Christian women leaders advocate against Pacific violence

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The cohort of female church representatives outside Parliament House, Canberra.

Female representatives from the Seventh-day Adventist Church met with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other senior parliament members in Canberra on September 17-18, to advocate the issue of violence toward women and children in the Pacific.

Greater Sydney Conference Adventist Women’s Ministries director Beryl Landers and Australian Women’s Christian Temperance Union president Joy Marie Butler were nominated by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) to represent the Seventh-day Adventist Church at the meetings.

They joined 40 other women to present requests to various members of parliament on Tuesday, September 17. Mrs Landers was then selected among 10 women to speak with the prime minister himself on Wednesday, September 18.

In their 15-minute meeting, Mrs Landers was impressed that Mr Morrison mentioned Seventh-day Adventists three times.

“He was on board with our requests because he sees how integral the Church is to development in the Islands,” she said. “He’s seen the work of ADRA, and he’s met the prime minister of Papua New Guinea, who is an Adventist. He even used the colloquial term ‘SDA’!

“We were the only Church mentioned, and he mentioned us three times!”

Mrs Landers (third from left) was among 10 women selected for a meeting with Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The cohort was the largest delegation of female Christian leaders to travel to parliament. The meeting was arranged through a unified effort coordinated by Micah Australia—a coalition of churches and Christian non-government organisations that raises a voice for justice and a world free from poverty.

The women leaders—including representatives from the Anglican Church, Catholic Church, Uniting Church, The Salvation Army, Hillsong Church, Baptist Church, Churches of Christ, Bible Society, Anglican Deaconess Ministries, Australian Christian Churches and more—met with representatives from both major political parties to advocate for policies supporting and protecting vulnerable women and children in the South Pacific. This was in support of the Federal Government’s “Pacific Step-up” campaign.

The lobby group presented four requests to the Australian Government:

  1. To ensure Pacific Step-up empowers local communities to lead their own inclusive and sustainable development.
  2. To ensure Pacific Step-up recognises the needs of women and children—the most vulnerable members of our Pacific family.
  3. To work with the Australian church groups to leverage and amplify and strength of the Pacific church as a key partner for development and nation building.
  4. To ensure Pacific Step-up is not at the cost of “stepping down” elsewhere in the world.

The women presented their requests in light of a recent report from Australia’s leading aid and development NGOs revealing that nearly 87 per cent of children experience physical or sexual violence across eight Pacific countries.

Mrs Landers comment was published to the Micah Australia Facebook page. (Source: Facebook)

Mrs Landers says she is inspired and will take her experience into future meetings.

“I am going to the Australian Union Conference in October for their women’s ministry advisory. I will challenge them that Adventist women in Australia can be the voice of the voiceless sisters in the Islands. This has been a great learning experience.”