ANZUUA Conference, 2015
On 16, 17 and 18 October, the biennial conference of the Australia, New Zealand Unitarian Universalist Association (ANZUUA) was held at our church. Delegates from Unitarian churches and associations attended sessions to discuss a range of issues based on an overall theme of ‘The church and social justice’. On the Saturday there was a catered dinner at the church for delegates and other members who wished to attend. Conference Photo Gallery
The discussion groups reported to a plenary session which unanimously adopted each of the following statements.
Preamble: Inequality is a broad issue encompassing social, political, moral and economic discrepancies in power and respect. We recognize that inequality disproportionately affects a number of groups, both globally and locally, including the indigenous peoples of Australia and New Zealand. We view inequality as ultimately relevant to all of the other topics covered today: environment, war and peace, asylum seekers.
We note a key problem, communicating the issue of inequality, because most people believe that how they live is normal and they don’t have a clear idea of their own wealth and in some cases privilege. Prof. Watts pointed out, in introducing the issue of inequality, that if policy is a cause of inequality, it is reasonable to believe that it can also be a solution and therefore that we can contribute to change as thought leaders.
Our aim therefore, was to draft a statement with transformative power that can hopefully be something we can all agree to and can be used by member churches for internal and external collaboration with other groups and the broader media.
“Recognizing the increasing wealth and equality division, an extreme example of which may be seen in the context of Australia and New Zealand first nations, this ANZUUA Conference understands the distinctive role played by Unitarians in influencing societal change. To this end, we commit to work with all agencies of similar purpose to promote the idea that a more equitable, just, sustainable, peaceful and compassionate world is possible.”
This Conference notes the work of Interfaith organisations in the campaign for a world free from warfare. In the interests of all people, disputes between nations must be resolved peacefully. Instead, we witness wars that have been the greatest source of destruction of physical and social infrastructure, human suffering, massive homelessness, destruction of schools and medical facilities, as well as causing massive refugee migration, particularly from the Middle East and North Africa.
This ANZUUA Conference reaffirms its commitment to continue to work for a world of peace, stability, solidarity, cooperation and wellbeing for all.
This ANZUUA conference recognises that the issue of environmental degradation and the human impact on climate change has to be realistically addressed as a matter of urgency. We understand that key power relations and dominant forces shape our global economy and society. However, ecological sustainability can only be achieved by recognising that the economy is but a component of the environment, in meeting the needs of our planet and all its life forms.
ANZUUA affirms the principle of the inherent worth and dignity of every human being in our Constitution.
Thus, this ANZUUA Conference recognizes the powerful campaign in support of refugees undertaken by Unitarians, both here and abroad.
We will continue to reach out and work with those who share our view that wars, the environmental crisis, political/civil unrest and inequality have created this unprecedented flow across the world. Further, we will work to educate and encourage everyone to recognize the refugee crisis and the background to that crisis.
We are particularly concerned that cuts in government overseas aid and the lack of human rights legislation have exacerbated these problems.