SPC News November 2017. Conscience – defend it or just ignore it? Take Manus Island, for instance.

Follow the links to read these articles in full.
Download a .pdf of SPC News.

walk together. PROLouisa Billeter. flickr cc.

Conscience – defend it or just ignore it? Take Manus Island,
for instance

Peter Whiting

The spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on the government to end the “unfolding humanitarian emergency”, and allow the previously detained men on Manus Island to be transferred to Australia. The New Zealand Prime Minister has offered to assist Australia by taking 150 of the refugees. The insistence by the Government that accepting the refugees will be an invitation to people smugglers rings hollow, with the recent movement of refugees to the USA and Cambodia not resulting in a new wave of asylum seekers coming by boat.

SPC AGM & Forum

Tuesday 5 December

AGM 7-7:30pm, Forum 7:30-9pm
Yarra Theological Union Study Centre 34 Bedford Street Box Hill
Donations welcome. Refreshments afterwards. Download the flyer.

Professor Paul Smyth
Wiring social justice into the economy

Towards inclusive & sustainable development. New directions for social policy after the collapse of the neoliberal framework.
Paul Smyth is Honorary Professor of Social Policy in the School of Social & Political Science at the University of Melbourne. Until 2013, he was General Manager of the Research & Policy Centre of the Brotherhood of St Lawrence. He has published extensively on aspects of social policy, and edited major works, including Social Policy in Australia, and Inclusive Growth in Australia. He is a member of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council.

“Heyyyyyyyyy!!!!”. internets_dairy. flickr cc.

Challenge to Mr Turnbull by
200 scientists 

Firstly, why is the government continuing to promote the mining, combustion, and export of coal and other fossil fuels, despite the stern warning by science, and the growing calamity of global warming, including the rise in hurricanes and wildfires around the world?

Secondly. there exist some 14,900 nuclear weapons threatening to be triggered by accident or design, with the probability for such an event growing with time. Why has the government decided not to sign the nuclear weapons ban treaty despite the fatal consequences of these weapons?

Bermagui ANZAC. Kevin Rheese. flickr cc.

Why has Australia been
almost continuously at war?

Henry Reynolds

Our attitude to war is bound up with the cult of the digger, the conviction that the nation was born at Gallipoli, that war has been the defining national experience. These ideas have been inescapable during the cavalcade of commemoration which we have experienced since 2014. They are promoted with variety and vigour, and lavishly funded by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the War Memorial.

But the strange thing is that, with the intense concentration on war, the focus is entirely on how the Australians fought, not why they fought. There is much talk about tactics, far less than this about strategy. We like to remember our wars with the politics extracted. With the entire emphasis on individual sacrifice and heroism, questions about the point of the conflict or the morality of our entanglement appear to be disrespectful and in poor taste.

Pope Francis under attack

Bruce Duncan

Despite his immense popularity among most Catholics and many others, not just Christians, Pope Francis is meeting increasing opposition and outspoken criticism, even from some cardinals and bishops, as well as from some prominent academics and writers.

Contention centres on his views on the pastoral implications of moral theology on divorce and remarriage, and strident opposition to his criticisms of how the international economy generates such extreme wealth and inequality. Stung by his criticisms, the very wealthy in the United State, in particular, have been pouring billions of dollars into right-wing think tanks and networks to discount Church teaching on social justice.

World Peace. Ala Fernandez. flickr cc.

ICAN awarded 2017
Nobel Peace Prize

Bill Frilay

ICAN started small, and with an almost overwhelming objective. Despite this, ICAN considered the consequences of failing to achieve its objective (nuclear disarmament) as too catastrophic to ignore. It has worked, through its coalition, to lobby governments and the UN to this objective.

Social Policy Connections was part of the local ICAN coalition in the lead-up to the UN’s consideration of a Nuclear Weapons Convention, in the preparation of which ICAN played a large part. Bill Frilay, on behalf of SPC, prepared a submission in February 2010 to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Nuclear Non-Proliferation and disarmament, and was part of an NGO delegation led by Dimity Hawkins which met with the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament and with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on 2 April. Unfortunately this was unsuccessful.

Warlpiri Country, Tanami Desert, in Australia’s Northern Territory. Rusty Stewart. flickr cc.

Government spending on Indigenous people is rising,
so why do so many still live
in poverty?

Nicholas Biddle

Recent Census data suggest Indigenous employment outcomes have not improved over the last five years. And every year, the Closing the Gap reports suggest that most targets for improvements in the health and education of Indigenous Australians are unlikely to be met.

Improvements in life expectancy, school attendance, reading, and numeracy are not on track. The target for early childhood education was not achieved; instead a new target was set.

Sharing food and friendship:
the St Vinnies soup van story

In June 1975, the Victorian Society of St Vincent de Paul’s first soup van, a humble old Ford Transit wagon with doors which flew open when they took a corner, started offering friendship and food  to the homeless men, at that time mainly affected by alcohol abuse. It was initiated by a group of young people wanting to serve the homeless community around inner Melbourne. Now, after more than 40 years of operation, the Fitzroy Soup Van has never missed a night.


SPC Videos

Fr Frank Brennan SJ AO speaks out about the closure of Manus Island Regional Processing Centre



Dr Tony Ward on his new book Bridging Troubled Waters: Australia & Asylum Seekers




Russell Broadbent MP : Nauri detention facility at tipping point




Russell Broadbent MP : The need for church unity on the issue of refugees




Books for sale through SPC


Bridging Troubled Waters: Australia & Asylum Seekers. Tony Ward. A project of the Yarra Institute for Religion & Social Policy. Special SPC offer $25.





Of Labour & Liberty: Distributism in Victoria 1891-1966. (Monash Publishing.) Race Mathews. $30 plus postage.





Bonded through Tragedy, United in Hope. The Catholic Church & East Timor’s Struggle for Independence. A Memoir. (Garratt Publishing.) Therese and Jim D’Orsa, with Hilton Deakin. $25 plus postage, or at the SPC office.




Posted by on Nov 5 2017. Filed under Newsletters. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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