Disaster doesn’t discriminate, and The Salvation Army Australia believes opportunity shouldn’t either. Sudden job losses, unexpected health crises or a natural disaster can strike at any time and we believe that opportunity, recovery and hope for the future.

The Salvation Army believes we can use the lessons of 2020 to address the drivers of disadvantage so every person can have hope. See our Pathway to Social Justice report below that sets out actions we can all take to transform Australia.
Download Pathway to Social Justice PDF


Principles of Justice

Jesus and Justice

When we look at the life of Jesus, we find a person whose sole purpose was to bring those around Him closer to His heavenly Father. In looking to His example, we see a life which was wholly committed to bringing the Kingdom of God to earth. In reflecting on His example as portrayed through the Gospels, we can find practical examples how we should treat others. The International Social Justice Commission’s Resource, Jesus and Justice, (available for download on the ISJC’s website) presents four principles which can be seen through the way Jesus lived. It observes that in His dealings with others, Jesus consistently included the excluded, challenged harmful cultural practices, confronted the powerful and advocated for the oppressed[1].

Including the Excluded

The experience of being excluded is one which is not easily forgotten. In a society where the goal of many is to be well-liked (as is often seen in the quest for ‘friends’ on social media), being forgotten or left behind are some of the most powerful and hurtful feelings that can be experienced.

In Jesus’ day, there was no question as to who the social outsiders were. Lepers were not only excluded from society, but were forced to yell ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ on the rare occasions that someone approached them (Leviticus 13:45-46). The extent to which a person suffering from leprosy was excluded was great, and the humiliation associated with contracting the disease must have been traumatic. Yet when Jesus came across a leper, he did not turn his back and choose to associate with the ‘clean’ or ‘healthy’ members of the crowd. Instead, as recorded in Matthew 8:1-4, Jesus touched the leper, skin-to-skin, in front of the entire crowd. Not only did Jesus recognise the man as a person, he did so in front of a large group of people. Similarly, Jesus’ conversation with another leper saw him filled with compassion (Mark 1:40-42), not with the disgust and discomfort which the man would have experienced from other members of society.

Today, those who are excluded are not always as visible. There are groups of people within society who are systemically excluded and, at times, this exclusion hides itself so well that we don’t even notice it. Yet day after day, individuals ­– and sometimes groups – are excluded for a variety of reasons, such as financial status, race, religion, sexual orientation, even citizenship status. At times, the Church itself falls into the trap of failing to recognise people as people and, worse still, perpetuates such exclusion. Yet Jesus’ example shows us a different model. The blatantly excluded were not only shown pity but were recognised by Jesus as people equal to all others.

Challenging Harmful Cultural Practices

As much as we may hate to admit it, we all adhere to an often-unarticulated set of social norms and rules. In order to take part in society, each person allows themself to be guided by those around them in the way they live their day-to-day life. Those who choose to ignore these social norms and cultural practices often become the socially excluded, mentioned in the previous paragraph. While some cultural norms are harmless, others have the capacity to cause damage to other people or to God’s creation.

In Jesus’ day, one such cultural norm was that of the Samaritans, an ethno-religious group, not associating with Jews, and vice versa.

While, at times, it can be believed that racism is a thing of the past, the truth is that it is a problem still experienced by many around the world on a day-to-day basis. Be it through explosive, public protests or subtle, insinuated jokes between friends, racism is a negative, shameful part of the lives of many. Racism is but one example of a cultural practice which has become widely accepted over time.

Jesus was not oblivious to the socially-ordered racial and religious caste system. He came into contact with it every day and, rather than ignoring it, used it to model and explain how his followers should treat others. The parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) shows him challenging harmful cultural practices. Jesus clearly indicated that the most important factor was the man’s unfortunate situation, not the religion or the race of those passing by. Similarly, through his interaction with the Samaritan woman (John 4:1-42), he was not afraid to challenge social norms and accepted cultural practices, and to demonstrate a new way of thinking and behaving.

Confronting the Powerful

Consistently throughout history, the concept of holding power over another has corrupted human behaviour. Power can manifest itself in various ways, and who ‘the powerful’ is in a given situation is often difficult to identify. In some cases, the government is the powerful, in others, the media. On a more personal scale, an oppressive boss or a difficult friend can be the powerful.

Jesus’ life presents to us a model through which the powerful is boldly confronted. Jesus’ behaviour disturbed and infuriated the religious elite, the Pharisees and the scribes. They were a well-educated, respected, confident and authoritative group – they were the powerful of the day who not only held religious authority but also operated the Jewish court system [2]. Jesus consistently and openly criticised this group and their social structure. He questioned society’s blind acceptance of their teaching and encouraged a new way of thinking and behaving – much to the religious elite’s anger and dismay. Despite the risks to his own reputation and personal safety, Jesus challenged their authority through the way he chose to live, through his acts and words.

Advocating for the Oppressed

Oppression, like power, comes in many forms. Those with whom we come into contact can find themselves oppressed by financial burdens, sickness, social expectation, love of money, mental illness, relationship problems… just to name a few. As believers, we are not immune to being oppressed ourselves. While in Jesus’ day oppression was most blatantly seen in the demon-possessed, today’s burdens can have an equally oppressive nature. Jesus identified the problems which were oppressing those in his time and freed them from such oppression, including both spiritual oppression and the physical causes of oppression such as blindness, leprosy, paralysis etc (Mark 1:22-34). While we may not always be able to free those around us from the things oppressing them, we can do what we can and, at the same time, point them towards the One who can – Jesus himself.


Jesus’ lifestyle – his choices every day – modelled a life of social justice. Today, as his disciples we must follow his example in our own context. By understanding the principles by which Jesus lived, we can begin to understand what God’s Kingdom on earth may look like. By living according to these crucial Kingdom principles and through the power of the Holy Spirit, our community can be changed into one that honours God and sees his justice proclaimed.


[1] Jesus and Justice p. 4

[2] Jesus and Justice p. 39


What is Social Justice?

We are regularly asked the question – “what exactly is social justice?” This is a difficult question to answer, as the term “social justice” evokes a variety of responses which differ from person to person.

We believe that it is impossible and somewhat unwise to pin down a single definition, as to do so would inevitably exclude many of its elements. However, it is our belief that working for Social Justice is working to see the Kingdom of God on earth. When we pray The Lord’s Prayer, we ask “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven”. We are calling for God’s Kingdom on earth to look like God’s Kingdom in Heaven. God’s Kingdom is God’s ideal plan for the world. Therefore, those elements on earth which would not be present in his ideal plan – those social ills and problems which make us uncomfortable when viewed in the light of holiness – are not part of a world based on God’s justice. While this is not a clear-cut definition, it is a concept through which we view the world, and one which encourages us to continue seeking God’s face.

Social Justice is an extension of our holiness – not an added-on, optional extra. An exploration of Jesus’ life shows that He was a person who lived a life that brought Justice – God’s kind of justice. Our desire to live lives modeled on His (that is, a desire to be holy) includes a desire to live a life that brings God’s justice.

Social Justice is not simply a list of issues – it is a lifestyle made up of a series of choices, every day, to live a life which treats others as Jesus would. Social Justice is not something we ‘do’ – it is the aim. We want to see God’s Kingdom on earth – we want to see Social Justice – so we live lifestyles that will see that world exist in the present. Our aim is not to do Social Justice; our aim is to live lives that bring Social Justice

One helpful way to explore the concept of justice and how it can be lived out in today’s context, is by using the four principles of justice (as developed in The International Social Justice Commission’s Resource, Jesus and Justice, available for download on the ISJC’s website). These four principles can be seen through the way Jesus lived, and are:

  • Including the excluded
  • Challenging cultural practices
  • Confronting the powerful
  • Advocating for the oppressed.

These principles can be used to examine situations in which we find ourselves in today’s context, and allow us to get a better idea of how justice looks today.

Youth Housing Now – The Salvation Army Youth Services Perspective

Getty Images – Youth

The Salvation Army Youth Services offer an integrated suite of targeted programs engaging with young people across Australia on their journey to independence. We’re focused on creating intentional avenues for young people to explore opportunities, build support networks, and access, participate and contribute to their communities. We have a national footprint in delivering housing and homelessness programs to young people. Our  National Model of Care ‘Journey to Independence’ is particularly important in our delivery of refuge accommodation, assisting young people to develop meaningful relationships, as well as transferable and measurable skills to prepare for future opportunities and success.

What is the role of Youth Refuges in providing access to appropriate forms of youth housing?

The youth refuge sector has significantly evolved over the decades, to now be strongly guided by person-centred, trauma informed frameworks. Youth refuges offer some young people a genuine period of respite and safety from the often chaotic, violent, transient, and uncertain experiences of early homelessness. 

Youth refuges present a unique opportunity to work in partnership with young people to address the causal factors of crisis and homelessness and assist each young person on a pathway to independence.

  • Establishing immediate and on-going safety
  • Providing environments that allow for stabilising of acute crisis (mental health, AOD, transience)
  • Providing space for the creation of a therapeutic alliance between young people and staff
  • Developing and teaching transferrable life and living skills of young people 
  • Providing access to ongoing and independent housing pathways to vulnerable young people who experience barriers to securing other pathways
  • Providing access to holistic referral pathways for young people to transition out of refuge
  • Advocating  to ensure young people in refuges are not excluded from accessing further opportunities due to the perceived complexity of this group

Barriers and challenges exist that negatively impact the capacity of youth refuges to effectively deliver successful outcomes. Across Victoria, crisis accommodation timeframes of six to eight weeks are inconsistent with the wider national approach and do little to meet the needs of young people within the refuge system. The concept of short term ‘crisis accommodation’ is no longer relevant and shows a disconnect between evidenced-based responses and funding requirements, in understanding the relational needs of young people and the responses required in working through immediate crisis and risk. The Victorian Parliament Inquiry into Homelessness made the recommendation to ‘…embed flexibility into its approach to the funding of homelessness programs. This flexibility should extend to the amount of time an individual receives support and the services they are eligible to receive’.[NO1] [RE2]  Where youth refuges are a suitable accommodation option, we must ensure young people are supported for the duration of their need, moving away from restrictive time-limited episodes of care.

It is also acknowledged that young people accessing refuge accommodation can exhibit behaviours which at times make it difficult to successfully remain in a shared refuge environment or gain access to appropriate exit housing options following refuge accommodation. However, this group must be supported to find appropriate responses and support within the youth refuge sector, to reduce further episodes of homelessness and work towards long-term housing outcomes.

The challenges faced across the refuge space is to be able to meet the needs of individuals who have historically found themselves exited from programs, without ever having had the opportunity to realise self-directed case management goals.

Our experience has shown that delivering youth refuge accommodation to young people requires a psychologically aware approach, enabling us to recognise young people accessing services have had experiences of trauma and have lived in crisis throughout adolescence, culminating in feelings of hopelessness and a lack of trust in us as adults, carers and professionals.  

Within a psychologically informed environment we show a genuine regard for the young person, a high level of curiosity about each young person’s unique life and a commitment to non-exclusion through elastic tolerance.

Do transitional housing programs provide a pathway to permanent housing?

Overtime, transitional and crisis accommodation have evolved to become more aligned, delivering similar service response to young people experiencing homelessness. As most states have moved away from short term refuge accommodation and allow young people time to build safety and relationships, supported transitional accommodation client groups have largely changed to young people who would have historically been accommodated in short term accommodation.

In Victoria, TSA’s education pathway housing model was developed to respond to an identified need to support young people beyond refuge who struggled to secure mainstream accommodation options and were particularly vulnerable. The program works in partnership with a range of community housing providers and philanthropic partners to offer safe and supported transitional accommodation for young people engaged in education. In ensuring permanent housing options post the education pathways model, young people can access private rental brokerage to ensure financial barriers do not prevent ongoing opportunities to succeed. These partnerships allow young people to move to permanent housing, whilst maintaining connection to support during this important change in their life.

The Salvation Army’s Lead Tenant Program in South Australia has implemented a unique model of transitional housing for young people. The program provides head-leased accommodation, integrated specialist case management support and an opportunity to establish peer relationships through the provision of lead tenant mentoring.

The lead tenant provides ongoing mentoring and support in living independently, whilst allowing young people to cultivate their abilities, make choice to shape their own lives and learn how to engage and contribute to the world around them. With the integration of stepped support services, young people involved in the program reported reduced episodes of crisis, enhanced independent life and living skills, effective transition into the private rental market and feelings of stability and safety.

Whilst youth refuges and transitional accommodation programs provide a critical response for young people experiencing homelessness they must be delivered as part of a broader housing continuum, to ensure flexibility and suitability are considered in responding to the diverse needs of young people.

Can young people experiencing or at risk of homelessness realistically gain access to the private rental market?

Young people experiencing or at risk of homelessness still face many barriers in accessing permanent housing. This is due to perceived risk of young people in independent accommodation, low incomes, high rental costs, lack of affordable and social housing options, inability to maintain full time employment due to education and training participation and ongoing challenges in advocating for access when competing against other community members.

In working to ensure young people have access to the private rental market, The Salvation Army has developed and implemented a number of innovative responses to ensure fair and equitable access to the private rental market for young people.  These models focus on holistic outcomes for young people, as well as ensuring appropriate levels of support to ensure long-term sustainability. 

Rent Choice Youth

A very successful program which actively works to gain access for young people to the private rental market is Sydney’s Rent Choice Youth Program run in partnership with Department of Communities and Justice. This program was first introduced in September 2017 to provide for an unmet housing need for young people exiting transitional programs and leaving care. Rent Choice Youth, through the work of the Housing Liaison Worker, supports young people to access safe and affordable private rental housing. Rent Choice Youth provides young people with a 3 year, tapered rental assistance ensuring secure tenure whilst they complete their education, training and employment goals.

The Housing Liaison Worker is instrumental in the delivery of Rent Choice Youth through creating relationship building with real-estate agents and education on the support that can be provided to young people whilst in private rental. In a 2 year period, and an extremely competitive rental market, the program sourced 23 private rental properties across Inner City Sydney through the implementation of its real-estate engagement strategy. These mutually beneficial partnerships resulted in real-estates directly contacting the program with up-coming vacancies on suitable properties for tenancy.

Youth Private Rental Accommodation Program (YPRAP)

In Victoria, YPRAP supports young people and families to establish independent or shared private rental tenancies. The program provides brokerage for tapered rent assistance to allow young people to access and afford shared private rental. Providing brokerage to assist with housing costs is critical in assisting young people to gain fair and equitable access to the private rental market and often normalises their experience of young adulthood and allows the opportunity to transcend the homeless service system. Since 2019, YPRAP has successfully sourced and obtained over 80 private rental tenancies for young people within the homelessness system. YPRAP has proven particularly successful in assisting young people transitioning from our youth refuges and education pathways program.

Can young people be experiencing or at risk of homelessness gain access to the various forms of social housing, community housing and public housing? What are some of the obstacles to them gaining access to social housing?

Young people exiting homelessness face significant barriers in accessing the various forms of social housing, community housing and public housing. In working with housing partners, our experience has shown social housing providers are often reluctant to accept young residents because of their low and insecure incomes and because they are regarded as high-risk tenants. These barriers within the wider housing sector reduces the capacity for rapid rehousing of young people. It also has the potential to create further disadvantage and increase their experiences of homelessness, through placement in refuge or short term housing that isn’t aligned to the needs of the individual. 

Data from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) shows that young people make up over half (54%) of all single people who seek help from homelessness services, but they only make up 2.9% of principal tenants in social and public housing in Australia REF[DB3] . This identifies a significant barrier young people are experiencing in gaining access to this housing option. There is an urgent need for young people to have dedicated access to appropriate social housing stock. We believe that equitable access to youth-specific social housing options, incentives or increases the allocation and proportions of housing available to young people, with appropriate levels of support, will provide further affordable housing opportunities.  Consultation with our services nationally, has also highlighted current social, public and community housing stock are inappropriate and unsafe for young people who have often experienced complex trauma. We need access to ‘youth friendly’ housing stock with secure tenures (up to five years) to provide stability and appropriate opportunities for youth transitioning to independence

This article was written by The Salvation Army’s Youth Services Victoria Housing and Homelessness Portfolio Group and first published in Parity magazine (April 2021 edition).

 [NO1]Parliament of Victoria. Legislative Council. Legal and Social Issues Committee. (2021). Inquiry into homelessness in Victoria, Final report. Retrieved from https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/lsic-lc/article/4662

pg: XIX [RE2]

 [DB3]MacKenzie, D., Hand, T., Zufferey, C., McNelis, S., Spinney, A. and Tedmanson, D. (2020) Redesign of a homelessness service system for young people, AHURI Final Report 327, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute Limited, Melbourne, http://www.ahuri.edu.au/research/final-reports/327, doi: 10.18408/ahuri-5119101.

What to do with leftovers – Easter Edition

This article has divided our team right down the middle into two camps – one side who cannot fathom the possibility of chocolate leftovers in any form, and the other side who are, well, hoarders, and still find little eggs in the pantry right up until Christmas. Whichever camp you are in, if you do happen to find yourself with an abundance of treats laying around, then this article is for you. We have put together three of our favourite leftover using recipes to keep you going through the long weekend and make good use of Easter Eggs and Hot Cross Buns.

First off is a chocolate chip cookie recipe good for any season. We have suggested you could chop up leftover eggs and throw them in, but really these cookies have been known to have just about anything in them (it’s a wonder we get any work done really and aren’t just all in sugar comas!)

Next we have Cheesecake served in halves of large Easter Eggs. Yes, you heard correctly – chop those big beauties in half and place cookie crumb and smooth cheesecake filling inside, then decorate with even more easter-y treats. They are delicious and oh so decadent, but definitely worth a try  (I have been known to go out and buy eggs when they are on sale a few days later just to make this recipe)

Lastly, what do you do with leftover hot cross buns? You know those ones which are a bit stale and got lost in the bread bin? Or the ones leftover from when you bought extra, and your husband said you would never eat all of them? Well you turn them into bread and butter pudding of course! You can use whatever flavour of bun you like for this recipe and it is amazing served with some ice cream at the end of a big weekend.

There is so much you can do with leftovers – the only limit is your imagination, and your ability to stop eating eggs just as they are. However you have spent your weekend, Happy Easter from our work family to yours.

Captain Alexis McKeand is a Policy & Social Justice Adviser for The Salvation Army Australia, and a Chaplain in the Royal Australian Air Force

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Salvation Army

How to Have An Ethical Easter

Easter. If you ask my children, they will tell you it is all about Jesus and chocolate. The hollow inside of the Easter Egg is supposed to remind us of the empty tomb, and the signature cross of a hot cross bun alludes to the death and resurrection of the Son of God, but let’s be honest – the chocolate doesn’t always last long enough for too much contemplation.

However you celebrate the long weekend and whether you’re a choco-holic or not, it is hard to escape the bright shelves full of sweet delights from as early as the start of each new year. The choices are endless and every year they seem to find new flavours to draw us in but is your chocolate ethical? Choosing Fairtrade this Easter can not only be delicious for you and those you love, but it can help end the cycle of poverty for families all over the world!

Fairtrade is the process of buying and selling produce, from ‘developing’ countries. It allows and mandates that farmers earn what they deserve for their labour, under suitable working conditions: On average Cocoa famers earn less than $2 per day.[1] When chocolate companies pay fair prices for cacao/cocoa, workers are treated well, farmers can earn enough to support their families, and children aren’t forced to work and can go to school. Fairtrade means being just and fair to people as well as to nature and choosing Fairtrade is a very simple way to spread the love worldwide this Easter.

So what should you look for? There are three symbols which are a good indicator that the chocolatey treats you are buying are making a difference:

Placed on the front or back of the packaging, these symbols mean every effort has been made to make sure the ingredients producers are being supported and paid fairly.

Wondering where you can get this sort of chocolate from? Well fear not dear reader, we have done the research (and selflessly – the taste testing too) on your behalf. You’re welcome! Below is our list of some, but by no means not all, of the supermarkets, shops and websites you can get yourself and your loved ones all the chocolate you need this Easter. There are plenty more options out there, but these are some we personally have taste tested and think are a bit of alright.

Cheap & Cheerful (but still our guilty pleasures):

Dairy Fine & Moser Roth:

Proving that Aldi isn’t just the place to go for those amazing weekly special buys, the Dairy Fine and Moser Roth Easter ranges on their shelves each year proudly exhibit their ethical status. Is the chocolate for your connoisseur family members? No. Are they great for hunts and guilty late-night snacking? Yes. Ski gear and ethical chocolate? What could be better.

Woolworths Select:

Looking for a home brand alternative to the big brands? Woolworths Select range of Easter eggs are made using Rainforest Alliance-certified cocoa.   


Darrell Lea:

Ok, so they aren’t Fairtrade certified but Darrell Lea’s partnership with cocoa sustainability program Cocoa Horizons has seen the iconic Aussie brand move to using 100 per cent sustainable cocoa. Rocky Road Egg anyone?


With their own Sustainability Program and a 100% traceable supply chain, the gold bunnies glittering on the shelves of major supermarkets could never be a bad choice.


With a delicious and gourmet range of truffles and eggs, Chocolatier is truly delicious and can be found at many local Foodworks and IGA nationwide as well as bought online.


For Fairtrade and sustainable Ferrero treats, look no further than Ferrero eggs in both hazelnut and cocoa, as well as the classic Ferrero Rocher Golden Squirrels.  Ferrero are also a champion of sustainable palm oil so our Orangutan friends will thank you for your choice.

Gourmet (& mostly online):

Hey Tiger:

This Melbourne based, social enterprise uses only ethically sourced ingredients. Partnering with The Hunger Project, their plan is to help communities in Ghana one block of deliciousness at a time.

You can buy their flavour combos in block or egg form and in a truly eco move, their Easter cartons can then be reused to create something crafty!

To order, head to: https://heytiger.com.au/


No celebration in my husband’s family is complete without a bit of Haigh’s Chocolate (in fact family arguments have been won and apologised for with these treats on more than one occasion). The fact that Haigh’s are UTZ certified as part of the Rainforest Alliance means that I can safely partake in family festivities without feeling guilty.

Bars, shaped chocolates, truffles and eggs (plus bilbies) can be found in their stores or bought online, and with $15 shipping Australia wide, why not give them a go?


Allergy/Dietary Requirement Friendly:

Treat Dreams:

Ali, my family are vegans and picky, what do I do? Fear not, I got you! Treat Dreams are a Sydney based company with a serious number of awards and street cred it back them up. They were even awarded ‘Best Vegan Milk Chocolate 2020,’

Cream Eggs, Bunny Truffles, Bars, and even a full range of pastries and cakes can be ordered with their packaging even having an ethical spin.

Check them out at: https://www.treatdreams.com.au/

Moo Free:

For our vegan and gluten-free friends, the organic and non-GMO sea salt and caramel, dark chocolate, original or Bunnycomb eggs of Moo Free are made using single-origin organic cocoa from plantations in the Dominican Republic. You can buy them online from David Jones and lots of independent supermarkets.

So whether you are a chocolate par-taker, a parent searching for the compulsory egg hunt items, or just a generous loved one wanting to give the perfect give – we hope that this year making your Easter an Ethical Easter will be the simple choice!

Got your own suggestion of a company we have missed? Why not head to our Social Media pages –@salvosocialjustice on Facebook and Instagram – and tag us in a picture with the details.

Hoppy Easter every-bunny!

Captain Alexis McKeand is a Policy & Social Justice Adviser for The Salvation Army Australia, and a Chaplain in the Royal Australian Air Force

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Salvation Army

[1] https://foodispower.org/human-labor-slavery/slavery-chocolate/

The Political Perspective of Social Justice

Sometimes when people talk about something being ‘political’ they mean it is topical or controversial.  Actually, ‘politics’ just involves any of the activities or issues associated with governing a group (in this case a country or a state).  In Australia, and most other liberal democracies, politics involves a certain amount of conflict between ideas, and groups who have those ideas, about how to run the country.  Sometimes those different ideas are entirely opposed, but sometimes they are more similar than they appear.  The way democracy works is that the population chooses between those groups and ideas, and the group backed by most of the voters becomes the way a country is actually governed.

Politics is critical to the idea of social justice.  Politics is the forum for discussion and decisions about structures and systems that can lead us closer to, or further away from, social justice.  While social justice is everybody’s responsibility and privilege to pursue, our systems of government have the gigantic platform for developing the foundation that lead to, or addresses, hardship and injustice.  This is why so much social justice advocacy is focused directly on government and political parties – because this is where big changes can readily occur.

So there is no question that politics is important to social justice, but you might be wondering if social justice is important to politics?

The short answer is a resounding yes.

The long answer is still a resounding yes, but…

Social justice is a difficult concept to pin down.  Even if everyone can agree what the social justice outcome we want is there are differing views on how we can best achieve the outcome and, usually, all of those differing views are at least a little bit right.

In Australia, every political party represented in the Commonwealth Parliament either explicitly references social justice in their policy platform or uses words and concepts we would consider synonymous with social justice – a “fair go”, “equity”, “equality” or “opportunity for all”.  The concept of social justice is baked into the Australian political system but it often does not feel that way; even if the same words are being used, that doesn’t mean all sides are talking about the same thing.

There are so many different social justice issues that it is natural that individuals pick just some to focus on.  Sometimes, the solution to one social justice issue might exacerbate another.  For example, some of the most effective ways to tackle climate change would increase the cost of food and energy.  If other policies are not put in place to support people on low incomes, climate change action could disproportionately disadvantage people in poverty or financial hardship.  This does not mean that no action should be taken – it just explains why some political parties will preference policies that look like social justice action from one angle, but not from another.

Even when everyone agrees on the social justice outcome there can be very real disputes about how to best achieve that outcome.  One of the central differences between the two major sides of politics in Australia is actually about economic approach rather than desired outcome.  There is credible evidence to support both approaches it is just that, as we saw with climate action above, every social policy outcome needs to be carefully balanced and calibrated – and that is an incredibly difficult task. 

In Australia we have an independent bureaucracy which helps with that task by applying skill and evidence to problems outside of the electoral cycle.  The Australian Public Service, and those of every state and territory, helps to even out the differences between the two major parties to ensure that there is consistent social policy progress irrespective of who is in power.  But our elected officials are ultimately in charge, so whichever party wins power, that will be the approach to social justice issues at least until the next election.  That brings us to probably the most important point about a political approach to social justice:

Although every politician comes with their own views about social justice, what it means and how to achieve it, at the end of the day they work for the people they represent.  Their job is not just to govern the country, but to govern in a way that is in line with what they promised when they were elected.

That opens up a range of options for those who are trying to influence decisions to achieve social justice outcomes:

  1. Because social justice is a major concern of almost all politicians, we have something in common – sometimes it can feel like someone on the other side is never going to agree with us but actually, if we look for it, there will often be common ground.
  2. We need to think about the destination, but also how to get there – it might be that people disagree with a policy, not because of what it is trying to achieve but because they can see an unintended consequence.  It is important to explore all the impacts of an idea, listen to why people have concerns and then work to finding a solution that minimizes negative impacts.
  3. Talk to more than just the party in power – many people have input into implementing social justice initiatives and while it is definitely worth talking to the government, it is also worth talking to the opposition and cross-benches and the bureaucracy because everyone has a role to play.
  4. Contact your local representatives – Your local politicians are there not just to lead but to listen to those they represent.  They want, and need, to know what you think – so tell them!

Social Justice Champion:

It is very hard to pick a ‘Social Justice Champion’ in the political field – not because there aren’t any but because there are so many and they are so different from each other.  No political action is achieved by a single person – usually there are many people involved in pushing for, designing and then implementing a change and each of them are social justice champions in their own way.

Below is just a small sample of the breadth of social justice activity in Australia’s political history.  None of these actions completely removed hardship and injustice, but each of them moved us closer to where we need to be:

  • National Apology to the Stolen Generations – On the 13th of February 2008, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made a formal apology for the past government policies of child removal and assimilation.
  • Pregnancy Alcohol Warnings – New requirements for mandatory pregnancy warning labels on packaged alcoholic beverages were gazetted in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code) on 31 July 2020.
  • Gender Equity – On 18 December 1894 the South Australian Parliament passed the Constitutional Amendment (Adult Suffrage) Act. This was the first in Australia, and the first in the world to allow women to be elected as Members of Parliament.
  • Referendum to Count Aboriginal Australians – 1967 Referendum in which Australians voted overwhelmingly to amend the Constitution to allow the Commonwealth to make laws for Aboriginal people and include them in the census.
  • No Child in Poverty- Australia’s Prime Minister Bob Hawke said: “By 1990, no Australian child will be living in poverty,” at the ALP’s election campaign launch on June 23, 1987. Now don’t get us wrong, this didn’t happen, but to date it has done more to alleviate child poverty than any other policy like it.
  • Free Medical Care – Gough Whitlam created Medibank as a key policy proposal in 1972. What we now know as Medicare, gave Australian’s free access to hospitals and a range of medical services.
  • National Disability Insurance Scheme  – introduced by the Gillard Government on 1 July 2013 and grown by each subsequent government the NDIS radically changed the way disability support is funded and delivered given people with disability a level of choice, control and dignity in risk that had never been the case before.
  • Racial Discrimination Act – 1975: promotes equality before the law for all people regardless of race, colour or national or ethnic origin. It is unlawful to discrimination against people on the basis of race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin.
  • Modern Slavery Act – The Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act 2018 came into force on the 1st of January 2019. The Act established a national Modern Slavery Reporting Requirement.
  • Harm reduction – introduction of needle and syringe programs (1986) and medically supervised injecting facilities (2001).
  • Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) – Victorian law that sets out the protected rights of all people in Victoria as well as the corresponding obligations on the Victorian Government to enact them.
  • Returning Aboriginal Land – In 1975 Gough Whitlam returned the traditional lands of the Gurindji people to Vincent Lingiari, pouring the red dirt into his hands.

Jennifer Kirkaldy is General Manager for the Policy and Advocacy Stream of The Salvation Army Australia

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Salvation Army

The Social Work Perspective of Social Justice

Social work is a practice-based profession and an academic discipline that promotes social change and development, social cohesion, and the empowerment and liberation of people. Principles of social justice, human rights, collective responsibility and respect for diversities are central to social work. Underpinned by theories of social work, social sciences, humanities and indigenous knowledge, social work engages people and structures to address life challenges and enhance wellbeing.[1]

As the above statement illustrates, social justice is one of the social work profession’s core principles, which also include: service, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence.

As such, social work and social justice cannot be separated.

“The primary mission of the profession is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty.”[1] Importantly, and contrary to popular assumptions about the profession, this mission cannot be realised strictly through charity and direct support to individuals, commonly referred to as ‘down-stream’ work. Social workers are also obliged to go ‘upstream’, to engage in collective advocacy at the systemic and structural levels of society to address the forces that both cause and sustain inequality and injustice.

This idea is perhaps best captured in the phrase: The job is not to rescue the caged bird; the job is to break the cage. This phrase embodies the notion that the way help is delivered matters and that help, which fastens the recipient to perpetual dependence on the helping system, can become another form of oppression in itself.

Social workers are therefore expected to work—not just out of the goodness of their hearts, but from a theoretical and practical evidence base.[2] Social workers are trained in a strengths—rather than deficits—based approach, to factor in a person’s unique circumstances, help them identify their own solutions and provide tools so they may realise those solutions for themselves. Social workers are also called to agitate for change at a systemic level to address structural and cultural violence that are so often the root causes of personal disadvantage and suffering.[3]

A set of professional standards, or Codes of Ethics, provide the roadmap for social work practice, to ensure all social workers and social work students act in ethically accountable ways in the pursuit of the profession’s aims.[4] They are meant to guide social work practitioners to always remain cognisant of the inherent power dynamics in service relationships and of the potential for personal motivation, privilege and unconscious bias to undermine practice. What does this mean?

It means that social workers:

  • maintain clear and appropriate professional boundaries for the protection of service users
  • are accountable for their actions and act in accordance with the law
  • work within their professional areas of competence
  • support considered and reflective self-awareness in making and justifying decision making;
  • inform their practice from a recognised and contemporary social work knowledge base
  • promote and facilitate lifelong learning, education, training and supervision to maintain professional competence and commitment to integrity.[5]

Perhaps most importantly, social workers must ensure the wellbeing and interest of service users is given priority and has precedence; and seek input and feedback from service users in the development, implementation and evaluation of service provision.

The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) holds that social justice is a core principle that its members are obliged to promote and uphold for society in general and for the people with whom they work. The social work profession:

  • promotes policies, practices and social conditions that uphold human rights and that seek to ensure access, equity, participation and legal protection for all
  • promotes justice and social fairness, by acting to reduce barriers and to expand choice and potential for all persons, with special regard for those who are disadvantaged, vulnerable, oppressed or have exceptional needs
  • advocates change to social systems and structures that preserve inequalities and injustice
  • opposes and works to eliminate all violations of human rights and affirms that civil and political rights will be accompanied by economic, social and cultural rights
  • promotes the protection of the natural environment as inherent to social wellbeing
  • promotes community participation, including service.

Catherine Booth’s famous quote, “If we are to better the future, we must disturb the present, is particularly relevant to the social work profession. Not only did she identify the need for social reform; her words also imply that imperfection and struggle are natural components of growth and that if we deny today’s problems, we only bind ourselves to the past.

Social Justice Champion:

Shirley Colleen Smith (1924-1998), better known as Mum Shirl, was a prominent Wiradjuri woman, social worker and humanitarian. Her remarkable work included helping to set up services like the Aboriginal Legal Service, Medical Service, Housing Company, the Tent Embassy and the Aboriginal Children’s Service. These services still contribute to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander welfare in New South Wales and have inspired similar ones around the country.

Heather Moore is a Policy & Advocacy Advisor and Lead on Modern Slavery & Migration for The Salvation Army Australia

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Salvation Army

[1] National Association of Social Workers, Code of Ethics, Preamble. https://www.socialworkers.org/about/ethics/code-of-ethics/code-of-ethics-english.

[2] Payne, M 2014a, ‘Critical Practice’, Modern Social Work Theory, 4th edn, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, pp. 319-347.

[3] Dutta, K 2020, Violence Triangle of Johan Galtung in Context of Conflict Theory, Asian Institute for Human Rights. https://www.aihrhre.org/understanding-violence-triangle-johan-galtung-conflict-theory/1.

[4] Australian Association of Social Workers, Code of Ethics, p5. https://www.aasw.asn.au/document/item/1201.

[5] Australian Association of Social Workers, Code of Ethics. General ethical responsibilities, pp 12-14.

[1] International Federation of Social Workers, Definition of Social Work. http://ifsw.org/get-involved/global-definition-of-social-work/.

The Economic Perspective of Social Justice

Everyone, as a member of society, . . . is entitled to realization. . . of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality”

  1. “Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
  2. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
  3. Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
  4. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

(Articles 22 and 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Economic justice is the component of social justice that promotes the existence of opportunities for meaningful work and employment opportunities and the dispensation of fair rewards for the productive activities of individuals (UN, 2006).[1] Economic justice is accomplished when everyone has access to the means that create opportunities to live a dignified, productive and creative life.

The concept of economic justice has acquired increased significance given the trends of income and wealth inequality observed in the last few decades. According to the United Nation’s World Social Report 2020, despite the unprecedented global economic growth over the last decades, there is a growing consensus that this growth has been accompanied by increasing disparities in the distribution of income and assets, unequal access to health and education, and declining levels in the participation of citizens in public affairs.

In Australia, sustained economic growth has delivered significantly improved living standards for the average Australian in every income decile, but inequality has also slightly risen (Productivity Commission, 2018).[2] In our country, someone in the highest 20% of the income scale lives in a household with almost six times as much income as someone in the lowest 20% of the income scale. Furthermore, people in the highest 20% of the wealth scale hold nearly two thirds of all wealth (64%), while those in the lowest 60% hold less than a fifth of wealth (17%) (ACOSS, 2020).[3]

Prosperity and justice go hand-in-hand. The idea that the economy will be more successful if it is fairer is at the core of economic justice. In its broadest sense, economic justice represents just and fair allocation of resources within the economy. This can be achieved through four main principles: access, equity, participation and human rights.

Access to resources

Economic justice is hampered by the concentration of wealth and power. A healthy society must ensure that services and resources are offered equally. This includes access to education, healthcare, shelter and food. Unfortunately, equal access to opportunities is not always guaranteed and some members of society have limited access often based on their socioeconomic status, race, gender, or education, amongst other factors. Education, for example, is associated with better opportunities in the future. Similarly, people with higher socioeconomic status will more likely obtain higher-paying jobs in comparison to those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.


Equity is based on the principle that we all have the same inherent worth. Quite often, the effort and resources required for two different people to achieve the same goal can vary widely. Similarly, some people face barriers that others do not. For example, obtaining a college degree might look very different for an individual coming from a disadvantaged socioeconomic background and require more community support and resources in comparison to more privileged peers. To achieve economic justice and equal opportunities for everyone, it is crucial that the society provides equitable resources based on the specific needs of individuals.


Participation is a fundamental human right set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and reiterated in many other conventions and declarations. A healthy society must ensure that everyone is able to raise their concerns and take part in the decisions that affect them. Active participation is often a catalyst to strengthen political will around matters that affect diverse groups, particularly those who are disadvantaged. 

Human Rights

Human rights are inherent to all members of a society regardless of any individual characteristic. Human rights, and social and economic justice are intertwined. Human rights are manifest in laws that guarantee freedom of speech, voting rights, criminal justice protections, and the protection of everyone’s civil, political, economic, and social rights.

Why do social and economic justice matter?

Despite the general recognition that social and economic justice are good for everyone,

as a society, we must recognise that there is no one-size fits all solution to achieve social and economic justice as a single matter. Social and economic justice require strong and coherent policies in a wide range of areas. Policy development and possible solutions to achieve social and economic justice can also represent diverging views as to what is ‘the best approach’ to increase equality, fairness and the optimal allocation of resources.

Governments have the capacity and obligation to work to improve social equity and justice. Developing social policy is therefore a means for a government to create a more balanced structure of social and economic justice in their communities. These efforts must be supplemented by those of social organisations, including the civil society, think tanks and the non-for-profit sector.

There is no finish line to cross. Social and economic justice mean fairness across generations. Progress may be slow, but the effort can be translated into reduced inequality, improved lives, and a society where every person meets their basic needs, everyone is welcomed, and everyone can thrive and hope for a better future.

Economic justice champion story

Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 – 1968) is remembered foremost as a civil rights leader and activist. Dr. King was a champion not just for civil rights but also for political, social and economic justice for poor and working families. For Dr. King, civil rights and economic justice were deeply connected. In 1958, he wrote “that the inseparable twin of racial injustice was economic injustice”.

In 1968, Dr. King supported and called for legislation that would provide citizens with the right to a job, adequate education and decent housing, among others. Dr. King’s civil rights group, the Southern Leadership Conference, was particularly concerned with the ways in which economic inequality perpetuates racial and social inequality. He also supported and urged labour unions to embrace the civil right movement.

Dr. King also believed that every person was entitled to a liveable income, whether they worked or not. In his book, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, he called for unconditional cash transfers for every citizen, pegged to the median income of society and not at the lowest level of income.

Most notably, Dr. King tirelessly advocated for the right of every employable citizen to have a decent job. Before his death, Dr. King wrote: “I hope that a specific number of jobs is set forth, that a program will emerge to abolish unemployment, and that there will be another program to supplement the income of those whose earnings are below the poverty level”.

Dr. King manifested a clear goal of eradicating poverty and creating equal opportunities for all, and he believed that, with the right support, poor people and workers could lift themselves up, fulfil their dreams and truly change the world.

Alejandro Navarrete is a Policy and Advocacy Advisor for The Salvation Army Australia

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Salvation Army

[1] United Nations, Social Justice in an Open World (2006)

[2] Australian Government, Productivity Commission, Rising inequality? A stocktake of evidence (2018)

[3] Australian Council of Social Services, Inequality in Australia (2020)

The Legal Perspective of Social Justice

Justice is a famously hard thing to define. It is beyond fairness, it is more than equality. It is a jumble of values, perspectives and outside factors which evolve over time.

‘The Law’ is used interchangeably with ‘justice’. But it is wrong to say that when something has a legal outcome, it is a ‘just’ outcome, particularly a socially just outcome. Unfortunately, social justice appears to be a ‘happy accident’, rather than the central goal of the Law.

The type of Law most people are most familiar with is the court room because that’s the kind of stuff we see on TV with a lawyer theatrically putting arguments to a judge or jury. But this is the Law being enacted for a specific person, addressing a problem that they have personally experienced. In fact, most legal disputes require “standing”, which basically means that only someone who is affected by an issue can even bring a case to court. As such, this type of Law is focused on an individual getting some form of specific personal justice, rather than a larger social outcome.

Then again, if you repeat a single, individually just decision over and over throughout a society, does it lead to social justice? The legal system thinks so.

One of the major tenants of the legal system is precedent. Meaning that if a decision was made in one specific way once, it should be followed in similar situations in the future. This not only makes it easier for judges, but this predictability makes it much easier for individuals. People know what courts have thought in the past, they know what judges will probably say in the future, and they know the standard that they need to observe to not get punished. This means they can behave accordingly. If these precedents follow socially accepted norms of ‘justice’, individuals will know to act within these guidelines or be fined, or even put in prison.

Often people will call the Law a skeleton, or a scaffolding, but this is not quite right. That would make Law the core, and society has grown around it, or that laws come before social values. I heartily disagree. Laws lag behind a society. They cannot really lead a culture, especially in a democracy. Otherwise imposed rules will be rejected at an election, or simply ignored.

As society is always evolving, the social view of justice will always be changing. But the Law is pretty static. Precedent and predictability means it can only inch forward, bit by bit, trying to catch up.

As such, unfortunately the Law can lead to social disadvantage being entrenched. Even reasonable and compassionate judges can be forced to follow laws they personally disagree with, and may not further social justice, because they are bound to follow legal rules which have failed to keep pace with society.

“Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg)

A Champion of Social Justice in the Law:

In an ideal world, all lawyers would be champions for social justice. But, we all know that too many fall short of this goal.

One of the most famous legal champions and an advocate for social justice is the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Justice Ginsburg is known for her time on the US Supreme Court where she cast many important opinions which were often significant steps forward for many social causes.

However, throughout her time before being appointed to the Bench, Justice Ginsburg is remembered for her significant advocacy and skill in arguing a number of cases, particularly on the topic of gender discrimination. Although the issue of gender discrimination is hardly at an end, significant legal changes and the advancement of women’s rights throughout US Law were in no small part due to the skillful and ‘unbelievably cogent’ arguments of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.[1] 

Although it is hard to define what justice is, let alone social justice, it is fairly clear that the work of champions like Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg can use the Law to achieve a more just society, and demonstrate how arguing the cause of an individual can advance justice for a society as a whole.

So how do we, as individuals and members of society, work for a socially just system of laws in Australia? Well, it is always possible to take the Ginsburg route, getting a law degree, and working tirelessly to undo injustices you see, but that’s a lot of work!

On the other hand, the biggest way in which all of us interact with the Law is actually taking part in democracy. Courts are slow, expensive and, at best, can only inch forward legal change. Whereas Parliament is much more dynamic. They can rewrite laws, totally change legal systems and revolutionise structures. And better yet, voting, writing to your local member and taking part in the political discourse is free.

That’s why it is important that all of us not just cast a ballot, but engage in politics and advocate for social justice. We are all part of our society, and need to work to ensure that political policy, legislative direction, legal rules, and ultimately society, work toward social justice, and that justice is not something available only to those who can afford to pay, and wait for incremental legal change.

Joshua Gani is a Policy and Advocacy Advisor for The Salvation Army Australia

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Salvation Army

[1] https://www.aclu.org/other/tribute-legacy-ruth-bader-ginsburg-and-wrp-staff

The Theological Perspective of Social Justice

Justice is a biblically defined, theological, Christian issue. It is not a human construct. So, it is Scripture that determines what the justice issues are. This gives a distinct authority and delineates what justice is, and what it is not.

This is so integral to humans that we carry within us an innate sense of right and wrong, a conviction that oppressors should be held accountable and the weak protected. We instinctively want justice. Around us we see a world that is fallen and filled with injustice. Yet, in this same broken world, God calls his people to justice.

Social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations. We uphold the principles of social justice when we promote gender equality or the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants. We advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability.

United Nations World Day of Social Justice – 20 February 2021

We believe that the biblical and theological foundations of Social Justice are as follows:

Hebrew Foundations – The ‘Justice Bedrock’

The Hebrew Scriptures contain a repeated theme to care for the outcast, marginalised and powerless. They insist on the dignity of the poor and counsel us to resist any temptation to view the poor as somehow different from ourselves. God holds us accountable for the way in which we care for the weak. Indeed, if we do not care for the poor, then we are accomplices in their oppression.

Jesus Boundaries – Justice Extremities

With the coming of Jesus we see justice lived out on the very margins of society. He does not deviate from the Hebrew Scriptures, which he ‘came to fulfil’ (Matthew chapter 5). He personally tends and cares for the very same kind of vulnerable people that God cares for in the Old Testament. He incarnates the compassion and justice of God.

Global Landscape – Justice Initiatives

With the birth of the Church there is an important development in the journey of social justice.

Citizens in the Kingdom of God start responding with initiatives to compassionately care for the vulnerable.

The expansion goes hand in hand with the story of salvation. As the Church takes root and grows, organised social actions begin.

Being raised up by God for a distinctive work, The Salvation Army has been led by God to adopt the following combination of characteristics:

‘…its worldwide tradition of service…without discrimination or preconditions, to the distressed, needy and marginalised, together with appropriate advocacy in the public domain on matters of social justice.’ (The Salvation Army in the Body of Christ, IHQ, 2008)

Social Justice Champion Story:

Salvation Army officer Major Campbell Roberts is widely known for his tireless work in social justice, described as a ‘trusted voice advocating for those in need’.

Campbell was awarded the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2019 and has also received the Salvation Army’s Order of the Founder. Over the years, Campbell has become a social justice advocate to prime ministers and a confidante to politicians. When asked, he says he is encouraged by millennials who are responding to a gospel of social and environmental justice, as well as personal salvation.

Some traditional evangelicals still baulk. There is a current backlash against what has been dubbed ‘social justice warriors’ which, astonishingly, is used as a derogatory term. But Campbell points to Micah 6:8: ‘And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God’ noting that ‘walk humbly’ is the personal relationship, ‘act justly’ is the creation of a just society between God and community (which includes the environment) and ‘love mercy’ is the caring part of the Army. If you don’t have them all together, you are not proclaiming the gospel.


The above information is taken from the International Social Justice Commission’s Newsletter for January – March with full permissions. To see the original please go to the ISJC website.

Perspectives of Social Justice

World Social Justice Day is coming up on Saturday the 20th of February and it has got us thinking about the many different perspectives of social justice there are depending on your background and line of influence. For example, how I, as an Ordained Minister, think about social justice, may be very different to how you think about it.

The thing with social justice is that it is not a one size fits all. Just because I see what I do and why I do it one way doesn’t mean your way or approach is wrong. So in our year of listening to the many voices, we will be featuring a few of these different perspectives here throughout the month of February.

Members of the Policy and Advocacy Team, who all come from different walks of life and fields, have written an article on their perspective of social justice. Their articles have been written not to say their way is the only right way, but to get us all thinking – What is social justice? And how can all of these perspectives work together to see God’s kingdom come on Earth?

So join us this February as we celebrate World Social Justice Day and explore how we all contribute to building the Kingdom of God on Earth.

Captain Alexis McKeand is a Policy & Social Justice Adviser for The Salvation Army Australia, and a Chaplain in the Royal Australian Air Force

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Salvation Army

International Women’s Day 2021

Choose to Challenge

March 8 2021 is International Women’s Day and this year’s theme is ‘Choose to Challenge’.

You can download these resources here or head to https://my.salvos.org.au/toolkit/resource/international-womens-day-2021/2086/

Downloads available:

Don’t forget to also get involved in this years ‘Choose to Challenge’ social media challenge. Post a photo to social media of yourself with your hand raised assertively. It’s a symbolic way of saying that you will stand up for equity for women. Don’t forget to include the hashtag #choosetochallenge in your post! For more details click here. 

What Does it Mean to be Australian – In Conversation with Sue Hodges

Sue Hodges is a proud Wiradjuri woman and is the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement Coordinator for The Salvation Army NSW and ACT Division.

As we have with all our participants, we asked Sue what her thoughts were on January 26 and this is what she said:

If all Australians could show empathy for what happened to my people at the time of contact and colonisation and accepted the truth that my people were robbed of their land and left poor; robbed of their water and the produce that sustained them since time immemorial and the pre-meditated effort put in to destroy Australia’s First Nations people culture including language etc; I would be happy to get involved. 

I am grateful for those who do acknowledge the past wrongs and who meet my people half way to acknowledge and to make an effort to understand and put in place strategies to pay back some sort of compensation for the loss.

So do I celebrate it? Why celebrate a battle when there can only be winners and losers?

Q: What is Australia’s capacity to change??

Australia does have the capacity. This is the land of opportunity – we have an abundance of natural, human and material resources from which we can gain a deeper understanding of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and history

Q: What gives you hope?

I have found hope in government and non-government sectors who are building cultural awareness and providing culturally safe places for my mob, like The Salvation Army who are planning on implementing our Cultural Competency and Capability Framework. This framework encompasses our first national Reconciliation Action Plan, our Community Engagement, Recruitment and Retention and Cultural Learning standards just to name a few of the tools available to change our country’s landscape for the betterment of our First Nations people.

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Salvation Army

What Does it Mean to be Australian – In Conversation with Andrew Lee

Captain (Capitano) Andrew Lee is an Australian Officer currently serving as Finance Officer at The Salvation Army Command for Italy and Greece in Rome. He has also served before officership in Pakistan and as an officer in Bangladesh.

As a man who has called many places “home”, and yet identifies as Australian, we asked Andrew some questions and the following are his answers:

Q: What cultural background do you, or your family, identify as?

I would identify my cultural as a mix of mostly Australian having lived there most of my life, and Singaporean/Malaysian Chinese background.

Q: What is your most favourite place to visit in Australia?

My favourite place to live and visit is Melbourne.

Q: What does it mean, to you, to be Australian?

Wherever I am in the world, being Australian means the freedom to learn and gain experience from other societies but knowing that I can return home to a place where I fit right back in regardless of the length of absence. Being Australian means being fair, respecting and caring for others.

Q: What makes you proud to be an Australian?

This: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-04/darwin-charity-organises-funeral-for-lonesome-stranger/13028558

Q: What is one thing you would like to change about Australia?

I think Australia is a risk-averse country but there have been / are many individual Australian pioneers and innovators. I would hope Australia could change to be more supportive of people who are willing to take risks to improve the lives of other Australians.

Q: Do you know the Aboriginal name of the area you live in?

Italy? I’m not sure if there is alternative name for other countries?

Q: Do you think Australia Day should be celebrated on January 26?

Aside from Christmas, Easter and New Year’s holidays, Australia as a nation only celebrates two national holidays – Australia Day and ANZAC Day. For me, Australia Day in the past is a time to get together with friends for a meal and to watch the fireworks. More significantly ANZAC Day has greater meaning and I have a deeper understanding of what it really means to be an Australian – courage, mate-ship, fighting for equality, freedom and justice, and defending others regardless of their differences. Should Australia Day be celebrated on January 26? Is there anything of national significance to celebrate? Maybe the change could wait for a national Indigenous treaty in the future.

Q: You have been overseas for the past few years and watching from afar as Australia has been beginning conversations afresh about black lives matter, the strain of Australia Day, and the calls for a treaty and congressional recognition – As a temporary outsider looking in, what have you been thinking about all this?

Most of these questions were there before I left Australia. I think including other issues such as robo-debt, climate change action, trade barriers and border control point to a deeper societal issue that we have. Pope Francis sums it up well, “Guaranteeing justice for all men and women is not possible while a few people control most of the world’s wealth and everyone else’s right to a dignified life is disregarded.” I think there needs to be a better way to engage society, because looking from the outside, it seems right now the only pressure point is economic that influences our business leaders to push for a better change in society rather than a healthy general public discussion that changes society’s attitudes and behaviour.

Q: Having just got married to someone who is not ‘Australian’ and on your way home, what new cultural traditions or differences do you see becoming a part of your family life?

As we are both Salvation Army Officers, so our culture is quite similar. Being a protestant Italian means there are a lot of Italian traditions which are ‘Catholic’ that are not part of my wife’s traditions. The cultural differences are minor and mostly from personal choices, e.g. she likes eating freshly made meals (although fast food chains are increasing in Italy) while I like Macdonald’s and Hungry Jacks (Burger King).

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Salvation Army

What Does it Mean to be Australian – In Conversation with Blessing Maduka

Blessing Maduka is an Inclusion Engagement Coordinator for Victoria and comes to Australia from Nigeria. She has not yet received her permanent citizenship status, and yet her understanding of what it means to be Australian certainly makes us proud to have her here and calling Australia home.

We had a conversation with Blessing and she gave us insights into her life:

Q: What cultural background do you, or your family, identify as?

 I identify myself as a culturally and linguistically diverse person with an African heritage. I am from    Nigeria, and stem from the Igbo ethnic group.  

Q: What is your most favourite place to visit in Australia?

I have two favorite places to visit in Australia. First is the Blue mountains. I like this place because it reminds me of my love and wonder for nature, and also the beauty of God’s creation. The cable car, steep train, echo point and 3 sisters are my favorite spots.

The second place I enjoy visiting is the beach, most specifically Bondi beach. Aside from enjoying the cool, serene and fresh environment, it is also accessible and there are lots of nearby food places to eat at.

Q: What does it mean to you, to be Australian?

To me, being an Australian does not necessarily mean having an Australian citizenship or permanent residence. It goes beyond the papers and to more of the spirit, the personality, the humor, the food, the animals and the love for the country. It means appreciating the beauty of diversity while bringing in my own unique culture, food, interest and color. It means getting to experience and explore the beautiful blue beaches around, the hot summer days, the cold winter days and the footy seasons.

Being an Australian to me also means been less judgmental, more accommodating and inclusive because at some point everyone migrated into this country. 

Q: What makes you proud to be an Australian?

What makes me proud to be an Australian is the fact that I am in a multicultural environment where I feel I belong and am included. I have the cultural sensitivity to realize that we may be different, but our differences make us unique. Because of this I will treat everyone with respect and love irrespective of your beliefs, race, sexuality or ideologies.

I am also proud that this is a free country where my fundamental human rights are protected. There is a high quality of the standard of living, good infrastructural development, and it is a good place to raise my kids in a country that allows me to achieve and become whatever I want to be despite my gender. Living my true life and displaying my true identity without been judged or humiliated is something to be proud of.

Q: What is one thing you would like to change about Australia?

One of the things I will like to change among Australians is the act of individualism. Everyone is really all about themselves, which in the long run is not always the best. I would prefer to see a community that is more of a collective society.

Another thing I would like to change would be the laws and conditions for international students and migrants who have come to settle permanently in Australia; specifically, in the area of education and health needs – to be more accommodating for parents who have school aged children. There is no inclusiveness for people who are on a visa, despite being one of Australians major sources of revenue.  Imagine a year one child student’s family having to pay over $9000 per year for school fees in a government school, whereas citizens and permanent residence pay almost nothing as school fees.

Q: Do you know the Aboriginal name of the area you live in?

Yes, the Aboriginal name for the land in which I am living and standing on is Twallumatta.

Q: Do you think Australia Day should be celebrated on January 26?

No, I do not think that Australia Day should be celebrated on January 26, it could be celebrated on 27th or any other day. I advocate for a more inclusive Australia, where everyone should be treated equally and respected. One cannot be celebrating, enjoying their barbecue, relaxing on the beach, etc. while others including the decedents of people from the Aboriginal and Torres strait Islanders are in sobber mood, mourning, and remembering all the injustices done to their forefathers: that to me is un-Australian. Even the bible mentioned in Romans 12:15 “Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep”.

In my opinion, Australia day should not be celebrated on the 26th of January as this will be a way to pay respect, show acknowledgment and show solidarity to those who were murdered or where affected on the day the colonists arrived in Australia. The Aboriginals were on this land long before the colonists came to invade their land, and celebrating Australia day on the 26th means that there is no acknowledgement that people were already living here before then.

The 27th of January or any other day could be set aside to celebrate Australia day or friendship day. This would show that we are not ignorant of what has been done, but because today we are in a more multicultural society, we encourage diversity and inclusion. That is why I think the day should be marked as a friendship day, remembering the day the two cultures met and celebrating our new and united country.

We can’t take away these memories from the Aboriginals, the best we can do is to acknowledge them and show our support.

Hofstede once said that “every society has to maintain some links with its own past while dealing with the challenges of the present and the future” and I think he was right.

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Salvation Army

What Does it Mean to be Australian – In Conversation with Major Andrew Craib

Major Andrew Craib is the General Manager for Client Information and Contract Services. Whilst being born and raised in Australia, Andrew’s background is that of an Anglo-Australian with Scottish ancestry.

We had a conversation with Andrew and asked him the following questions:

Q: What cultural background do you, or your family, identify as?

My parents and grandparents are all Scottish, however I was born in Australia (Western Australia). I probably never thought to much of this and would have always said I was Australian, until I had an opportunity for an extended visit to Scotland last year. There is something about being on the land of your descendants. The aligning of culture you have been exposed with as it is demonstrated in each encounter with people as you interact. The generosity of hospitality even from strangers as they follow that which is understood within their own culture. One of inclusion to all people’s.

Q: What is your most favourite place to visit in Australia?

This becomes an almost impossible one to answer as I have travelled a fair bit of Australia and there are so many wonderful places. If I were to pick a couple it would be the brilliant white beaches of southern Western Australia and the complete contrast of the Grampians in Halls Gap with all the rugged outcrops and great walking trails.

Q: What does it mean, to you, to be Australian?

I have often thought of Australia to be a melting pot of many, many cultures brought together enriching one another in the sharing of customs, food, etc. I have thought much about the “lucky country” tag with good health care, reasonable employment opportunities, the spirit of looking out for each other. Which translates to a sort of responsibility to ensure others have this same opportunity. That people are looked after, included, supported and encouraged to live out their dreams.

Q: What makes you proud to be an Australian?

Two things stand out for me, reflecting upon our troops and the mateship often formed in looking out for each other with a bit of a larrikin spirit thrown in. Secondly, whilst in fundraising for a few years I found that Australians got behind those who were experiencing tough times and gave that bit more as they sought a means of trying to make a difference for others doing it tough, I love this!

Q: What is one thing you would like to change about Australia?

I think in general terms there has been a turning of the tide from the public when considering the circumstances of people seeking asylum & refuge and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. I would want to see much more of this and especially from a social policy perspective. A focus on inclusion, generosity, truth, voice, freedom and LOVE for ALL people in ALL things.

Q: Do you know the Aboriginal name of the area you live in?

The land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation. However I was born on the land of the Pindjarup clan of the Nyoongar (Noongar) people (Western Australia).

Q: Do you think Australia Day should be celebrated on January 26?

No! I think we need to re-evaluate this in light of truth telling, understanding the true history of this country and establishing honour and respect for our First Nations people of the land. I believe there may be a time where we might celebrate what it is to be Australian, together, with focus on our First Nations people’s as well as being inclusive of all contributions from people living in this country, however the current celebrations should cease.

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Salvation Army

What Does it Mean to be Australian – In Conversation with Terrence Whyte

Terrence Whyte is an Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Children’s & Youth Specialist working for The Salvation Army in Queensland. We asked Terrence questions about what it means to be Australian, what he is proud of, and what he would like to change. This is his response and the perfect start to our series for you this January:

I am a Kaiwalaig and Geomulaig man, my family are from the Torres Strait Islands. Born and raised on Kalkadoon country at Mount Isa, I now live in Townsville North Queensland which is shared by two traditional custodian groups the Gurrumbilburra Wulgurukaba peoples and the Bindal peoples. For me Townsville is a central place where I can stay connected to my family and friends in Western QLD and my extended family and culture in Torres Strait. Townsville is often referred to as ‘Mount Isa by the sea’ from the Mount Isa mob and ‘Townsbil Ailan’ (translates to Townsville Island) by families from the Torres Strait.

When I researched my family’s history what I learned was my blood line connects me to Aboriginal peoples, Torres Strait Islander peoples, South Sea Island peoples, Pacific Islander peoples and English peoples. I am aware and have accepted that I’m influenced by all of these cultures and even other cultures that I am not connected to with my blood line but because of where I live; some in small and minute ways and others in large and dominate ways.

The places I have visited around Australia have shown me that Australian’s originate from many cultures. My life experience has proven when other cultures are acknowledged and embraced, respect is present in communities. Respect leads to acceptance and with acceptance can form connections; being connected to people and country creates a sense to care for people and country.

So for me… What does it mean to be Australian? … it is to acknowledge and embrace this culture for caring for all living things

What makes me proud to be an Australian, is that our country is home to the oldest living culture in the entire history of the planet and we have exclusive access to it… there is so much to learn and to share with the rest of the world.

The one thing I would change about Australia, is to be taught about the truth of Australia’s shared history, I believe when we learn about our true history, old Australian’s and new Australian’s will have a greater understanding of our past and greater opportunities to learn about our shortcomings and richness. The reconciliation and relationship building process will form a deeper and stronger connection that will turn in to preservation and protection for each other.

I think that the 26th of January should be renamed to Survival Day for now because it is the date of when the first recorded massacre occurred at Waterloo Creek marking not just the arrival of the first fleet but also the desolation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander custodianship that should be recognised in order to survive.

Aboriginal sovereignty has not been ceded and since Australia’s Highest Court over turned the declaration of Terra Nullius on June 3rd 1992, Australia has not entered into Treaty with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Nations. Australia will need to decide as a nation to grow away from it’s colonial past and offer Treaties to all Aboriginal Sovereign nations or vice versa Aboriginal and Torres Strait Sovereign Nations will need to offer the Australian Governor a Treaty. Then on the day all Treaties are accepted we should celebrate and it should be known as Acceptance Day, to commemorate the acceptance of treaties, the acceptance of our past and the acceptance of each other.

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Salvation Army

What Does it Mean to be Australian?

Our history is an interwoven tapestry of cultures and languages, rituals and song, love and struggle, stories and dreamings. To be Australian is as rich as the bright red soil of the outback, and as flowing as the rivers that etch through our great land. So why then is celebrating our identity as Australians, at times, contentious. Why does a day that is set aside for celebration seem to divide our nation so drastically?

I grew up, as a Salvation Army Officer’s kid, without any real place I called home. Between the moving every 3 years max, and the 3 countries my parents were appointed to, I never really felt any deep connection to any one place. Yet, as an adult I find myself wandering the streets of Melbourne, getting my feet dirty in Darwin, and sitting on the beaches of South Australia, beginning to recognise a calling of place and people. It’s as if ‘Australia’ and the spirits of the land are speaking and I am finally ready to listen to the stories and whisperings that have made our nation what it is today.  ‘As novelist Richard Flanagan says, “We – our histories, our souls – are… in a process of constant decomposition and reinvention.” This is becoming; this is what we do, humans. We are on a never-ending journey towards each other. We are strangers and then we are family.’[1]

Australian author, proud Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi man, and journalist, Stan Grant wrote the book  Australia Day in which he addresses the “uncomfortableness of Australia Day” and it got me thinking about what this country, and the day we celebrate it’s “nation-ness” really mean. What I came to realise however is that there is no one answer; instead there is a collection of stories, perspectives, and ideals which depend on who you are, where you came from, and what you have been told. As Grant says ‘Australia is the name we give this place, but what is in a name? Nothing really… and yet everything. People have died for this place we name Australia. This is what we have built, all of us, and it is precious. It exists in us. We carry it in our stories. That’s what matters: story. A nation is nothing if not story: memories and history.’[2]

Many people, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, have started questioning the date we celebrate Australia and whether 26 January is really the best day. As we get ready for January 26, we wanted to bring you just some of these stories. In this short series we will be asking people of different cultural backgrounds a set of questions about what being Australian means to them. It is our hope that from this, and your own learning and questionings this month, that we may add to the conversations we are having as a country, and together we may begin to sit in the uncomfortable and truly hear each other.

This is the Great Southland: but it is only as great as we, the people who call it home, show it to be.

Captain Alexis McKeand is a Policy & Social Justice Adviser for The Salvation Army Australia, and a Chaplain in the Royal Australian Air Force

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Salvation Army

[1] Grant, S 2019, Australia Day, pg. 3

[2] Grant, S 2019, Australia Day, pg. 4

How Kids can do Social Justice – Part 4

When it comes to making a positive difference in the world, sometimes young people say ‘What can I do – I’m just a kid!’

The answer to that is LOTS! Kids from all around the world have made a difference to the other people’s lives and continue to do so right now. So don’t think just because you are young that you cannot make the lives of others better. God’s Word says in 1 Timothy 4:12 “Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (NRSV) God is saying to you that even though you might be young, you can make a difference for Him in your community!

In this series we explore 4 ways Jesus changed the world around him and we know you can do so too 🙂

4) Advocating for the Oppressed:

It doesn’t always make sense when we try and think about how some kids live in places like Australia or America, with comfortable houses and plenty of food, but others grow up in very poor places like some African countries, where 10 people live in a small shack and food and clean water are hard to find. It is not right or wrong that you were born somewhere – it is just how it is. But loving God means that if we find ourselves living comfortably, then we need to do something important for those who are not. Jesus tells us to share what we have with those who have less and in Hebrews 13:16 it says that God is pleased when we do good things and share with others.

But there is more to it than just being generous. If we give stuff away but don’t actually care about the needs of the poor then we are not following God’s way. It is important that followers of Jesus express their practical love to people by doing good things for them and also by trying to make their lives better. This is how we show God’s love to them.

At just 9 years old, Dylan Mahalingam knew that even though he was just a kid, he had the power to impact the world in a positive way. Starting from a small group of three children to now over 24,000 regular youth volunteers and expanding into 40 countries, Dylan’s created an idea called ‘Lil MDG’s’ which brings together resources to help fix poverty, improve education and equality, and various other important social justice issues. Dylan knew that even though he was young he could stand up for other kids who were poor and his idea has helped so many other kids around the world. His idea is still going and still has kids working for ‘Lil MDGs’ – an 11 year old, a 10 year old, and even an 8 year old![1]

So even kids can make other people’s lives better! Think about how you could try to make changes that would help others. Talk to your family and friends about how you all can work together to make someone else’s life happier in some way 🙂




Dylan talking to others about how kids can make a difference in the world 🙂







[1] http://lilmdgs.org/home.html

How Kids can do Social Justice – Part 3

When it comes to making a positive difference in the world, sometimes young people say ‘What can I do – I’m just a kid!’

The answer to that is LOTS! Kids from all around the world have made a difference to the other people’s lives and continue to do so right now. So don’t think just because you are young that you cannot make the lives of others better. God’s Word says in 1 Timothy 4:12 “Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (NRSV) God is saying to you that even though you might be young, you can make a difference for Him in your community!

In this series we explore 4 ways Jesus changed the world around him and we know you can do so too 🙂

3) Confronting the Powerful:

Bullies are everywhere – school, work, and even in the business world. Just as in the schoolyard where bullies pick on kids who usually cannot stand up for themselves, in business this also happens. Often big companies pick on poor workers and don’t pay them much for the hard work they do. These companies get rich and powerful at the expense of the poor, and the poor find it hard to fight back. But even in our local communities, sometimes the poorest and underprivileged find it hard to get a fair go because the powerful don’t care about them.

One of the most amazing examples of a kid confronting the powerful – the bullies – is that of Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani schoolgirl who as an 11 year old fought for girls to be allowed to go to school in her area. The local warlords – the Taliban – told her to stop and that girls were not allowed in schools. She refused and so the Taliban tried to kill her! But she survived and continues to confront bullies in the area of caring for everybody, letting women and girls do whatever they like, and that all kids can be allowed to go to school.

Do you see people in your life who are being mistreated by those more powerful? Did you know you can write letters to your local Politician and tell them to make changes that help people being hurt by those more powerful! Perhaps even you don’t treat others as well as you should and you need to change?

Here is Malala speaking to the United Nations about the importance of education for kids 🙂

How Kids can do Social Justice – Part 2

When it comes to making a positive difference in the world, sometimes young people say ‘What can I do – I’m just a kid!’

The answer to that is LOTS! Kids from all around the world have made a difference to the other people’s lives and continue to do so right now. So don’t think just because you are young that you cannot make the lives of others better. God’s Word says in 1 Timothy 4:12 “Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (NRSV) God is saying to you that even though you might be young, you can make a difference for Him in your community!

In this series we explore 4 ways Jesus changed the world around him and we know you can do so too 🙂

2) Challenging Cultural Practices:

A “cultural practice” is something we do as part everyday life – it is something that becomes the normal in our community. Unfortunately there are plenty of normal day-to-day things we do which can hurt and exclude other people. Things like leaving girls out of sports teams because ‘girls can’t play cricket’, or not playing with the new kid because they are wearing a turban or headscarf, or maybe we tease some kid because everybody else is teasing them. But if we love God and are trying to live like God wants, then we need to stop doing these things and even fight for change in our community.

That is what young Anoyara from India is doing! Sadly, Anoyara as a young girl was sold by her mother because they were so poor. She was sold to a cleaner and instead of going to school had to clean houses all day for her owner. Unfortunately this happens a bit in very poor places like India, but Anoyara, now a teenager, is fighting to stop people selling their children. She is saying that this is no longer okay to do – this normal thing is unfair to children and hurting them. She is using her voice to speak up for those kids getting hurt, and has managed to stop 100’s of kids being sold and has also reunited a lot of kids with their families.[1]

Just being a kid didn’t stop Anoyara and it won’t stop you! God has given you a voice so be strong for other kids and use it. How can you do this at school? Perhaps you can stand up for kids being teased or be a friend for those who are different to everybody else. What about in your community? What about in your church? What things in our community need to be changed to make everybody enjoy life?

Anoyara Khatun2

Here is Anoyara helping to educate some mothers in an Indian village (image from Save the Children)

[1] http://www.upworthy.com/these-4-young-people-are-flexing-their-youth-power-and-changing-the-world-watch-out

How Kids can do Social Justice – Part 1

When it comes to making a positive difference in the world, sometimes young people say ‘What can I do – I’m just a kid!’

The answer to that is LOTS! Kids from all around the world have made a difference to other people’s lives and continue to do so right now. So don’t think just because you are young that you cannot make the lives of others better. God’s Word says in 1 Timothy 4:12 “Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (NRSV) God is saying to you that even though you might be young, you can make a difference for Him in your community!

In this series we explore 4 ways Jesus changed the world around him and we know you can do so too 🙂

1) Including the Excluded:

Sometimes kids are left out of things others get to always do and it feels horrible. It is like being unfairly “red‐carded” while playing soccer even though you did nothing wrong! Unfairly in real life, many people never leave the sidelines and get into the game. Without even breaking the rules or inflicting pain on anyone else, they are red‐carded and left out from normal activities. Maybe it is because they are girls and only boys are allowed to do something. Maybe it’s because they look different from everybody else. Maybe it is because they talk funny or they walk funny or they act funny. But no matter why kids get excluded, it always feels horrible.

A long time ago – about 200 years – a boy became blind when he was only 3. This meant he was left out of a lot of things that we all enjoy. Mostly he felt left out of reading as he couldn’t see the words. So Louis, at age 15, decided to do something about that and he created a special way of writing words using small bumps in the paper. This meant that now even blind people could read and they were no longer excluded! Today this clever system of writing means 1000’s of blind people get included and is even named after the young guy that invented it – Louis Braille.[1]

It was a simple idea that has changed the lives of so many. But Louis Braille had to think about how he would include the excluded – how he could help people who were being left out. It didn’t happen by accident. Look around you – can you think of ways in which you can include those who are being left out? But don’t just think about including them – do it as well.

Blind braille

This girl who is blind is able to read a book using the special Braille writing! She is not left out when it comes to reading books 🙂

[1] http://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/responsible-living/photos/8-amazing-kids-who-have-changed-the-world/louis-braille#top-desktop

Reconciliation Action Plan Artwork

Our vision for reconciliation is to be a faith movement committed to social justice, equity and freedom.

We aim to respect, value and acknowledge the unique cultures, spiritualities, histories and languages of the oldest surviving culture in the world, and to engage in a unified and positive relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their communities.

The development and implementation of Reconciliation Action Plans (RAPs) are a key vehicle for driving reconciliation processes. Currently, The Salvation Army is working on RAPs and how we approach reconciliation across the country. 

The Salvation Army in Australia will launch our first national Innovate RAP on Thursday 3rd December 2020.

If you would like to see the artwork that has been created to go with the plan, check out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1gfR8PxGr8&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR3rDjHvTMPKijPIt_hB3tAR73TLVIBm4e-pjvjN9i2BuFACJTE1v8SCrtk

United Kingdom

The impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on life across the UK has been immense. It has posed a series of challenges for individuals and families, as well as the public, private, faith and charitable sectors, which are likely to be among some of the most the significant we ever face.
Yet, despite the magnitude of these challenges, there are countless examples of people coming together to support those worst affected by the pandemic and to achieve real and meaningful change. This is especially true of our collective efforts to tackle rough sleeping in recent months.

The Salvation Army UK has conducted new research, Future-Proof the Roof to begin a convsersation about the need for a new long-term approach to investment in the homelessness and rough sleeping system.

You can find this report here:

Check out these other useful resources for information on:

  • Understanding Benefits and Mental Health: A national rethink on how government supports vulnerable people moving into Universal Credit
  • Care in Places: Inequalities in local authority adult social care spending power
  • Levelling up our communities: Proposals for a new social covenant

New Zealand

These are unusual times. New Zealand, like every nation has experienced National Lockdown and continues to address the global pandemic. The Government has responded swiftly and strongly with various economic packages, health advice and new measures and health-based restrictions that have created a new normal in Aotearoa. As we adjust to this new normal, The Salvation Army New Zealand, alongside other community groups and NGOs believe that it is vital to try and capture and quantify the social impacts of this pandemic and lockdown on the poorest and possibly most vulnerable New Zealanders. Fortnightly C19 Social Impact Dashboard’s have been created and are an offering from The Salvation Army to try and record the outcomes of the new social realities on our nation, but particularly for poorer, vulnerable Kiwi facing serious hardship in this new normal.

Download the 5 current reports and the 2020 State of Our Communities Report at:


Homelessness – Why We Care

Homelessness is a widespread and serious issue in our country. It is not someone else’s issue. It impacts all of us, whether or not we experience it ourselves. People experiencing homelessness sleep on the street, in cars, in shelters, and in overcrowded dwellings. They live in every jurisdiction in Australia, representing both a personal hardship for those experiencing homelessness and a lost opportunity for the community and the economy. More importantly, homelessness is a human tragedy.

Fundamental to the ethos of The Salvation Army is the idea that every human being has inherent worth and every person should live with dignity. The Salvation Army envisions an Australia where all people have adequate and stable incomes, can afford and sustain housing, and are healthy and connected to community.

For too many Australians this is not the reality. One of the most visible ways in which this is manifested is in the ever-increasing number of people experiencing homelessness across the country. It has been more than twenty years since Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner affirmed adequate housing is a fundamental human right. Yet, over this period, we have witnessed our country’s worst record on homelessness.

According to the 2016 Census, there are over 116,427 people who are homeless in Australia. This figure has risen by almost 14,000 compared against 2011. Children made up 15,872 (or 14 per cent) of the total national homeless population.

Number of homeless people, by homelessness type, Census night 2016

Type of homelessnessNumber
Persons living in improvised dwellings, tents, or sleeping out (rough sleepers)8,200
Persons in supported accommodation for the homeless21,235
Persons staying temporarily with other households17,725
Persons living in boarding houses17,503
Persons in other temporary lodgings678
Persons living in severely crowded dwellings51,088
All homeless persons116,427
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics., Census of Population and Housing: Estimating homelessness, 2016 (2018). cat. no. 2049.0, Australian Bureau of Statistics. Available at <https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/2049.0&gt;.

Data from our homelessness services show that 67 per cent of clients reported being homeless on more than one occasion in their life, with half of these experiencing homelessness at least four times. The data also reveals that 33 per cent of clients presenting to The Salvation Army homelessness services are doing so for the first time.

There are many misconceptions about what causes homelessness. As a society, we often think that homelessness is caused by addiction, mental illness, domestic violence, job loss, and disability. It is true that many individuals experiencing homelessness are also dealing with mental illness and addiction. Often, these individuals are using alcohol or other drugs which exacerbates their disadvantage and housing prospects. Many individuals experiencing homelessness have been victims of domestic violence, and a significant proportion of them have also been victims of prior physical or sexual abuse. However, despite all of the above being accurate demographic features of the homelessness population, these are not exclusive to them. Perhaps, our greatest misconception about homelessness is that the people who experience it somehow deserve it and should be defined by it.

The five most common primary presenting reasons at Salvation Army homelessness services give a sense of what drives people toward homelessness:

  • Housing crisis (imminent eviction) – 26.5%
  • Domestic or family violence – 13.7%
  • Financial difficulties – 12.2%
  • Inadequate or inappropriate dwelling – 11.1%
  • Transition from custodial arrangements – 5.5%

As a matter of fact, a key theme of these presenting reasons is the role of poverty as an underlying cause of homelessness. The circumstances of poverty that can lead a person to become homeless include having little money, debt, a lack of education, poor mental and physical health, disability, reliance on public housing, living in sub-standard accommodation and social exclusion.

We believe that homelessness in Australia can be fixed. It is the Salvation Army’s view that homelessness is the result of systemic and structural failures that disproportionately affect disadvantaged people. The Salvation Army believes that having safe, secure and affordable housing is a human right. Without a home, a person’s ability to access and maintain employment, education, training, family and social networks, and health and wellbeing can be very difficult, and often impossible, further exacerbating the situation.

We believe that, as a community and individuals, we have the means to:

  • Acknowledge homelessness as a major issue
  • Treat people who find themselves homeless with dignity and respect. For example, changing our language from ‘homeless person’ to ‘person experiencing homelessness’
  • Treat with generosity and kindness any individual experiencing homelessness. A simple “Hi!” or a genuine conversation with someone who is experiencing homelessness can make a huge difference
  • Become an advocate and help to lessen the stigma around homelessness

Racism: Why We Care

 by Alphonse Mulumba

It was lunch time on an ordinary Thursday. Famished as he was and tired from a long Launceston-Hobart drive, the 26-year-old African stopped by McDonald’s Bridgewater (a northern Suburb in Hobart) to have his favourite take-away meal: a Big Mac.

For this piece, we’ll call him Tatenda.

Tatenda gently parked his car, and majestically walked through the main entrance before placing his order.

‘Next please!’ the crew member called on Tatenda.

He approached the counter. His accent called for attention from a group of young men behind, in the queue. Clearly he didn’t speak like an ‘Aussie’. They laughed. And laughed even harder when Tatenda looked back covered shame.

Just as he begun degusting his meal, the mob occupied the next table and begun imitating his accent in derision. Tatenda ignored them for some time till he couldn’t hold it any longer. Visibly disturbed, he abandoned his meal. He begun walking out, to loud mockery and racial slurs: ‘’‘Black dog’, ‘Tassie N****’, ‘You all eat people there in Africa, don’t you?’, ‘Get the f*** out of our country, b****’’’.

No one in the fully-packed restaurant said a word. Crew members, people in the queue and those seated, no one uttered a word to the racist mob.

Tatenda thought: ‘Sometimes, silence is consent’. As he wrestled with a million other thoughts and feeling unwanted to his new country, he missed his steps, stumbled against his own foot and fell flat to the ground.

In ebullition, the mob laughed their lungs out and humiliated more the vulnerable quiet man who kept silence all the way through to avoid any physical confrontation. Tatenda learnt that lesson from many other painful racist past experiences.

It’s now been 7 years. Tatenda still relives the scene. He thinks twice before going to any restaurant alone. As confident as he looks, he is still scared and a part of him still thinks he doesn’t belong here. Not even his Australian passport can convince him of that.

Racism hurts. Racism dehumanises. Racism is a slow killer. Racism still exists.

Tatenda, now works for The Salvation Army. He believes there are many others out there, who live in the shadows and continue to suffer and reminisce on racial abuses they were victims of in the bus, at the train station, in shopping malls, in interview rooms, and all over this country.

Tatenda’s work with The Salvation Army uses his experiences to fight for an inclusive and equal society; and support our mission to create a welcoming environment for all.

Many may ask: why does this even matter?

The fight against racism and other forms of injustice is core and centre of the work and belief of salvationists. As a mission, we are called to follow the example of Jesus who held all humans equal and of great value. He died for them, for us all: the Black and the White. Thus, our work should all be about diffusing the love and unity of the gospel, rather than disunity and differences brought by race and skin colour.

Consider these words in I Samuel 16:7: ‘’The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

As an International movement, we know and believe that ‘’Racism is fundamentally incompatible with the Christian conviction that all people are made in the image of God and are equal in value. The Salvation Army believes that the world is enriched by a diversity of cultures and ethnicities. The Salvation Army firmly believes that racism is contrary to God’s intention for humankind.’’[1]  

What’s next?

As Salvationists, Jesus is our model and His unconditional love is to be shared with all humankind, all races. Just like Him, we cannot afford to see injustice and pretend it never happened.

This is our heartbeat and we can do the following:

  1. Educate yourself about other races, cultures and people’s personal experiences
  2. Stand up and speak up for the victim
  3. Ensure your department has inclusive policies
  4. Pray and support people who look different to you

For more information, please do not hesitate to contact us at diversity.inclusion@salvationarmy.org.au

Written by Alphonse Mulumba – Inclusion Engagement Coordinator (WA) in the Diversity & Inclusion Team

[1] https://salvosau.sharepoint.com/Shared%20Documents/Positional%20statement%20-%20Racism.pdf?CT=1591917492691&OR=ItemsView

Family & Domestic Violence – Why We Care

By Deborah Tkalcevic – Policy & Advocacy Adviser


The Salvation Army wholeheartedly supports efforts to eliminate violence within families as human life is sacred and all people should be treated with dignity and respect. The Bible teaches that all people are equal in value to God, and that God cares about the details of every person’s life.

Every instance of violence in a relationship is contrary to this teaching and is unacceptable.

Throughout Scripture we consistently see that God cares deeply for those who are hurt by others. As His followers, we also care for those who are affected by violence, and seek to bring healing to those who experience it (Isaiah 1:17).

Sadly we have high rates of violence within Australia that can happen to anyone, and statistically, the overwhelming majority of those affected are women. For many women and girls in Australia they are not safe in their own homes and in relationships.

Leaving a violent situation can be stressful and overwhelming, and for those that do, many seek accommodation, advice and support from The Salvation Army. During 2018-19 financial year 13,850 people experiencing family domestic violence received our care. Our data also shows that violence is the primary reason for women and their children seeking our homelessness services: 49% of single parents are homeless due to family violence and 2 in 5 children become homeless because of family violence.

As Salvationists we need to understand that violence is not always physical or visible. Financial abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse or coercive control can be less obvious but just as harmful as physical violence. All these forms of abuse cause immediate and lasting harm to victim-survivors as well as others, especially children, who witness it.

We need to call out people and organisations that use language which minimises or seeks to excuse violence against women. As individuals, we must reflect on our own attitudes towards women, be strong community role models, and challenge gender stereotypes and roles in the home, in relationships and in the workplace.

As Salvationists we need to look out for the people we care about. If someone tells you, explicitly or through subtle hints, that they are experiencing violence – believe them. If you can, help them access support. If it is safe to do so you can ring 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) or go to www.1800respect.org.au and use the web chat. And always, if you hear or suspect someone is in immediate danger, call the police on 000.

We must also ensure that the perpetrators of violence acknowledge their wrongdoing, accept responsibility for it, receive help to deal with those factors which are resulting in violent behaviour, and receive support in working towards the development of new behaviours. The Salvation Army also supports men experiencing or perpetrating violence.

At The Salvation Army, we advocate strongly to Commonwealth and state members of parliament, community leaders and the wider community to address Australia’s enduring problem with violence in families and relationships and promote gender equality. Most recently, we:

  • Called for public policy changes to Australia’s family law system
  • Provided feedback on the draft Northern Territory Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Workforce and Sector Development Plan 2020-2028
  • Developed a submission to the Victorian Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor and
  • Submitted national action recommendations to the House of Representatives Inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence.

To find out more about how to be involved and the issues we are advocating for, you can access all our reports and submissions here. [Please note: not all submissions are uploaded as yet, but will be soon.]

Curiosity, Courage and Creativity – Three Ways to be a More Ethical Consumer

By Heather Moore – Policy & Strategic Projects Adviser

What do you think about when you shop? It probably depends on what you are buying, but do you ever pause to think about who made the product or how many people it took to make all its parts? What about where and in what conditions it was made?

If so, you are probably already someone who understands there is often a human cost behind the apparent bargain. You may also be aware that even for some costlier items, there may be a price behind the fashionable name brand, the gourmet delicacy, or the exotic import. Just because something costs more doesn’t mean it was made “ethically.” From apparel to furniture to technology, the reality behind many of the products we rely on every day can involve profound and protracted human suffering.

From forced child labour in central African cobalt mining for mobile phone parts to state-imposed forced labour of ethnic minorities in China—accounts of worker exploitation and abuse abound from around the world. As more and more stories come to light, awareness has grown about the conditions that millions of people toil under every day—mostly in developing or semi-developed countries. These conditions are not just a consequence of poor labour protections in those countries; they are equally driven by the demand for low-cost products, churned out in short time frames, often for consumers in the developed world. As decades have passed, these forces have jointly entrenched a global system of inequality and disenfranchisement of the worlds’ poorest people.

However, there are signs that this may finally be changing. Encouragingly, increasing awareness has started to shift consumer attitudes about companies caught up in labour abuse and other controversies, with many deciding to ‘vote with their dollar’ and seek out more ethical options. Companies responding to this are very slowly beginning to see tangible financial rewards, but a lot more is required to meaningfully and broadly shift standardised business practices.

If you are one of these people, you will know that this is not as easy as it sounds. Whilst there are some websites that provide guidance for the ethically-minded consumer, sometimes the highest-ranked company or product is still tainted with risks. In other cases, the ‘ethical choice’ available exceeds the consumer’s budget or there simply is not an ethical option readily available.

In truth, consumers alone cannot change the many complex issues behind this problem. Multiple things need to happen, over multiple years, at multiple levels, including businesses making active decisions to change their own harmful business practices. This does not mean, however, that consumers can’t make a difference. Indeed, consumer action may be the only way to prompt businesses to change their behaviour. If this is starting to sound complicated and difficult, be reassured that there are actually some very simple ways ethical consumers can build their impact in the short term.

First, be curious. Take some steps to be a more informed consumer. There are a range of websites and apps that provide advice on ethical purchasing, including ethical.org.au, fairtradeanz.org/for-consumers, and thegoodshoppingguide.com. There are also organisations that publish reports on various products such as Know the Chain, the Ethical Trading Initiative, and Verité.

Second, be courageous. Don’t be afraid to ask for information and reassurance from companies you are thinking of buying from. Unless thousands, if not millions, of consumers suddenly and dramatically change their purchasing behaviour, businesses will need a signal to stimulate change. So, if you can, respectfully let companies you purchase from know that you are making an active choice because you care about how products are made. This will encourage those doing the right thing, to keep doing the right thing. They can also share that good news in their annual reports, demonstrating to shareholders, consumers, and importantly—competitors—that they are ‘getting good by being good.’

In turn, tell the companies who you’ve decided not to purchase from that they are losing your business. It only takes a quick email and consumers could have even greater impact by including the company board on that email.

Finally, be creative. If you haven’t heard of ‘circular economy’—check it out. Everyday, there are new ways emerging to reduce waste and shift away from the traditional “take-make-dispose” model that is at the heart of poor labour conditions for supply chain workers. In other words, by reducing our consumption through creative purchasing, such as clothing swaps and ‘buy nothing’ social media sites, we reduce the demand for products made in ways that are bad for both people and the environment.

These are just a few ways to become a more ethical consumer. Check out our articles in this category for more information on how you can ‘Shop Ethically’.

What is Poverty

By Yvonne Kwan – Policy and Advocacy Adviser

Most of us have an intuitive understanding of what it means to be poor. Perhaps it looks like a child in tattered clothes. Or a bare pantry. Or perhaps an adult shivering on a cold winter’s night. Poverty describes the everyday experience of people who are struggling to have their basic needs of food, safety and shelter met – but it’s more than that.

Measuring Poverty

You may be surprised to know that there is not one agreed definition of poverty.

You may be familiar with the World Bank’s international poverty line, which measures living standards and purchasing power – the cost of basic food, clothing, and shelter needs – around the world. In 2015, 9.6 per cent of the world’s population (or 702 million people) was living in extreme poverty, with an income below the international poverty line of US$1.90 a day.[1]

As societies grow, what we consider to be a basic need changes. Ten years ago a mobile phone and internet access may still have been considered a luxury or ‘optional extra’. Now these would both be considered a necessity. Can you imagine applying for Centrelink or going to school during the COVID-19 pandemic without either?

To measure this, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has defined the poverty line as being half the median income of the total population. In Australia, this would be around $460 per week for a single adult or $960 per week for a couple with two children.[2] In 2018, 12.4 per cent of Australians were living in poverty[3] and 20 per cent of poor households were spending more than 40 per cent of their income on housing.[4] Meanwhile research found that 38 per cent of all Australians would be at risk of falling into poverty if they lost their income for three months.[5]

But humans are complex beings with complex needs. Just because we can afford to eat doesn’t meant that all our basic needs are met. This is why the United Nations developed the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index, which measures poverty by looking at a person’s health, education and standard of living.[6]

Beyond the numbers 

The issue is that none of these measures paints a full picture of what poverty looks like. And poverty only describes part of the injustice and disadvantage present in our world. It is much more complex than this. A person, for example, may not only be finding it hard to scrape together money for food but may also be discriminated against in their community. A person struggling to find consistent work or accommodation may also be suffering from crippling mental illness or family breakdown.

Issues of race, gender, education and location also come into play. Globally, women, especially women living in rural areas, are more likely to be food insecure than men.[7] This is no different in Australia, where women and girls, sole parent families, older people who are renting, and people receiving welfare payments have a higher chance of living in poverty.[8] As a nation, we are still ‘closing the gap’ in life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Anything that we do to combat poverty must consider these differences.

Poverty and disadvantage do not just affect individuals. It involves whole families and whole communities, sometimes across decades and generations. For some people, poverty is a situation they find themselves in for a short amount of time, something that can be broken out of with learning a new skill or being the first person in your family to go to university.

For other people, it may not be so simple. Our experience, walking alongside people experiencing hardship and injustice in Australia, has shown us that the systems and structures that trap people in poverty. Breaking the cycle of poverty means we need to work alongside others in our communities to dismantle these barriers.

As God’s people, we are empowered with a renewed vision for ourselves, our families and our communities. May we be kingdom-centred, and therefore people-centred, in the midst of the complexities of hardship and injustice.

What next?

The Salvation Army’s vision is: Wherever there is hardship or injustice, Salvos will live, love and fight, alongside others, to transform Australia one life at a time with the love of Jesus.

For more information, check out:

Find out how you can be involved in The Salvation Army’s work to tackle the systems and structures that trap people in hardship and injustice in Australia.

[1] World Bank. (2015, October 4). World Bank Forecasts Global Poverty to Fall Below 10% for First Time; Major Hurdles Remain in Goal to End Poverty by 2030 [Press Release]. https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2015/10/04/world-bank-forecasts-global-poverty-to-fall-below-10-for-first-time-major-hurdles-remain-in-goal-to-end-poverty-by-2030

[2] Davidson, P., Saunders, P., Bradbury, B. and Wong, M. (2020). Poverty in Australia 2020: Part 1, Overview [ACOSS/UNSW Poverty and Inequality Partnership Report]. ACOSS.

[3] OECD. (2020). Poverty rate (indicator). doi: 10.1787/0fe1315d-en

[4] OECD. (2020). How’s Life in Australia? https://www.oecd.org/australia/Better-Life-Initiative-country-note-Australia.pdf

[5] OECD. (2020). How’s Life in Australia? https://www.oecd.org/australia/Better-Life-Initiative-country-note-Australia.pdf

[6] United Nations Development Programme. (2020). The 2020 Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). http://hdr.undp.org/en/2020-MPI

[7] Botreau, H. and Cohen ,M. (2019). Gender Inequalities and Food Insecurity: ten years after the food price crisis, why are women farmers still food-insecure? Oxfam GB.

[8] Davidson, P., Bradbury, B., Hill, T. and Wong, W. (2020). Poverty in Australia 2020: Part 2, Who is affected? [ACOSS/UNSW Poverty and Inequality Partnership Report]. ACOSS.

Jesus and Feminism

By Major Christine Faragher

One of the challenges in speaking about the relationship between Jesus and feminism is defining the terms. We need to ask, “whose Jesus?” and “which feminism?”. From the very beginning of the early church, and ever since, Christians have had very different perspectives on the meanings of what Jesus said and did. They have had diverse ideas about worship and sacraments, doctrine and mission, and how disciples should live.  Jesus’ followers are found  across diverse traditions and all along the liberal to conservative continuum. Likewise, feminism is complex and multifaceted. It too comes in many different forms, with distinctive schools of feminism having their own agendas and emphases. So how do we usefully speak about Jesus and feminism?  A focus on the fundamentals is a helpful way forward.

The fundamental claim of feminism is that women and men should have equal rights and opportunities. Feminism points out that the way the world has been organised through patriarchy (literally, the power of the fathers)  has created a system that enshrines male privilege, dominance and power. This privileging of one group over another, based on gender, is intrinsically sexist.  Today, addressing and dismantling this inherent sexism is increasingly being seen for what it is – a human rights issue.[i] 

As far back as 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights  stated that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights…” It further articulated that all people are entitled to those rights and freedoms “without distinction of any kind [including]… distinctions based on race, colour, or sex.”[ii]  But, progress in establishing the full and equal human rights of women and girls has been a slow process and has not yet been fully achieved.[iii] United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, has said that  “achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls is the unfinished business of our time, and the greatest human rights challenge in our world.”[iv]   For Christians, that challenge to remake the world as one in which all human beings have equal worth, dignity, and rights also intersects with the call of Jesus for his followers to live as redemptive agents in the world (Matthew 5:13-16).

The fundamental claim of Christianity is that Jesus came to redeem the world. When we talk about this redemption in regard to women, we can be helped by looking to the insights of feminist theology – a discipline that addresses both the claims of Christianity and of feminism.  Writing in the early eighties, pioneering feminist theologian Rosemary Radford Ruether, said,

The critical principle of feminist theology is the promotion of the full humanity of women. Whatever denies, diminishes, or distorts the full humanity of women is, therefore, appraised as not redemptive… The negative principle also implies the positive principle; what does promote the full humanity of women is of the Holy…[v]

So, whatever promotes the full humanity of women is redemptive, holy, and good; and whatever denies, diminishes or distorts the full humanity of women needs redeeming. It needs to be acted against, and ultimately destroyed.  In this context, it is important to ask in what sorts of ways did Jesus promote the full humanity of women.  In what ways did he challenge the systems and values that denied, diminished or distorted the humanity of women in his world?

The first thing to acknowledge is that Jesus did not do everything. For example, we have no record of him directly challenging structural or systemic gender inequalities and injustices in the synagogue or in the wider society. And while Jesus had many women disciples, none of them were included in the inner circle of ‘the twelve’, at least according to the male gospel writers. Jesus seems to have accepted and worked within the social realities of his day, including an acceptance, for the most part, of the gendered places assigned to men and women within society. But he also, in remarkable ways, challenged those pre-suppositions, usually in one-to-one encounters and in the teaching that flowed from them. Jesus subverted and challenged prevailing attitudes through his teaching and action.

Kevin Giles, in his book, What the Bible Actually Teaches on Women, identifies several key ways in which Jesus subverted the status quo.[vi] For example: Jesus called women as well as men to become his disciples (Mark 8:34); conversed with women outside of his immediate family (John 4:27); and did not shrink from the touch of a woman who breached purity codes in seeking healing from him (Mark 5:34). He was open to being challenged by women in theological discussion (Mark 7:27-28); and affirmed Mary when she took the male role of listener and student as opposed to the female role of server (Luke 10:38-42). He honoured the unnamed woman who anointed him, when she acted as a prophet anointing a king (Mark 14:9).

These are quite remarkable in the contexts in which they occurred. But to a modern reader, these concessions can seem far too small. And in our contemporary world, they are. None of us are living in a first century, Palestinian Jewish context and our expectations in terms of equality and rights are of course, very different. We no longer have to be satisfied with the “crumbs from the table” (Mark 7:28).

The fundamental task of Christians is to carry on the work of Jesus in the world – to continue the redemptive process in “the now, but not yet” of the kingdom of God. The whole arc of Christianity rests on the idea that while Jesus came to earth at a point in history to inaugurate the kingdom, the kingdom is always growing and always seeking to challenge the values of the world.  Jesus did not come to put everything right in an instant, but to embody what putting things right could look like, and the spirit in which it could be done. Actualising and promoting the full humanity of women is an important part of that ongoing task of kingdom work.

This promotion of the full humanity of women is something that should matter to all, but especially to Christians, who despite their differences, share a common belief in the redemptive power of the Gospel, and the “the now, but not yet” of the Kingdom of God. 

Salvationists, in particular, have always understood themselves to be called to participate in this ongoing redemption of the world. That call has been re-stated today as a call for salvationists to be committed to “the redemption of the world in all its dimensions – physical, spiritual, social, economic and political”[vii]  That surely is a call to positively promote the full humanity of women and to challenge anything that denies, distorts or diminishes women’s full humanity and full participation in the life of the world.

[i] See The Salvation Army International Positional Statement on Sexism, https://www.salvationarmy.org/isjc/ips

[ii] See articles 1 & 2, https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/

[iii] See the World Economic Forums, Global Gender Gap Report for insight into the levels of achievement in various countries http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GGGR_2020.pdf

[iv] https://www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/gender-equality/

[v] Rosemary Radford Ruether, Sexism & God-Talk: Towards A Feminist Theology (London: SCM Press, 1983), 18.

[vi] Kevin Giles, What the Bible Actually Teaches on Women (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2018).

[vii] The Salvation Army Handbook of Doctrine,  (London: Salvation Books, The Salvation Army International Headquarters, 2010), 302.

A stranger sat at my dining table

This is my dinner table. It was gifted to me as a hand-me-down when I first moved out of home eight years ago. It has specs of glitter embedded in it; streaks of green and red paint have stained the wood, and there is a water-mark from a plant that adorned the table top for a few months.  This table, with its scratches and marks and as of a few weeks ago, a broken chair – is the heartbeat of my house. Countless meals, teas, coffees, milos, prayers, light-hearted conversations, heart-breaking conversations, art activities, bible studies, arguments, confessions, board games, laughter and tears have been shared at this table. This table is a symbol of the hospitality that takes place in my home.

Growing up in the church, I always thought hospitality was just about having people over for dinner, or bringing scones for the weekly morning tea at church. But hospitality is more than knowing how to host a dinner party. This quote from Henri Nouwen sums it up for me – “Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines[i].” Hospitality provides a space for the Kingdom of God to reign.

When we engage in hospitality, it creates an opportunity where we are able to recognise the injustices our neighbours face. Hospitality provides a space to develop friendships and walk alongside people. When you invite people into your home, you invite them into your space and you open yourself up by sharing with them. In my experience, when you sit with someone in your home and they share the struggles of their life, you don’t just bid them farewell at the end of the conversation with a ‘great to chat, see you next time’ as you close the front door; you are moved to action.  In the middle of hospitality, we live, love and fight alongside others as they experience hardship, and ultimately participate in God’s transforming work.

In Australia One, justice is mentioned both in our Vision statement and in our mission values. Justice is integral to the gospel, and therefore to the work of The Salvation Army. Yet, in order to pursue justice, we need to recognise where injustice prevails. One way we can do this is by engaging in hospitality. When you commit to sharing life with others, you are moved when they experience hardship. As N.T. Wright puts it, “Justice is what love looks like when it’s facing the problem that its neighbour is dealing with”.

In order for justice to move beyond an Australia One buzz word within the organisation, we must start engaging in the messy parts of our neighbourhoods where injustice is prevalent. Unless Salvationists are actively engaged in their neighbourhoods, ‘working for justice’ is just another line in a corporate merger. Hospitality requires vulnerability; it requires stepping outside of our comfort zone. Are we prepared to do this? In Partnering with God, Edge and Morgan state that we are a sent people[1]. We are not sent to the four walls of our church buildings, but to the people in our neighbourhood. Salvationists are all called to engage in the mission of God, which is to join in God’s work to usher in the Kingdom. We are called to love and serve our neighbours.

Hospitality is a practical way to live, love and fight alongside people as we all seek the Kingdom. However, it is a position of power to always sit in the place of host. What would hospitality look like in your life if you were to enter the space of your neighbours? Hospitality allows for mutual transformation; it provides opportunities for us to learn and teach, provide and receive – but requires that we place ourselves in the role of guest as well as host. It is during this process that the Kingdom of God is revealed and we share in our humanity.

Practical suggestions

I moved into my current neighbourhood with the intention to be present to the community and its needs. I wanted my house to be a place of hospitality – a safe and welcoming space, particularly for young people, who would otherwise not have that. I have been in my neighbourhood for almost five years, and it has been a messy process of mistakes, learning and trialling new things.  Here are a few things I have learnt along the way:

  • Family dinners are essential! I live in a share house – and for all intents and purposes, my housemates are my family. If we are not connecting or communicating in a healthy way, any hospitality or community that comes from our house is ultimately unhealthy. We have family dinner once a week. This is an exclusive time for us to share in a meal, prayer and air any concerns we have.
  • Allocate one meal, or day a week for intentional hospitality. We found quickly that if we didn’t protect one day a week for engaging with our neighbours, life got in the way!
  • Be open to God teaching you – I have been changed more than I have changed my community. I expected that I would be helping and teaching in the neighbourhood, but God has taken this time and used my neighbours and community to teach me.
  • Hospitality still requires ‘rules’. Practising hospitality does not mean you give up all your space. I live with introverts so down-time is very important for the mental health and energy of my housemates. Additionally, there is an expectation then when people enter our house – they still respect the people and the things in it.

The command to act justly, love mercy and walk humble with your God is a theme embedded throughout the bible. How is God asking you to seek justice? In what ways may God be prompting you to create spaces for hospitality? How can you be a representative of Jesus in the places most impacted by hardship and injustice?

An opinion piece by Amanda Merrett

[1] Edge & Morgan, 2017. Partnering with God.

[i]Henri J.M. Nouwen, Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life 

“How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?”

The sounds of Boney M echoed through our lecture room. Some of the younger cadets looked a little lost (what sort of old music is this?), but everyone (even the Training Principal) grooved to the reggae beats of “By the Rivers of Babylon”. Our guest lecturer, Lt. Colin Reynolds (Corps Officer at Sunshine), while discussing the Salvation Army’s intercultural mission, used this song to focus in on this line – also from Psalm 137:4 – “How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?” Boney M had based their song on Psalm 137, a Psalm of lament and vengeance from the perspective of the exiled Jewish people in Babylon.

Psalm 137 (NIV)

1 By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.
2 There on the poplars
we hung our harps,
3 for there our captors asked us for songs,
our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

4 How can we sing the songs of the Lord
while in a foreign land?
5 If I forget you, Jerusalem,
may my right hand forget its skill.
6 May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
if I do not remember you,
if I do not consider Jerusalem
my highest joy.

7 Remember, Lord, what the Edomites did
on the day Jerusalem fell.
“Tear it down,” they cried,
“tear it down to its foundations!”
8 Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction,
happy is the one who repays you
according to what you have done to us.
9 Happy is the one who seizes your infants
and dashes them against the rocks.

The experience of the Jewish people, forcibly removed from their land in 586 BCE, parallels closely with the current experience of many people seeking asylum, forcibly removed from their home because of persecution and conflict. According to the UNHCR, there were 59.5 million displaced people in the world by the end of 2014 – the highest number ever recorded. It is reasonable to think that those sitting in refugee camps throughout the world would also weep for their former lands, fondly remembering their connection with the place of their birth. Those of us who have lived in peace and prosperity for much of our lives struggle to understand the trauma associated with dislocation, particularly when the place we have had to leave gives us cultural and religious meaning. The “memory of Zion” for the Jewish exiles in Babylon was a source of both hope and mourning, particularly when their “tormentors demanded songs of joy … of Zion” (v. 3). Their memories considered “Jerusalem [their] highest joy” (v. 6), yet to express these songs, the special songs of Yahweh, to the audience of their captivity was a betrayal of the special relationship between Yahweh and His chosen people. Those who are forced to seek asylum must surely feel the same tension.

There are points of Scripture that make us uncomfortable, and the curse offered at end of Psalm 137 is one these points that grate on our understanding of God – after all, our God is surely not one who seeks revenge or condemns innocents to die. However, this curse captures the emotional response to persecution and dislocation understandable in any context – those who hurt me must receive justice, and even vengeance. In the context of the Jewish exile, the punishment of the Babylonians was enforced by the subsequent empires of Media and Persia. For those fleeing their countries today, the conflicting emotions of despair and hatred must be considered in their subsequent adjustments to a new land. As Christians we are called to follow a new way – the pursuit of forgiveness and a call to love. We are also called to put aside any sense of nationalism to pledge our allegiance to a new Kingdom – the Kingdom of God. Yet within our own context we must consider the pain and suffering of those who flee, and accept that anger against those who hurt and persecute us is part of being human.

There is an irony that for Christians in Australia today, our perspective is from the opposite side to the Jewish exiles in Psalm 137. We may not be the tormentors who forcibly displace others, but we do ask them to sing their songs of joy in a foreign land, and expect a grateful response when we “encourage” those who settle in our land to be more like us. We zealously protect our borders from the “other”, claiming that our territorial sovereignty is more important than international obligations, compassion, or human dignity. Our political debates around people seeking refuge and asylum are couched in terms which demonise the other and reinforce our cultural superiority. This is not in alignment with our Christian mandate: to pursue love and forgiveness, and offer allegiance to the Kingdom of God above our own nationalism.

How, then, do we allow those seeking asylum and refuge to “sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land”? Firstly, we need to wrestle to hear God’s heart through Scripture for the plight of the marginalised. Mercy for the oppressed stranger permeates the Old Testament – Leviticus 19:33-34 reminds us that:

33 “‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. 34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God”.

In Jesus’ ministry we see those on society’s margins welcomed in – the “sinners and tax collectors” and Samaritans alike found their place in the company of Jesus. At the very least we must consider those who are seeking asylum in our country to be loved by Jesus, just like the sinners and tax collectors and Samaritans of Jesus’ day.

The Refugee Council’s theme for 2015-2017 is “in courage let us all combine”. As we consider the Scriptural mandate for our response to people seeking refuge and asylum, let us courageously seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance for our involvement in giving the voiceless a voice, standing up for human dignity, and compassionately helping those in need without discrimination.

Written by Captain Ben Anderson

‘Women of Justice’ Bible Study

This four-part bible study explores how we can work to see God’s Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

Produced for the Salvos Women Resource Manual 2019 (NSW/ACT Division), this study challenges us to look at our own lives and question how we can be more like Jesus.

Based upon the social justice principles  of ‘Including the Excluded’, ‘Challenging Harmful Cultural Practices’, ‘Confronting the Powerful’, and ‘Advocating for the Oppressed’, each study uses the example of a Salvationist woman and the contribution she has made to the work of The Salvation Army, and to the advancement of God’s Kingdom.

We hope this study will foster meaningful discussion and inspire women to live, love, and fight to see our communities changed and God’s Kingdom come.


Download your copy here: Women of Justice

Note: For a lower quality (faster-downloading) version, click here: Women of Justice – Low Quality



Poverty – Why We Care

“When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.” (Lev. 19:9-10)

It is a reality of life that “the poor” have always been with us, and as a result of our human nature, continue to be so. It is why God, almost from the very start, instructed us to care for those who have found themselves in poverty. It was expected that God’s people would leave some of the harvest for those who were poor, so that they could survive and have some of their hardships relieved.

God’s concern for people in poverty is found all throughout scripture – in fact the poor are mentioned more than 400 times. This is why we care for them and why we strive to alleviate conditions that lead to poverty. God’s concern for the poor has not ended, so neither has our responsibility to care and do something about poverty.

Now most of us don’t grow crops today, but the principle still holds, as God’s commands for how we are to care for the needy and vulnerable still remain. We encourage you to make use of the resources in this section, to educate yourself about poverty and to challenge yourself about what you can do today for God’s Kingdom in this area.

“How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?” (1 John 3:17)

War & Peace – Why We Care

When we tune in to the news, sometimes it can feel like war is everywhere and there is nothing we can do about it.

We live in a broken world where we experience and contribute to conflict on a daily basis. While military conflict may not directly affect your life, on a smaller scale there is often conflict within our families, communities, and between the people we come in to contact with every day.

Amidst the conflict and brokenness, we are called to be peacemakers. Matthew 5:9 says “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God”.

“The Salvation Army believes it is God’s intention for all people in all their relationships to experience peace that is just, sustainable and leads to fullness of life. The causes of violent conflict are always complex and multifaceted. The Salvation Army disagrees with those who argue that violence is inherent to religious belief. Jesus proclaimed a gospel of peace. Despite knowing that there would perpetually be troubles in this world, Jesus declared that human peacemaking in a troubled world is blessed by God.”[1]

Check out the articles in this category to read more on a Christian perspective of war and conflict, and how we can contribute to peace in our world.

[1] The Salvation Army Positional Statement: Peacemaking


Symbols to look for while you Shop – trying to understand the ethical certifications!

We have heard about modern slavery and trafficking, unfair working conditions and terrible pay for some of the people who make the products we buy. As consumers we have the choice to support these practices or support brands that care for their workers all along the supply chain.

To help us shop more ethically, we can look for and purchase products that have received a certification that ensures the practices involved in making the product were fair and just. Below are some of these certification schemes to look out for, and what they mean:



Fairtrade is about stable prices, decent working conditions and the empowerment of farmers and workers around the world”.[1] 

Key aspects of Fairtrade include:

  • It is 50% owned by producers. This gives them a voice in decision making, in regards to pricing, standards, use of resources, and the overall strategy
  • It empowers women and promotes gender equality
  • It ensures a minimum price on products which ensures costs of sustainable production are covered
  • It has a premium, an additional sum of money for a communal fund that farmers and workers can use where they deem important including healthcare and education for their children, improved infrastructure, and other things that would benefit their business or community.

Fairtrade works in more than 70 countries, with smallholder producer organisations based in Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and the Pacific Islands.

For a product to receive full Fairtrade certification, majority of ingredients will have met strict Fairtrade Standards all through the supply chain. Sugar, Cocoa and Cotton can be certified independently within a product, through the Fairtrade Sourcing Program. If this symbol is on a product, only that ingredient has met all of the standards.

Fairtrade products include vanilla, ice cream , coffee, tea, chocolate, cotton, sports balls, gold and skin care. In addition to these, many ‘Etiko‘ products are certified Fairtrade including shoes, clothes and undies.



World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO)

Key Practices of WFTO:

  1. Commitment to Fair Trade
  2. Transparency
  3. Ethical Issues
  4. Working Conditions
  5. Equal Employment Opportunities
  6. Concern for People
  7. Concern for the Environment
  8. Respect for Producers’ Cultural Identity
  9. Education and Advocacy

WFTO requires certified organisations to establish quality relationships on the grounds of solidarity, trust and mutual respect. These relationships should be between Fair Trade Organisations and consumers, Fair Trade Organisations and Producer Organisations, and Fair Trade Organisations themselves.

For an organisation to become WFTO certified, they must adhere to the practices outlined above and the 10 principles of Fair Trade (below).

10 FT Principles.png
(WFTO, 10 Principles of Fair Trade)

WFTO certified products are available at Oxfam (as they are certified members of WFTO). WFTO also certifies communities such as workplaces, schools, councils/towns, and faith groups (find out how your community can be certified here)


fair_for_life.jpgFair for Life 

Fair for Life certification combines three key types of requirements:

  • Organic farming
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Fair trade

In addition to these requirements, operators must implement activities that raise awareness and involve advocacy.

The mission of Fair for Life is to make fair trade principles a reality in supply chains of cooperating groups. This is done by:

  • Defining clear requirements for supply chains
  • Guaranteeing sound and efficient control of the requirements that can be adapted for various settings
  • Ensuring consumers receive honest information about the requirements and their implementation

For a whole product to be certified, at least 80% of all agricultural ingredients (by weight) meet the certification requirements.

There are a wide variety of products certified by Fair for Life products. In Australia these include “Pukka” teas, and products from Oxfam such as sundried tomatos.


rainforest-alliance-certified-seal-lg-600x532.jpgRainforest Alliance 

The Rainforest Alliance certification on a product means the product or company has been audited to meet standards that require environmental, social and economic stability.

In order to become certified farms must comply with the Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Agriculture Standard. Which is built on the following principles of sustainable farming:

  • Conservation of biodiversity
  • Improve livelihoods and human well-being
  • Conservation of natural resources
  • Planning and farm management systems that are effective

Tourism businesses can also be certified by Rainforest Alliance if they:

  • Protect nearby ecosystems
  • Use natural resources widely
  • Mitigate climate change
  • Benefit surrounding communities through social and cultural development

Rainforest Alliance certified products include Nespresso coffee, Tetra Pak (paper and packaging), Woolworths products such as chocolate, tea, coffee, toilet paper and tissues, McDonalds tea and cofee, Palmer’s soap, Lavazza coffee, Magnum chocolate, Lipton tea, and others. Find certified tourism businesses here.



The UTZ logo means the company supports sustainable farming by sourcing UTZ certified coffee, cocoa, tea or hazelnuts. This means the logo is only referring to those ingredients complying with their sustainability standards, not other ingredients like sugar or milk.

The sustainability standards are guided by the principles of fairness  and transparency. The standards are the UTZ code of conduct (covering growing and harvesting processes), and their Chain of Custody (covering when the product leaves the farm to when it arrives on shelves – this is about traceability).

The Code of Conduct addresses:

  • Farming management
  • Farming practices
  • Social and living conditions (of workers)
  • Environmental impacts

For the coffee, cocoa, tea or hazelnuts to be labelled as UTZ, producers/producer groups and supply chain actors must be UTZ certified and therefore be following the UTZ sustainability standards.

You can buy UTZ products, including Choceur chocolates and Expressi Perugia coffee, from Aldi and a number of other places – but remember, only the tea, coffee, cocoa and hazelnuts in the product have met the UTZ requirements.

The-Rainforest-Alliance-UTZ_Logos.pngIn January 2018, UTZ merged with Rainforest Alliance. This was because they believe together they can have a greater impact and be better partners to their many stakeholders. Together they plan to respond to and address:

  • Deforestation
  • Climate change
  • Systemic poverty
  • Social inequality

The publication of their single new program will not be complete until the end of 2019, so until then the programs will continue to run in parallel. [2]




Bonsucro Certification provides transparent proof that sugarcane production and the supply chain meet strict requirements regarding the social and environmental impacts of sugarcane production.

Bonsucro is an association of sugarcane producers and downstream processors whose aim is to ensure a sustainable future for sugarcane production through socially and environmentally responsible initiatives. Certification is independent and third-party which demonstrates a rigorous process to ensure compliance, and covers both a production standard and a chain of custody standard.

The Bonsucro Certification covers all sugarcane products, including sugar and bioethanol fuels, and in Australia includes products such as Bundaberg sugar, Coles brand sugar, and Woolworths brand sugar.


Find out more about these certifications at:

Fairtrade: http://fairtrade.com.au/

World Fair Trade Organisation: https://wfto.com/

Fair for Life: http://www.fairforlife.org/

Rainforest Alliance: https://www.rainforest-alliance.org/

UTZ: https://utz.org/

Bonsucro: http://www.bonsucro.com/


[1] Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand
[2] UTZ and Rainforest Alliance Merger

Politics – Why We Care

“Social Justice necessarily involves politics because it takes place in a polis – in organised groups of people attempting to live together. Even when Christians agree on the end of biblical justice that protects the vulnerable and allows for shalom, there is still the question of how that end is best achieved” (Ken Wytsma).

Those who hold political power have the ability to make decisions on behalf of and that affect other people. We have an opportunity to engage with those who hold such power, and in fact as Christians who care about the wellbeing of those around us, we must. If we care about the world around us, we will naturally be interested in the way society works, and in the way it is governed.

There is a common belief that The Salvation Army is not interested or involved in politics. This is not correct! The Salvation Army engages with politics, and the workings of Government, on a regular basis. Instead, The Salvation Army is non-partisan, meaning that it does not consistently or strategically support one political party or candidate. Instead, The Salvation Army seeks to promote Biblical values, including justice, truth, mercy, equity, human rights and peace, as part of its religious convictions and practice.[1] 

Upon being asked “what will be your position on political issues?”, the newly-elected General Eva Burrows responded – “While I definitely feel that the Army should have no partisan bias, I believe we should feel strongly about social injustice. If political means speaking out… to quicken the conscience of the government on the needs of the people, then I’m political”.

Check out The Salvation Army’s Policy Statements and Budget response, and some of the other ways we engage with politics in the other articles in this category: https://salvosocialjustice.org/category/politics/

[1] The Salvation Army Positional Statement: The Salvation Army and The State

The Environment – Why We Care

The Salvation Army believes people are made in the image of God and have been entrusted with the care of the Earth and everything in it.

The Salvation Army recognises environmental degradation as one of the most pressing issues facing the world today with its effects felt disproportionately by the most vulnerable communities, particularly in terms of health, livelihood, shelter and the opportunity to make choices.

The Salvation Army is concerned about the effects of environmental damage on present and future generations. Sustainable environmental practices are required to meet today’s global needs and aspirations without compromising the lives of future generations. – The Salvation Army’s International Positional Statement ‘Caring for the Environment’[1]

In Genesis 1 and 2, God extended the care-taking of this world to us –  “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. … The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” – Subdue and have dominion over doesn’t mean we get to do whatever we like to God’s creation, but rather, as children of God, it is our responsibility to help watch over, care for and love the earth as God does.

Yet in the past century, our planet has suffered significant levels of degradation resulting in air and water pollution, ozone depletion, land destruction, increased temperatures and extreme weather conditions. Scientific research points to human activity as the leading cause of these issues. Therefore, it is our responsibility to work toward the healing of earth. The relationship of God to Creation is one of loving care and concern. As we are made in the image of God, when we are good stewards of the earth we reflect God’s love and care of creation.

To find out more about what is happening to the environment and things you can do to be a good steward of God’s creation, check out the articles in this category.



[1]Caring for the Environment’, The Salvation Army International Positional Statement.


Living water, liveable communities

Living water, liveable communities


Why should we as Salvationists be interested or concerned about issues relating to water? There are some strong biblical, ethical, practical and personal reasons for us – as followers of Jesus, as Salvationists – to be sensitive and attentive to the state of this precious, God-given resource.

Of all that can be classed as important to our everyday lives, water is among the most essential. The human body, on average, is composed of 55-75 per cent water. More than 70 per cent of the Earth is covered in water, of which only three per cent is fresh water. Transport, farming and food, energy, commodities, our own cleanliness, health and well-being are intimately tied to the physical properties and availability of water. Try to think of something that is not related to the use of water!


As Australians, we have experienced the extremes of water availability. Enduring severe water shortages through drought or excessive amounts of water through flooding both have devastating effects on many aspects of life for impacted individuals, families, communities, animals, plants, economies and ecosystems.

Many Salvationists have personally experienced droughts and/or floods, and individual and communal physical burdens and emotional distress in the aftermath of these water-related events.

We, as The Salvation Army, are known worldwide as reliable first-responders and a dependable source of service and support in these tough situations, as we aim to bring honour to God via the sacrament of service.

Globally, there are also other significant issues that can arise when water is not shared carefully, wider community and environmental impacts are not considered, or where there is the potential for pollutants to contaminate water supplies.

Some home-grown examples include: concerns over water rights along the Murray-Darling River Basin; controversial river usage proposals, such as the Traveston Dam in south-east Queensland; and the rapid growth of potentially water-contaminating coal seam gas extraction across Queensland and NSW.

The negative social and physical effects that human practices have on water are commonly most acutely felt by the poorest and most vulnerable in society. Globally, impoverished communities and individuals are, for the most part, faced with the greatest and most concerning competition for food and water, increases in water pollution and waste, and other resource scarcity issues. Simply put, caring about water and the environment more broadly is part of caring for people.


In his paper Water: More than a Symbol, Reverend Dr Clive Ayre gathers water-related biblical symbols in four ways.

First, as many Australians know, water can be strongly connected with destruction. Consider the scriptural descriptions of the flood (Genesis 6-8), and the power of water in the crossing of the Red Sea (Exodus 15).

Second, water also relates to “cleansing and renewal” in practical, symbolic and ritual ways.

The third symbol connects water to “refreshment”. When considering water in the Scriptures, there is also a significant link between physical water and “living water” – the Water of Life. This draws our thoughts towards the refreshment found through the Holy Spirit (Rev 21:6John 7:37John 4:14).

The fourth scriptural water image is seen in Matthew 10:42, where “Jesus highlights the simple act of giving a cup of cold water to someone in need as a prime example of the values of the kingdom of God”.


A few years ago, National Water Week focused on the importance of “liveable communities”. To contemplate the theme “liveable communities” through the lens of “the household of God” adds a wonderful dimension for Salvationists. As theologian Ernst Conradie maintains, the household of God includes animals, plants, energy, food, water supplies, soil and “all the building materials of the house itself”.

Aware of Jesus’ descriptions of kingdom values which include the gift of clean water, how then do we, as followers of Jesus, as The Salvation Army within God’s household, respond? Some responses include:

  • Being aware of where our water resources come from, how much is available and being used or abused;
  • Exploring additional ways we can responsibly steward the resources God has provided and;
  • Being mindful and thankful for God’s provision.

As Rev Dr Ayre states: “Water means the possibility of life. It is quite literally a matter of life and death, both for human and all other life on planet Earth.”

Let us continue to care for water – a precious resource we have been entrusted with – in order to encourage the flourishing of all of God’s loved creation for the glory of God.


(First published in ‘Others’ 6 MAY 2016, available here)


Prayers for Justice

Prayer for Justice

God, you have given all peoples on common origin.
It is your will that they be gathered together
as one family in yourself.
Fill the hearts of humankind with the fire of your love
and with the desire to ensure justice for all.
By sharing the good things you give us,
may we secure an equality for all
our brothers and sisters throughout the world.
May there be an end to division, strife, and war.
May there be a dawning of a truly human society
built on love and peace.
We ask this in your name.


– Catholic Social Justice Centre, Catholic Online


Prayer for Justice

Grant us, Lord God, a vision of your world as your love would have it:
a world where the weak are protected, and none go hungry or poor;
a world where the riches of creation are shared, and everyone can enjoy them;
a world where different races and cultures live in harmony and mutual respect;
a world where peace is built with justice, and justice is guided by love.
Give us the inspiration and courage to build it, through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Catholic Social Justice Centre, United Church of Christ


Prayer for Justice

Lord, you give us the unwavering call to do justice.
You tell us to defend the cause of the fatherless and the widow.
To love the foreigner residing among us.
To provide for the hungry, thirsty, and naked.
To love our enemy.

But Lord, it is overwhelming.
Do you not know that we are only human?

May your Spirit fill us with hope.
Remind us that we are good enough for you,
so that in all things, we will follow your will,
and take up the call to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with you.


—Erica VanEssendelft, Office of Social Justice, Christian Reformed Church