The Social Justice Commission of the Uniting Church WA presented their report to the 44th Annual Meeting of the Synod of WA on Saturday morning, 12 September.

“Justice is what love looks like in public,” said Mark Brisbane, Chair of the Social Justice Commission, quoting Cornel West.

Mark highlighted work the commission has been involved in over the year in areas such as refugee rights, justice for First Peoples, housing and homelessness, the environment and prison justice.

Members applauded when Mark announced the recent legislation in WA which ends imprisonment for unpaid fines – a campaign the commission had been working on for the Uniting Church WA.

Dr Robert French, member of the Social Justice Commission, presented a proposal asking the church to call on government to prioritise investment in renewable energy in social housing in WA, and in reducing energy costs in rental properties.

“The projection of what our climate will be like if we continue to use fossil fuels looks very serious,” he said. “But thankfully there are now reliable sources of renewable energy, and these will become more reliable as the technologies develop.

“The initial investment [in renewable energy for houses] is high and payback times can be ten years or more. There’s little incentive for landlords to install solar panels on rental properties, and people who are renting won’t do that either.

“People who are experiencing economic stress can’t afford that initial investment that might help their budget. These are people who spend a large portion of their income on energy because the houses they tend to live tend to be not energy efficient.”

Robert said investing in renewable energy and lowering energy consumption in housing will alleviate financial pressure on some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

“It will improve their lifestyle because they’ll be more comfortable, and it will improve our climate.”

After discussion and additions, the Synod agreed to the proposal by consensus on Sunday 13 September. Read more.

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