Social Issues & Public Affairs
This page features the work of the Public Affairs Commission of the Anglican Church of Australia. For more information on the Commission, its mandate and membership, please click here.
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM REVIEW
On 22 November 2017, the Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, announced the appointment of an Expert Panel to examine whether Australian law adequately protects the human right to freedom of religion.
In December 2017, initial submissions were called for on the matters raised in the Expert Panel’s Terms of Reference.
The Public Affairs Commission has made a submission on behalf of the Anglican Church of Australia. The submission can be downloaded from the link below.
ACTION TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE PARIS CLIMATE ACCORD
On 8 September 2017, the Seventeenth Session of the General Synod passed the following resolution:
- the global groundswell of community and industry support for effective and rapid action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with the very challenging goal expressed in the 2015 Paris Climate Accord (to limit warming to 1.5⁰C above pre-industrial levels);
- the critical importance of community action, both in achieving that goal and in leading governments to act;
- the Anglican Communion's fifth mark of mission: 'to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth', and
- General Synod's Protection of the Environment Canon 2007 which required meaningful action and reporting by participating Dioceses on steps taken to reduce their environmental impact;
The General Synod
- encourages Federal and State governments in Australia to act quickly to resolve perceived conflicts of interest between the wider community and commercial beneficiaries of fossil fuels, and show leadership in reducing greenhouse gas omissions through effective market mechanisms based on consistent expert recommendations.
- requests each Diocese that has adopted the Protection of the Environment Canon 2007 to report to the Standing Committee of General Synod in 2018, and to the next meeting of General Synod, on progress in reducing their environmental impact (as required by s.3(1)), with particular emphasis on energy efficiency in order to minimise contributions to global warming.
- encourages Dioceses to make use of standardised instruments such as the Parish Quick Carbon Self-Report instrument (available through the Public Affairs Commission) in order to develop an internal reporting mechanism.
- encourages Dioceses to report to the Standing Committee of General Synod in 2018, and to the next meeting of General Synod , on progress made towards divestment from fossil fuels or other measures to improve the ecological sustainability of Diocesan investments portfolios, as encouraged by motion 61/14 of General Synod.
- encourages Dioceses to engage in teaching and preaching on the theology of the environment.
- encourages Dioceses to consider the work of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC) towards spiritually-inspired stewardship in reducing greenhouse gas omissions: and to encourage participation in the work of this multi-faith network and consideration also of secular networks with similar aims to reduce global greenhouse omissions.
The Public Affairs Commission has made the Parish Quick Carbon Self-Reporting instrument available in order to develop an internal reporting mechanism. The instrument can be downloaded from the link below.
FREEDOM OF RELIGION (2015)
In September 2015, the Public Affairs Commission of General Synod responded to the call for submissions for Religious Freedom Roundtable which the Human Rights Commission was convening in November 2015. The Public Affairs Commission resubmitted the submission made in 2008 by the Anglican Church of Australia to the Australian Human Rights Commission on “Freedom of Religion and Belief in the 21st Century.”
CONSTITUTIONAL RECOGNITION OF ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLES (2015)
In March 2015, the Public Affairs Commission of General Synod provided a response to the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. The 2015 response includes a copy of the 2011 submission to the Expert Panel on Indigenous Constitutional Recognition prepared by the Anglican Public Affairs Commission and several other committees within the Anglican Church.
Climate Change (2014)
Global Divestment Day, 14 Feb 2015. The Public Affairs Commission of General Synod offers a paper as a resource for Dioceses as they consider divestment action to address climate change
Action on Climate Change: The Role of Divestment from fossil fuels
Issues and Questions for the 2013 Federal Election political parties from the Public Affairs Commission
We need a government who will determine the truly critical issues that should be addressed for the long term national and global good and then go about achieving progress collaboratively.
Social Justice Sunday - September 25, 2011. "I was in Prison and you visited me" - National Council of Churches in Australia
Social Justice Sunday 2011 highlights concerns about the prison system in Australia. Social Justice Sunday is an ecumenical project undertaken by the National Council of Churches in Australia's (NCCA) Social Justice Network. It provides an opportunity for Christians from many traditions to consider how they can address issues in the world.
NCCA published "I was in Prison and you visited me", a resource to assist individuals and congregations to be aware of the alarming facts about prisons in Australia and to advocate for a more just society. This publication and "Prison, The Last Resort", a companion resource of the NCCA Social Justice Network, is available from the NCCA website - Social Justice Network.
A Discussion Paper on Population Issues (2010)
The Public Affairs Commission has published a discussion paper on issues related to population growth titled A Discussion Paper on Population Issues. Its publication coincided with the announcement by the Federal Government of the appointment of Tony Burke as Minister for Population. A copy was sent to Minister Burke and to the opposition spokesman on the issue, Senator Cori Bernardi. Population growth featured as an issue in the 2010 Federal Election campaign. The paper provides background to a motion to be put to the General Synod by the Public Affairs Commission in September 2010.
Family Violence Inquiry - Australian Law Reform Commission
The Commonwealth Attorney General referred the following issues to the Australian Law Reform Commission:
The interaction in practice of State and Territory family/domestic violence and child protection laws with the Family Law Act and relevant Commonwealth, State and Territory criminal laws; and
The impact of inconsistent interpretation or application of laws in cases of sexual assault occurring in a family/domestic violence context, including rules of evidence, on victims of such violence.
The General Synod passed resolutions in 2004 and 2007 touching upon matters within the Terms of Reference.
In 2004 the General Synod passed the following relevant resolution:
The General Synod:
recommends that State and Territory Governments enact uniform laws that provide for:
the reporting of child abuse to the police and the government child protection authorities: …
In 2007, the General Synod passed the following resolutions: The General Synod:
recommends that the Commonwealth Government ensures that children and young people are a national priority by appointing a Children’s Minister and an independent Commissioner for Children, who will provide leadership in:
a co-ordinated approach to policy implementation in the best interests of children;
developing a National Strategy on child abuse and neglect, in consultation with the States and Territories and community service organizations; and
recommends that State and Territory Governments enact uniform laws that provide for:
the reporting of child abuse to the police and the government child protection authorities; and
the screening of all persons seeking to work with children in a paid or voluntary capacity; and
The Standing Committee requested the Public Affairs Commission to prepare a submission to the Law Reform Commission Inquiry in light of the General Synod's resolutions. The Public Affairs Commission learned that Anglicare Australia was already in the course of preparing a submission. After liaison with the General Synod Office, Anglicare Australia prepared a submission. Please click on link below for Anglicare Australia's submission.
Human Rights Consultation - Anglican Church of Australia Submission
The Human Rights Consultation, chaired by Fr Frank Brennan, has been established to investigate and report whether human rights are adequately protected in Australia. A sub-group of the Public Affairs Commission prepared a submission which has been endorsed by the Standing Committee of General Synod.
Human Rights Consultation - Religious Freedom in Employment (2009)
On receiving the Standing Committee's submission, the Consultation invited the Standing Committee to address a public hearing at parliament House, Canberra, on 1 July 2009. Bishop Robert Forsyth, Bishop of South Sydney, represented the Standing Committee. To see the outline of his address, click the link below.
Freedom of Religion and Belief in the 21st Century (2008)
The Federal Government's Australian Human Rights Commission has commissioned the Australian Multicultural Foundation, (AMF) in association with RMIT University and Monash University to prepare a report on Freedom of Religion and Belief in the 21st Century. This team will consult with the Australian Partnership of Religious Organisations (APRO) in preparing its report. Their website for the Project is: http://www.hreoc.gov.au/frb/index.html