Adventist voices speak for Australian aid

ADRA representatives and supporters at "Voices for Justice" at Australia's Parliament House: (left to right) Nathan Brown, Jessica Duffy, Natalie Nawaikalou and John Smilek.

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Four representatives and supporters of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Australia raised their voices for Australian aid as part of Micah Australia’s “Voices for Justice” gathering in Canberra, December 1–4. They joined more than 200 Christians, with representatives of Christian justice and development agencies, from across Australia for two days of worship, advocacy training and policy briefing, followed by two days in Australia’s Parliament House.

“Micah lobby groups met with more than 90 of Australia’s elected leaders during this year’s ‘Voices for Justice’,” said Matt Darvas, campaign director for Micah Australia. “This represents a powerful—and faithful—collective voice for the world’s poor, oppressed and displaced.”

Amid the political uncertainty in the parliament’s last week of sittings for the year, Micah participants were alert to the challenges and opportunities of the moment. “This is a monumental time to raise our voice on behalf of the poorest and most marginalised people in the world,” commented Natalie Nawaikalou, ADRA Connections coordinator for ADRA Australia.

Micah Australia also celebrated the recent passing of the Modern Slavery Act, but also asked Australia’s politicians to match this statement with financial support of the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery. “It has taken years of advocacy to see this bill passed, but we need more of us to raise our voices to continue to urge an end to these despicable practices and to set the oppressed free,” said Ms Nawaikalou.

A volunteer regional coordinator for ADRA in Victoria, John Smilek was a first-time participant at “Voices for Justice”.

“It was great to collaborate with Christians from many different groups and see the passion so many others have on these issues,” said Mr Smilek. “Our meetings with politicians were positive and they appreciated that we knew what we were talking about on the issues we were focussing on.

“I have been reminded how important justice is to us as Christians, as an aspect of our faith that we have sometimes forgotten. It is empowering to speak up on behalf of those whose voices are not heard in these places—and I believe this is a practical way in which we can love our neighbours, as Jesus taught.”

With his Micah Australia lobby group, John Smilek (right) met with his local parliamentarian Jason Wood (second from left), Member for La Trobe.
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