Adventists Voice Support for the Poor and Oppressed in Australia’s Parliament

ADRA Australia representatives join other Christians to highlight aid efforts.

Nathan Brown, Adventist Record, and Adventist Review
Adventists Voice Support for the Poor and Oppressed in Australia’s Parliament

Four representatives and supporters of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Australia made their voices heard for Australian aid as part of Micah Australia’s “Voices for Justice” gathering in Canberra, December 1-4, 2018. They joined more than 200 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, an umbrella Christian advocacy movement. “This represents a powerful — and faithful — collective voice for the world’s poor, oppressed, and displaced.”

With his Micah Australia lobby group, ADRA volunteer regional coordinator John Smilek (right) met with his local parliamentarian, Jason Wood (second from left), Member for La Trobe in the state of Victoria. Smilek’s visit was part of the “Voices for Justice” gathering at Australia’s Parliament, Dec. 1-4, 2018. [Photo: Adventist Record]

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

Micah Australia also celebrated the passing of the Modern Slavery Act on November 29, which requires Australian businesses to file annual reports to address modern slavery risks in their operations and supply chains. At the same time, Micah Australia asked Australia’s politicians to match this legislation with financial support for 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 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,” Smilek said. “Our meetings with politicians were positive, and they appreciated that we knew what we were talking about on the issues we were focusing 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 neighbors, as Jesus taught.”

An original version of this story was posted on the Adventist Recordnews page.

Nathan Brown, Adventist Record, and Adventist Review