13 May 2009


The limitations on the ability of the United Nations to deal with crisis situations is again evidenced by the current situation in Sri Lanka, where the lives of tens of thousands of civilians are at risk through being caught up in the conflict between government soldiers and the Tamil Tiger rebels.

Belatedly Russia has set aside its concerns about UN interference in the internal affairs of another country (the argument frequently put forward by UN member states worried about international scrutiny of their own actions) which allowed the Security Council to appeal to the Sri Lankan government to exercise maximum restraint and to the Tamil Tiger rebels, or LTTE, to lay down their arms and abandon the use of violence to pursue their political aims.

Avaaz has identified Japan as potentially being a key to resolving the plight of the estimated 50,000 civilians still trapped between the opposing forces. As a key donor and its closest partner in the region, Japan has a powerful political and economic influence over the Sri Lankan government.

In the belief that Japan cares about its international reputation and that a flood of messages from abroad would encourage them to pressure the Sri Lankan government to immediately respond to protect civilians, Avaaz is organizing an online message to be sent to the Japanese Foreign minister.

You can access the petition via the Avaaz website.

Meanwhile the Catholic Bishops of Australia together with Catholic Religious Australia have expressed their prayerful solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka as the escalating civil war leads to a mounting humanitarian crisis. The full statement can be read at the Catholic religious Australia website.


Twenty-six Edmund Rice schools and ministries from Argentina, Canada, Dominica, Peru and the United States were represented at a recent justice conference in New Orleans.

Participants were able to observe at first hand the involvement of the Christian Brothers from the New Orleans community in supporting volunteers engaged in the ongoing reconstruction of the city following the devastation wrought by hurricane Katrina and with the rehabilitation of young offenders through the Cafe Reconcile program.

A summary of recent Chapter documents highlighting the ‘prophetic call to justice’ was presented in one of the input sessions leading to a discussion of the nature and role of advocacy and an explanation of the work of Edmund Rice International in both Geneva and New York. The conference also saw the establishment of an executive committee to build on the work of the conference and strengthen the schools justice network.

More information about the conference can be found at the JPIC website.


In Melbourne members of the Edmund Rice Network are preparing for two events this coming weekend.

On the morning of Sun 17th May a group of ERN members (and their family and friends) will meet and join in the building of a giant human sign at St Kilda beach in order to send a message to politicians and community leaders regarding the damage being done to the earth.

On that same afternoon, a ‘Fair Trade’ afternoon of entertainment is being organized at the home of a young group of ERN members (98 Charles Street Seddon) at which Fairtrade tea/coffee will be served. The event is part of Fairtrade fortnight which runs from May 3-17.

The Fairtrade campaign is aimed at advocating for structural change in international trading systems, to ensure that workers are paid a fair wage for their work and enabled to live dignified lives.

Further information about both events can be obtained from Paul Daly and from the LIVE website.


Sole parents and unemployed people have once again been excluded from the income increase they so desperately needed to stay afloat in this year’s federal budget according to the CEO of the National Council of the St Vincent de Paul Society, John Falzon.

"In some parts of Australia these groups make up 60 percent of those we are called on to assist. They are doing it tough."

"We, as a nation, have learnt from this recession that people are not to blame for being pushed out"
he said.

Earlier this month, the Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council (ACSJC), Bishop Christopher Saunders said that Australia’s lowest-paid workers should not have to carry the costs of job protection.

"This wage should provide for a decent standard of living not only for workers but for their families", said Bishop Saunders in his annual Pastoral Letter for the Feast of St Joseph the Worker on May 1.

‘Currently it is not keeping pace with rising costs of living - particularly the skyrocketing costs of rent.

This financial crisis was not of their making. They should not be deprived of the wage increases they need to meet their basic costs of living.

Those seeking work, too, need to be assured that they will be protected from poverty when they are in work.

Ensuring a decent minimum wage safety net will be a most important factor in providing security for working families who rely on the minimum wage and income support.

The fundamental rights of families to establish a home, to welcome the sacred gift of life and raise a family require the guarantee of a decent family wage"
, Bishop Saunders said.

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