A Just Australia
At UnitingCare Australia, we are committed to acting justly and compassionately in all that we do, and strive to help shape a nation where each person can flourish and enjoy abundant life.
Our vision is based on the Uniting Church statement, Our Vision for a Just Australia, expressed through seven foundational areas:
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, nurtured and sustained by God before colonisation, are celebrated at the very heart of what it means to be Australian. First People’s sovereignty is affirmed, First Peoples have a voice in the decision making of our country and are living out their right to self-determination. As First and Second Peoples, we walk together, creating socially just and culturally safe relationships, listening and learning from one another.
We seek the flourishing of the whole of God’s Creation and all its creatures. We act to renew the earth from the damage done and stand in solidarity with people most impacted by human-induced climate change. Government, churches, businesses and the wider community work together for a sustainable future.
We are a nation of diverse cultures, languages, faiths, ethnic groups and experiences. We celebrate and value the strength of this diversity. We see this diversity reflected in our leaders, key decision makers, institutions, industry, sports and media. We are a compassionate nation, where every person who seeks refuge here is treated fairly and made to feel welcome and safe – regardless of their country of origin or mode of arrival.
Our government makes economic decisions that put people first: decisions that are good for creation, that lift people out of poverty and fairly share our country’s wealth. The economy serves the well-being and flourishing of all people.
We live together in a society where all are equal and free to exercise our rights equally, regardless of faith, cultural background, race, age, sexual orientation, and gender identity. We defend those rights for all.
We live in communities where we are connected, and we care for one another. In communities all over Australia, from our big cities to remote regions, we seek the well-being of each Australian and uplift those who are on the margins.
Australia acts with courage and conviction to build a just and peaceful world. We are a nation that works in partnership with other nations to dismantle the structural and historical causes of violence, injustice, and inequality. Our government upholds human rights everywhere, acting in the best interests of all people and the planet.
The work of UnitingCare Australia with regard to LGBTIQ people is informed by our overall vision, principles, and values.
The vision of UnitingCare Australia is to work towards a healed and reconciled world in which all people thrive.
The most relevant of the guiding principles are:
- That all people in Australia are to be treated justly, accorded dignity and have their basic rights protected; and
- That Australian society must be guided by a commitment to justice and full participation by its citizens across all domains of life, recognising those most disadvantaged and marginalised and the unique place of our First Peoples.
In upholding the our vision, principles, and values, UnitingCare Australia recognises that some people are disadvantaged, marginalised and excluded. This may include lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) individuals, couples and families.
The UnitingCare Australia vision for a healed and reconciled world includes the acceptance and recognition of LGBTIQ people. The guiding principles are clear that “all Australians” be treated with justice and dignity.
At the founding of the Uniting Church in 1977, a Statement to the Nation was issued which covered a wide range of important public matters. A clause in the Statement declares that “We will oppose all forms of discrimination which infringe basic rights and freedoms.”
UnitingCare Australia is committed to the principles of diversity and inclusion in three ways:
First, our overwhelming focus is the people for whom the services are provided by UnitingCare Australia’s members throughout Australia. Services are provided on the basis of need, and there is no discrimination on any grounds other than the individual’s eligibility for the particular service. UnitingCare Australia and its members observe all applicable anti-discrimination laws, including the Sex Discrimination Act (2013) which outlaws discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, and intersex status. UnitingCare Australia frequently makes submission to Australian Government agencies. Where applicable the concerns affecting LGBTIQ people have been included in those discussions.
Second, we support the members of UnitingCare Australia, who employ approximately 50,000 staff in having diverse and inclusive workforces, qualified and trained to undertake the positions being held. There are a number of networks for LGBTIQ staff and many organisations have conducted LGBTIQ cultural awareness training, especially in aged care. Many UnitingCare Australia network members have been accredited with a “Rainbow Tick” for the training provided and active support for LGBTIQ inclusion.
Third, as an employer UnitingCare Australia seeks to staff the national office with individuals who are most qualified to undertake the range of positions and who reflect the diversity of Australian society.
Our LGBTIQ advocacy
UnitingCare Australia, as an Agency of the Uniting Church national Assembly, is sometimes called upon to work with the Assembly office and provide Uniting Church input on matters in addition to our four priority areas. From 2018-21 one of those issues has been proposals to introduce legislation to protect people from discrimination on the grounds of religion. Though the principle of non-discrimination on the grounds of religious affiliation, or lack of affiliation, is strongly supported, the Uniting Church and UnitingCare Australia has been concerned with the way that protection is balanced with other protections, including for LGBTIQ people.
Advocacy has included the National Director appearing with Uniting Church leaders before the Australian Government Inquiry into Religious Freedom, chaired by the Hon. Phillip Ruddock. In late 2021 UnitingCare Australia contributed to submissions for parliamentary inquiries into the latest version of proposed Religious Discrimination Bills. In early 2022 the National Director appeared with the President of the Uniting Church, the Rev Sharon Hollis, before the two parliamentary inquiries.