Australian Newsletter

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By Australian Newsletter

Australians are most likely to go to friends and family (52%) or online (48%) to find answers to questions they have about faith, belief and spirituality a new study has found. The poll, conducted by McCrindle Research on behalf of Alpha Australia also found that 1 in 9 Australians have wanted a conversation about Christianity in the past year, but have not been engaged. The study, which surveyed 1,000 Australian adults, found that as well as approaching family and friends for answers, online communities (18%) and online content such as videos, talks and sermons (30%) were a key source of insight in their spiritual journey. Melinda Dwight, National Director of Alpha Australia says, “We have known for years the important role close relationships, such as friends and family have played in spiritual formation. But to see more than half of Australians would reach out to those close to them, is a significant reminder.

In these past 12 months as our lives have been disrupted, we have seen that the exploration of faith has continued through online connection.” The survey also found that almost half of Australians (45%) had had a conversation about faith and beliefs with a Christian in the past 12 months. 1 in 9 Australians said they had wanted to have a conversation about Christianity but had not engaged with someone (11%).  Izzy Marshall this year won the 2021 Young Australian of the Year – receiving her award from Prime Minister, Scott Morrison. Marshall is an advocate for Alpha and has seen how it’s led to honest discussions about her faith and faith in general in today’s society, she says, “You just need to host an Alpha and start a conversation. You don’t need an outcome, it just sparks an intellectual conversation, in a non-judgmental space.

Marshall went on “When I have hosted Alpha sessions with my friends, I have always been surprised at just how open they have been to hear and discuss issues of faith. It has never been about converting them, it was more about sharing why Christianity and faith is so important to me and the difference it has made in my life.” A recent study found that 4 in 10 Australians were either extremely (20%) or very (18%) open to exploring different faiths and spiritual views and that younger Australians were more likely to be extremely or very open to these conversations (50% Gen Z, 44% Gen Y  39% Gen X, 25% Baby Boomers; 31% Builders). Millions of people around the world have attended Alpha and despite recent reports of Christianity in decline in Australia in recent decades, Alpha Australia has seen over 500,000 attending since it launched.

Dwight concludes, “The results of the survey show that while we have often felt isolated and disconnected, many have continued to share their faith. The fact that 1 in 10 Australians didn’t have the conversation but were keen to do so, shows there remains a great opportunity for churches and for Christians across the country to talk to those in their families, neighbourhoods and workplaces about what the good news means for them.” Millions of people have tried Alpha all around the world, and it has been translated into over 100 different languages. Developed as a short course at Holy Trinity Brompton in London, in 1990 Nicky Gumbel took over running Alpha and found that many people outside of the church wanted to explore the Christian faith. Alpha now runs in every part of the global church, including the Catholic and Orthodox Churches and all mainline Protestant denominations.

Source: Jersey Road Press

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By Australian Newsletter

The March 13 landslide election victory in Western Australia has delivered 53 seats out of 59 in the Legislative Assembly to Labor, and in the Legislative Council Labor has 22 out of 36 seats in the Legislative Council.  This will allow Labor to push through its legislative agenda, which on the opening of parliament was announced to include banning so called “gay conversion therapy.” The Labor Government has indicated it plans to ban gay conversion therapy through implementation of the National Code of Conduct for unregulated health workers. The main targets of conversion therapy legislation are Christian counselors, Christian therapists and Christian support groups, we expect the Government will legislate to make pastors and counselors subject to this code.

However, in September last year the Hon Alannah Clohesy said: “Separate legislation, similar to Victoria’s, could be considered in the future if the national code of conduct was not effective in preventing gay conversion therapy.” Prior to the election, Premier McGowan refused to rule out introducing legislation similar to the Victorian Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Act 2021. As a result, Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) WA State Coordinator, Peter Abetz along with James Parker of True Identity, held dozens of events to highlight the draconian and freedom-destroying nature of this law.

Last week over 500 people participated in two webinars that included the powerful testimonies of local people, who through counselling, spiritual help, and therapy, have been able to leave behind their LGBT identity. The ACL will shortly launch a campaign to inform MPs that many people have left behind their LGBT identity through counselling, therapy and spiritual help. We must ensure that the legislation does not remove the right of people experiencing unwanted same sex attraction or gender dysphoria from being allowed to access life changing ‘therapies’ of their choice.

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

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By Australian Newsletter

Australia’s biggest celebration of families in all their diversity is set to take place this month – National Families Week runs between May 15-21. Coinciding with the UN International Day of Families on May 15, the theme of this year’s celebration will be “stronger families, stronger communities”. Families Australia CEO Dr Brian Babington told Hope 103.2 that the theme “highlights the important role families play as the central building block of our communities and delivers the message that community wellbeing is enhanced by family wellbeing”. Dr Babington said that National Families Week will be “a time to celebrate the meaning of family and make the most of family life”. But he also acknowledged that not all families are the same.

“In all their marvellous diversity, families need nurturing, respect and support,” Dr Babington said. And, someone who understands that all too well is Family Spirit foster carer, Dave. Five years ago, Dave began the process of becoming a foster carer with Catholic Care’s fostering agency, Family Spirit. As a self-employed IT trainer, he knew it was important that he was able make a real difference in the life of a foster child. Dave made the decision to foster a child over the age of 11. The need for foster carers for children between 11 and 15 years old is very high and so Dave’s decision helped to fill a critical gap. Dave began caring for foster child Nathan when he was 11. While Nathan and Dave have now been together for over 4 years, it’s important to both of them that Nathan has continued contact with his mother, siblings and grandparents.

For Dave, he knows that Nathan’s continued contact with his relatives builds a stronger community around their family. In addition to the care that he provides for Nathan, Dave has opened his home for other children requiring short-term foster care. However, he said the decision to bring another child into their home is one that Nathan and Dave make together. “It can sometimes be a bit disruptive, but overall, it is a positive experience for both of us,” Dave said. Dave sees the fostering experience as one which provides benefits for both the child and the carer. He said that many people tell him that Nathan is lucky but Dave strongly believes that he is the lucky one to have Nathan in his life.

Adoptive parents Maria and Charles understand that feeling. The couple adopted their two daughters Revathi and Aradhana. Maria said that she and Charles are “eternally grateful to their birth parents for the sacrifice they made to help us be parents.” For Maria and Charles, the journey to parenthood was not an easy one. “My husband and I experienced unexplained infertility and the road was long and hard, but it was worth every second,” Maria explained. Raising their family was not something Maria and Charles said they have achieved alone. Their faith has been central to how they have raised their daughters. “We have the support and wisdom of our priests and elders in the church, the friendship and acceptance of members of our own age group and the joy and love of younger members of our community,” Maria said.

She hopes that by raising her daughters in the faith, they too will experience Jesus in their lives. Charles added that their Faith in God made them stronger as a family. “We are never alone when Christ is the head of our home, a silent listener to every conversation and an unseen guest at every meal,” he said. For 17-year-old daughter Revathi, it is communication that has cemented her family’s bond. “We can talk about anything; how we feel, what we do, and we are listened to and our opinion matters,” she said. But it’s not all serious, with 13-year-old Aradhana telling about the family laughter. “We laugh at the silliest things, at the smallest jokes that sometimes aren’t really funny but we laugh anyway.” It is love that binds their family together. “Ours is a family joined not by an umbilical cord that is cut at birth but by heart strings that cannot be broken.”

Source: 103.2FM

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By Australian Newsletter

Anglicare has launched a new youth program aimed at preventing an all-too-common form of violence in Australia. It’s an alarming stat that shocked Australians: 55 women died at the hands of their intimate partner last year. It means that on average, at least one woman dies each week as the result of domestic violence. And, at least one in every four women, and one in 13 men, suffer abuse by an intimate partner. Now, Anglicare has teamed up with Youthworks to tackle the problem. Both Anglicare’s Community Services team and Anglicare’s youth initiative, Take Love, have joined forces with Youthworks to create the youth group program Before It Starts. The four-week downloadable program focuses on teaching high school-aged girls and boys how to build healthy relationships.

The program, which includes survivors’ stories, Bible studies and games, evolved from within the Anglican ministry. “It came out of people in the ministry talking about the issues and concerns that they were needing to respond to,” Lynda Dunstan, Anglicare Sydney’s family and domestic violence advisor said. “With the current conversation in our community about sexual assault experienced by young women, it is very clear to see that these are significant issues impacting young people.” The initiative covers topics including identity, love, power, romance and friendship. It also teaches young women to recognise when they are in a potentially abusive relationship. “That’s a significant part of the education,” Ms Dunstan said.

“It’s teaching young people what good, healthy, respectful relationships are for Christians. But we want young women to really be aware of some of the red flags of when the relationship is maybe not going to be OK.” The program is aimed at both girls and boys. “We’ve designed it for any youth group, young women and men together,” Ms Dunstan said. “There are some activities where they might have discussion groups for girls only or boys only, but mostly it’s designed for male and females together. “It involves some teaching components, Bible study and discussion questions. It’s really designed to give you a full program including activities and teaching.” Rev Mike Dicker, Dean of Students at Youthworks College, said: “We really hope this program will shape the behaviours of our young people to follow the gracious and loving behaviour of the Lord Jesus”.

Source: 103.2FM

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By Australian Newsletter

Facebook’s virtual monopoly status means it should be required to allow free speech or be banned from operating in Australia, the Christian Democratic Party (CDP) has stated. CDP spokesman Lyle Shelton said Facebook was in effect a public information utility and as such should not be allowed to operate in an anti-democratic and partisan manner. “Facebook should not be allowed to interfere with lawful speech in this country,” Mr Shelton said. “If the Morrison government can require Facebook to pay for news content, surely it can require Facebook to allow free speech. By virtue of its market power, Facebook has a responsibility to act in the public interest and it should not be allowed to censor public debate” Mr Shelton said.

“It is chilling that an elected member of the Australian Parliament, Craig Kelly, has had his account suspended, not for inciting hate or violence, but simply for providing information. His posts should be debated, not cancelled” Mr Shelton said. “Cancelling people with whom we disagree is un-Australian and sets an ugly precedent for the future of our Democracy. Freedom of political debate is one of the most precious human rights there is and Big Tech oligarchs should not be allowed to crush this”. Facebook claims Mr Kelly was spreading ‘misinformation’ but doesn’t say if Mr Kelly has breached any laws. Mr Shelton said Mr Kelly was not the only one subject to censorship from Facebook. Mr Shelton had an edition of his YouTube Channel, The Lyle Shelton Show, censored. “I assume it is because I provided analysis of the November 3 US Presidential election.”

Source: 103.2FM

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By Australian Newsletter

Australia’s Christian heritage has been erased from a proposed new national school curriculum that promotes Indigenous history, culture and perspectives and teaches children that British colonisation was an “invasion”. Secondary school students will no longer be taught that Australia is a secular nation and a multi-faith society with a “Christian heritage”, according to the revised curriculum documents released by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACRA).  Instead, they will learn the nation is a “culturally diverse, multi-faith, secular and pluralistic society with diverse communities, such as the distinct communities of First Nations Australians”. Experts, including Australian Catholic University research fellow Kevin Donnelly expressed alarm at the proposed direction for school education, which includes a significant cut to humanities content across both primary and secondary years.

“The entire curriculum is awash with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture and spirituality to the detriment of teaching students about Australia as a Western liberal democracy with a Christian heritage,” Dr Donnelly said. “It smacks of cultural relativism.” While some broad history topics such as Investigating the Ancient Past, which encompasses events across Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, Greece, Rome, India, China and the Maya, have been removed, others have been rewritten with a specific Indigenous focus. Previously, under the curriculum, the theme Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures has been listed as a “cross-curriculum priority”, meaning it should be taught as part of all subjects, ranging from English to history.

However, following feedback from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Advisory Group, it now has elevated importance and has been incorporated directly into several subjects. ACU Senior Research Fellow Dr Kevin Donnelly says all top-performing academic countries “get rid of all the faddish rubbish” and focus on what is essential, as sweeping changes are proposed to the national curriculum. Among the proposed changes, primary school students will no longer study internationally significant commemorations such as Bastille Day in France, Independence Day in the US or Chinese New Year. Instead, they will focus on the importance of Australia Day, Anzac Day and National Sorry Day and will examine British colonisation through the perspective of First Nations people.

From Year 4, students will learn about the “arrival of the First Fleet and how this was perceived by the First Nations Australians as an invasion”. And while students in Year 4 have previously been required to study at least one world navigator, that topic has been replaced by an exploration of the significance of trade to First Nations People of Australia. The influence of the Indigenous perspective is also visible in the proposed new civic and citizenship curriculum. Where Year 8 students previously studied “values and beliefs of religions practised in contemporary Australia, including Christianity”, they will now learn about Australia as a “culturally diverse, multi-faith, secular and pluralistic society with diverse communities”.

New content under the topic Laws and Citizens will teach students about the effectiveness of the justice system “in achieving equality of access, equity of outcomes, procedural fairness, the right to appeal, and remedies for injustices, particularly for First Nations Australians”.  Curriculum documents will also no longer reference the terms Aboriginal and Indigenous, which will be replaced by First Nations Australians or Australian First Nations Peoples, after the advisory group raised concerns about the “accuracy and adequacy” of the overarching themes of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures cross-curriculum priority. Other feedback from the advisory group included that the current national curriculum did not include enough “truth telling” about the experience of First Nations Australians since the arrival of Europeans.

The current curriculum also failed to recognise that the First Peoples of Australia experienced colonisation “as invasion and dispossession of land, sea and sky”; lacked mention of the Native Title Act 1993 as a law passed by the Australian parliament that recognises the rights and interests of First Nations Peoples of Australia in land and waters according to their traditional laws and customs; and failed to showcase the sophisticated political, economic and social organisation systems of the First Peoples. Sky News host Andrew Bolt says “race propaganda” is coming to a classroom near you “very soon” with the new proposed changes to Australia’s national curriculum. The changes have been recommended by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority.

“We keep spending billions more on education, yet keep seeing standards fall,” Mr Bolt said. “Looking at these proposed changes, spare us. Why is it that radicals seem in charge of deciding what gets taught? “The deeper you look into these changes the worse it gets.” In the subject of English, texts from Aboriginal authors “will be promoted” and it’s recommended the terms ‘Aboriginal’ and ‘Indigenous’ should be replaced with ‘First Nations Australians’ or Australian First Nation Peoples’. “Our classrooms are just being prepped here for race politics,” Mr Bolt said. “I’m not jumping at shadows here.” The director of the Institute of Public Affairs’ western civilisation program, Bella d’Abrera, criticised the removal of references to Christianity, Ancient Greece and many of the institutions and values of Western culture under the guise of “decluttering” the curriculum.

D’abrera said “This is not clutter; this is knowledge that every Australian child should learn,” she said. “This is giving licence for children to unlearn the freedoms of our democracy and brainwash them into becoming political activists.” Historian Geoffrey Blainey said: “By all means teach Indigenous history, but not at the expense of classical and Western civilisations. Ancient Rome surely did at least as much as Uluru to shape the modern Australian way of thinking and living.” Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation chief executive Simon Haines said although he had yet to examine the curriculum changes in detail, he would be concerned about students losing a world view of history. “It would be a pity if a significant increase in Indigenous history, while a subject of great importance, were to be at the cost of meaningful education in the major historical events of the wider world,” Professor Haines said.

Haines went on “Australia is an island. We need to know our own history, of course, while at the same time not being too insular.” History Teachers Association of Australia president Catherine Baron said the inclusion in the Year 7 history curriculum of First Nations culture was welcome. “They will be looking at two ancient cultures, and instead of that being two cultures from around the world, one will be a First Nations culture. It’s a good thing for kids to learn about their own nation’s cultural history,” she said. ACARA chief executive David de Carvalho said: “The proposed revisions in the curriculum give students the opportunity to discuss and understand Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives, for example, how the arrival of the First Fleet was perceived and interpreted.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

Scott Morrison has urged Australians not to surrender to “identity politics” and the forces that undermine the community, declaring freedom rests on “taking personal responsibility”.  In a speech outlining his values and beliefs, the Prime Minister launched an impassioned critique of the “growing tendency to commodify human beings through identity politics” and elevated the necessity of viewing “people as individuals with agency and responsibility”. Speaking at a United Israel Appeal NSW donor dinner in Sydney, Mr Morrison set out his vision of morality, community and personal responsibility in the modern world while warning that reducing individuals to their attributes would end in division and a broken society.

“We must never surrender the truth that the experience and value of every human being is unique and personal,” he said. “You are more than your gender, sexuality, race,  ethnicity, religion, language group, or age. “All of these contribute to who we are and the incredible diversity of our society, but of themselves they are not the essence of our humanity. “When we reduce ourselves to a collection of attributes, or divide ourselves on this basis, we can lose sight of who we are as individuals, in all our complexity and wholeness. We then define each other by the boxes we tick or don’t tick rather than our qualities, skills and character. “Throughout history, we’ve seen what happens when people are defined solely by the group they belong to, an attribute they have, or an identity they possess. The Jewish community understands that better than any.”

Journalist and Managing Director at Adoni Media Lisa Goddard says “we’ve all been waiting on Scott Morrison to show some leadership on the relentless attacks of identity politics on broader society.  We need some common sense,” Ms Goddard said. Mr Morrison will use the speech, titled “You Matter: The responsibility of citizens in building community to achieve national success”, to frame the values that will guide his government ahead of the next election, due by May next year, and draw a contrast with the Labor Party. “My message is simple: you matter, you make the difference, you make community,” he said. “Together with family, marriage and association, clubs, community groups, faith networks, and so much more these combine as the further building blocks of community, providing the stability and sinews of society that bind us to each other.”

The speech follows his address to the Australian Christian Churches conference last week in which he cited the works of the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks to discuss faith, morality and identity politics in comments that triggered a fresh debate about his religious views as the nation’s first Pentecostal Prime Minister. Speaking before Jewish community leaders Steven Lowy, Lance Rosenberg and Jillian Segal, the acting ambassador of Israel Jonathan Peled, Employment Minister Stuart Robert and government MPs Dave Sharma and Julian Leeser, Mr Morrison again cited Rabbi Sacks on the “covenant of community”. He said this was about “not leaving it to another” and urged Australians to re-frame their thinking on rights, arguing that citizens should be contributing more to society than they expected to receive back from it.

Sky News host Paul Murray says people who have doubts about Australia’s leadership will “feel a whole lot better” after the prime minister’s speech affirming his belief in the Judeo-Christian principle of “inherent human dignity”. “That is the moral responsibility and covenant of citizenship, not to think we can leave it to someone else. “There is a warning though. Where we once understood our rights in terms of our protections from the state, now it seems these rights are defined by what we expect from the state. “As citizens, we cannot allow what we think we are entitled to, to become more important than what we are responsible for.” Mr Morrison said “human dignity” was at the heart of the Judeo-Christian tradition underpinning modern Australian society and was also foundational for freedom in a liberal democracy. “Everything else flows from it,” he said.

“Seeing the inherent dignity of all human beings is the foundation of all morality. “It makes us more capable of love and compassion, selflessness and forgiveness. “Because if you see the dignity and worth of another person, you’re less likely to disrespect them; insult or show contempt or hatred for them; or seek to cancel them, as is becoming the fashion of some. You’re less likely to be indifferent to their lives, and callous towards their feelings.” Mr Morrison said Rabbi Sacks had concluded in his final work Morality that “if you lose your own morality, you are in danger of losing your freedom” as he sought to elevate the Liberal Party’s core value of individual responsibility. “Liberty is not borne of the state but rests with the individual, for whom morality must be a personal responsibility,” he said.

There is a real “degrading of people of faith” from those on the left and in the commentariat which often manifests itself in attacks on the prime minister, according to International Development Minister Zed Seselja. “Freedom therefore rests on us taking personal responsibility for how we treat each other, based on our respect for, and appreciation of, human dignity. “This is not about state power or market capital. “This is about morality and personal responsibility. Morality is also the foundation of true community.” Amid rising tensions in the Indo-Pacific region and China’s increasing efforts to disrupt democracies, Mr Morrison also said “we stand as a sovereign and free nation in an increasingly uncertain part of the world”.

He said community “matters” in a democracy. “It’s a source of strength, that’s why foreign actors seek to sow discord online, by inflaming anger and hatred, and spreading lies and disinformation. “The right to disagree peacefully is at the very heart of democracy, but democracy is also a shared endeavour, and civility, trust and generosity are the currency that mediates our differences.” Mr Morrison reflected on Australians coming together through the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters. “I’ve been incredibly heartened to see people show the best of us this past year, the heroic virtues of our people,” he said. “Through drought, bushfires, floods, cyclones and pandemic, Australians have found ways to support and stand with each other, checking in on each other, keeping jobs open, volunteering, helping neighbours with their shopping.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

In Australia we celebrate Mother’s Day this Sunday, 9th May. Motherhood is a very special relationship, rated more highly than most others because of the love, dedication and often sacrifice of mothers for their children. That is why Mother’s Day is now celebrated across some 50 different countries of the world. But not all on the same day. In the UK, Guernsey, Jersey, the Isle of Man, Ireland and Nigeria, Mother’s Day was celebrated on 14 March this year. The UK Mother’s Day, often known as Mothering Sunday, is always held on the fourth Sunday of Lent. From the 1500s, this was the day Christians would visit their “mother church” – where they were baptised, or their local parish church, or their nearest cathedral (the mother church of their diocese).

In later times, Mothering Sunday became a day when domestic servants were given a day off to visit their mother church, usually with their own mothers and other family members. It has morphed into a celebration of all mothers and grandmothers. Other countries have their Mother’s Day at a different time from the UK. Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Germany and Italy are among those that follow the United States, celebrating mums on the second Sunday in May. The US tradition began with Miss Anna Jarvis, a Philadelphia schoolteacher. In 1907 she started a movement to set up a national Mother’s Day in honour of her mother, Mrs Ann Jarvis. Mrs Jarvis had spent her life mobilising mothers to care for their children, and she wanted mothers’ work to be recognised.

“I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial mothers’ day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life. She is entitled to it,” Mrs Jarvis said. Miss Jarvis sought to fulfil her mother’s wish. She and her supporters began to write to ministers, businessmen, and politicians in their campaign to establish a national Mother’s Day. The first Mother’s Day observance was a church service on the second anniversary of her mother’s death, the second Sunday of May. Anna handed out her mother’s favourite flowers, white incarnations. By 1911, Mother’s Day had spread nationwide and was being celebrated in almost every US state. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May as a national holiday in honour of mothers.

Over the years, Mother’s Day became increasingly popular, and the current traditions of card and gift-giving increased. The blatant commercialisation angered Anna – she even began to campaign against the greed and profit motive that was demeaning her day of remembrance. But Mother’s Day continues. Many Christian families ignore the commercialisation, making an effort to show their appreciation for their mums with a special visit, meal, or gift of flowers. And remember the first Commandment with a promise: “Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.” – Exodus 20:12  Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers and thank you for your tireless love and service to your families.

Source: FamilyVoice Australia

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By Australian Newsletter

Australia’s first demonstrations against gender clinics took place in Brisbane, Melbourne and Hobart last week to raise awareness about risky medicalisation of young people who don’t fit sex role stereotypes. “I was very much a gender non-conforming little girl, a tomboy,” said feminist Taylor McGowan, 25, who joined a small group protesting outside the Queensland health department offices in central Brisbane. “Had I been a teenager growing up through this gender ideology I could have had health professionals tell me I’m probably trans, been diagnosed with gender dysphoria and given hormones and a mastectomy.” Ms McGowan, who had been on track to become a nurse, said Queensland’s new criminal law against “conversion therapy” discouraged legitimate non-medical responses to distress around puberty, such as psychotherapy or cognitive behaviour therapy.

Organisers said there were academics, lawyers and other professionals who did not join last week’s protesters because they feared being identified and branded as “transphobic” and losing their jobs. Children’s hospitals in Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth have rapidly expanding gender clinics following the “gender affirmative” medical model, which offers puberty blockers to stop unwanted development and cross-sex hormones to mimic the body of the opposite sex. There is no medical intervention until the onset of puberty. Some under-18s are referred to private surgeons for mastectomy, but there is no good public data on gender medicine. Gender clinicians and transgender activists claim these interventions can be life-saving for those minors who suffer severe distress about feeling “born in the wrong body”, although the evidence on treatment safety, benefit and suicide risk is contested.

Mainstream media sought comment from the gender clinicians group AusPATH,  the health ministers of Victoria and Queensland, and the gender clinics at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne and the Queensland Children’s Hospital however none would comment. After some years of muted concern, groups of worried parents and professionals including left-wing lesbians and Christians have turned to street protests, billboards and even truckside advertising to reach mainstream audiences they believe have been misled about gender medicine by elites, including “progressive” media outlets. Feminist Stassja Frei, who took part in the protests outside the office of Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley, said she had been drawn into the debate after seeing social media denunciation of a supposedly “transphobic” open letter by author JK Rowling.

“I imagined she must have said something straight out of the 1950s, and instead I found I agreed with everything she said,” said Ms Frei, who founded the non-partison  Coalition for Biological Reality. Ms Rowling’s June 2020 letter expressed alarm about a 4,400 per cent increase in female patients at Britain’s UK Tavistock youth gender clinic, and quoted experts suggesting it might be social contagion and questioning the suicide narrative driving medical treatment. Ms Frei said the affirmative gender clinic model demanded proper scrutiny by a parliamentary inquiry, highlighted the weak evidence base for treatments, the risk of regret and the emerging group of young adult de-transitioners who come to believe medicalised gender change was a harmful mistake.

“Mr Foley can’t ignore these issues forever, they will come back to bite him,” she said. This month, Britain’s National Institute of Health Care Excellence declared that the evidence for puberty blockers helping mental health was of “very low certainty” and the evidence for the safety and effectiveness of cross-sex hormones was “very low” quality. The findings feed into an official review of under-18 gender dysphoria treatments led by Dr Hilary Cass, a former president of the UK Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. Two of the Australian protests had help from a new US-based group Partners for Ethical Care, which staged US protests outside gender clinics in New York City, Los Angeles and Utah.

Co-founder Jeannette Cooper said the group was “founded in compassion” and saw children as “victims of this normalisation of minors being medicalised for distress”. She said the key was to ask everyday people questions, “Do you think that children can be born in the wrong body?” or “Did you do anything as a teenager that you don’t feel good about now?”. Ms Cooper said she had lost all contact apart from letters with her trans-identifying daughter, now 14 and living with her father, because a judge accepted the child’s claim she felt “unsafe” if her mother did not go along with her new gender identity. The parents’ group Our Duty, with an umbrella organisation registered in the UK and an active branch in Australia, this week hired a truck to drive around Los Angeles, which has the largest youth gender clinic in the US, with the question “Who is Keira Bell?” emblazoned on its side.

Ms Bell, 24, is an English de-transitioner whose case against the Tavistock gender clinic led to a High Court ruling that the evidence for puberty blocking drugs is so weak that they are an “experimental” treatment, and children under 16 would struggle to give informed consent. This landmark decision on December 1 last year has been little reported in the US, and a search of Australia’s ABC website finds no mention of it. Our Duty turned to trucks after complaints led to removal of its LA billboard advertising the first mainstream book on the international explosion of gender clinic caseloads: Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters by former Wall St Journal writer Abigail Shrier.

Her best-seller has been described as “transphobic” by the American Civil Liberties Union’s trans rights lawyer, Chase Strangio, who has campaigned for its suppression. The book was chosen as one of the “best books of 2020” by The Economist magazine. A concerned Newcastle mother, Judith Hunter, tried to book a billboard promoting Ms Shrier’s book in her home town in NSW last year but was refused. Last week the company she and her husband approached, JCDecaux, said the peak body Outdoor Media Australia had advised that the billboard was likely to “generate complaints and media attention”, a spokeswoman said. Ms Shrier said parents paid for billboards out of “desperation”. “They know their daughters have been harmed except that most of the media has no interest in getting the word out or warning other parents or telling their story,” Ms Shrier said.

Source:  Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

Women’s Human Rights Campaign (WHRC) Australia claims that international LGBTI organisations are working together to lower the age of consent. This makes paedophilia more accessible and, in some cases, even legal. “ILGA World – the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association – is actively promoting a “Feminist Declaration” which it describes as an alternative to the political declaration made annually by the United Nation’s Commission on the Status of Women (“CSW”) that outlines the steps necessary to achieve gender equality. “However, deep within this detailed 16 page Declaration are provisions urging governments to “eliminate . . . laws limiting legal capacity of adolescents . . . to provide consent to sex” “The document also calls for governments to “End the criminalization and stigmatization of adolescents’ sexuality”

WHRC is concerned that the “demands would remove the ability to protect children from exploitation by adults and older adolescents.” ILGA began as a male gay rights organisation, however it is now “exerting a powerful influence on women’s human rights”  with an emphasis on self-declaration of sex, that is biological males can call themselves women and vice versa. Australian organisations have signed on, some of whom are government funded. “This document has apparently been signed by 200 organisations including the YWCA Australia which is the contract holder for the Equality Rights Alliance, which is funded by the Federal Government and is Australia’s largest network advocating for women’s equality.

“According to ILGA’s website Australian member organisations include ACON, Australian Greens LGBTI members, Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, Human Rights Law Centre, Sydney Star Observer, UTS Sydney Queer Collective, Sydney University Postgraduate Rep. Ass., Wear it Purple and many others.” Arguments to lower the age of consent are usually framed so as to grant more freedom to teenagers to explore sexuality with one another. The results of course would be starkly different, as teens would become available to adults of all ages without fear of legal prosecution. Binary spokeswoman, Kirralie Smith, said lawmakers must be aware. “This is an incredibly serious issue. The more society is de-gendered, language hijacked and euphemisms employed, the greater the risk to our children. Lowering the age of consent will grant unhindered access to paedophiles.”

Source: Binary

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By Australian Newsletter

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has told a national Christian convention he was “called to do God’s work” as Australia’s leader. A video of his speech was filmed at the Australian Christian Churches conference on the Gold Coast and circulated widely to the Australian secular media by the Rationalist Society in an attempt to discredit his Christian faith. At the Conference Morrison said he looked for signs from God while on the 2019 election campaign trail, and had practiced the evangelical tradition of the “laying-on of hands” and praying while working. He also called the misuse of social media “the work of the devil” and urged other believers to pray against its “corrosive effect on society”. “Sure, social media has its values and enables us to connect with people in ways we’ve never had before,” Mr Morrison said. “But those weapons can also be used by the evil one and (as Christians) we need to call that out.”

Mr Morrison also said he had once asked God for “a sign” while visiting an art gallery on the NSW central coast. “And there right in front of me was the biggest picture of a soaring eagle … the message I got that day was, Scott you’ve got to run to not grow weary, you’ve got to walk to not grow faint, you’ve got to spread your wings like an eagle to soar like an eagle,” he said. He also told the crowd how he had practiced the laying-on of hands during a visit to the Pilbara following a cyclone there. Morrison said “I’ve been in evacuation centres where people thought I was just giving someone a hug but I was also praying, and putting my hands on people whilst praying in various situations.  God has, I believe, been using us in those moments to be able to provide some relief and comfort and just some reassurance.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

The catch cry of Chaplain Lieutenant- Colonel Canon David Garland was “nothing is too good for our soldier boys”. It epitomises the heart of a man dedicated to the soldiers he served. Born in Ireland in 1864, Garland migrated to Australia at the age of 22. He successfully advocated for the introduction of religious education in schools, which became law in WA in 1893 and later in QLD in 1910. He began as an army chaplain to those about to embark for the Boer War in 1896. In 1915 he was appointed Senior Chaplain to the Queensland Expeditionary Forces, made an honorary Lieutenant Colonel and served at the training camps in Enoggera Army Base, whilst also running a parish. His concern was to make life better for those who had volunteered to go to war. He directed the ‘Soldiers’ Help Society’ to assist the troops.

Whilst serving in the Middle East in 1918-1919, he established eight clubs to give the soldiers an alternative to pubs and brothels. He became the first Chaplain to conduct Holy Communion in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. He acknowledged the contribution and sacrifices of the Light Horsemen in a report about their work in Egypt, Palestine, and Syria: “Our troops here have made a magnificent contribution. It is not too much to say that the collapse of the enemy throughout the world was at least hastened by the cavalry feat which, sweeping Palestine and Syria in a manner unknown in history, ensured Turkey’s break-away from Germany. I fear that the hardships endured and the magnificent fighting done by the Australian Light Horse have not been fully realised in Australia.

It may safely be said that nowhere had our Australian soldiers harder conditions or more strenuous fighting or less relaxation and comforts, which facts make our work all the more necessary.”1 Always an advocate for aboriginal rights, he recruited the first aboriginal half-castes to the army as soon as the government allowed them to join. He was the honorary secretary to the Anzac Day Commemoration Committee of Queensland. In January 1916, the committee and people endorsed 25th April as Anzac Day and Garland was primarily given the difficult task of creating the format for a service that would be acceptable to the various religious, military, government, business and community groups. He carefully selected hymns, odes and poems that would be acceptable to the wide variety of parties and included the minute’s silence.

After the war, he was active in establishing public war memorials and initiated Anzac ribbons which were sold to provide funds to build the war memorials and for the upkeep of soldiers’ graves as well as assisting returned veterans. He initiated the Anzac Day marches, the first of which was held in Brisbane on April 25, 1916 with 8,000 men marching through the streets. He lobbied for Anzac Day to become a public holiday in all states which he achieved by 1930. His selfless and untiring work for the soldiers, their families and the community were recognised in 1934 when he was awarded an OBE for his services to the community. He died in 1934, aged 75. Garland was filled with a deep desire that the troops’ efforts were not to be forgotten. He admired the sacrificial service of the volunteers but bemoaned that society as a whole did not embrace this attitude.

“There must be an expansion of the spirit of sacrifice; it must go deeper and wider until it permeates Australia as a people. The two lessons I think we most need to learn are unselfishness and self-denial”. These echo the Anzac values of sacrifice and mateship. Today they are needed more than ever. We are privileged to live in a free nation because of the sacrifice of those who have gone before. Let us truly honour and appreciate the price they paid for our freedom.

Source: Written by Jill Curry for the Diduno Network

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By Australian Newsletter

For the past decade, on a day in August, Australians have been encouraged to ‘Wear It Purple’. In particular our school students are targeted with this campaign, with schools right across our nation enthusiastically promoting the event. All areas of employment are getting on board, including our police force. Promoted as a day in which to ‘celebrate diversity and young people from the LGBTIQA+ community’, a darker, very alarming, side has emerged. ‘Wear It Purple’ is a member organisation of ILGA World (the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association). Under a cloak of ‘gender equality’ speak, this influential global federation is currently lobbying for governments to erase child protection policies and to lower the age of consent for minors.

The document in question is the “Feminist Declaration”. Section 14a calls on governments to “eliminate all laws and policies…that limit the exercise of bodily autonomy, including laws limiting legal capacity of adolescents, people with disabilities …to provide consent to sex…” Section 14g goes on to call on governments to “End the criminalisation and stigmatization of adolescents’ sexuality, and ensure and promote a positive approach to young people’s and adolescents’ sexuality that enables, recognizes, and respects their agency to make informed and independent decisions on matters concerning their bodily autonomy, pleasure and fundamental freedoms”. The feminism tag is being used to support an agenda to remove the ability to protect children from exploitation by adults and older adolescents, adding to the already alarming rates of sexual abuse of young girls.

Age of consent laws have been put in place to protect children and young people from sexual exploitation and abuse. They effectively determine that children and young people below the age of consent are not mature enough to guarantee their safe participation in sexual activities. A child can be persuaded by an unscrupulous adult to be a ‘willing’ participant in sexual behaviour, but our laws rightly make it clear that sexual interactions between an adult and a person under the age of consent is considered to be abusive. What possible reason is there for us to remove these provisions? ‘Wear It Purple’ must distance themselves from ILGA and the Feminist Declaration. If they do not, parent groups across our nation must rise up with one voice and say NO to their schools maintaining any association with the organisation.

Source: Wendy Francis – Australian Christian Lobby

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By Australian Newsletter

Melbourne schools are under pressure to stop using the terms “mum” and “dad”. Schools are instead being urged to use the word “parent” as part of an LGBT campaign claimed to improve “inclusivity” around “gendered” words. Unisex bathrooms, non-gendered sporting teams and the flying of rainbow flags are also being pushed as part of the LGBT agenda. Some schools are even being encouraged to stop teachers and pupils from using words including mum, dad and boyfriend in a controversial bid to banish gendered words. Instead, ‘parent’ and ‘partner’ is preferred.

The suggestions come as the North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network launched its #SpeakingUpSpeaksVolumes campaign to support LGBTQI+ students in schools.  The campaign used material from Proud2Play and VicHealth which included strategies for schools and sports – including non-gendered teams and the use of rainbow flags.Parents were also being asked to question others about what pronouns they used. Earlier this year staff at Australian National University were asked to use the terms “gestational parent” instead of “mother”, “non-birthing parent” rather than “father” and “chest-feeding” in lieu of “breastfeeding”.

Source: The Daily Mail

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By Australian Newsletter

Christian Democratic Party Founder, the Rev Honourable Fred Nile MLC has announced his retirement from the NSW Parliament after 40 years service. His retirement will take affect from November 2021. The CDP’s State Board has unanimously agreed, that Lyle Shelton, former Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby, will be his successor subject to the agreement of the CDP’s State Council. “It has been the privilege of my life to represent Christ’s values in the NSW Parliament on behalf of the Citizens of this great State. I am delighted to be recommending Lyle Shelton as my successor and  I am confident this news will be received with great enthusiasm by our Members. The need for unashamedly Christian voices in public life has only increased in recent years and I can think of no one better than Mr Shelton to carry this forward,” Rev Nile said.

Mr Shelton said: “I am honoured that Rev Nile and the CDP State Board have recommended that I succeed him in the NSW Parliament and lead the party into the future. I look forward to seeking the support of the party’s State Council. There has never been a greater need for Christian ethics and principles in our parliaments.” Rev Nile was elected to the NSW Legislative Council in 1981 and is the longest serving current sitting member of the Parliament. He has been a constant champion for the natural family, human rights for the unborn, religious freedom, the dignity of women, measures to combat binge drinking, drug rehabilitation services, gambling advertising reform and much more. Rev Nile achieved many legislative successes, notably his Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act which banned remaining forms of tobacco advertising in NSW.

His Smoking Regulation Act which banned smoking in motor vehicles was also passed. His vote secured the first Aboriginal land rights legislation passed more than 30 years ago, something the Indigenous people of NSW remember with gratitude. Another significant achievement was the Parliament’s support of Rev Nile’s motion condemning the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek Genocides. Rev Nile leaves a formidable legacy and Mr Shelton said he was looking forward to the challenge, along with the Party’s Members and Supporters, of continuing this legacy into the future. Rev Nile will remain active in the Party as Immediate Past President, Honorary Chairman of the Board and Editor and Chief of the Party Newspaper, Family World News and email Newsletter Salt and Light.

Rev Nile will continue his support for many organisations including, NSW Aboriginal Land Council; Australian Christian Nation Association, The Christian World View; The Australian Army Reserve (in which Rev Nile served); St. George 45th Regiment and The 30th Scottish Association;  Australian Monarchist League, Australians for Constitutional Monarchy;  The Jewish National Fund,  Australian Jewish Association,  NSW Jewish Board of Deputies ; Family Life International and Australian Christian Lobby.   Rev Nile’s long-standing support will continue with the many ethnic organisations including The Armenians, the Coptic Christians, the Assyrians, the Macedonians and the Greeks. Additionally, Rev Nile will continue his support with his many Charities including St Vincent Hospital and Cancer Council and SMS Lighthouse.

Source: Press Release from the office of Rev Hon Fred Nile MLC

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By Australian Newsletter

The pandemic altered the way many people come together to worship, but according to some church leaders, that change is here to stay. When lock-downs hit Australia at the height of the pandemic last year, and services were either closed to the public or had limited capacity, churches of all denominations began connecting with people remotely. From March, churches used online platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Zoom, or their own website, to stream their services live or stream pre-recorded services and meetings. In Sydney, the Catholic Archdiocese live-streamed masses from St Mary’s Cathedral. Anglican churches, such as St John’s Cathedral in Brisbane, used YouTube to stream service recordings. And the Uniting Church in South Australia live-streamed services, and facilitated bible study groups on Zoom.

“We’ve been able to connect in ways that we would never have imagined,” Deidre Palmer, the president of the Uniting Church in Australia Assembly, said. “Some services are live-streamed, some are pre-recorded.” Even now, many people are still preferring to go online, the general secretary at the National Council of Churches in Australia Liz Stone said. “Every time there’s a suggestion of community transmission it affects who’s going to be physically at a service,” Ms Stone said. In states that have no community transmission, people are still not physically attending church for a variety of reasons. “There are people waiting for vaccinations,” she said. “But there are people connected globally, so you’ve got a different offering online. It’s not just your local community anymore.”

The Uniting Church in South Australia now has a wider reach through its streaming services. “It’s a really wonderful way of continuing to grow communities,” Ms Palmer said. “I think you will find churches are wondering about keeping both online and face-to-face services,” Ms Stone said. “Because we’re reaching some people that wouldn’t necessarily go to church. We had people who found it easier to go online to find out about different churches and different Christian communities and different forms of worship. So we would never want to exclude that opportunity for people.” For the Catholic Church in Sydney, the Archdiocese hopes to see more physical attendance as restrictions ease. “We’re trying to encourage as many Catholics back to attending Mass in person as possible,” a spokesman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney said.

“I think it’s been a gift what we’ve been able to offer to the wider community,” said Deidre Palmer, president of the Uniting Church in Australia. Deidre Palmer says that online services are valuable not just for the elderly who are worried about illness, or people who are unable to physically attend church. The services are also for those who want to reconnect with their faith, or who have never practiced worship. “They may be seeking meaning in their life, exploring their spirituality and they’re connecting into the online services,” she said. “I think it’s been a gift what we’ve been able to offer to the wider community.” A community that is more connected than ever. “We’ve found other ways to express our faith,” Liz Stone said. “So, in a way that has been a blessing as well.”

Source: 103.2FM

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By Australian Newsletter

Left-wing activists wasted no time in pursuing Australia’s new assistant minister for women, Senator Amanda Stoker. Threatened by her pursuit of truth and justice for women, they have come out against her for having ‘wrong’ beliefs. Stoker is unashamedly Christian and has also spoken out against the aggressive transgender agenda. Keyboard warriors and TV personalities have been quick to attack, not based on facts, but on prejudice against her political and religious beliefs. Prominent LGBT activist and actor Magda Szubanski tweeted, “This reshuffle has handed power to Amanda Stoker, another of the small but noisy ‘Christian Soldiers’ faction hijacking the national agenda. All because a few guys doing the wrong thing. And worse.”

Senator Stoker refused to be intimidated stating, “Those criticising me on Twitter aren’t into delivery, they’re into the tribal. I think it’s a narrow slice of people who have fairly extreme beliefs.” Stoker believes that all women should be represented in public policy, not just those with extreme beliefs. “It’s important that as a government we speak to the full range of women’s experience,” she said. Binary spokeswoman, Kirralie Smith, commended the Senator. “Amanda Stoker has handled her critics well. Being targeted and harassed for her political and personal beliefs exposes their agenda. Stoker has proven time and again her advocacy for women, free speech and the exchange of ideas. Bullies who aim to cancel her want to advance their agenda at the expense of women who refuse to toe the line of their radical ideology.”

Source: Binary

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By Australian Newsletter

It has been a “relentless” past year for volunteer chaplains across NSW as they’ve supported communities through droughts, bushfires, a pandemic and, now, flood recovery. Last year it was bushfires and now, as flood-affected communities across New South Wales begin the long process of recovery, chaplains are standing alongside them once again, resulting in many having worked continuously over the past 12 months to support our State’s disaster-affected communities. Director of Chaplaincy Australia Pastor Ralph Estherby explained, “We were helping people in the area of drought. And so we went from droughts to bushfires to COVID-19 response, back into the recovery phases of the bushfires, and now into yet another disaster setting. So it’s been a bit relentless.”

Chaplaincy Australia forms part of the NSW Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy Network (DRCN), a multi-church agency funded and operated by the Uniting Church which offers chaplains to disaster recovery centres. DRCN coordinator Reverend Stephen Robinson said, “What’s unusual about DRCN is that it draws chaplains, ministers, pastoral carers from every major denomination and trains them to work together.” Rev Robinson is currently coordinating chaplains, including those from Chaplaincy Australia to minister to flood-affected communities across NSW. During the floods, he had chaplains in 11 evacuation centres around the State. “At the moment we’re transitioning from evacuation centres to what they call recovery centres which are run by the local councils,” he said.

The recovery centre will allow affected communities to access a range of services to help them move forward. Pastor Estherby explained that now that communities are moving from the initial trauma of flood evacuations to assessing the damage that has been done, having the support of chaplains is vital. “Often people just do not know what to say. So many agencies are doing practical stuff but not many agencies are actually able to do the human stuff,” he said. Reverend Robinson agreed, saying a chaplain’s role is “primarily about comfort”. Pastor Estherby told the story of one chaplain, who last week visited a flood-affected caravan park. The whole park had been inundated and there were a number of permanent residents whose homes and possessions had been swept away. Now, with no insurance, they face the reality of restarting their lives.

“We’re actually there to support,” he said. “So if they need to rebuild and there are serious emotional or spiritual challenges, we will help.”  Chaplaincy Australia works closely with local churches to ensure the disaster relief is community-led. “We’re not there to take over,” Pastor Estherby said. “Local churches are going to be there long term and we want them to be the heroes. But we’ll try to resource the churches in what they’re doing.” Who looks after the chaplains? The relentless demands placed on chaplains mean it’s important to ensure they also have the support they need to be able to minister to disaster-affected communities. Pastor Estherby explained that often people forget chaplains are always working, not just when disaster strikes. “They just tend to get noticed more when they go into a disaster setting,” he said.

Part of Chaplaincy Australia’s ethos is that the carer needs to be healthy to be able to provide support. To make sure their chaplains feel supported, Pastor Estherby explained they have a number of safeguards in place. “Every chaplain in Chaplaincy Australia has to have a support network. We have mandatory pastoral supervision of all our chaplains. We provide debriefing after emergency settings for all of our chaplains that are deployed. We also ensure that they practice self-care.” Similarly, as part of their duty of care, DRCN provides their chaplains with a number of support avenues when they are working in disaster zones. “When they’re in the field they have a team leader that’s trained to make sure they’re fed and looked after. When the operations wind up, we have an operations manager who debriefs the teams,” Rev Robinson said.

Additionally, DRCN limits out-of-area rotations to five days to ensure that no chaplain is faced with traumatic events over an extended period of time. And support for the chaplains continues once they are no longer in the field. “We do follow up phone calls to make sure they’re OK. If at any point we feel like that’s not the case or people put their hand up then we can offer a good psychological debrief and follow up,” Rev Robinson said. How can you support chaplains? The last year has demonstrated the continued need for chaplains in the community, said Rev Robinson. “People have recognised the value of our work.” And there are a number of ways that the community can rally behind those providing support for vulnerable communities.

The likelihood there will be a continued need for chaplains means that DRCN are keen to hear from people interested in joining their chaplaincy network. “If they are pastors or ordained or commissioned and if they would like to train or work within the network we are always open to hearing from people,” Rev Robinson said. He also asked for prayer support for all chaplains currently ministering to disaster-affected communities. “Prayer support is really important. We just would not be able to do anything without the prayer of people carrying us and the grace of God.” Most of all, Pastor Estherby wants to see some community appreciation for the chaplains. “Pat them on the back if you see one,” he said. Visit the NSW Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy Network for more information and ways to help.

Source: Hope 103.2FM

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By Australian Newsletter

Anti-violence advocates have called on the Morrison government to act swiftly to introduce measures protecting children from easy access to online pornography in the wake of rising claims by schoolgirls of sexual harassment and assault. A parliamentary committee report recommending mandatory age verification for online pornography has been languishing for more than a year, with the government yet to respond. Supporters of the policy have called on the government to take urgent action, arguing that the recent groundswell of assault allegations, sparked by a petition launched by former Kambala girls’ school student Chanel Contos in Sydney calling for better consent education for young people, was evidence of pornography’s damaging influence.

Liberal National MP Andrew Wallace, who chaired the inquiry, said evidence tendered suggested that 28 per cent of 12-year-olds had viewed pornography online, rising to 65 per cent by the age of 16. He said there was no doubt exposure to pornography at a young age was contributing to harassment and assault. “The pressure that this is placing on young girls is just atrocious,” he said. “Young girls are forced to live out what these boys see on the screen and some of it is very graphically violent.” According to the Protecting the Age of Innocence report, which received more than 300 submissions, the serious impacts on the welfare of children and young people associated with exposure to pornography was a “widespread and genuine concern” in the community.

The report noted that online age verification to check users were over 18 was not a new concept and technology had increasingly become “more sophisticated, balancing effectiveness with privacy, safety and security”. South Africa recently legislated for age verification for pornography and is in the process of developing a regulatory framework to govern its rollout. “The committee recognised age verification is not a silver bullet, and protecting children and young people from online harms requires government, industry and the community to work together across a range of fronts,” the report said. “The committee also concluded age verification can create a significant barrier to prevent young people from exposure to harmful online content.”

A spokeswoman for Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said the government understood “deep concern” about the issue and supported the work of the eSafety Commissioner in the area. eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman-Grant said she supported age verification “to protect children from being exposed to pornographic material” but any proposed model would need to balance “safety with appropriate privacy and security protections”.  “Parents are still the best firewall when protecting children from harmful content and there is a range of protective strategies and technological tools they can use, including parental controls and device-level filtering.” Collective Shout director Melinda Tankard Reist said violent pornography depicting forced sex was desensitising young men to violence in relationships.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

An important discussion has burst into our Australian psych. Everyone is talking about the rise in sexual harassment cases, stories emerging from our school yards to our parliament. Echoing our Prime Minister’s words, we have found the reports ‘disgusting and sickening.’ But we enter dangerous territory if our opinion of all males is tainted by the disgusting, criminal behaviour of some males. Whilst it is true that the majority of sexual predators are male, and most women have a personal example of some form of sexual harassment occurring in their lives, every male is not a predator. Last week at a school assembly in Victoria, boys as young as 12 were instructed to “stand up and apologise” to the girls seated around them for crimes of sexual harassment, violence and rape.

Reportedly, many boys were left feeling guilty, embarrassed, confused and upset, telling their parents later that they were not sure why they had to apologise for things they hadn’t done. As a mother of a son and a grandmother of boys, I understand the confusion. I wonder how we have come to this. The action taken by this school is one of the responses to the growing discussion around sexual harassment in our nation. Girls want to feel safe. They want to be respected and be confident that they can go about their day without being sexually propositioned. This is an important issue and one that needs to be addressed urgently. But the answer will not be found in ‘sexual consent’ education, which is the direction State Governments around the nation are rushing towards.

In NSW, members of parliament are calling for reforms to their sex education programs to cover issues including “rape culture, slut shaming, sexual coercion and queer sex.” Consent is said to be a decision to agree to sexual activity that is made with adequate knowledge and understanding of the physical, emotional, spiritual, and social risks of engaging in such activity. Can a 12, 14 or 16 year old child be expected to have that deep knowledge and understanding?  We all know that ‘consent’, particularly for teenage girls, is too easily coerced. And after the fact, so often what we see is a war of “he said” vs “she said.” Another approach to educating our children on engaging in sexual activity is the teaching of abstinence which by its nature teaches self-control, self-discipline, and respect. It’s hard to understand why we ignore this most excellent option.

In every way imaginable, it is in the best interests of children to wait to have sex. Sexually active adolescents are at a higher risk of acquiring a sexually transmittable infection (STI), which can have serious consequences including infertility. Currently around 1 in 6 Australians (16%) are known to suffer from a sexually transmitted infection. This horrendous statistic is considered to be a conservative estimate. Of course, abstinence is not merely a physical consideration. Many children (from both Christian and non-Christian homes) do not understand what sex is for according to God’s design. Sex is not a recreational activity. It is far from being a mere form of entertainment, a bit of fun, or the end to a good night out. Sex is of deep significance and has a profound affect on our lives.

If our children don’t understand the deep meaning of sex, how can they be responsible for providing informed consent? In her book, Growing up by the book, Dr. Patricia Weerakoon said, “Sex education is more than ‘just sex.’ It’s about character. It’s about teaching personal integrity and relational faithfulness within God’s pattern for life. It’s not about telling children ‘just don’t do it’; it’s about explaining God’s plan to them (Proverbs 22:6), showing them why it’s the best way to live, and demonstrating this in your own life.” There are many other questions we should consider in this ongoing discussion. For instance, if we teach the concept of consent for children from 12 years old, are we also condoning consensual sexting, pornography and even prostitution?

Sadly, the biggest teacher of sexuality today could be pornography. With the rise of the mobile phone, the average age of first exposure to pornography is around 11. Any teaching on sexual consent will surely fail when the diet of pornography teaches that females enjoy degradation and even violence. Is it any wonder that child on child abuse is rising significantly? If we are serious about teaching respect, we must teach children about the harms of pornography. In early 2020, the Federal Parliament released a report, ‘Protecting the Age of Innocence’, highlighting the harms of pornography. The report’s recommendations have not been implemented and yet another inquiry has commenced. We’ve had enough reports to know the problem. For the sake of our children, we need to see action!

Source:  Wendy Francis Australian Christian Lobby

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