21 April 2004
The National Council of Churches in Australia is offering a two week study tour to southern India from Melbourne in Sep-Oct 2004. Among other events the trip will include a meeting with the workers of the Organisation for Eelam (Tamil) Refugee Rehabilitation in Chennai (Madras); a visit to a refugee camp and School and a Spiritual Retreat for a couple of days with a Cistercian Abbey Community in East Kerala
Please email me if you would like more information about either of these programs.
The Edmund Rice Centre in Homebush NSW also offers a variety of immersion programs from time to time. Visit their site Edmund Rice Centre for Justice and Community Education for further information.
The summit brought together development agencies, civil organizations and Heads of State from across the world (Prime Minister John Howard attended on behalf of Australia). However, millennium resolutions were different as they concerned not only individuals but also the whole global community. The resolutions, which are still alive, are concerned with freeing all men, women and children in our world from the conditions that tie them to extreme poverty. They are resolutions for the global community to meet in the new millennium. These resolutions were named the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The United Nations set down eight MDGs with specific targets for each goal. The first goal was
Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Halve the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day by 2015.
Halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger by 2015.
To see the complete list of the MDG’s and reports on progress towards achieving them see the recent edition of “Ozspirit “ (No.78) or for a more comprehensive discussion and analysis of the MDG’s click here.
Whilst we can ask our government to support debt relief for impoverished countries we cannot leave it entirely to governments to solve the problem of global poverty. Poverty is a complex issue. One aspect of the problem in which we all participate however is that of consumption. For those who missed following up the link mentioned in the most recent bulletin, The following facts and questions for reflection may be helpful. They are taken from the "Causes of Poverty" website.
Inequalities in consumption are stark.
Globally, the 20% of the world's people in the highest-income countries account for 86% of total private consumption expenditures - the poorest 20% a minuscule 1.3%.
More specifically, the richest fifth:
Consume 45% of all meat and fish, the poorest fifth 5%.
Consume 58% of total energy, the poorest fifth less than 4%.
Have 74% of all telephone lines, the poorest fifth 1.5%.
Consume 84% of all paper, the poorest fifth 1.1%.
Own 87% of the world's vehicle fleet, the poorest fifth less than 1%.
Runaway growth in consumption in the past 50 years is putting strains on the environment never before seen.
We consume a variety of resources and products today having moved beyond basic needs to include luxury items and technological innovations to try to improve efficiency. Such consumption beyond minimal and basic needs is not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, as throughout history we have always sought to find ways to make our lives a bit easier to live. However, increasingly, there are important issues around consumerism that need to be understood. For example:
How are the products and resources we consume actually produced?
What are the impacts of that process of production on the environment, society, on individuals?
What are the impacts of certain forms of consumption on the environment, on society, on individuals?
Which actors influence our choices of consumption?
Which actors influence how and why things are produced or not?
What is a necessity and what is a luxury?
How do demands on items affect the requirements placed upon the environment?
How do consumption habits change as societies change?
Businesses and advertising are major engines in promoting the consumption of products so that they may survive.
How much of what we consume is influenced by their needs versus our needs?
Also influential is the very culture of today in many countries, as well as the media and the political institutions themselves.
What is the impact on poorer nations and people on the demands of the wealthier nations and people that are able to afford to consume more?
How do material values influence our relationships with other people?
What impact does that have on our personal values?
The Jubilee 2000 campaign was successful in mobilizing millions of people around the world to campaign for debt relief. Some significant progress was achieved even if that progress did not go far enough and many of the commitments made by nations in the developed world have yet to be honoured.
The success of the Jubilee campaign showed that ordinary people, working with partners around the world, can generate the political will needed to drop the debt.
Australia has influence within creditor institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF. Our Members of Parliament can leverage full cancellation of bilateral debt for impoverished countries as they did for Ethiopia and Nicaragua. However, they won't act unless they think you care.
Background information about the causes and issues associated with the debt crisis together with suggestions for action can be found at the Jubilee Australia website. Contact details for members of parliament can be found here.
6 April 2004
The Better Way is available from the Melbourne Catholic Commission for Justice, Development and Peace (03) 9926 5710 or may be downloaded in pdf format from the : ACSJC website
The Edmund Rice Network was well represented at the recent Palm Sunday March in Melbourne in support of refugees with Brothers, Staff and students from a number of schools and volunteers from the Edmund Rice Centre at St Albans represented.
Concerns continue to be expressed about the proposed Australia-US Free Trade Agreement. The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council sees trade as essential for development of countries and acknowledges the positive effects of globalisation. However, it points out that the economy cannot be taken as the ultimate determinant of human life. The challenge is to ensure that the human person remains the centre and the beneficiary of all aspects of globalisation and trade. It is not free trade, but fair and just trade which will enable this for all peoples.
The full text of the ACSJC article can be found at the ACJSC Website
For a more comprehensive discussion of the free trade issue visit the AFTINET Website
The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the poorest 48 nations (i.e. a quarter of the world's countries) is less than the wealth of the world's three richest people combined. Why?
Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names. Why?
Less than one per cent of what the world spent every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000 and yet it didn't happen. Why not?
These are just a few disturbing facts about the reality of the world we share. For a comprehensive but simple look at the causes of poverty around the world including facts and statistics, the impact of globalisation and discussion about how aid can exacerbate problems click here
There are links within the site to other related issues such as debt, fair trade and sustainable development.
Landmines continue to kill and maim on average once every 22 minutes. The Australian Network of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines campaigns for mine clearance, education and victim support.
Please click on the web address below and sign the Petition addressed to the Senate. It would be great if you could pass this around your communities, schools, friends and families.
The petition can be found by clicking here
• to contribute to the building of a more just world.
• to be a means of promoting the holistic growth of the volunteer, particularly in regard to spirituality
• to offer a well-planned experience for the volunteer with an Edmund Rice inspired community or ministry. to support people involved with mission activity
• An underlying spirit of the Edmund Rice Volunteer Scheme is one of partnership with wider local community with whom the volunteer is living and working and from whom the volunteer is learning.
ANZERVS is sponsored by the Christian Brothers and preparation programs for prospective volunteers are offered in each Australian state and New Zealand. The next preparation course in Victoria will commence in Melbourne in May.
Further information about ANZERVS can be found by following the link on the homepage of the Edmund Rice Network at left.