Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

This week the High Court ruled that the government can now choose to forcibly deport asylum-seeker families, including 37 babies and 54 children to offshore detention.

As Moderator of the Uniting Church Synod of Western Australia, I have written to the Prime Minister requesting that he act urgently to protect the children who are at risk of being deported to Nauru.

We have a longstanding concern that asylum-seekers and refugees are treated with compassion and in accordance with international law, as can be seen by resolutions made by our Synod over many years. We are aware that there are several families in WA who might be at risk of removal to Nauru as a result of this judgement.

The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, of which the Uniting Church is a member, has asked its members to be part of an offer of sanctuary for asylum-seeker families.

The Synod of Western Australia was approached by the Uniting Church in Australia Assembly, to nominate a local church that would be able to offer sanctuary to asylum-seeker families affected by the High Court decision. We have approached Wesley Uniting Church in the City, who over a long period of time, have supported and advocated for asylum-seekers and refugees. The Western Australian Synod is now working closely with Wesley Uniting Church in the City as a result of the Uniting Church in Australia’s request.

In a statement released by the Uniting Church in Australia, the President, Stuart McMillan called upon the Prime Minister: “Mr Turnbull, I appeal to your sense of compassion. Please step in and make the moral decision to protect these vulnerable people. Returning families and babies to Nauru and Manus may be legal, but it is not humane. To send people, especially children and Australian-born babies, back to the place that has caused them such harm would be an outrage against human dignity.”

Mr McMillan and Rev Elenie Poulos of UnitingJustice have encouraged Uniting Church members to contact their local Federal Members of Parliament to express their concerns.

I invite you all to assist wherever you can and I pray for courage and persistence for all of us, as we seek to faithfully discern and respond to God’s call to “do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God.” (Micah 6:8)

Yours in Christ,

Rev Steve Francis
Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Western Australia

Nb – If your congregation would also like to nominate as a place of sanctuary, please contact our Justice & Mission Officer at geoffrey.bice@wa.uca.org.au

Let Them Stay says Moderator


The Moderator of the Uniting Church of Western Australia Rev Steve Francis has today 03/02/2016  written to the Prime Minister requesting that he act urgently to protect the children in immigration detention who are at risk of being deported to Nauru.

The Moderator says:

“The Uniting Church in Australia Synod of Western Australia has grave concerns for the safety of children in the care of the Immigration Department, following the High Court decision today 03/02/2016.

“We have a long standing concern that asylum seekers and refugees are treated with compassion and in accordance with international law, as can be seen by resolutions made by our Synod over many years.  We are aware that there are two families in WA who might be at risk of removal to Nauru as a result of this judgement.

“We note that The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has today issued a press release which “affirms that today’s High Court decision does not alter Australia’s international obligations towards people seeking asylum. The AHRC goes on to say that “The High Court has confirmed that third country processing is lawful under our domestic legislation, but it did not judge whether it complies with international law,” said Professor Gillian Triggs, President of the Australian Human Rights Commission.

“Australia has obligations under international human rights law to protect the safety and wellbeing of all people under our jurisdiction, including people seeking asylum. These responsibilities remain whether or not third country processing is authorised by Australian law.”

We remain extremely distressed at the stories of harm coming to people –especially children –who have been sent to Nauru. We now ask you urgently to protect the children in Australia  and thus not to send them to Nauru.

 We remind you of the words of Professor Triggs “Australia has obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child to ensure that in all actions concerning children, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration…“We are also obliged

to protect children from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

We ask you to use your powers available to you at your discretion to let these children stay in Australia”.

Western Australian Religious Leaders Unite on Climate Change

Peoples climate march perthIn the lead up to the People’s Climate March, happening in Perth this Sunday 29 November, religious leaders from seven different traditions came together at the Wesley Uniting Church in the city this morning to show why they have decided to support the march and speak about how their faith compels them to act on climate change.

Moderator of the Uniting Church in Western Australia, Rev Steve Francis, reiterated the Uniting Church’s repeated calls for action on climate change, saying, “The Uniting Church views climate change as a most serious threat to humanity that must be tackled urgently.

“The time has come to aim higher on climate change action. The Australian Government, along with global leaders, has a unique opportunity at the upcoming United Nations climate talks in Paris to commit to carbon emission reduction targets that prevent the worst impacts of climate change.”

An insightful discussion ensued among the faith leaders with Rabbi Sheryl Nosan-Lantzke from Jewish Spirituality Australia commenting that, “According to Genesis, the first human is told that we are to tend and till the garden. It’s our responsibility – it’s our home. It’s the garden we all share.”

Dr Rateb Jneid, President of the Islamic Council of WA also provided his endorsement of the combined campaign saying, “We support this march and we support the climate change campaign. We don’t have any problem being involved with every faith – in Australia, Western Australia and around the world – to act on climate change.”

Bishop Tom Wilmot from the Anglican Diocese of Perth reinforced the unity that underlies the faith community’s commitment to the environment, saying, “All the faiths are committed to the sanctity of the planet. The earth is sacred and so is life.”

The international movement for strong action on climate change was given a significant boost this year through the release of Pope Francis’ groundbreaking encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’. This has provided great impetus for people of faith to become more engaged in environmental matters, as shown by Yale University study, The Francis Effect.

Sister Janet Palafox, Diocesan Coordinator for Caritas Australia said, “Pope Francis has already said what it is [about] for us… In Laudato Si’ it’s more about kinship now – we are not actually just carers of the earth, we are part of earth. This is family now.
“For Caritas and for all other organisations that are supporting the poorest of the poor, we can see they are already affected by this. This is not a future; this is their present. People are already paying for this.”

Carol Mitchell, Director of the Justice, Ecology and Development Office for the Catholic Archdiocese of Perth said it was also important to remember that Aboriginal people have been sustaining the Australian environment for tens of thousands of years. “Connectedness is also recognizing that we have much to learn from our Indigenous brothers and sisters who have such a deep spirituality and a respect of the land,” Ms Mitchell said, “There’s so much that we need to learn from them on this shared journey.”

In wrapping up the conversation, Rabbi Nosan-Lantzke called on the imagery of the ark to describe the earth as the common home for all of humanity. “It’s one ark that’s carrying the entire living human family and if that boat goes down we are more than all refugees. We must take care of one another and our ship,” reflected Rabbi Nosan-Lantzke, “Either we will sink together or we will be sustained together.”

The group will be joining the People’s Climate March on Sunday as they walk from Wellington Square to Wesley Church from 1pm. Archbishop Timothy Costelloe of the Catholic Archdiocese of Perth, Archbishop Roger Herft from the Anglican Diocese of Perth and Rev Steve Francis, Moderator of the Uniting Church in Western Australia, have all signed an invitation – sent to leaders of all the major faith traditions – asking that people from all of WA’s diverse faith communities come out to the march on Sunday and show their common desire to preserve our world.

For more information on the Uniting Church’s involvement in the People’s Climate March, please visit www.unitingforclimate.org.au

Join us at the People’s Climate March Sunday November 29 2015

We are hoping to see many Church people in the faith contingent at the People’s Climate March this Sunday November 29 2015 starting at Wellington Square at 1pm. Wear PURPLE and bring your posters and Church banners.

Moderator Steve Francis invites you to participate with many people of faith and good will in the People’s Climate March. We are encouraging people in our congregations to be involved because we believe that we are called to be a part of God’s reconciliation and renewal of Creation.

Representatives of our Churches, including some of our leaders will be at the Perth event in Wellington Square on Sunday 29 November, starting from 1pm. Would you consider joining us? We are inviting people of faith  to participate in the People’s Climate March as a demonstration of the faith community’s desire for strong and urgent action on climate change.

For many years Australian churches have stood in solidarity with churches in the Pacific and other international partner churches, who have asked us to support their call for a stronger global response to climate change. By joining the People’s Climate March, we can again express our commitment to this cause, call on our government to rise to the challenge, and celebrate that a vibrant future for all God’s children and creatures is possible.  Recently we have seen a growing number of faith leaders speaking out on this issue around the globe. As international governments prepare for the United Nations’ climate negotiations in Paris, the People’s Climate March is a unique opportunity for people of faith to join with the wider community in urging our global leaders to make courageous and fair decisions. In times of global turmoil as we are currently experiencing, it is perhaps even more important that we come together in peace to seek fair outcomes for all the world’s people.

It would be wonderful to see a strong turnout from across the faith traditions wearing purple (the designated colour for the inter-faith contingent) on the day. After gathering in Wellington Square for a Welcome to Country and other speeches at 1pm, we will walk together through the city, ending at Wesley Church.

small_Rev_Steve_Francis  Moderator Steve Francis                  Wind Turbines banner

Uniting Church Synod of WA stops annual meeting to say Aim Higher on Climate Change

synod world low res

“The Uniting Church views climate change as a most serious threat to humanity that must be tackled urgently,” said the Moderator of the Uniting Church in Western Australia, Rev Steve Francis.
“The time has come to aim higher on climate change action. The Australian Government, along with global leaders, has a unique opportunity at the upcoming United Nations climate talks in Paris to commit to carbon emission reduction targets that prevent the worst impacts of climate change.”
At the Uniting Church’s 39th meeting of the Synod of Western Australia over the weekend, members of the Synod paused to make a symbolic action calling for stronger action on climate change.
“Western Australia is particularly exposed to changes in climate with noticeable impacts already being felt in our agricultural sector and urban water supply. The unique and vulnerable flora and fauna species of the South West are at particular risk and we feel a responsibility to advocate for this wonderful network of ecosystems,” Rev Francis said.
“The health and safety of our community, through a likely increase in bushfires, cyclone intensity and heatwaves, is also of great concern to us. As West Australians, we want to see strong action on climate change so that future West Australians can be safe to enjoy the beauty and sustenance this special corner of the world provides.
The Uniting Church in Western Australia welcomes the submission made by UnitingJustice Australia, the justice unit of the Uniting Church National Assembly, to the to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet’s review of Australia’s post-2020 reduction target. It called for the reinstatement of a price on carbon and an emissions reduction target of at least 40% of 2000 levels by 2020. The President of the Uniting Church in Australia, Stuart McMillan, labelled the Government’s current targets “a failure of leadership” and “a failure to care for future generations and for creation.”

Uniting Church Synod of WA calls on the Western Australian and Federal Governments to Listen to the Heart of Remote Communities

The 39th Synod of the Uniting Church in Western Australia has called on the State Government to use negotiated partnership approaches to work with Indigenous peoples in remote communities. The Uniting Church in Western Australia and the Uniting Aboriginal & Islander Christian Congress continue to hold concern over the Regional Services Reform affecting remote Aboriginal communities currently being implemented by the State Government.

“We call on the State Government to develop a detailed consultation framework and evaluation process concerning the sustainability of remote communities in Western Australia to ensure the free, prior and informed consent of Aboriginal peoples in any decision concerning them,” said the Moderator of the Uniting Church in Western Australia, Rev Steve Francis.

“While there may be some benefit to reforming the disjointed provision of some services, we need to act very sensitively with Indigenous people who have suffered so much dispossession and trauma during the history of European settlement in Western Australia. Making decisions to remove services to remote Aboriginal settlements could increase the sense of Indigenous dispossession and displacement.”

Rev Sealin Garlett, Chair of the Uniting Aboriginal & Islander Christian Congress WA said, “Aboriginal people have a deep connection to the land. This is not just a ‘lifestyle choice’ but part of our cultural and spiritual identity. We need to be on country to look after it and to have it look after us.

“We don’t want to have “reforms” done to us. Our people want to be able to sit down and yarn with the Government about how they can help us implement our own strategies for development and sustainability.”

The Synod meeting called on the State Government to urgently renegotiate funding arrangements for municipal and essential services with the Federal Government as was done by the South Australian Government. The Synod also called on the Federal Government to reinstate funding for essential and municipal services for Aboriginal communities and to ensure any change adheres to international human rights particularly the right to consultation and consent as expressed in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Uniting Church Synod of WA calls for an end to three strikes mandatory sentencing

The Uniting Church in Western Australia and the Uniting Aboriginal & Islander Christian Congress WA hold grave concern over the impacts that proposed changes to the Criminal Law Amendment (Home Burglary and Other Offences) Bill 2014 currently before the Western Australian parliament will have on young Aboriginal people.

Chair of the Uniting Aboriginal & Islander Christian Congress WA, Rev Sealin Garlett said, “We work every day to give our people, especially our young people, the best opportunities to reach their potential. Locking them up is not going to help. We need the Government to help us reduce the number of Aboriginal people in jail, not increase it with these hard-line mandatory sentencing laws. We invite the Government to sit down with us to discuss the best ways to address some of the challenges facing our communities.”

Continue reading