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Quakers in Australia

Public statements

Public statements made on behalf of Quakers in Australia would be agreed in a spirit of worship at a gathering of Friends from throughout Australia, either the annual national business meeting, known as Yearly Meeting, or the mid-year gathering of representatives from all states, known as Standing Committee. All statements go out over the signature of the Presiding Clerk of Quakers in Australia. For media comments on issues relating to the Quaker testimonies: Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Earthcare and Equality, contact in the first instance the AYM office, telephone 07 3201 2685, email Yearly Meeting Secretary - .

 

Public Statement of the Parties to the Paris Agreement -- Nov 2016

This Public Statement for the first meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA1) during the twenty-second session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) was signed and endorsed by AYM Presiding Clerk Jo Jordan on behalf of Australian Quakers at the NCCA Assembly, Sydney 27 October 2016.
A full list of signatories of this letter can be found here  after 8.00pm EST AU on 10th Nov 16
10 November 2016 At this historic moment, as the Paris Agreement enters into force, an unprecedented global consensus has produced a universal framework to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to build greater resilience to climate impacts. We are profoundly grateful for the leadership that produced this Agreement and are mindful of the challenges and complexity ahead. Now it is time to move to urgent action.
 

 

 

Off-Shore Detention Of Refugees -- Oct 2016

Letter to Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull MP

 

Dear Prime Minister,
I write on behalf of Australian Quakers to call upon the Federal Government to work with the Opposition and act immediately to end off-shore detention of refugees, and bring those held on Nauru and Manus Island to Australia for resettlement and healing.
The latest Amnesty International report about conditions on Nauru is consistent with all previous reports about the suffering of asylum seekers and refugees in off-shore detention. The policy has failed to meet basic humane standards and has compromised Australia’s stated commitment to international refugee law and practice.

 

 

Marriage Equality plebiscite -- July 2016

Malcolm Turnbull MP
Prime Minister
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Dear Prime Minister,

I am writing to you on behalf of The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Australia to urge Parliament to directly and promptly make the decision on marriage equality.
We believe that the suggested plebiscite involves a direct cost of over $180m, which is money that could be better spent. The plebiscite is an attempt to have a national opinion poll, which may not involve compulsory voting and will not bind the parliament to vote in accordance with the result.

 

 

Government Policy On Gun Control --July 2016

Malcolm Turnbull MP
Prime Minister
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

 

Dear Prime Minister,

I write on behalf of Australian Quakers to urge you to maintain and strengthen the current gun control provisions when COAG reviews the National Firearms Agreement. We believe that the Agreement, made after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996, and the National Handgun Control Agreement on 2002, have helped create a safer environment for our people and reduced the occurrence of gun violence.

 

 

Government Policy On Refugees And Asylum Seekers -- 4 th May 2016

Malcolm Turnbull MP
Prime Minister
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

 

Dear Prime Minister,

I write on behalf of Australian Quakers to urge a fresh look at the Government’s policy on refugees and asylum seekers. This request comes in the wake of the ongoing reports of mistreatment of asylum seekers offshore, and the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court decision to declare the Manus Island detention centre illegal and unconstitutional.

 

Nuclear Disarmament - Letter To Government -- 4th May 16

Julie Bishop MP
Foreign Minister
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

 

Dear Minister,

I write on behalf of Australian Quakers about the 2-13 May meeting of the Open Ended Working Group on Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament in which Australia is a participant.

Downgrading of Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies at Sydney University.

Dear Professor Caine,

 

On behalf of Australian Quakers I write to express concern at news of the downgrading of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at Sydney University.
At a time when peacemaking is critical to global survival, we believe more attention should be given in Australian universities to issues of conflict prevention and resolution. There is no shortage of research on war-related strategies, and this needs to be balanced by critical thinking about alternatives that support the human capacity for harmony and reconciliation at all levels of society, domestically and internationally.

 

Asylum seekers who may be returned to detention on Nauru.

Letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

 

I write to you out of concern for the treatment and future health of the asylum seekers who may be returned to detention on Nauru.

 

Many amongst the Quaker community in Australia have a strong view that the cruel and in-human circumstances, particularly children in the Australian run detention centre cannot be justified on the grounds of its influence in stopping the traffic of asylum seekers coming by boat to Australia.

 

 

Concern over reduction in Australia’s aid program and increase in defence spending—Oct 2015

Letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop

 

Australian Quakers express deep concern for the way budget allocations have been made. The decision to make successive and substantial cuts to Australia’s aid program is ill-considered. This program accounts for approximately 1% of Federal expenditure, but has been severely cut to provide more than 25% of the Government’s budget savings. We urge that Australia recommit to giving 0.7% of its national income to foreign aid to achieve these goals.

 

At the same time as the Australian Foreign Aid budget was significantly reduced, the Defence budget was increased by $2.5 billion to $31.8 billion (about 1.9% of GDP), with most of the additional funds going to military operations in Iraq and the Middle East and in the purchase of war planes and ships. Such expenditures are counterproductive. The Australian Defence budget should place more emphasis on negotiation, diplomacy, regional mediation mechanisms and conflict transformation through the development of law, and to stemming the international trade in arms that is so severely affecting the Middle East.

 

 

Freedom of religion—Sept 2015

Submission to Australian Human Rights Commission for Religious Freedom Roundtable

 

This submission draws upon the longstanding Quaker concern that each person is to be valued for their own integrity of belief and religion. The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) was founded on the basis of spiritual freedom for individuals within a group context of mutual seeking and support. The world-wide Quaker community is itself culturally and theologically diverse, and its global body (Friends World Committee for Consultation) has the role of bringing together Friends of different traditions and cultures in worship and dialogue.

 

 

Decision to accept 12,000 additional refugees from Syria and Iraq - Sept 2015

 

Letter to Prime Minister Tony Abbott

 

On behalf of Australian Quakers I write to congratulate you and the Government for the decision to accept 12,000 additional refugees who are victims of the tragic war in Syria and Iraq. We are also pleased that UNHCR being supported in its work, and that the refugees will be drawn mainly from the camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey where many have endured lengthy periods of hardship.We join with other voices that encourage the acceptance of people on a basis of need rather than ethnic, religious or family background. Our members around Australia are willing to be part of any program of practical assistance to incoming refugees.

 

 

Quaker support for marriage equality - August 2015

 

Letter to Prime Minister Tony Abbott; copies to Attorney-General George Brandis, Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch and Member for Brisbane Teresa Gambaro.
 
In recent years, as a result of our consistently held belief in the equal worth of all people, Australian Quakers have recognised that committed, same-sex relationships are as valuable as other committed and loving relationships. We have celebrated same-sex commitment ceremonies within our Meetings. While outwardly similar to Quaker marriage, these ceremonies do not have legal standing in Australia because the Marriage Act (1961) currently only recognises the union between a man and a woman as a valid legal marriage.
 
We hope that a Bill to amend the Marriage Act to allow for same-sex marriage will be tabled in Parliament this year, and that such a Bill will contain provisions to enable all religious bodies to observe their values with respect to marriage rites.

 

 

 

 

Promotion of links between Indonesia and Australia - July 2015

 

Letter to Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop
Australian Quakers urge greater effort by the Government to promote educational and cultural links between Indonesia and Australia.
We are concerned that non-military initiatives are not being developed to their full potential and urge you to examine the current schemes to see whether they can be made more effective in building peaceful people-to-people relationships between Australians and Indonesians.
 

 

 

 

 

Forced closure of First Nations communities - by WA Government

Letter to Prime Minister Tony Abbott
Australian Quakers urge you to liaise with the Western Australian Government to provide the required consultation processes and funding model for those wishing to stay on their land to maintain and sustain traditional connection to land; or, if this is not possible, return the responsibility of overseeing remote communities to the Commonwealth Government.
 

 

 

 

 

 

Australia's contribution on UN Security Council. - March 2015

Letter to Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop

Australian Quakers are 'are glad for the emphasis that was given to the following:
  • the place of women in peacemaking
  • the control of small arms and light weapons
  • the strengthening of international peacebuilding and peacekeeping capacity
  • the focus on humanitarian assistance in crisis situations, especially Syria
  • and the need for human rights to be a priority for the Council.

Abolition of death penalty. - March 2015

Letters to Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Tanya Plibersek

As Quakers we are firmly against capital punishment for any offence. We believe it would be timely for the Government and Opposition to work together for the abolition of the death penalty in all countries. We urge you to begin such a campaign through all available diplomatic channels, building upon Australia’s enhanced global standing as a result of its active role on the United Nations Security Council over the past two years.

Congratulations to new President of Sri Lanka. - March 2015

Letter to President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena

Australian Quakers 'join many around the world in expressing the hope that Sir Lanka will fulfil its great potential as a democratic country'.

Recognise Frontier Wars in Anzac Day ceremonies & at Australian War Memorial. - Feb 2015

Letter sent to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, 10 February 2015

 

Australian Quakers seek the support of the Prime Minister for recognition of Frontier Wars in the holding of Anzac ceremonies around Australia, and in the records and displays of the Australian War Memorial.

Plea for people seeking asylum in Australia to be treated with compassion. - Jan 2015

Letter sent to Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton, 13 January 2015.

 

At our Yearly Meeting 2015, held in Melbourne from 3 to 10 January, members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) discussed the Australian Government's policy and practice concerning people seeking in asylum in Australia. We believe that any such policy should treat these persons with respect and compassion. We consider any other approach to be inhumane and unacceptable, and potentially in breach of international law.

 

Australian Quakers move funds from the ‘big four’ banks - . Jan 2015

More than 200 Australian Quakers, gathered for their Yearly Meeting in Melbourne from 3 to 10 January 2015, expressed support for Global Divestment Day on 14 February, and encouraged individual members and meetings to move funds from investments that damage the Earth. The national body of Quakers in Australia intends to move its corporate funds away from the ‘big four’ banks. Australian Quakers also reaffirmed that one of their basic principles is Earthcare.

 

 

 

Treatment of people seeking asylum in Australia. - Aug 2014

Letter sent to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, 6 August 2014
Representatives of each of our Regional Meetings gathered for our mid-year Standing Committee last month affirmed our desire for the Australian Government to treat people seeking asylum in our country with respect and compassion. We consider any other approach to be inhumane and unacceptable, and potentially in breach of international law.
We believe that our present treatment of people seeking asylum is alienating us from our neighbours and is counterproductive for safety, wellbeing and peace in our region. The disparity between our nation’s stability and that of neighbouring countries fuels many people’s wish to come to Australia. This calls for a positive long-term solution, not the present stopgap and often brutal policy.

 

Reduction in overseas aid in Federal Budget 2014 - 15. - June 2014

Letter sent to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, 4 June 2014
Australian Quakers wish to express deep concern at the Government’s decision to reduce funding for overseas aid by a large amount, as part of the Federal Budget for 2014-5. This will have an adverse impact on programs that assist the people of our region, who are among the poorest in the world. In addition, the loss of 500 experienced officers from AusAID will affect Australia’s ability to undertake effective aid (in every sense) and mean that some of the innovative programs cannot be continued.

 

Israeli settlements expansion West Bank and East Jerusalem. - Nov 2013

Letter sent to Minister of Foreign Affairs 15 November 2013
Over many years, Quakers from many parts of the world (including Australia) have been active in working for a fair outcome for the people of the Middle East, notably in Israel/Palestine.
We hope that the Government will respond to the forthcoming United Nations resolutions against the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem with a clear statement of its commitment to a just solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict.

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Public statement on crisis in Syria - Sept 2013

Sent to Prime Minister Tony Abbott

 

We believe that Australia, as a member of the United Nations Security Council, should emphasise that Council’s central role in any decisions about the response. Australia’s contribution can thus help affirm the United Nations as the primary avenue for international efforts to resolve the crisis posed by the chemical weapons attack, and its capacity to explore all nonviolent options available to prevent any further use of such weapons (e.g. through seizure of the weapons, embargo on arms).

 

Asylum seekers deserve humane treatment - Feb 2013

Media release 28 February 2013
Australian Quakers are deeply concerned at the tone of recent public statements of the Federal Government and Opposition about asylum seekers who arrive by boat.
The emphasis on border protection and people smuggling diverts attention from the very real human suffering and needs of people who are in desperate situations. It also ignores the evidence of ill-­?treatment of those sent to off-­?shore detention centres.
Quakers believe that Australia can do much better in its response to asylum seekers, the Presiding Clerk of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Australia, Julian Robertson, said today. ‘We regard Australians as capable of more compassion and support for people who have been through trauma and danger. Our political leaders should be willing to reinforce this with policies that are just and fair.’

Submission to the Defence White Paper 2013 - Feb 2013

A defence policy, and the role of the ADF, should be seen as part of a comprehensive set of policies that identify strategic risk and set up ways of minimising that risk. Those threats include wide income inequalities, political and economic dominance, ecological degradation, and economic turmoil. Prevention is the best way to avoid widespread destruction through armed conflict. The threat of ecological degradation and its consequences is not significantly appreciated in the Force Posture Review 2012. Nor is the danger of further economic crises. These threats are far more significant than a direct military threat to Australia, which The Force Posture Review 2012 recognised as low. We strongly support the Government's decision to implement a National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. This Plan requires monitoring and evaluation of all Defence policies.
There is a role for the ADF in border protection for immigration and customs, dealing with anti-terrorist and cyber attacks, providing humanitarian and disaster relief, and being part of an international policing force related to an international justice system. The reliance on the USA for military purposes is outdated and inconsistent with the preventive and policing means of addressing the strategic risks. We encourage a more even-handed and independent approach to military alliances.
Our view is that the Government should put more resources and attention towards preventing crises from escalating into violence, use the international system to put in place better ways to achieve this, and work collaboratively with other agencies in the field.

 

Quakers want Climate Change Action as Nation Burns - Jan 2013

Media release 23 January 2013
Australian Quakers have called on the leaders of all political parties, as a matter of urgency, to take the impact of climate change into the upcoming federal election as a key plank of their party's platform for action.
At their annual gathering in Canberra this month, Australian Quakers affirmed that lasting peace can no longer be contemplated in isolation from the significant ecological and environmental challenges facing the world today and in the future.

Submission to the Senate Extreme Weather Inquiry - Jan 2013

The national annual gathering of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Australia took place in Canberra from 5 to 12 January 2013. A key topic of the meeting was the multifaceted impacts of climate change on Australia. The record-breaking high temperatures and bushfires across the country during the week emphasised the urgency and validity of our deliberations.
We are pleased to know that the Senate is concerned enough to hold an Inquiry into extreme weather events. We ask Senators as a matter of urgency to take the impact of climate change into the forthcoming election as a key plank of their party’s platform for action

 

Public Statement on Recognition of Sovereignty for Australia's First Nations Peoples. - Jan 2013

 

Sent to the Prime Minister Julia Gillard

 

Dear Julia Gillard
Members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) gathered at our Yearly Meeting in Canberra this week have asked me to write to you to in regard to our relationship with our Aboriginal and Torres Straits brothers and sisters in coming into right relationship with Australia’s First Peoples.
We welcome and commend the government and Parliament’s work towards Constitutional reform through the removal of the ability of Australian governments to pass race-based and discriminatory laws and the insertion of a preamble in the Constitution to recognise the unique relationship that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have with the land.
We are also aware of the request by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for Australian governments to acknowledge their sovereignty over their traditional custodial lands, known as ‘Country’

 

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