A Christian perspective on the future of work

The rapidly changing nature of work will be the focus of the Justice and International Mission (JIM) unit’s annual convention this month.

Held at the Centre for Theology and Ministry in Parkville on Saturday 17 September, this year’s convention, ‘Making Working Lives Better’, will explore the intersection between social justice and the future of work.

Employment has altered dramatically in Australia in the last 10 years. Technological advances (self-serve checkouts, internet access), economic realities (a rapidly shrinking manufacturing industry), as well as changing social norms (men increasingly involved in child-care) are just some of the changes that have impacted on the way we view and experience work.

The convention will also consider the impact of climate change on existing work and future work, and the potential new ways in which exploitation occurs in workplaces in Australia and overseas. How do we respond to ensure our work reflects the society we want to live in?

“Work, both paid and unpaid, is rapidly changing due to technological developments and changes in roles of women and men,” Dr Mark Zirnsak, director of the JIM unit, said.

“Our globalised world means more people are crossing borders to find work, often facing terrible exploitation.

“The convention will also explore if robots and artificial intelligence will replace the need for people to work, and what this would mean for the distribution of both wealth and working hours.”

Two key speakers at the convention will be Dr David Tuffley, senior lecturer in Applied Ethics and SocioTechnical Studies at Griffith University’s School of ICT and Dr Fiona McDonald, senior research fellow with the Centre for People, Organisations and Work at RMIT. Rev Loni Vaitohi, a first generation migrant and Uniting Church minister in Shepparton will also speak about the experience of migrant workers, contractors and farmers. David Kerin will discuss the Earthworker Co-operative and Rev Brendan Byrne, minister at Mountview Uniting Church, will offer a theological reflection on how the Christian faith views work.

Interactive workshops on themes of work and social justice will include sessions on the right to work for people seeking asylum, the myth of economic growth and what a sustainable future requires, activist self-care for those who feel a bit burnt out, labour hire businesses in Australia and how they operate and exploitation in the Indian garment industry.

To register for the convention call (03) 9251 5271, e-mail jim@victas.uca.org.au or visit http://www.justact.org.au/jim_convention

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