Baptist representatives meet with politicians in Canberra
Over two days in September, 40 Converge delegates, representing leadership of the Australian Baptist Movement, took part in 58 meetings right across the political spectrum at Parliament House in Canberra.
In trios, we presented our two new professional Baptist reports to the politicians we met with – The Global Neighbour Index and No Room: A report on domestic violence services in Australian communities.
In each of our meetings, we firstly thanked MPs and Senators for the progress made since Converge last year – both our asks from that have almost progressed to law: Amendments to the Family Law Act to stop violent offenders from cross-examining their victims and the creation of a Modern Slavery Act that makes companies accountable for ensuring that workers in their supply chain are treated fairly. Politicians rarely receive thanks, so this was met with surprise and delight!
Next, we presented the results of volunteer research carried out by Baptist churches around Australia, that led to three practical recommendations in the No Room report:
- Build a comprehensive national database of family and domestic violence support services.
- Increase investment in safe, secure and affordable housing.
- Immediately increase funding from State and Federal governments to address shortfalls in crisis and short-term accommodation.
Asking politicians to help with domestic violence issues was very well received throughout our meetings and our efforts were appreciated.
Finally, we presented the Global Neighbour Index, a newly launched report that helps to assess Australia’s progress against the Sustainable Development Goals – with special attention to our developing nation neighbours. We praised efforts in trade and immigration, but made urgent recommendations around CO2 emissions, aid, and refugees. These recommendations received varied reception across the political spectrum, but the amount of work and care involved was acknowledged and praised.
The experience was daunting for newcomers to Converge, especially in light of recent political events. But come final debrief, all were agreed that our consistent engagement with politicians created a very positive message: that the Australian Baptist Movement are a movement that cares about vulnerable people, one that is willing to play a role in the solutions, and one that expects our government to be part of these solutions too.
If you’re interested in advocating on the issues presented at Converge this year, we invite you to get involved by:
- Accessing Baptist World Aid’s Catalyst resources or contacting Susy from our Advocacy Team on 1300 789 991.
- Joining the No Place for Violence campaign, resourced by A Just Cause.