CategoryAustralia

The Decline of Religion in Australia.

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The census data is out and one of the headlines has been the rise of people indicating they have “no religion” and the corresponding decline in those who indicate an affiliation with Christianity. The census data, of course, only tells us about people’s nominal affiliation with a religious tradition. It doesn’t tell us much about people’s practise of religion. The...

my first citizenship ceremony

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Last Friday I attended the citizenship ceremony for a friend from my church. It was a profoundly moving experience. Just on 100 people were becoming citizens and what a marvellously diverse bunch they were. They came from 30 countries and every inhabited continent. They aged from the young to the old. They included a buddhist monk, a Catholic nun, at least one Muslim, and two Sikhs. The majority...

From all the lands on earth we come…

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I was on a train recently and found myself surrounded by groups of people speaking languages I didn’t understand. There was a time when I would have felt uncomfortable about this, but I was pleasantly surprised to find myself grinning and feeling joyful. I couldn’t understand the words people were saying but I could grasp the tone. For some there was excitement, for others laughter...

Five Facts About Australia’s Immigration Program That Might Surprise You

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The Productivity Commission recently completed a report on Australia’s migration program. It contained some surprising results. 1. Australia receives around 1,000,000 migrants each year Every year around a million visas are granted to  allow migration into Australia. This consists of close to 800,000 temporary visas granted to students, working holidaymakers and temporary workers, and...

Rust Red Earth & An Inviting Silence.

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The earth out here is rust red. I am in the Pilbara. Vast flat plains are punctuated by hills comprised of angular slices of rock that share the hues of the soil. They look man made but nature is their only artisan. Termite mounds, some as tall as a human adult, dot the plains. Spinifex clumps rise from the ground, brought to life by recent and rare rainfall. As surely as the hills rise from the...

How shall we honour those who fought for freedom? A reflection on Anzac Day 2016

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Each Anzac Day I find myself struggling between a desire to honour the sacrifice made by those who went to war and the desire to dissociate myself from the idealisation of our soldiers as beyond critique and above reproach. I want to affirm the day is one on which we remember the horrors of war, yet am perplexed by the way such a memory is cast by surrounding ourselves with all things military...

Australia.A Work in Progress. Australia Day 2016.

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It’s Australia Day 2016 and I am sitting in the Fly cafe at Melbourne airport waiting for my flight home to Newcastle. It has been a quick, overnight trip, but in the last 18 hours I have experienced everything that makes Australia a great country. Mum, my son and my brother are in Melbourne to watch the Australian Open tennis. We shared breakfast this morning. We laughed at remembrances of silly...

The pain of the first peoples. When will enough be enough?

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Pain inhabits her words, her tone, her posture. Raw. Visceral. Some pain is intense but short-lived, but not hers. This is a deep sorrow decades in the making. The pain of one who has been terribly wronged, whose loss has been incalculable, but whose pleas for redress fall upon deaf ears. There is also anger, pain’s erstwhile companion. An anger that cuts like a knife but in her case is righteous...

Are we the world’s stingiest nation?

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Never before has an Australian government made cuts to the international aid program like those made by the Abbott government. The argument goes that we can’t afford to borrow money in order to give it away. We first need to deal with our debt crisis, and then we can afford to give more. A friend of mine, Gershon Nimbalker, put together the chart below. It shows the aid budgets of the...

Joe Hockey ends the idea that Australia can help make poverty history

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Yesterday Treasurer Joe hockey announced that next year’s international aid budget would be slashed by $1 billion. This decision marked much more than the cutting of the aid budget. It marked the end of the idea that Australia could play a significant role in bringing extreme poverty to a halt. In the last decade a revolution occurred in the Australian aid program. Inspired by the...

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