A delegation of ecumenical women leaders in Canberra have spoken out in support of female political representation and leadership while also urging MPs to increase foreign aid and end the offshore detention of children.
Representatives from the Baptist Church, Citipointe Church, The Grainery, Anglican Deaconess Ministries, Hillsong Church and The Salvation Army, met with federal MPs to advocate for a more generous and compassionate Australia.
Anglican Deaconess Ministries CEO Kate Harrison Brennan said the visit was also an opportunity to address recent concerns over the bullying, harassment and unequal treatment of women in Parliament.
“Throughout the world and here at home, there is a growing concern with attitudes that have too often maligned and restricted the voice of women and their leadership,” Ms Brennan said.
“We see this as an opportunity to encourage our female representatives for their leadership but also to keep crucial justice issues like poverty elimination and refugees on their agenda.”
Olympian Eloise Wellings, co-founder of the Love Mercy Foundation and who will be speaking at the UnitingWomen conference in Brisbane next week, said the visit was a “significant moment” for Christian women leaders in Australia.
“Too often, the church is known for its internal disagreements that become public, but to have women leaders joining together from across the denominational spectrum shows a significant act of unity and one that we hope will be an encouragement to the government and opposition,” Ms Wellings said.
The delegation called for an increase in Australia’s overseas aid budget, which has been slashed in recent Budgets. Under the current trajectory, Australian aid will only make up 0.19 per cent of gross national income by 2021-22, well short of the United Nations’ target of 0.7 per cent.
With only 60 days to go until Universal Children’s Day, the church leaders also called for the release of children and their families from Nauru.
More than 100,000 Australians have so far joined the Kids Off Nauru campaign.
Micah Australia executive director Tim Costello facilitated the visit. Micah Australia is a coalition of churches and Christian organisations that includes UnitingWorld.
“This visit brings representatives across the church together to advocate for some of the most vulnerable citizens in the world by sharing our vision for a more generous and fair Australia,” Mr Costello said.
“Social justice is at the heart of our mission, and we believe at the core of who we are as Australians.”