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As the recent election result unfolded, Ross Gittins, economics editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, wrote, ‘The day may come when he [Scott Morrison] decides winning the election was the easy bit’. Gittins was doubtless referring to the many immediate challenges Australia faces economically, socially, and ecologically, and observing that the government was re-elected on a platform of continuity, not change.
Proactive policies to address pressing needs like the growing inequities in our society and the impacts of climate change, while not addressed by the Coalition in the run-up to the election, will need considered action.
Most comment on the federal election has naturally concentrated on how it was won and lost, how votes were gained here and lost there, how people were consoled or devastated by the result, and how the parties will respond in future elections.
It is time to return to the important question of what matters for the good of Australia. This is what governments and political parties are bound to serve by tradition and their own official rhetoric. This, not electoral success or failure, should govern their actions and our response as citizens to their governance. The most urgent claims, those by which our grandchildren will judge us, are, first, that we should pass on to them a habitat in which they can live without anxiety. This demands addressing climate change responsibly. It will require strong leadership endorsed by all parties and shapers of public opinion.
It was framed as ‘the climate election’, but last week Australia returned a government with climate policies which make the task of building a zero-emissions safe climate Australia even harder than ever.
This result comes at a time when international studies are raising the real and imminent spectre of a mass extinction crisis, and many communities are already struggling with the consequences of the climate emergency unfolding around us.
Inspired by my grandmother’s delight in visiting the Holy Land, I too made a pilgrimage to Israel and Palestine eight years ago. I was profoundly moved by being in the places from which my faith stories emerged. This joy was overshadowed, however, by the reality of Israel’s military occupation and its effect on Palestinian people.
While I was reading stories of Jesus speaking out against the injustices of the occupation under which he lived, I expected Christian churches to be united in vocal opposition to this current occupation. This is not the case, however. Seventy years ago, the United Nations drew up a plan to partition the then-British controlled Palestine, forming ‘two states for ‘two peoples’, Israel and Palestine, with Jerusalem becoming a shared international city. This plan was never implemented.
Most of the time, we will not come across someone who is high on ‘ice’, but more likely when they are coming down and agitated, tired, hungry, poorly articulating, etc. The most important thing I learned about dealing with someone ‘coming down’ from ice is to provide food and hydration, and meet physiological needs. We can all do this by offering a drink, food, and rest. Even aggressive people can be de-escalated to feel safe and contained.
It is important to have compassion for all people who are dependent on substances, as they are often suffering other emotional trauma and mental illness, and may be using substances as an escape. We do not know the stories of these people, and cannot judge them for their situation. Rather, we can become more knowledgeable about substance dependency, and how we can respond as individuals in the community.
Knowledge gained from accurate and scientific sources is better than fear instilled from misinformed media presentation. This is especially so in considering the effects of ice in our community.
Pope Francis, in a recent letter, invited young economists, entrepreneurs, and change-makers to come to Assisi in Italy to make proposals to renew economies around the world. He chose Assisi, the city of St Francis, for its significance as a symbol of humanism and fraternity, essential foundations for well-functioning economies.
Internationally renowned economist, Jeffrey Sachs, a key speaker at the event, affirmed that a ‘prophetic economy means an economy that operates in the vision of meeting the needs of the poorest people and of protecting creation. We need an economy in which prosperity is shared, that is socially fair and environmentally sustainable’.
Travelling with us to Nairobi for the official opening of the Kurt Fearnley Special Needs Unit at the Ruben Centre were Australian champion wheelchair athlete Kurt Fearnley and his mother. In comfortable classrooms, well-equipped with materials for learning and therapy, the Ruben Centre now educates over fifty disabled children from the Mukuru Slum. Kurt’s dream is that some children will be able to integrate into the regular classes of the Ruben School, just as he integrated into his own school, eventually graduating as a teacher.
After the opening ceremony, Kurt joined the children in their classrooms. He slipped out of his wheelchair and joined half a dozen severely disabled children on their play mat, laughing and playing with them. Earlier, he spoke directly to the mothers of these children: ‘When I see you, I see my Mum, and when I see your children, I see myself’”.