SPC Annual General Meeting, 1 December 2007
Report of the Chairma, Mr Peter Whiting
The Chairman acknowledged the Board Members and the Launch Manager, Mrs. Jo Rawson, for their achievements in 2007. He noted in particular the opening of the new offices in Richmond and the conduct of the five public forums on key social justice matters conducted in the run-up to the announcement of the Federal Election.
Less visible, but also very important to the future of SPC, he noted the work done in:
* building of collaborative relationships with like-minded organisations;
* making progress in preparing for the establishment of the Yarra Institute for Religion and Social Policy within the structure of the Melbourne College of Divinity (MCD).
* extending our communications capability with members with newsletters to members and the soon to be completed web site.
The development of steps required in successful fund raising.
The Chairman identified that as we go forward into 2007/08 the key areas of focus will be:
* Fund raising, which is critical to the successful launch of the Yarra Institute
* Engagement with the membership base, and
*developing our public presence
Mr Peter Whiting, President of the Board
At the workshop following the AGM of Social Policy Connections on 1 December 2007, the 25 participants were invited to address three questions:
On what issues is your passion for social justice focused?
In your view what do Australians regard as the key social justice issues for Australia?
In your view what do Australians regard as the social justice issues internationally?
Participants worked in three groups with each group addressing all three questions.
The results are reported below:
The following workshop benefits were anticipated:
Members of SPC would be helped to know each other better by discussing the above questions.
Their views would provide input to the research agenda for the start-up of the Yarra Institute.
SPC would hope to develop its advocacy agenda by setting up working groups to produce briefing notes for people wanting to meet with their local members of parliament. The notes could appear on our website.
The results of these consultations will been circulated to all members of SPC.
Also, this report will be tabled at the next meeting of the Committee for the Yarra Institute.
The following working groups were set up. If you would like to participate contact the members and find out when and where they are meeting.
- Suzy McManus
- Karen O’Toole
People’s movements and Refugees
- Catherine Kelly
- Robyn Reynolds
- Paul Rule
- Bob Glass
We also had ‘Health’ listed but no one put their name down to be part of a working group. If you would like to form a working group on this or any of the other issues below, please contact Stephen Ames at Social Policy Connections.
The SPC Board will locate resources in Christian social thinking relevant to these issues and send it to the working groups. Help from members on this task would be much appreciated. Please send any references or email downloads to Stephen Ames or hard copy to the office of Social Policy Connections.
Other matters from the workshop:
Participants decided to meet again in about six month’s time to look at ‘where to from here?’ The Board will organise this and inform members early in 2008.
The ‘voting’ on issues was inconclusive – the seventeen out of a possible 50 votes (two each) were widely spread, not showing any clear focus by the meeting on a few issues.
Two matters were highlighted by individuals in the discussion following. One was the meaning of ‘fair’ in such expressions as ‘a fair go’ or ‘fair trade’. The other was the way research and experimentation on human beings raised the question of what is the normatively human.
Some reflections from the Board:
This was a valuable start to us getting to know each other and especially our interests in social justice and in our perceptions of what is important to Australians. It also showed we could work well together on this task. Follow-through is important. The working groups are one kind of follow-through as is the meeting in the middle of the year. The exercise focuses several matters:
what policies do we want to influence?
what influence from Christian social thinking do we want to bring to bear?
and how will we do this?
This is the sharp end of our working together to pursue the ends for which SPC exists. Early in 2008 the website should be fully operational and provide a new opportunity for interaction with each other on these and other matters.