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Pages tagged "Government"
Teenagers care about democracy and government
· March 26, 2013 11:00 AM
Image Source: The Courier-Mail
In light of the upcoming federal election, Michael Knight - "adolescentologist" and founder of Peer Power - raises some interesting points in an article examining the interest of teenagers in the process of democracy and who governs the nation.
His article, entitled 'Teens may seem self-centred but democracy is at their core' was published in the Courier-Mail this month.
Below is a copy of Mr Knight's article.
With the recent announcement of a Federal election, comes the question of whether the incumbent will stay in power or whether the opposition will win a majority and take power.
As someone who spends his days working with teenagers, I wondered whether the average teenager cared about government, its various forms and what role they can play in the whole decision-making process?
After briefly thinking about these two ideas, it would be plausible to conclude that they have little in common - which would be true if one buys into stereotypes and sound bites.
Like a frog in a pot, we can easily lose perspective.
True, Government and politicians can be easy targets for complaints especially given the sound bite news cycle. However before we take another pot shot at our chosen form of government, let us not forget the very form of government we can be so displeased with allows for her citizens to freely express such opinions.
It was the former Prime Minister of England, Churchill who said of democracy, “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”
Now consider the average teenager in Australia and their attitude to government? Would these two ideas be held in the same sentence?
Given a stereotype of the larrikin Aussie teenager as, laconic, pleasure seeking, narcissists or anarchists I would find myself leaning towards the notion that they could not care less about government – but I would be wrong.
In Peer Power’s 2011 survey of 5,000 teenagers, ‘Adolesecentology’ we asked if they take an interest in how our country is governed? I was surprised to learn that 43% agreed with this statement, and 39% were neutral about this, only 18% disagreed.
Of more interest was that over half of all students surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that democracy really does give the common person power to make significant decisions in how our country is run.
Herein lies the danger of stereotypes and sound bites. They may come over as satisfying evidence to support my disposition or I can use this apparent evidence to ‘join me on the bandwagon of my own uncertainty’ (apologies to Taylor Mali Declarative Sentence).
However, beyond the stereotype and sound bite I discovered one of the colorations within the survey showed that those students who do take an interest in government reported having strong core values and could articulate those values. Hardly laconic, pleasure seeking narcissists or anarchists, but capable, thinking, intelligent and articulate young people forming their worldviews and expressing them.
To my surprise and delight I for one came away from these findings encouraged to know that some teenagers not only care about the governing of our country but are and have formed core values which they are willing to express - a wonderful rite within democracy.
It is true that government at times does make decisions that leave their citizens scratching their head, nor wishing they had ticked the other box on the ballot paper.
It is true that a commonly held stereotype of teenagers is that they may be laconic, pleasure seeking narcissists or anarchists.
But to continue to hold these views would be to lose one’s perspective on what we discovered.
Democracy invites and welcomes the expression of opinions free from the threat of being silenced or imprisoned and many teenagers do care about government within Australia.
Whatever happens in the Federal election, we have a nation where many teenagers care, think and take an interest in how the country is governed.
ACT Government unwillingness to attend church service
· February 15, 2013 11:00 AM
Nick Jensen, from the ACL, writes in Canberra City News (7th February 2013) about the ACT Government's decision not to attend a church service to mark the beginning of the 2013 political term.
There has been a fair bit of ink spilled lately over the ACT Government’s unwillingness to attend a church service at the beginning of this political term. The new Speaker, Liberal MLA Vicki Dunne, has proposed an ecumenical service where people can pray for and bless their leaders. Although it would involve a Christian liturgy, leaders of other faiths have been invited to contribute as well to the service.
I may perhaps be a little biased, but the decision to refuse to even send a representative to such an event seems unwise. The latest census data from 2011 shows that around 52% of Canberran’s resonate with the Christian tradition, and another 8% belong to other faith communities.
The reason given from the government was one of ‘principle’, indicating that this would compromise the ‘secular nature’ of the Assembly. By ‘secular’ we can assume that they mean there should be no formal connection between government and religion. If this is the case however some consistency is required. Initially it would be prudent to remove the crosses on the ACT flag, and surely the ‘Goddess’ standing at the public entrance to the Legislative Assembly should be relocated.
Why stop there though if we are truly to remove any formal religious connection? Every MLA with ‘minister’ in their title will need a name change due to its Christian roots. The seating in the Assembly will need to be rearranged as well, based initially on a church-choir seating model. In fact, the very foundation of the Westminster system is based firmly on Medieval Christianity, so naturally this would need to go as well to preserve the ‘secular nature’ of our government.
Quite simply, I believe that there is a serious misunderstanding of what ‘secular’ or ‘separation of church/state’ actually means in Australia. It certainly does not mean that our elected officials need to stay away from religion and expressions of faith. Faith is a part of our history, our culture, our values, and the way many of us live our lives. To therefore reject a simple act recognising this significance is, I believe, not what true representative leadership is about.
In fact, I think that leadership is at its best when it works with faith. Our lawmakers need to be regularly reminded that there is a law and morality higher than the ones they decree. Those in positions of the greatest power need to be continually called to the profound humility that there are greater powers in the world. Those who command authority need to think deeply about the daily practice of sacrifice and service we expect of their position.
All in all, I fail to see the great threat of a community of people gathering around their leaders to bless them, pray for wisdom, and demonstrate support for their representatives no matter what they might believe. Leadership can be incredibly lonely, compromising, stressful, and unappreciated, and I am certain that our new assembly will need all the help they can get.
Chelsea Pietsch on the Political Spot
· December 17, 2012 11:00 AM
Chelsea Pietsch is from Freedom for Faith, a new body representing various Christian Churches and faith-based organisation in relationship to religious freedom. She spoke to the ACL's Katherine Spackman about Freedom for Faith's concerns about the proposed
Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill
which could see a loss of freedom.
Jim Wallace speaking at upcoming breakfast in WA
· October 03, 2012 10:00 AM
ACL's Managing Director Jim Wallace will be speaking at a Business Breakfast later this month in Western Australia, hosted by
Christians in the Marketplace
CITM is for men and women who spend their working day in business, education and government. Its aim is to equip Christian business people to demonstrate sound biblical values to those they come in contact with in the marketplace.
Details for the breakfast event are as follows:
Saturday 20th October 2012
Hyatt Regency, Perth
7:30am arrival for 8am start
$60 per person
for more information and to register for the breakfast.
New Tasmanian premier behind laws of concern to Christians
· January 27, 2011 11:00 AM
Tasmania’s new Premier Lara Giddings is the architect of a raft of proposed law changes of concern to Christians.
As Attorney General, she flagged surrogacy for same-sex couples, euthanasia, a charter of rights and legal brothels for Parliamentary debate this year.
Given these are also supported by the Greens, which share Government with Labor in Tasmania, ACL will be working hard to activate Christians to the injustices that stem from these agendas to children and other vulnerable members of society.
Ms Giddings replaces David Bartlett who stepped down to spend more time with his family.
ACL was disappointed last year when then Mr Barlett went back on his word and formed the minority government with the Greens after the March 2010 election. He had said on the
: “Because a back room deal with the Greens is a deal with the devil, and I'm am - am not going to sell my soul for the sake of remaining in power.”
During ACL’s Make It Count forum before the 2010 election, Mr Bartlett had made a commitment to further examine the Swedish model for criminalising men for purchasing sex, rather than legalising brothels. The ACL hopes Ms Giddings will honour this commitment.
Dollars and spin driving violent video game push
· December 06, 2010 11:00 AM
The push to legalise interactive gratuitous violence in video games has been spun as a child protection measure despite the advice of every Children’s Commissioner in Australia.
Australian Christian Lobby Chief of Staff Lyle Shelton said it was wrong for the Federal Government and the gaming industry to claim that introducing an R18+ rating was in the best interests of children when it was exactly the opposite. He also took issue with the Government’s selective use of polling to claim public support.
“It is unbelievable to see this debate being twisted by spin to such an extent that having an R18+ classification is now being promoted as something that will benefit children. How does introducing new violent media into Australia benefit children especially when we know that these games will inevitably find their way into the hands of children?” Mr Shelton said.
“And if this is so good for children why have the Children’s Commissioners and Guardians from every State and Territory in Australia opposed the move and stated in their
that the introduction of an R18+ classification would ‘adversely impact on the safety and wellbeing of children and young people’?
“Home Affairs and Justice Minister Brendan O’Connor’s statement that dozens of games which have been restricted to adults overseas have been allowed into the MA15+ rating here is an admission that the system he is in charge of is failing to correctly classify material. This is not an argument for liberalising the classification system, already widely recognised as broken, it is an argument for ensuring classifiers do their job properly in the first place.”
Mr Shelton said Mr O’Connor’s selective use of the results of a telephone survey to claim 80% support for an R18+ classification for games was also a concern.
“I note that Mr O’Connor’s media statement fails to mention that the same survey found that two in three (70%) Australians agree that it would be difficult for parents to stop children from accessing R18+ games. The survey also found that 63% of Australians agree that playing violent computer games results in real life violence and that 59% of Australians agree that computer games should be classified differently, because the gamer is invited to participate in the violence, not just watch it,” he said.
“Clearly parents are very concerned about the effects of violent computer games and one has to wonder if they were misled into thinking lifting the ban on violent games would benefit children, when the opposite is true.”
Mr Shelton said the gaming industry stood to make a lot of money from having the ban on violent games lifted. “It is disappointing to think that the government is accepting the arguments of the gaming industry above those of Children’s Commissioners on the issue of child welfare. We urge State and Territory Censorship Ministers to consider this issue carefully and to keep in place the ban on extreme and interactive violent video games at Friday’s meeting.”
Jim Wallace challenges politicians to act with courage and integrity
· October 21, 2010 11:00 AM
Australian Christian Lobby managing director and retired Brigadier Jim Wallace has put out a call for courage and integrity in public office in a challenging lead article in the latest edition of
Addressing an issue too often ignored, Mr Wallace urges those taking part in the 43rd Federal Parliament to “set themselves the highest standards of courage and integrity and to commit to protect and demonstrate it, as is so essential in the highest leadership calling in the nation”.
At a time when the bedraggled NSW Government has been seething with scandal and others in the higher echelons of power have not kept their commitments on key policies, Mr Wallace warns of the need to guard against corruption, scandal and ‘backflips’.
He reminds politicians that “if charity begins at home, then so too does integrity”.
“There is a tendency today to view the private and public as separate, but this is a clear fallacy. A person’s private behaviour is very indicative of how we can expect them to carry themselves and act in public life,” he writes.
In his article, Mr Wallace examines the courage of people such as William Wilberforce and Martin Luther King and states: “Today it takes great courage to defend the rights of the unborn or the right of a child to a father and a mother against the powerful ideological agendas that would redefine family and life; just as it requires courage to honour foreign aid in the face of a global financial crisis or in supporting the rights of refugees.” The full text of Mr Wallace’s article can be read by clicking
magazine aims to inform and influence policy makers on issues of concern, particularly to the Christian constituency. It is published three times a year and goes out to all federal and state politicians, a growing subscriber base, and is sold in selected newsagencies around the nation.
Other issues covered in the just-released October 2010 edition include:
Problem Gambling: Independent Denison MP Andrew Wilkie has made a deal with the Gillard Govt to address problem gambling. Will these strategies work?
Fairtrade: Many Christian, and other ethically minded consumers, are switching to Fairtrade products. What is Fairtrade and does it make a difference?
Stem Cells: In 2006 the human cloning ban was overturned to allow embryonic stem cell research. Have any miracle cures resulted?
R18+ Video Games Debate: Australia currently bans R18+ video games. Should this ban remain?
For more information about
or for subscriptions go to
Media Contact: Glynis Quinlan on 0408 875 979
Salvation Army report reveals two million Australians living in poverty
· October 18, 2010 11:00 AM
A major new report launched on poverty by the Salvation Army today has revealed that two million Australians – or 1 in 10 – now live in poverty, with more than half a million children living in jobless families.
Entitled ‘Perceptions of Poverty’, the report states that 9.5 million Australians feel that taking action to reduce poverty should be a “very high priority”. The research also indicates that 11.6 million Australians agree (or strongly agree) that just about anyone can find themselves living in poverty.
The report has been released in Anti-Poverty Week (October 17-23) and includes a call from the Salvation Army for the Federal Government to instigate a
national child poverty strategy to ensure all children thrive academically and emotionally.
The Salvation Army says there is a new emerging group of people getting bigger – the working poor. They say around half of the country’s low-income households report experiencing cash flow problems, with more than a quarter of them needing to increase credit card debt and exhaust savings and borrow money from friends and family.
The report also reveals many single parent families are experiencing poverty with 57% saying they could not pay utility bills in the past 12 months and 12% saying they went without meals.
to download the report and
to read a media release about it.
The report makes a valuable contribution to our understanding about the causes and nature of poverty in Australia – and sadly highlights the fact that while the rich are getting richer, new generations of Australians are getting entrenched in the poverty cycle.
During the last election campaign very little was said on the issue of poverty and the working poor. It is important that the Government and all political parties focus far greater attention on dealing with an issue which affects so many Australians.
Shaping the nation: Ten words on how Christians can influence politics
· October 01, 2010 10:00 AM
Writing in the September issue of the
, Federal Opposition frontbencher Kevin Andrews (pictured) answers the question ‘What should Christians do to be heard in the public square?’
He makes 10 key points that are extremely relevant to any Christian looking to have an input into the policy directions of our nation.
Mr Andrews concludes: “Christians need to have a voice in the public square if Christian values are to be reflected in the policies of elected governments. This requires a clear vision, a plan of action, commitment, organisation, perseverance, and collaboration. It requires engagement with the political system.
"Most of all, it requires a belief that our way of life and our society has been enhanced by Christianity and will continue to be so in the future.”
to read the full article.
is published monthly. For more information about the magazine or to subscribe please go to
Christian Lobby congratulates newly-elected Gillard Government
· September 08, 2010 10:00 AM
The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) today congratulated Julia Gillard and her ALP team on their election victory and said they looked forward to working with the newly-elected Government on many issues of interest to Christians.
“Although Ms Gillard has declared her own lack of religious belief, we appreciate the fact that she went out of her way to engage with the Christian constituency during a frenetic election campaign and has also acknowledged the importance of Australia’s Christian heritage,” ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said today.
“Ms Gillard has also made strong commitments on a number of issues of concern to Christians, including her decision to continue and expand the popular school chaplaincy program, her commitment to retain the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman, and her support for ISP-level filtering of Refused Classification material. These are commitments she made clear would not be traded away in negotiations with the Australian Greens,” Mr Wallace said.
“Also very welcome have been Labor’s commitments to continue to tackle homelessness as a national priority (with the goal of halving homelessness by 2020), to work to close the life expectancy gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians, and to continue to increase foreign aid funding,” he said.
“We look forward to liaising closely with the newly-elected Labor Government on a wide variety of matters ranging from lifting people out of poverty both in Australia and overseas, to addressing the sexualisation of children and promoting the health of families.”
Mr Wallace also conveyed the ACL’s commiserations to Tony Abbott and the Coalition on their election loss.
“They fought a solid campaign and it has been good to see the Coalition become reinvigorated under Tony Abbott’s leadership – particularly given the importance of having an effective Opposition in a democratic society.”
He added that it was encouraging to see the willingness with which both sides of politics engaged with the Christian constituency during the 2010 Federal election.
“We appreciated the attendance of both Mr Abbott and then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at our Make it Count event which was webcast live to churches throughout Australia on June 21, and also Julia Gillard’s willingness to made a video address to Christians and respond to the same questions on August 6. We also welcomed the responsiveness of both major parties and most minor parties to our election questionnaire on issues of concern to Christians.”
Media Contact: Glynis Quinlan on 0408 875 979
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