B29 UnitingJustice Australia – Shelter from the Storm

(UnitingJustice Australia)


The Uniting Church, Justice and Human Rights

The Uniting Church in Australia was born in 1977 when the Congregational Union of Australia, the Methodist Church of Australasia and the Presbyterian Church of Australia joined together to form the nation’s only truly indigenous mainstream Christian movement. The Uniting Church journeys with all Australians in the search for meaning, purpose and community in life. Through worship, sharing the story of Jesus, and service in the community, it witnesses to the belief that life is most fully found in God.

From its inception, the Church has been committed to justice and reconciliation between people. It considers that the world is a community in which all members are responsible for each other and the strongest have a special responsibility for the vulnerable. In the Statement to the Nation made by the Inaugural Assembly in 1977, the Uniting Church promised to “seek the correction of injustices wherever they occur”, “work for the eradication of poverty and racism within our society and beyond”, and “oppose all forms of discrimination which infringe basic rights and freedoms”.[1]

The Uniting Church shares in a long and rich Christian tradition of social justice. The Church gave expression to that tradition in the Statement to the Nation, in which it described its commitment to promoting and upholding human rights and the democratic process, in recognition of the inherent value of each human being. In response to the Christian call to stand with people who are marginalised, poor and oppressed, the Uniting Church believes that it has a responsibility to contribute to the building of societies in which all people are valued and respected. The Church seeks the conditions that enable every person to thrive and to reach their full potential.

The Church’s social justice advocacy and community services are an expression of the belief that every individual is equal before God. When advocacy and service are done with integrity, and as a proclamation of the Gospel, the Church bears witness to Christ, and enters fully into the faith and mission of the whole Christian church.

The Uniting Church believes that it is the responsibility of all of us as individuals and as a community to seek the common good, working together to build a just, peaceful, inclusive and prosperous society, where all people are valued: where the First Peoples of this land are respected as the precious soul of the nation; where civil liberties are taken seriously and the diversity of religions, languages and cultures is regarded as a great gift; where everyone has a home, decent work, access to a good education and good healthcare; and where everyone has the opportunity to live meaningful lives free from fear, persecution, prejudice and violence.

Christian support for human rights rests on the understanding that the community flourishes when all people are included and accorded the dignity and respect they deserve as beloved children of God. Human beings are made in the image of God, and as such are precious, capable of marvellous things, and entitled to dignity, compassion and respect.

In 2006, the Uniting Church Assembly adopted the human rights statement Dignity in Humanity: Recognising Christ in Every Person. It describes the Church’s beliefs that every person is precious and entitled to live with dignity because they are God’s children, and that each person’s life and rights need to be protected or the human community (and its reflection of God) and all people are diminished.

Christians are called to love their neighbour as they love themselves and to extend that love even to enemies. It is the love of God in Christ Jesus which motivates us to live out this calling by working for peace with justice in our church, our communities and the world. The recognition of human rights is an affirmation of the dignity of all people and essential for achieving peace with justice.[2]

Dignity in Humanity affirmed the right of all people to “live free of persecution and violence, with access to all that is necessary for a decent life”.[3] It also affirmed the Church’s support for international human rights instruments and pledged the Church to critically assess national and international policies against these instruments:

We affirm our support for the human rights standards recognised by the United Nations (UN). Everyone has a birthright to all that is necessary for a decent life and to the hope of a peaceful future. This birthright is expressed in UN human rights instruments which describe human rights as civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. These instruments provide a valuable framework for assessing political, economic and social systems and are an important tool for peace.[4]

It is out of these beliefs and affirmations, that the Uniting Church in Australia, through its councils, congregations, members, caring agencies and development aid, has been serving the needs of asylum seekers and refugees in Australia and across the world. The Church has been providing practical and pastoral support, specialist social services, immigration detention-centre chaplaincy, advocacy and prayer since its inception.

In 2000, the Uniting Church in Australia Assembly adopted a series of resolutions which specifically responded to asylum seeker and refugee policy, entitled Welcome the Stranger. The resolutions included a call on the Australian Government to end long-term, mandatory detention and to explore alternatives to detention, better support asylum seekers and refugees in the community and “demonstrate its international responsibility to the protection of vulnerable individuals”.[5] After the ‘Tampa incident’ and the introduction of offshore processing,[6] the Assembly Standing Committee adopted the Church’s Asylum Seeker and Refugee Policy’.[7] This policy statement reiterated the Church’s commitment to the dignity and protection of all asylum seekers and refugees, and affirmed its belief that the rights and safety of asylum seekers must be separated from issues of border protection, and that asylum seekers should not be discriminated against because of how they arrived in Australia.

Since 2002, the global situation for refugees has significantly deteriorated. At the same time, Australia’s policies relating to asylum seekers and refugees have become increasingly punitive as well as complex. Shelter from the Storm: A Uniting Church in Australia Statement on Asylum Seeker and Refugee Policy builds on the principles articulated in the 2000 and 2002 statements and responds to the significant policy reforms made over more than a decade.

Public Debate in Australia

As Christians seeking to live faithful lives and respond to others with the grace of God, we are deeply challenged by the complexity of the debate surrounding policies responding to refugees and asylum seekers.

Many Australians support ‘tough’ positions against asylum seekers who arrive by boat, and rank asylum seeker policies as one of the top issues facing our country.[8]  Some Christians, like many other Australians, are concerned about unsustainable numbers of asylum seekers arriving by boat and a fear of the ‘floodgates’ opening if we were to have more compassionate policies. Others have voiced concern about fears of Islamicisation and the changing demographic of Australia. Many more share a deep concern that people are drowning in small, overcrowded and unseaworthy boats making dangerous voyages to Australia.

We know that we do not always respond to human suffering and need with compassion and love. We are often driven by our fears and confusion to give assent to ‘solutions’ which punish rather than protect. Throughout the long national debates about how we should respond to asylum seekers, we have seen the best of the Australian national character – generosity, hospitality, practical care and deep compassion, and the worst of our nation – political opportunism, mean-spiritedness, fear of outsiders and a callous disregard for the welfare of vulnerable people, including children.

We are confronted not only by deaths at sea but also by our concerns for refugees in camps throughout Africa and Asia and people displaced by violent conflict and persecution in countries such as Syria and Iraq. We see vulnerable people suffering because of harsh and punitive policies administered by our Government here in Australia and in offshore detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island, Papua New Guinea (PNG). Children are locked up in immigration detention centres, asylum seekers are living in poverty in the community with no end in sight to their situation and on Manus Island and Nauru the conditions are harsh and damaging to people’s health and wellbeing. The problems seem too great and the solutions elusive.

With such difficult questions around Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers and refugees, it is important to step back from the prevailing public debate and draw guidance from our identity as Christians.


Christians believe that God’s love is never-ending and that in Jesus Christ we see God’s will for the reconciliation of all creation, the restoration of God’s peace, God’s shalom… We are called as Christians to serve that end…[9]

Christians are called to be signs of God’s will for peace and reconciliation in this world. The vision of God’s shalom, described by the ancient Hebrew prophets and fulfilled in Jesus Christ, is a vision of God’s love—offered to all without distinction—and God’s justice: good news to the poor, freedom to the oppressed, liberation to the captives, food to the hungry and healing to the sick. The prophet Isaiah called on the Israelites to ‘Learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow’ (Isaiah 1:17). God’s love shared among the peoples and the earth, brings justice where there is injustice, peace where there is fear and violence, and hope where there is none.

In the Jewish and Christian stories of faith, it is often refugees who seek and experience God’s justice. The Israelites, strangers in the land of Egypt, became refugees fleeing the oppression of slavery in Egypt only to find hunger, thirst and isolation on the journey to the promised land. Many times more they became exiles and ‘resident aliens’ in the midst of empires. It is not surprising then, that God is often identified in the Hebrew scriptures as the God who cares for the exiled and the stranger, is a refuge to the poor and the needy, and a shelter from the storm for the oppressed. (Isaiah 25:1-5).

It is also no accident that refugees are identified in the Bible, together with widows and orphans, as the most marginalised people and that the test of faithful obedience to God was how a community and individuals cared for these very vulnerable people. The Israelites understood that God’s call on them to welcome the stranger required the most profound expression of hospitality – the people of faith were to extend the rights of citizens to refugees in their midst: When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:33-34)

The Christian story continued to uphold God’s call to solidarity with the homeless. Mary and Joseph were forced to flee and hide in Egypt as Herod sought to kill the baby Jesus. As an adult, Jesus travelled through strange lands choosing to spend time and share meals with the most marginalised and oppressed people of his society. Jesus called on people to love their enemies, give all they had to the poor, and offer hospitality to strangers as their ancestors had done before them. Like the prophets, he taught that faithful obedience to God was marked by such deeds and that it would be how well people responded to strangers and to the poor that would identify them as people of faith.

Jesus taught that faithfulness to God is to be expressed in how his disciples live out God’s will for reconciliation: I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Matthew 25:35).

This care for the most vulnerable in the world, should not, according to the Christian tradition, confine itself to people who are ‘like us’. Christians are called to be agents of God’s grace in the world, seeking justice and peace, reaching out with the love of God to those who are neighbours, those who are strangers and those who are enemies.

The scriptures are very clear that the faithful response to people in need should be driven by compassion. The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews calls people to empathise – “remember those who are being tortured as though you yourselves were being tortured” (Hebrews 13:3).

The Greek word for compassion is splanchnizomai. A more literal translation would be ‘gut-wrenching’. It is used nine times in the New Testament in reference to Jesus himself and used another three times in parables told by Jesus (the parable of the good Samaritan where the Samaritan had compassion for the wounded Jew, the parable of the prodigal son where the father had compassion for his wayward son, and the parable of the unforgiving servant where the king had compassion on the slave who owed him money, forgiving his debt.) When Jesus was moved by compassion he reached out to touch people, often those who were not meant to be touched. His compassion led to acts of justice: feeding, healing, forgiving, comforting and praying. These were not just occasional acts; it was a way of being in relationship that arose from the connection he felt with people. The message was clear: God’s grace is for everyone. Jesus’ compassionate life challenged systems and structures which excluded and oppressed people. It was forgiving and full of grace. It was nourishing and transformative.

As the embodiment of divine compassion, Jesus lived a life of full embrace and called his followers to do the same. We are to live compassionate lives, looking and reaching out to the edges of our communities, inviting into our house people rejected by society, those who are strangers in our land and those who are fleeing situations of hunger and persecution. In a world where so many suffer appalling violence and persecution, we cannot turn people away, we cannot cross to the other side of the street and we cannot fail to offer care and hospitality. We are to share what we have with them. Above all, as Christians, we are to restore hope in this world, for it is in this that God’s love will be known to all.

It is out of these beliefs and traditions that, since its inception, the Uniting Church in Australia through its congregations, members and service agencies, has provided care and support to asylum seekers and refugees in immigration detention and in the community. The Church has consistently spoken out against all government policies that are harmful to asylum seekers and refugees, advocating for policies which are humane and which uphold people’s rights under international law. It has worked ecumenically and in partnership with civil society organisations and groups, and has been active locally, nationally and internationally to raise awareness of the situations faced by asylum seekers and refugees, not just in Australia but throughout the world.


In 1951, after the horrors of the Second World War, the international community came together to sign an agreement about the protection of refugees. This agreement—the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees—defines who is a refugee and what rights they should be afforded.[10] A Protocol was added in 1967 to ensure that the principles of the Convention would apply to everyone suffering persecution regardless of where they are in the world.

Countries which have signed the Convention and the Protocol are responsible for ensuring that they do not return people to countries where their life or freedom would be threatened. This principle—non-refoulement—is one of the key features of the international system of refugee protection.

An asylum seeker is someone who has fled their own country and applies to the government of another country for protection as a refugee. The term ‘asylum seeker’ refers to all people who apply for refugee protection, whether or not they are officially determined to be refugees.

The word ‘refugee’ denotes a specific legal status granted to some asylum seekers. The Refugee Convention defines a refugee as “someone who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country” (Article 1).

The Convention outlines the rights of refugees, including freedom of religion and movement, the right to work, education and accessibility to travel documents. Article 31 (1) states that no penalties should be imposed on refugees for the way that they enter a country, provided that they present themselves without delay to authorities and have a good reason for their arrival:

The Contracting States shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees who, coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened in the sense of article 1, enter or are present in their territory without authorization, provided they present themselves without delay to the authorities and show good cause for their illegal entry or presence.

In June 2014, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), reported that the number of people forcibly displaced from their homes exceeded 50 million for the first time since the post-WWII era. This was an increase of 6 million since 2012 (2.5 million of those were from Syria). This number includes refugees, asylum seekers and people regarded as ‘internally displaced’ – forced from their homes but still in their own country. 16.7 million of those displaced are refugees and half of them are children.

In 2013 alone, over 1 million people applied for refugee protection including over 25,000 children without parents. However, only about 98,400 refugees were resettled (across 21 countries) and just over 400,000 people returned home. The largest refugee population in the world is in the Asia-Pacific region with over 3.5 million people. The majority of the world’s refugees (about 81%) are being hosted by developing countries, with Pakistan hosting the greatest number of refugees (over 1.6 million at the end of 2013).

Australia hosts a relatively small number of asylum seekers and refugees and the number of applications for asylum has always been small compared to other industrialised countries. In Australia, the highest number of applications for onshore asylum occurred in 2012-13, when 18,365 people who arrived by boat made protection claims. The second highest number of applications by boat arrivals was just over 9000, in 2013-14. By comparison, 109,600 asylum claims were made in Germany in 2013 – the highest number of asylum claims in any industrialised country that year.[11]


Australia signed the Refugee Convention in 1954 and the Protocol in 1973, and has since incorporated many of its responsibilities into the Migration Act. As well as the Refugee Convention, Australia has responsibilities to refugees and asylum seekers under a number of international treaties. These include:

  • the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading treatment or Punishment (CAT);
  • the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); and
  • the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

These treaties contain many important obligations for Australia. The CAT states that no-one should be sent to a country when there are reasonable grounds that they may be in danger of being tortured. The ICCPR provides broad coverage for human rights, stating that everyone has a right to life and the right to have their life protected by law. Everyone is also entitled to a life free from torture, cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment. Everyone is also entitled to live free of arbitrary arrest, and has a right to liberty and security. Not all of these rights are being upheld in Australia, because they have not been incorporated into Australian law or they have been removed from law. This means that our domestic laws do not measure up to the commitments we have made under international law.

Mandatory Detention and Policies of Deterrence

The mandatory detention of asylum seekers who arrive by boat seeking refugee protection in Australia without valid visas began in 1992 under the Labor Government. This was to be a temporary measure to deal with an influx of refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos (Indochinese refugees). In 1994, the mandatory detention legislation came into effect. This legislation also created the distinction between ‘lawful’ and ‘unlawful’ non-citizens and removed a limit on how long ‘unlawful non-citizens’ could be detained in immigration centres.

In 1999, the Coalition Government introduced Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs) for the express purpose of deterring others from attempting to come to Australia. Two years later, in August 2001, in response to the arrival of 433 asylum seekers rescued by the Norwegian vessel Tampa, the Coalition Government implemented what would become known as the ‘Pacific Solution’. The asylum seekers from the Tampa were transferred to a navy vessel and taken to the Pacific island of Nauru. The Australian territories of Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Ashmore and Cartier Islands were excised from the migration zone, ensuring that asylum seekers arriving at any of these places would not trigger Australia’s international and domestic legal obligations to assess their claims for protection.[12]

The Government continued to implement the ‘Pacific Solution’ policy until 2008 even though 70 per cent of those detained on Manus Island and Nauru between 2001 and 2008 were found to be refugees and the majority resettled in Australia.[13] Conditions in Australian mainland immigration centres including those in Woomera, Port Hedland and Baxter where harsh and dehumanising—people, including children, were referred to by number—and riots were not uncommon. In 2004, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission (HREOC, now AHRC) released its first comprehensive report into children in detention, A Last Resort?. It found that children were not safe in detention, they were suffering significant rates of mental and physical illness and were witness to the suffering of the adults (including suicide attempts) and the violence of riots (which included the use of water cannons and tear gas).[14]

Between 2005 and 2011, successive governments softened some aspects of their policies. In 2005, the Coalition Government released all children and their families from detention to live in the community while their protection claims were processed. After winning the federal election in 2007, the Labor Government ended the ‘Pacific Solution’ in 2008 and although mandatory detention remained a key policy, it moved to improve conditions in detention centres based on a set of  ‘detention centre values’. Over the following few years, with deteriorating situations in Afghanistan (2.7 million refugees in 2011 alone), Iraq and Iran, Australia saw a rise in the number of asylum seekers arriving by boat.

The Labor Government moved to resume ‘offshore processing’ as a deterrent. After a failed attempt to set up a processing centre in Timor Leste and the failure of ‘refugee swap deal’ with Malaysia in 2011, the Government resumed the transfer of asylum seekers to processing centres on Nauru and Manus Island in 2012. In May 2013, the Australian mainland was excised from the migration zone and on 19 July that year, the Labor Government determined that no asylum seekers arriving by boat would be resettled in Australia. It signed a new bilateral agreement with PNG that would see asylum seekers both processed and resettled there.

In September 2013, the newly sworn-in Coalition Government militarised the response to asylum seekers by charging the Australian Defence Force to intercept and turn back boats to Indonesia under the policy name ‘Operation Sovereign Borders’. Family groups and children without parents (‘unaccompanied minors’) in Christmas Island and mainland centres became subject to possible transfer to Nauru and single men to Manus Island. In December 2014, a bill was passed that legalised the ‘Operation Sovereign Borders’ policy.[15] This legislation removed all references to Australia’s obligations under the Refugee Convention from the Migration Act, effectively placing Australia outside of international law. The Bill also limited the ability of the courts to examine the Government’s treatment of asylum seekers and refugees. The legislation reintroduced Temporary Protection visas and increased the Government’s power to return people to the places from which they had fled without an appropriate, detailed assessment of their need for protection.

Detention Centres

Conditions in detention centres, both in Australia and on Manus Island and Nauru, are harsh and unsuitable for asylum seekers. A number of organisations including UNHCR, Amnesty International Australia and the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) have found healthcare, education, translation and legal services, and recreational facilities to be grossly insufficient. The accommodation is cramped and often lacks privacy. Water, electricity and sewerage services are problematic, especially on Manus Island and Nauru. Together with the heat, the prison-like conditions and the indefinite nature of the detention, the centres are breeding grounds for physical and mental illness in adults and children.

Healthcare professionals and national health peak bodies have had long-standing concerns about the damaging effects of detention on asylum seekers. Doctors visiting the centres have diagnosed disproportionately high rates of severe depression and self-harm, including attempted suicides, even by children. In November 2013, 15 doctors who had worked in the detention centre on Christmas Island wrote a letter expressing serious concerns for “the numerous unsafe practices and gross departures from generally accepted, medical standards which have posed significant risk to patients and caused considerable harm”.[16] In February 2014, a medical committee visited Nauru and their report outlined many serious personal and public health issues with “substantial ongoing risk factors for physical and mental health”, including for 10 children without parents.[17] In March 2015, Australia’s peak health professional bodies issued a joint statement calling on the Government to immediately release all children and their families from detention citing the “the devastating impact of detention” on children’s health and wellbeing.[18]

Reviews commissioned by the Government (the Cornall Report and the Moss Review) as well as the extensive studies of children in detention carried out by the AHRC (A Last Resort? and The Forgotten Children) have all described the centres as extremely unsafe environments and detailed cases of psychological and physical abuse, including sexual harassment, indecent assault, rape and the sexual abuse of children.[19]

Since 2000 there have been 29 recorded deaths in Australian detention facilities, and one death on Nauru.[20] Disturbingly, there were two deaths on Manus Island within an eight-month period. In February 2014 a young Iranian man, Reza Barati, was beaten to death during a riot at the detention centre. Dozens of others were injured. In September 2014, another young Iranian man, Hamid Kehazaei, died in hospital after he contracted septicaemia from an infected and untreated cut on his  foot. There are numerous reports of suicide and serious self-harm by asylum seekers living in the community who have been stripped of hope as a result of visa restrictions, such as Leo Seemanpillai, a 29-year-old Sri Lankan man, and Rezene Mebrahta Engeda, a 30-year-old man from Eritrea.

Temporary Protection Visas

Another damaging policy of deterrence has been the imposition of Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs) for refugees. TPVs withhold a ranges of services from refugees that would make settlement in Australia easier. Travel outside Australia is allowed only on application and in limited circumstances, and there is no right to family reunion, as well as limited welfare and work benefits. There are also limited entitlements to services such as accommodation, food, household goods, finances, language training, employment advice and medical care. In addition, people granted a TPV are expected to undergo a re-assessment of their status at least every three years.

Due to the uncertainties associated with TPVs, people on these visas have, in the past, shown higher levels of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress and other psychiatric illnesses than the rest of the population. A study published in the Medical Journal of Australia found that temporary visa status was a significantly stronger predictor of anxiety, depression and post -traumatic stress disorder than permanent protection visa status.[21] A Senate Inquiry in 2006 found that there was little real evidence of the deterrent value of TPVs, and that the visas imposed a significant cost in terms of human suffering.[22] A submission by the UNHCR to the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers expressed serious concerns about TPVs, specifically that they subject refugees to unnecessary hardship and perpetual uncertainty.[23]

In addition to the psychological impacts of TPVs, there is evidence to suggest that TPVs increase, rather than decrease, the likelihood of people trying to arrive in Australia by boat. Without the possibility of family reunion provisions that are available with permanent protection visas, family members trying to unite with a person on a Temporary Protection Visa are far more likely to board a boat. Former Immigration Minister Chris Evans indicated that the proportion of women and children arriving in Australia by boat increased from 25 to 40 per cent in 2001, the year following the introduction of TPVs.[24] According to the Refugee Council of Australia, of the 353 people aboard the SIEV X when it sank in 2001, 142 were women and 146 were children hoping to reunite with husbands and fathers already in Australia on TPVs.[25]

Refugee Status Determination Processes

A number of accelerated refugee status determination procedures have been used by successive governments. ‘Enhanced screening’ processes were introduced in 2012 for asylum seekers arriving by boat from Sri Lanka. The process allowed for asylum seekers to be interviewed by two departmental officers who made a decision about whether a person may have a claim for refugee protection. If they determined there was no case, the person was returned to Sri Lanka. The process did not allow for people to be informed of their right to seek asylum, the interviews were short (only four questions were asked), no legal advice was available and there was no right of appeal or independent review.

‘Fast track’ assessment was introduced in late 2014 and applies to asylum seekers who arrived by boat between August 2012 and December 2013, about 30,000 people. People refused protection by the Department will only be eligible for a limited review with no interview and, generally, no new information is able to be presented.

Accelerated determination processes which aim to quickly ‘screen out’ (rather than ‘screen in’) raise the risk of refoulement, that is, the return of refugees to places where they risk persecution, torture, imprisonment or even death. The obligation on states to avoid the risk of refoulement is one of the core principles of international law. Ensuring that asylum seekers have access to a fair and transparent process, including access to legal advice before they make their claim, is crucial in avoiding refoulement. It is also important that the process accounts for the fact that asylum seekers fleeing persecution rarely trust government officials with their whole story without being given time to recover from their journey and the support necessary to build trust in an unfamiliar system.

Policies of Punishment

These policies, variously implemented by both Labor and Coalition governments, are deliberately harsh. They are designed to punish asylum seekers who arrive or try to arrive in Australia by boat in order to deter others from attempting the journey. Indeed, boat turn-back policies have been successful at ensuring that no boats have arrived on Australian shores. However, despite continued claims that the “boats have stopped”, the UNHCR reports that 54,000 people undertook sea crossings in the Southeast Asian region in 2014. Of those, at least 540 died in their attempt, while others have fallen victim to organised crime operations in the region, including human trafficking and slavery.[26] The Australian Government has remained silent on these journeys, refusing to confirm how many have reached Australian waters, or how many have been intercepted and returned by Australian naval patrols, citing “on water security” for the lack of transparency.

Importantly, the effectiveness of Operation Sovereign Borders, and indeed all of our policies impacting refugees and asylum seekers, should not be measured simply in terms of the number of boat arrivals. Rather, any assessment should take into account the broader legal and human costs of ‘stopping the boats’, particularly in light of the reasons Australia signed the Refugee Convention and other international human rights treaties in the first place.

Under international maritime law it is illegal to stop boats in international waters and then forcibly transport these boats or their passengers through international waters without their informed consent. Forced tow-backs and military escorts out of Australian waters also contravene our obligations under the Refugee Convention, however these are accepted practices under Operation Sovereign Borders. Naval personnel engaged in these acts have been granted immunity from prosecution for any acts done in the course of their border protection duties as state agents. This has led to multiple confirmed instances of human rights abuses and acts of cruelty against asylum seekers, which most certainly violate the spirit of accepted international norms governing crimes against humanity. It is against these norms that any assessment of our existing policies must be made.

Focussing our attention solely on border protection and implementing policies of deterrence will not reduce the numbers of those seeking asylum around the world. In fact, with the number of refugees and asylum seekers at an all-time high, our policies have done nothing to ensure that those in need of protection are safer or that fewer people are fleeing their homes. Australia should ensure that immigration policies do not use human lives as collateral damage in an attempt to maintain and assert our sovereignty.

Policy Principles for the Protection of Asylum Seekers and Refugees


When we consider, as Christians, what is necessary for a just society, the imperatives to care for the stranger and bring freedom to the oppressed are central. A just society upholds the dignity of every person and the life of every person is valued, while those who are most vulnerable and in need of care and protection find safety and security and are able to fulfil the hope of a decent life for themselves and their family. In a just and democratic society, people and governments work together to ensure that systems, structures, policies and public conversation are life-affirming, respectful of our differences and attentive to the special needs of those who have suffered violence, abuse and persecution. Public policies which seek to punish people who have done no wrong, and political and media rhetoric which serve to demonise a group of people, are unjust. Such policies and practices should be resisted as we work together to build a society where all people can live in peace and with hope.

As Christians called to love our neighbour, welcome the stranger, challenge unjust systems and offer refuge and care to those who are marginalised and in exile, we have a particular responsibility in our society when it comes to responding to issues related to asylum seekers and refugees. The ‘Principles for Good Policy’ must be read in light of the following affirmations.

All people should be treated with respect and accorded the dignity they deserve as human beings.

  • People do not flee their home, their family, friends and community and undertake perilous journeys without very good reason.
  • Refugees should be able to find hope, shelter and restoration from the despair and persecution from which they have fled.
  • Asylum seekers and refugees should not be used for political point scoring or as a distraction from other policy issues.
  • Punishing a vulnerable group of people (asylum seekers) in order to deter others (‘people smugglers’ and other asylum seekers) is immoral.

As one of the wealthiest, safest and most secure countries in the world, Australia should do its fair share to ease people’s sufferings in the context of what is a global problem. We must not shift our responsibilities to poor and developing countries.

  • Australia must work productively in our region over the long-term to ensure that asylum seekers and refugees throughout the region feel safe, can see a future for themselves and are treated justly and humanely as their claims for refugee status are assessed.

Australia’s policies relating to asylum seekers should be driven by bipartisan commitments to a humanitarian response focussed on protection needs and to upholding our obligations under international law.

  • Government policies and the implementation of those policies should not deliberately expose people to harm and policies proven to cause unintentional harm must be reformed.
  • The principles of natural justice[27] and procedural fairness must be applied without discrimination.
  • No-one should be subject to mandatory and indefinite detention without charge and without the right to challenge their detention.
  • Children must be protected from harm and provided every opportunity to flourish. Decisions about policies which affect children must always be made with the best interests of the child as the primary consideration.[28]

The Australian Government must be transparent in the implementation of its policies, open to scrutiny by the courts and the media and to critique and advocacy from civil society.

The media should not demonise or inflame prejudice against asylum seekers and refugees by deliberately promoting misunderstanding. [29]

Principles for Good Policy for the Protection of Asylum Seekers and Refugees

  1. The human rights of asylum seekers and refugees should be upheld at all times.

1.1 Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.[30]

1.2 Australia should uphold the rights recognised under, and fulfil our obligations under, all United Nations (UN) treaties that Australia has ratified, including the Refugee Convention, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The treaties should be incorporated into Australian law and Australia should ratify additional protocols.

1.3 Asylum seekers and refugees should not be discriminated against on the basis of race, gender, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

1.4 There should be no discrimination in the treatment of asylum seekers, refugees and humanitarian entrants. Policies, including access to visas and the formulation of visa subclasses and access to public services, social services, and settlement support, should not discriminate against people on the basis of their mode of arrival, movements prior to their application for protection or resettlement being made.[31]

1.5 Asylum seekers should not be penalised for arriving without valid documentation.[32] The Refugee Convention assumes an understanding on the part of signatory states that there are many legitimate reasons why asylum seekers may not have documents with them.

1.6 Asylum seekers who arrive by boat must not be subject to arbitrary detention which is illegal under international law.[33]

1.7 Australian law must never risk the refoulement of refugees or people owed protection under other treaties to which Australia is a signatory. The obligation to not refoule (return people to places where their life or freedom may be threatened) is one of the most important principles of international law and should never be limited by domestic law.[34]

1.8 Refugees should have access to the same rights and entitlements as Australians, including access to government assistance.[35]

  1. The Australian response to asylum seekers and refugees should be based on humanitarian principles.

2.1 Australia’s policies and legislation should reflect a commitment to the rights and safety of asylum seekers and refugees. This commitment should be clearly distinguished from issues of border protection and security, and from responses to ‘people smuggling’.

2.2 Asylum seekers and refugees must have their dignity upheld and be treated humanely and with respect at all times.

2.3 Asylum seekers and refugees should not be subject to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or torture.[36]

2.4 Asylum seekers and refugees should not be subject to harsh and punitive policies and treatment in order to deter other asylum seekers and people smugglers.

2.5 Asylum seekers and refugees should never be used for political gain and their rights should never be held hostage in political processes.

2.6 Government policies and public statements should not encourage fear, racism or hatred towards asylum seekers and refugees. Language used to describe and discuss refugees and asylum seekers should be truthful, appropriate and sensitive.


  1. Asylum seekers must not be subject to mandatory and indefinite detention.

3.1 Detention in the migration context must not be arbitrary. A decision to detain for extended periods must be made on a case-by-case basis, should be regarded as an exceptional measure and subject to independent review.[37]

3.2 Asylum seekers should only be detained for short pre-determined periods of time for the sole purpose of conducting health, identity and security checks. For children and their families this should be a maximum of 72 hours.[38]

3.3 A maximum limit (7 days unless there are exceptional circumstances) on the length of time an asylum seeker can be detained should be set in law[39] and include processes for administrative and judicial review of individual cases whenever the limit is exceeded.

3.4 After initial processing, asylum seekers should live in the community (together with their family members) while their claim for protection is assessed.[40]

3.5 Immigration detention centres must be located on the Australian mainland and close to major population centres where asylum seekers have access to legal, medical, educational, recreational, spiritual, pastoral and other services. Offshore detention facilities (Christmas Island) and regional processing centres (Nauru and Manus Island, PNG) should be closed and all asylum seekers and refugees transferred to the Australian mainland.

3.6 The excision of Australian territories and the Australian mainland from the migration zone must be repealed.


  1. Australia’s policies and legislation should refer particularly to the rights and needs of child asylum seekers and refugees.

4.1 The mandatory detention of children is a gross violation of their human rights. Child asylum seekers should only be detained as a matter of “last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time” and after an independent authority has reviewed the decision to detain.[41]

4.2 All decisions about child asylum seekers and refugees should be made with the best interests of the child as the primary consideration.

4.3 Children should be treated with care and respect, never being subjected to violence or abuse or placed in situations where they may witness violence or abuse.

4.4 Children should have access to timely and appropriate healthcare and mental health support.

4.5 The specific rights of child asylum seekers, including the right to education, should be upheld. Education should be provided at the level appropriate to the age and stage of development of the individual child.

4.6 All children and their families must live in the community on the Australian mainland while their claims for protection are processed. Children and their families should not be detained in closed, offshore or remote Australian immigration detention centres or centres in regional processing countries.

4.7 Children without parents (‘unaccompanied minors’) must be immediately placed in the care of an independent guardian. The independent guardian should ensure that children are involved in decisions regarding their welfare, and monitor their condition.


  1. The conditions of detention must be humane and uphold people’s dignity.

5.1 Asylum seekers in detention must be treated with dignity and respect at all times. [42]

5.2 Detention facilities should be of a standard that ensures people’s wellbeing and that their psychological, social and health needs are addressed.

5.3 Minimum conditions for detention need to be codified and conform to our international human rights obligations.[43]

5.4 Healthcare must be provided at a standard commensurate to that available to Australian residents.

5.5 Food must be nutritious and suitable for people’s age and religious and cultural background. Asylum seekers should be able to prepare their own food wherever possible.

5.6 Accommodation and bathroom facilities should be of a standard necessary to uphold people’s dignity, health and privacy.

5.7 Asylum seekers must have access to means of communication including phones and computers (including internet).

5.8 Access to legal support and translation services should be provided immediately upon arrival and be readily available throughout the stay in detention facilities.

5.9 Asylum seekers must be allowed regular contact with and visits from family, friends, religious organisations and community groups. Visitation facilities must be adequate, including the provision of spaces for private conversation.

5.10 Detention centres must provide adequate education and vocational training opportunities, and recreational facilities and programs.

5.11 Asylum seekers must be free to practice their religion.

5.12 Solitary confinement is never appropriate for asylum seekers.

5.13 All detention centre staff must be properly trained, including about matters relating to the right to asylum, sexual and gender-based violence, human rights and human rights standards, cultural awareness and sensitivity, symptoms of trauma and the special needs of people with disabilities.

5.14 People who are detained must have access to a non-discriminatory complaints process which includes an independent appeals process and have the right to make a complaint to external authorities including the Commonwealth Ombudsman and the Australian Human Rights Commission.[44]

5.15 An independent authority should monitor and report publicly on the conditions under which asylum seekers are held, and ensure that they are treated justly and humanely.

5.16 All immigration detention facilities must be accessible for monitoring by independent bodies including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Australian Red Cross, the Commonwealth Ombudsman and the Australian Human Rights Commission.[45]

  1. Australia must support and uphold the legal rights of all asylum seekers, including a fair, transparent and timely process for assessing people’s refugee claims.

6.1 On arrival, asylum seekers should be able to notify their families or others and UNHCR of their arrival.[46]

6.2 Once a person has told the government that they are seeking asylum they should cease to be considered to be an ‘illegal entrant’ under existing Australian law.

6.3 Upon completion of health, identity and security checks, all asylum seekers should be issued a bridging visa valid until they are either granted a protection visa or, if their claim is unsuccessful, are voluntarily returned. Bridging visas should, at the very least, include the right to work, access to Medicare and English classes.

6.4 All asylum seekers should have their claims for protection processed in a fair, transparent and timely manner. Their claim for protection should not proceed until they are recovered from the journey.

6.5 All asylum seekers should have immediate access to funded legal advice and assistance to prepare their claims.

6.6 All asylum seekers should have access to sufficient, culturally sensitive translation services from the time that they arrive in Australia.

6.7 All asylum seekers should have access to full administrative and judicial review of their case should protection initially be denied.

6.8 Accelerated refugee status determination processes, including ‘enhanced screening’ and ‘fast track’ processes, are generally inadequate and potentially dangerous. Such brief, non-reviewable or limited-review processes increase the risk of people in need of protection being ‘refouled’. Accelerated processes should only be used to identify those who may be in urgent need of protection.[47]

6.9 Recognising the detrimental social and health impacts of family separation, all refugees and others who are found to be owed protection, should have the right to be reunited with their families. Intake numbers for family reunification should not be tied to any caps on existing migration and humanitarian programs.

6.10 Refugees should be offered permanent protection, regardless of their means of arrival.

6.11 Refugees who receive adverse ASIO security clearances should be told why their security clearance has been refused, have access to an independent review of their cases and be able to appeal the decision. Should an independent review determine that they pose no threat to the Australian community, arrangements for community-based detention should be applied.


  1. Australia must provide adequate psychological, social and medical care, and access to education for all asylum seekers.

7.1 All asylum seekers should have access to healthcare including trauma and torture services, Medicare and public health services from the time that they arrive in Australia.

7.2 Specialist mental health services should be provided to asylum seekers and refugees, recognising the traumatic situations from which they have come and any injuries and untreated medical conditions they may be suffering.

7.3 Asylum seekers should be provided with access to education and vocational training, English-language education, work rights, work-ready support, income support, housing support and casework support while they await the outcome of their claims, and after they are granted protection, for as long as it is required, on a case-by-case basis.


  1. Australia should take a lead in the development of a genuine regional approach to the protection of asylum seekers and refugees.

8.1 A regional solution should be focussed on upholding and protecting the rights of asylum seekers and refugees and supporting the development of a rights-based approach in countries across the region.

8.2 A regional solution would ensure that asylum seekers and refugees are safe where they are, have hope for a secure future for themselves and their families and, if necessary, be able to access appropriate resettlement within the region. There would be no need for people to embark on dangerous sea journeys.

8.3 A long-term, effective and genuinely shared regional solution should be negotiated multilaterally, in consultation with UNHCR and with civil society through such mechanisms as Track II dialogue.[48]

8.4 Protection claims must be processed fairly, quickly and transparently by UNHCR, with support from nations like Australia.

8.5 In order to make a positive contribution, Australia must cease unilateral actions such as the interception and turning back of boats and end its bilateral arrangements with the poorest countries in the region.

8.6 Development aid should never be used as a lure to engage poor and developing countries in bilateral agreements about the settlement or detention and processing of asylum seekers.

8.7 Australia must demonstrate its commitment to a regional solution by resettling a substantial number of refugees from the region.[49]


  1. Australia should take a truly global approach to refugees, asylum seekers, and displaced persons.

9.1 Australia’s responses to asylum seekers should embody the spirit of international responsibility sharing, in the knowledge of our nation’s relative wealth and good fortune, and the burden that has been disproportionately imposed on developing nations.

9.2 The desire to build a trading relationship with a country should never be a factor taken into account when determinations are made on the refugee status of citizens of that nation.

9.3 Australia should increase its commitment to offering resettlement places for refugees referred to us by UNHCR. Australia should (gradually) increase its annual overall humanitarian intake to at least 60,000 by 2020.

9.4 Australia’s onshore (refugees whose claims have been processed in Australia) and offshore (resettlement on UNHCR referral) humanitarian program intakes should be de-linked. Australia is the only country that links onshore and offshore humanitarian intakes. The linking of the two components has contributed significantly to the perception that asylum seekers arriving by boat are queue jumpers taking the place of so-called ‘legitimate’ refugees residing in refugee camps overseas.

9.5 Australia should constructively engage with UN treaty bodies and the Universal Periodic Review process and strive to meet recommendations made by UNHCR in recognition of its mandate to lead and coordinate international action for the world-wide protection of refugees and the resolution of refugee problems.


  1. People whose refugee claims have been rejected should be treated justly and humanely.

10.1 People whose refugee claims have been rejected and have exhausted every legal avenue of appeal, should have access to adequate psychological, social and medical care (including trauma and torture services, Medicare and public health services), sufficient, culturally sensitive translation services, and government assistance to meet their basic needs.

10.2 People who are stateless should be granted complementary protection.[50]

10.3 Every person has a right to a nationality[51] and every child has a right to acquire a nationality.[52] Children born to asylum seeker parents in Australia should have a right to claim nationality.[53]

[1] available at http://www.unitingjustice.org.au/uniting-church-statements/key-assembly-statements/item/511-statement-to-the-nation

[2] Uniting Church in Australia Assembly (2006), Dignity in Humanity: A Uniting Church statement on human rights, pars. 2 and 5 http://www.unitingjustice.org.au/human-rights/uca-statements/item/484-dignity-in-humanity-a-uniting-church-statement-on-human-rights

[3] ibid., par. 6

[4] ibid., par. 12

[5] Uniting Church in Australia Assembly (2000), Welcome the Stranger, http://www.unitingjustice.org.au/refugees-and-asylum-seekers/uca-statements/item/478-welcome-the-stranger

[6] In 2001, a Norwegian vessel, the Tampa, rescued over 400 asylum seekers in Australian waters but the Australian Government refused the captain permission to bring the asylum seekers to the mainland. The asylum seekers were taken to the Pacific state of Nauru to be detained while their claims were processed.

[7] Uniting Church in Australia Assembly Standing Committee (2002), Asylum Seeker and Refugee Policy, http://www.unitingjustice.org.au/refugees-and-asylum-seekers/uca-statements/item/477-asylum-seeker-and-refugee-policy

[8] See for example the 2014 Scanlon Social Cohesion survey, conducted by Monash University, http://monash.edu/mapping-population/social-cohesion-report.html

[9] Uniting Church in Australia Assembly, Dignity in Humanity: Recognising Christ in Every Person, op. cit., Rationale

[10] Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, http://unhcr.org.au/unhcr/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=48&Itemid=58

[11] Statistics from UNHCR (2014), World Refugee Day news, http://www.unhcr.org/53a155bc6.html, UNHCR (2014) ‘Asylum Trends 2013: Levels and trends in industrialized countries’,  http://unhcr.org.au/unhcr/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=391&catid=46&Itemid=92, the Refugee Council of Australia http://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/fact-sheets/who-are-refugees/the-global-picture/ and the Parliament of Australia (2015), ‘Asylum Seekers and refugees: what are the facts?’, http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1415/AsylumFacts

[12] Territories which are ‘excised’ from Australia’s migration zone become places where Australia’s migration law does not apply.

[13] J. Phillips & H. Spinks (March 2013), ‘Immigration Detention in Australia’, Background Note, Parliamentary Library, Parliament of Australia, p. 10

[14] Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (2004), A Last resort? Report of the National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention, https://www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/asylum-seekers-and-refugees/projects/last-resort-report-national-inquiry-children

[15] Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014

[16] International Health and Medical Services (November 2013), ‘Letter of Concerns’, http://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2014/jan/13/christmas-island-doctors-letter-of-concern-in-full

[17] Physical and Mental Health Subcommittee of the Joint Advisory Committee for Nauru Regional Processing Arrangements (16-19 February 2014), Nauru Site Visit Report, http://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2014/may/29/nauru-family-health-risks-report-in-full

[18] ‘Children in detention: a joint statement from Australia’s peak health professional bodies’ (18 March 2015), http://www.racgp.org.au/yourracgp/news/news/health-groups-unite-against-children-in-detention/

[19]  The Moss Review Report is available at http://www.immi.gov.au/about/dept-info/nauru.htm, the Cornall Report http://www.immi.gov.au/about/dept-info/_files/review-manus-offshore-processing-centre-publication-sep2013.pdf and the AHRC Reports https://www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/asylum-seekers-and-refugees/publications/last-resort-national-inquiry-children-immigration and https://www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/asylum-seekers-and-refugees/publications/forgotten-children-national-inquiry-children

[20] Monash University, ‘Australian Border Deaths Database’, http://artsonline.monash.edu.au/thebordercrossingobservatory/publications/australian-border-deaths-database/).

[21] S. Momartin et al (2006), ‘A comparison of the mental health of refugees with temporary vs permanent projection visas’, Medical Journal of Australia, 185 (7): 357-361

[22] Senate Legal and Constitutional References Committee (March 2006), Administration and Operation of the Migration Act 1958, p. 252, http://www.aph.gov.au/~/media/wopapub/senate/committee/legcon_ctte/completed_inquiries/2004_07/migration/report/report_pdf.ashx

[23] UNHCR (27 July 2012) Submission to the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers, http://unhcr.org.au/unhcr/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=258:unhcr-submission-to-the-expert-panel-on-asylum-seekers&catid=37:submissions&Itemid=61

[24] Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Estimates (24 February 2009), Official Committee Hansard,  http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;orderBy=date-eLast;page=10;query=24%20february%202009%20chris%20evans;rec=2;resCount=Default

[25] Refugee Council of Australia (September 2014), ‘Temporary Protection Visas’, http://refugeecouncil.org.au/n/mr/1409_TPVs.pdf

[26]  UNHCR News Stories (10 December 2014), ‘UNHCR urges focus on saving lives as 2014 boat people numbers near 350,000’, http://www.unhcr.org/5486e6b56.html

[27] ‘Natural justice’ is one of the foundational principles of law that refers to the right to have a fair trial or hearing and the right to be free from bias or prejudice in decision-making.

[28] Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 3(1), http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/crc.aspx

[29] The Australian Press Council has a guideline and has made three rulings regarding the term ‘illegal’ for refugees

and asylum seekers: 1. Guideline No. 262 (2004) states: “The Australian Press Council has received complaints about the terminology that is applied, and ought to be applied, to those arriving in Australia who do not have normal immigrant credentials. Technically in Commonwealth immigration legislation they are referred to as ‘unlawful non-citizens’. However, they are often referred to as ‘illegal immigrants’, or even ‘illegals’. The problem with the use of terms such as ‘illegal refugee’ and ‘illegal asylum seeker’ is that they are often inaccurate and may be derogatory. The Council cautions the press to be careful in the use of such unqualified terms in reports and headlines”. 2. Adjudication No. 1430 (31 July 2009) states: “The Australian Press Council has upheld a complaint brought by an advocacy group, A Just Australia, against The Australian about some of the language used in four articles and an editorial on boat arrivals published in April 2009”. 3. Adjudication No. 1242 (June 2004) states: “The Australian Press Council has upheld a complaint brought by Mira Wroblewski and others against The Sydney Morning Herald concerning the terminology used in a headline to describe people without the requisite migration documents or authority, who arrive seeking asylum in Australia.” So under Australian and international law and professional media industry guidelines the term ‘illegal’ should not be applied to refugees or asylum seekers. The UK-based Information Centre About Asylum and Refugees (ICAR) has a useful set of guidelines http://www.icar.org.uk/Asylum_Seekers_and_Media_Briefing_ICAR.pdf.

[30] Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 14, http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/

[31] Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, Article 3

[32] Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, Article 31 (1)

[33] Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 9 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 9 (1)1, http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/ccpr.aspx

[34] People are protected against refoulement in a number of treaties and conventions including the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Article 3(1), http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CAT.aspx, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Articles 6(1) and 7, and the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, Article 31.

[35] Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, Article 23

[36] Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 5

[37] UNHCR (2014), Guidelines on the Applicable Criteria and Standards Relating to the Detention of Asylum Seekers and Alternatives to Detention, Guideline 4, available http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/503489533b8.html

[38] Recommended by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, ‘Children in immigration detention’, Position Statement 52, February 2015, https://www.ranzcp.org/News-policy/Policy-and-advocacy/Child-and-adolescent.aspx

[39] UNHCR, Guidelines on the Applicable Criteria and Standards Relating to the Detention of Asylum Seekers and Alternatives to Detention, op. cit., Guideline 6

[40] Australia already implements a model for ‘community-based processing’ for asylum seekers who arrive by plane. Once their visa expires, they are granted a bridging visa until their claim is processed. During this time they do not receive Centrelink payments, but if assessed as particularly vulnerable may receive special assistance equivalent to 89% of the Newstart allowance. Most rely on the support of the community to meet their basic needs.

[41] Convention on the Rights of the Child, op. cit., Article 37(b). The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists has recommended a maximum of 3 days, in ‘Children in Immigration Detention’, Position Statement 52, February 2015, p. 3, https://www.ranzcp.org/News-policy/Policy-and-advocacy/Child-and-adolescent.aspx

[42] These recommendations are consistent with those made by UNHCR, Guidelines on the Applicable Criteria and Standards Relating to the Detention of Asylum Seekers and Alternatives to Detention, op. cit., Guideline 8, and AHRC (2013) Human Rights Standards for Immigration Detention, https://www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/asylum-seekers-and-refugees/publications/human-rights-standards-immigration-detention

[43] Such guidelines should be consistent with the UNHCR Guidelines on the Applicable Criteria and Standards Relating to the Detention of Asylum Seekers and Alternatives to Detention, ibid.

[44] AHRC, Human Rights Standards for Immigration Detention, op. cit., section 6.2

[45] ibid., section 6.1

[46] ibid., section 8.4

[47] B. Douglas et al (2014), Beyond the Boats: Building and Asylum and Refugee Policy for the Long Term, Australia21, p. 34 https://www.australia21.org.au/publication-archive/beyond-the-boats-building-an-asylum-and-refugee-policy-for-the-long-term/#.VVGF5c5LfHM

[48] Track II dialogue takes place between civil society or non-governmental organisations and aims to complement official diplomatic dialogue. In B. Douglas et al., ibid., pp. 37-8

[49] There are about 10,000 asylum seekers and refugees in Indonesia (the majority from Afghanistan) and about 150,000 asylum seekers, refugees and others of concern to UNHCR in Malaysia (the majority from Myanmar). Neither country is party to the Refugee Convention and the conditions for asylum seekers and refugees are harsh. Australia resettled only 560 refugees from Indonesia between 2001 and 2010 and has never taken more than 605 in one year. In November 2014, the Government announced that it would no longer be accepting refugees from Indonesia for resettlement. A generous regional intake would be a significant show of faith and provide an alternative pathway to a risky sea voyage. (Statistics from Elibritt Karlsen, ‘Refugee Resettlement to Australia: what are the facts?’ Research Paper, Australian Parliamentary Library, 3 Feb 2015, http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1415/RefugeeResettlement)

[50] ‘Complementary protection’ refers to protection owed to people under conventions and treaties other than the Refugee Convention.

[51] Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 15

[52] International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 24(3)

[53] This must be the case regardless of whether the mother and baby may be or are consequently transferred to an offshore detention or processing centre.

Download (PDF, 461KB)

D1 – Ballots Report

Ballots and Nominating Procedures


1.1 Nominations may be made by members of the Assembly for the following:
Standing Committee
Admission of Ministers Chairperson
Christian Unity Working Group Chairperson
Church Polity Chairperson
Defence Force Chaplaincy Convener
Education for Ministry Chairperson
Formation, Education and Discipleship Chairperson
Frontier Services Chairperson
Historical Reference Committee Chairperson
Legal Reference Committee Chairperson (to be from NSW / ACT)
Multicultural and
Cross-cultural Ministry Chairperson
Relations with Other Faiths Chairperson
Theology and Discipleship Convenors’
Forum Chairperson
UC Adult Fellowship Chairperson
UnitingCare Australia Chairperson
UnitingJustice Chairperson
UnitingWorld Relief and Development Chairperson
UnitingWorld Church Connections Chairperson
Working Group on Doctrine Convenor
Working Group on Worship Convenor

1.2 Nomination forms are provided in section D4 of this mailing of Assembly working papers. Any nominations by Assembly members should be completed on these forms and
(a) mailed, emailed or faxed to the General Secretary or the Returning Officer; or
(b) placed in a nominations box which will be located in a designated position during business sessions of the Assembly prior to the close of session 11 (5.30pm on Tuesday 17 July).

1.3 Two nominators are required for a nomination for President-elect both of whom must be members of the Assembly (Regulation The same process applies for other nominations.

1.4 Members should note that:
(a) Each Assembly agency listed in paragraph 1.1 is bringing nominations to the Assembly, except in the case of the Standing Committee. Profile information on each of these nominees will be included in section D3 of the Assembly papers.
(b) The Standing Committee elects members of most agency Reference Committees, as detailed in the Mandates of agencies / areas of work. The Mandates are attached at the end of reports agency / area of work.
(c) At the time these papers were prepared four nominations have been received from synods for President-elect. Profiles for three of these nominees are provided in Section D2 of these papers. The name of the fourth nominee is also provided. That profile and those of any subsequent nominees will be provided with the second mailing.


(Refer Constitution Paragraph 47 and Regulation

2.1 Membership
(a) The committee comprises the President, President-elect, ex-President, General Secretary, Chairperson and National Administrator of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (all ex officio), and 18 members of the Assembly to be elected by the Assembly;
(b) The elected membership shall include at least one person from each synod and no more than six from any synod;
(c) The number of lay members shall be not fewer than the number who are ministers;
(d) The order of priority to be applied by the scrutineers in ensuring that the elected membership satisfies the above requirements shall be the order appearing in sequence in paragraphs (b) and (c).

2.2 Assembly resolution 00.05 provides that within the 18 elected members there should be no fewer than eight members of each gender, two persons 25 years old or younger at the date of the commencement of the Assembly meeting.

2.3 Assembly minute 09.03.05 resolved to amend the balloting procedures (approved by Assembly minute 00.05) such that the provision that at least two persons recognised by Multicultural and Cross-Cultural Ministry as being among the multi-culturally and linguistically diverse members of the Assembly shall be elected, at least one of whom shall be a lay person will be preserved. However the requirement that one person shall be from the Pacific and that the other person shall be from Asia was removed.

2.3 Observers
Synod Secretaries, the Assembly Associate General Secretary, the National Director of Theology and Discipleship and other Assembly staff as the General Secretary may invite, attend meetings of the Committee with the right to speak but not to vote.

2.4 The list of gifts and qualities which Assembly members may wish to bear in mind as they consider their voting for Standing Committee members is:
• knowledge of the church and the world/community in which we live;
• skills to receive evidence, evaluate it and make decisions;
• foresight to recognise the ‘signs of the times’;
• a willingness to listen and to learn;
• a sense of leadership and the courage to lead;
• able to work in, with and for a team; and
• an awareness of God’s presence with them to guide and support them in discussion and decision-making.


3.1 A full listing of Assembly agencies / areas of work can be found by reference to the index of the reports.

3.2 In 1997 the Assembly adopted a policy on gender balance within the membership of all bodies appointed by the Assembly and the Standing Committee. It requires “that women shall comprise at least 40% of the membership of each body and men shall comprise at least 40% of the membership of each body, unless:
• the mandate of a particular body states otherwise;
• the Assembly specifically makes a different determination in respect of any particular body”.

Authority was given by the 1997 Assembly to the Standing Committee “in relation to the Assembly bodies elected by it, to take such action as it considers appropriate to resolve any difficulties” arising from these requirements. These decisions (Assembly minute 97.04.11) remain in place, unless varied by this meeting of the Assembly.

3.3 It should be noted that the General Secretary is an ex-officio member of all Reference Committees and similar bodies.


4.1 The following procedures were adopted for the 1985 Assembly and subsequent Assemblies. Three changes were approved by the 1991 Assembly and this Assembly is being asked by the Standing Committee to change the 1997 approved voting procedure for the position of President-elect. The current procedure is provided beneath the process proposed by the Standing Committee.

Nominating procedures
4.2 If in the case of any appointment or election by the Assembly the Regulations do not specify the manner in which nominations are to be made, nominations shall be made in such manner as the Assembly shall determine in respect of such appointment or election, and failing any determination of an exclusive manner of nomination, nominations may be made by the relevant body or by members of the Assembly in writing in a form which:
(a) states the name, address, presbytery and synod of the nominee;
(b) states the position for which nomination is made;
(c) states any qualification or information regarding the nominee which is a pre-requisite to appointment in that position;
(d) is signed by two members of the Assembly who nominate the nominee; and
(e) either is signed by the nominee or contains a statement that the nominators believe that the nominee will, if elected, accept the appointment.

4.3 A short profile of a nominee may be submitted by the nominator(s) with the nomination form. Any such profile may be edited by the Returning Officer or the Business Committee.

4.4 Subject to any resolution of the Assembly the Business Committee shall have discretion to determine whether in the case of any election, profiles of nominees should be made available to members of the Assembly and if so, the manner in which they shall be made available.

4.5 Nominations for all ballots shall be lodged with the General Secretary or the Returning Officer or in such manner as the Business Committee shall direct.

4.6 Nominations shall close at such time as the Assembly determines.

Voting procedures
4.7 If the number of persons who are nominated for appointment or election does not exceed the number of persons to be appointed or elected:
(a) voting shall be by show of hands;
(b) a single vote shall be taken in respect of all nominees unless the Assembly resolves that a separate vote shall be taken in respect of each nominee;
(c) nominees who receive an absolute majority of votes shall be declared appointed or elected.

4.8 If the number of persons who are nominated exceeds the number of persons to be appointed or elected:
(a) voting shall be by ballot;
(b) ballot papers shall contain the names of all nominees in the order determined by the drawing of lots.

4.9 If more than one person is to be appointed or elected and the number of persons who are nominated exceeds the number of persons to be appointed or elected:
(a) each member of the Assembly shall have the number of votes equal to the number of persons to be appointed or elected;
(b) each member of the Assembly may cast votes up to the number of votes equal to the number of persons to be appointed or elected;
(c) if a specific or minimum or maximum number of persons having prescribed qualifications are to be appointed or elected, a ballot paper shall not be informal by reason only that the votes have not been cast for such specific, minimum or maximum number of qualified persons;
(d) the voter shall not be required to indicate order of preference;
(e) except insofar as a specific or minimum or maximum number of persons are required to have prescribed qualifications for appointment or election, the requisite number of nominees who obtain the greatest number of votes shall be appointed or elected and in the event of equality of votes the person or persons who shall be appointed or elected from those having equal numbers of votes shall be determined by lot.

4.10 If only one person is to be elected and more than one person is nominated:
(a) the election shall be by preferential ballot;
(b) each voter shall be entitled to one vote;
(c) each voter shall record a vote on the ballot paper by placing the number “1” opposite the name of the nominee for who it is desired to give the first preference vote and shall give contingent votes for all the remaining nominees by placing the numbers “2”, “3”, “4” and so on as the case may require opposite the names of such nominees so as to indicate by numerical sequence in the order of the voter’s preferences for them;
(d) upon the close of the ballot the scrutineers shall proceed to count the total number of first preference votes recorded for each nominee;
(e) that nominee who has received the largest number of first preference votes shall, if that number constitutes an absolute majority of votes, be elected;
(f) if no nominee has received an absolute majority of first preference votes, the scrutineers shall make a second count;
(g) on the second count the nominee who has received the fewest first preference votes shall be excluded and each ballot paper counted to that nominee shall be counted to the nominee next in the order of the voter’s preference;
(h) if any nominee then has an absolute majority of votes that nominee shall be declared elected, but if no nominee then has an absolute majority of votes the process of excluding the nominee who has the fewest votes and counting each of the ballot papers to the continuing nominee next in the order of the voter’s preference shall be repeated until one nominee has received an absolute majority of votes and such nominee shall then be declared elected;
(i) if on any count two or more nominees have an equal number of votes and one of them has to be excluded that nominee amongst them who had the least number of votes at the end of the preceding count shall be excluded and if such nominees had an equal number of votes at all preceding counts the Returning Officer shall determine by lot which of them shall be excluded;
(j) a ballot paper shall be informal and rejected if the voter has failed to indicate the number of preference in respect of the name of any nominee.

4.11 An ‘absolute majority of votes’ means a greater number than one half of the whole number of votes which are cast.

Voting procedures for President-elect
This process is the process proposed by the Standing Committee to take effect at this Assembly.

4.12 (a) if more than two nominations are received for President – Elect, a first-round preferential ballot be used to identify the two candidates with the highest number of preferences;
(b) if a candidate in the preferential ballot receives more than 50% of the first preferences of those participating in the ballot, that candidate be declared elected;
(c) if there are only two nominations, or following a prior preferential ballot, in which no candidate received more than 50% of first preferences, the names of the two candidates who, after the distribution of preferences, received the most votes shall be submitted and members shall indicate their preference for one candidate; and
(d) to be declared elected, a candidate must receive the support of more than 50% of those participating in the ballot.

Following is the current process.
4.13 The election for President-elect shall be conducted in the following manner:
(a) On the first ballot, each member of the Assembly shall be entitled to cast a vote for one of the nominees.
(b) If an absolute majority of the votes is cast in favour of a nominee on the first or any other ballot, the nominee shall be declared elected.
(c) If one of the nominees is not elected on the first ballot, the names of not less than three nominees shall be submitted to a second ballot. They shall be determined in descending order of votes cast in their favour in the first ballot. The second ballot shall include the names of:
(i) each nominee who obtains more votes on the first ballot than the number calculated by dividing the total number of votes cast by the number of nominees in the ballot; and
(ii) if the number of nominees satisfying condition (i) is less than three, the next nominee or nominees in descending order of votes cast in their favour, to make the number up to three, or more than three in case of equal votes for nominees to fill the third place.
(d) If the number of nominees submitted to the second ballot is more than three, the same procedure shall be followed as detailed in (a),(b) and (c) and if necessary, successive further ballots shall take place until the number of nominees is reduced to three.
(e) The ballot between the remaining three nominees shall be an optional preferential ballot.
(f) If votes in favour of two of the three nominees are equal after distribution of preferences on the optional preferential ballot, the nominee who obtains the higher number of first preferences will be declared elected, and if both of them obtain an equal number of first preference votes, then, unless the Assembly determines otherwise, the names of the two nominees shall be submitted to a further ballot.
(g) If first preference votes in favour of two or more nominees are equal, there shall be a notional distribution of the preferences of the other nominee(s) in order to determine the nominee who shall not proceed further in the ballot.

Warwick van Ede Returning Officer
Rev Terence Corkin General Secretary

Download (PDF, 160KB)

D2 – President-elect Profile Deidre Palmer


Regulation requires that the Assembly Standing Committee provide advice to the Church on the challenges and issues which may be faced by the President and the Assembly in the next seven years. This is to assist the discernment process as the Church nominates and elects the President – elect.

In July 2014 the ASC addressed itself to this responsibility and offers this guidance to the Church.

“As the Uniting Church continues to move through a season of significant change, the ASC believes that the challenges and issues likely to be faced by the President and the Assembly in the next seven years will include:

  • Embracing a fuller participation in Christ’s mission in the world; and finding fresh words and deeds to bear witness to the gospel
  • Achieving or recovering a common vision of the nature, function and ordering of the Church
  • Deepening the Covenant between the Assembly and the UAICC
  • Living faith and life cross-culturally in an increasingly multicultural church and society
  • Developing new habits and new models of national cooperation
  • Rethinking the place of the church in a secular, multi-faith Australian society
  • Developing structures and patterns of church life that are financially sustainable
  • Seeking structures and patterns of church leadership in all areas (in local churches, the church’s councils, the church’s agencies) that are coherent and sustainable
  • Attending to the issues of morale and care for one another that arise in a period of significant change”



Dr_Deidre_PalmerName:                              Deidre Palmer (Dr)

Nominated by:              Synod of Victoria and Tasmania and
the Presbytery of North East Victoria (Standing Committee)

Synod of Residence:   South Australia

Age range:                       50-59

Personal Interests:     Reading, holidays with family, taking photos of sunsets at the beach, coffee with friends, going to the movies, Scrabble/board games, exploring the intersection of theology and social work.

Placement / employment:  Moderator, Synod of South Australia (2013-2016)

Concurrently Chairperson of Presbytery (2013-2016) (South Australia is one Presbytery and Synod)


Relevant church experience
Family and Youth ministry:
Served in children, youth and young adults ministry for the Synod of South Australia for 5 years (1976-1981)

Educator: Lecturer in Christian Education and Family and Children’s ministry in Australia and the U.S.A.:

  • Assistant Professor of Christian Education at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, 1994-1998
  • Faculty member (full time placement) at Parkin-Wesley College and Adelaide College of Divinity – 1998- 2004
  • Currently – adjunct lecturer in Christian Education and Ministry with Families and Children at Uniting College, Adelaide College of Divinity and Flinders University

Social worker

  • Counsellor for Uniting Communities (previously UnitingCare Wesley Adelaide) working with people who were sexually abused as children (2008-2013)
  • Casual lecturer in Social work at Flinders University in “Interpersonal Practice” – 2012

Served on Assembly Committees:

  • Uniting Education Reference Group
  • Board of Coolamon College
  • Assembly Commission for Mission and National Mission and Evangelism
  • Assembly Commission for Liturgy
  • Church Polity Reference Committee
  • Chair of Ministerial Education Commission

Currently on the following Assembly committees:

  • Assembly Standing Committee
  • Member of the Formation, Education and Discipleship Working Group
  • Member of the National Task Group responding to the Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Childhood Sexual Abuse (Assembly Standing Committee representative)
  • Member of the Church Polity Reference Committee
  • Member of the Assembly Business Committee

As Moderator:

  • Providing general and pastoral leadership in the Synod of South Australia.
  • Chairing the meetings of the Synod and meetings of the Standing Committee.
  • Member on school boards.
  • Encouraging and supporting congregations and people in placement and leadership, as they engage in Christian ministry and God’s mission in the world.

I’m passionate about the Uniting Church’s emphasis on ‘every member ministry’ – that each of us is called to engage in Christian discipleship in the world around us.

I’m passionate about social justice and embodying the compassion of God in the world.

I’m passionate about the intergenerational nature of Christian community and encouraging, supporting and learning from children and young people in their faith journeys. It’s important that their gifts and perspectives are shaping the church we are and they’re encouraged in following Jesus in their daily living.


Vision for the Uniting Church in Australia (400 words)
The Uniting Church in Australia is a movement of the Holy Spirit, weaving us together as community, from diverse perspectives, across cultural contexts, age groups and theological understandings. We are called to be a community witnessing to the reconciling and transformative love of God for the world.

I see this movement of the Spirit in the Covenant relationship with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress. As the people of God who are the Uniting Church in Australia, we have a “destiny together” as First and Second peoples.

I also see the movement of the Spirit in the way we are open to fresh expressions of worship and being church, in our readiness to work interculturally and intergenerationally, in our acts of compassion, advocacy and justice, and in our partnerships with churches internationally.

We are called to be a church creatively engaged with the world.  Our primary vocation as God’s covenant community is to embody the good news of Christ in the world, participating in God’s mission. This participation includes the church responding to socio-economic, environmental and political issues, both globally and locally.

We are called to be a Christian community offering hope, purpose and meaning for people’s lives. Recent involvement in mentoring people, has underlined for me the deep spiritual longings that are inherent to us as human beings, the idea that Augustine captures, when he writes in his Confessions: “you made us for yourself and our hearts find no peace until they rest in you”.

If we are to be this Christian community of hope and meaning, we will need to love each other, with the kind of love that is expressed by God and forged through struggle and suffering, disagreement and heartache, but which endures, because God has woven us together and because we are intentional in our commitment to each other.

I see in us, as a Uniting Church, the seeds and signs of this vision. We can move courageously into the future, because we see the hope among us now.

We are called to be a church which is not so focused on its own survival, but rather is open and vulnerable to what the Holy Spirit is shaping and calling us to be.

We are and are becoming God’s covenant community, empowered by the Spirit, to speak to people’s deepest longings and to participate in God’s mission of healing and reconciliation in our world.

In the light of the advice provided by the Assembly Standing Committee at the July 2014 meeting of the ASC, on the challenges and issues likely to be faced by the President and the Assembly in the next seven years, I  can/will:  (400 words)

bring pastoral gifts of listening to people in their contexts, their concerns, identifying their strengths and encouraging them as they seek to be a faithful expression of the Gospel of Christ.

I recognize that there are narratives about the decline of the church, limited resources and disappointed hopes. It is important to pay attention to the changing circumstances in which we live. At the same time, I would want to raise up the narrative that I have described in the Vision Statement above:

The Holy Spirit is at work among us. Whatever form our worship, ministries and meeting spaces take, we will continue to be the Body of Christ, bearers of God’s hope, love and compassion in our world.

I will encourage us to be a Church which embraces reform and transformation because we are responsive to the movement of the Spirit leading us into God’s future.

I will contribute my perspective as a Christian educator as we seek to equip people for ministry and explore various ways of forming and sustaining people in ministry placements and in equipping the whole people of God for their ministry.

I will seek to model and encourage collaborative models of ministry and leadership, which are consistent with our theology and polity as the Uniting Church.

If I were serving as President, I would encourage the church to be engaged in faith formation, encourage growth in Christian discipleship, and continue to strengthen our advocacy for social justice, wherever we see people’s lives diminished.

“Finding fresh words and deeds” to bear witness to the Gospel” is an ongoing call and challenge for us.  What are authentic ways that we can share the narratives of hope of the Gospel of Christ with the society in which we are immersed?

I would hope that we can continue to be a church that nurtures a spirituality,  which creates spaces for the kind of conversations and actions where people can encounter God in ways that are hopeful, healing and transforming – in the depths of despair and pain and in the heights of joy and celebration of life.

I bring my deep love for the Uniting Church, which I have experienced as a Christian community, witnessing through its presence in the wider world and through its faithful community life to the God who comes to us as Liberator, Redeemer, Life-giver, Source of hope and love.


Download (PDF, 162KB)


D3 – Chairperson Nominations


Nominee – Admission of Ministers Committee Chairperson

Rev Dr John A Evans
John has been the chairperson of the Committee since its reconstitution as the Admission of Ministers Committee in  2012. Prior to that he has served on the former Assembly Reception of Ministers Committee. He led the review of the reception of ministers process that resulted in the current structure being adopted at the 2012 Assembly.

John brings an extensive and wide experience of the Church. He has served in fours synods, with congregational and various other appointments, including being the General Secretary of the Western Australian Synod. He currently is in placement at the Church of All Nations, Carlton, Victoria.    


Nominee – Adult Fellowship National Committee Chairperson

Mrs Margaret Pedler
I was born at Glenelg in South Australia in 1948, one of the “baby boomers” generation. I moved to Prospect when I was a teenager and worshipped at Prospect North Methodist Church. After I left school I was employed at A.B.C. Radio as a Secretary to the head of Rural Department. I married my husband, Daryl, in 1970 and moved to Cummins on Eyre Peninsula in 1974. Our two children Nigel and Naomi were born whilst we lived in Cummins. We moved back to Adelaide in 1979 and attended the Blackwood Uniting Church.

We moved to Warrnambool in 1987. I joined the State Council as a Presbytery Representative in 2001. In 2003 we moved to Hazelwood North in Gippsland and worshipped at Traralgon Uniting Church. Whilst in Gippsland I served on the Church Council, a member of Presbytery and continued on the State UCAF Council as a representative. I was State President in 2007 and 2008 which was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

In 2012 we moved back to Warrnambool due to my husband’s employment. Since being back here I continued on State Council as Treasurer and as a member of the “NetWork” committee. I am involved with our local UCAF group, which is a very important part of my church life.  am also Secretary of the Hopkins Region Admin Group which is an administration group for all the churches in our Region. I have just recently become a member of Presbytery again.


Nominee – Historical Reference Committee  Chairperson – tba

Nominee – Frontier Services Chairperson

Mr Jim Mein
AM, FCA, FCPA, FAIM, FLGAA. Currently a Board member of Frontier Services Interim Board and Wesley Community Services Ltd (NSW and ACT Synod); National Coordinator of UCA responses to Charities Reforms; Member of the Affinity Intercultural Foundation Advisory Board and MLC School Burwood (and Treasurer); Past Moderator of the Synod of NSW &ACT and past Executive Director of that Synod’s Uniting Resources and Uniting Financial Services; past member of the Assembly Standing Committee 1994 to 2006 and an observer member in 2005-2007; and many other roles in aged care, schools, community services, congregations and the like.


Nominee – UnitingWorld

Relief and Development Chairperson

Rev John Ruhle
Work History
2009- present
Minister of the Word at The Gap UCA
Full time placement involved in all aspects of Team Ministry and in the life of a growing, vibrant urban congregation

2012 – present
Member of Pastoral Relations Committee of the Moreton Rivers Presbytery

2005 – 2008
Lay Education and Discipleship Facilitator
Employed as a member of the Ministry Team in the Mid Lachlan Mission Area based in Forbes, central NSW.  Focus on team ministry and training and equipping of lay people.

2009 – present
Minister of the Word at The Gap Uniting Church Full time placement involved in all aspects of Team Ministry and in the life of a growing, vibrant urban congregation.

2012 to present
Member of Pastoral Relations Committee of the Moreton Rivers Presbytery

2005 – 2008
Lay Education and Discipleship Facilitator Employed as a member of the Ministry Team in the Mid Lachlan Mission Area based in Forbes, central NSW. Focus on team ministry and training and equipping of lay people.

1997 – 2003
Rural Bank Positions
Started banking as a rural graduate with the NAB and finished as a Rural Bank Manager with Suncorp managing branch staff and a $50 million portfolio of clients.

UnitingWorld / NGO Experience:

2014 to present
Chair of the UnitingWorld Relief and Development National Committee

2012 to 2014
Chair of the International Programs Committee of UnitingWorld Relief and Development


2006 to present

Member of UnitingWorld Relief and Development National Committee  During this time I have also chaired the International Programs Committee and I am the current acting chair for the National Committee


2009 to present
Chair of the Timor Children’s Foundation
The foundation is a not for profit Qld based group who have been supporting work in East Timor for over 20 years.  We currently support a scholarships program and also a children’s home in East Timor.


Nominee – UnitingWorld

Church Connections Chairperson


Dr Andrew Roderick Glenn
Work History:

1975                Lecturer in Microbiology and Biochemistry at Murdoch University in Perth

1979                Senior Lecturer

1985                Associate Professor

1993                Personal Chair as Professor

1994                Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research).

1998    Vice President (Research) and Pro Vice Chancellor (Research) at the University of Tasmania.

2007    Retired and made Emeritus Professor by the University of Tasmania


Governance / Consulting Experience:
Member of close to twenty company boards in the research and technology or educational services sectors.

Chaired company boards
Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Consulting work advising universities or state governments around the country on research management


Uniting Church involvement:
Confirmed in the Methodist Church in Adelaide
Commissioned as a lay preacher in the Uniting Church in 1990
Member of the Uniting Church in Australia since the time of union
Chair of the Ministerial Education Board in Western Australia
Chairperson of the Presbytery of Tasmania
Member of the Assembly Standing Committee
Currently part of the Major Strategic Review of the synod of VicTas
Member of the National Reference Committee of Uniting Justice
Member of the Hobart North congregation in Tasmania.

UnitingWorld Experience:
Chaired the Church Connections National Committee for over two years


Nominee – Formation, Education and Discipleship Chairperson

Rev Dr Ian Price
Rev Dr Ian price was ordained in 1978, and has served in  three parishes. He was briefly the Executive Director of the Board of Education in NSW, before returning to Adelaide, taking up the post of Associate Director of MediaCom. In 2002, he was called to the position of Executive Officer of the Mission Resourcing Network in the UCA in SA. He held the position for nine years. He was then appointed to the role of Strategy and Planning Officer for the UCA in SA, simultaneously taking up the role of CEO of MediaCom where he is currently. Ian is the chairperson of the Formation, Education and Discipleship Working group of the Assembly and has served on the Assembly Standing Committee for the last three years.

Ian is passionate about resourcing the church. Involved in the founding of Seasons of the Spirit, he has also assisted in developing a number of resources for pastoral care; stewardship and mission funding; worship and Christian education. Above all else, he is concerned to help local congregations see members grow deeper in their discipleship, spirituality and personal mission, as congregations become vibrant and vital communities in Christ serving God’s mission.

Nominee – Legal Reference Committee Chairperson

Mr Warwick van Ede
Warwick has been a member of the ALRC for over 15 years, is a previous member of the NSWACT Property Trust, was formerly  the legal adviser to the NSWACT Committee for Discipline, and was the founding  Convenor of Appeal Panels for the NSWACT Synod. He is a lawyer of over 20 years experience, currently practising with Emil Ford Lawyers, Sydney.

Nominee – Defence Force Chaplaincy Convenor

Rev Dr Murray Earl
Murray Earl is an ordained minister of the Uniting Church.  He has served the church in rural and city ministries and has been an Air Force chaplain for over twenty years.  After some reserve service, he discharged from the ADF in 2013 and is currently the RACS member for the Uniting Church and Convenor of the UCA DFCC.  He lives in Port McDonnell South Australia, leads services in country churches, and maintains ongoing connections to the ADF and UCA Chaplains.  Murray is married to Jenny.

Nominee – Theology and Discipleship Convenors’ Forum Chairperson

Rev Carolyn Thornley
Rev Carolyn Thornley has been the chairperson of the Theology and Discipleship Unit over the past triennium and is willing to continue in the role.  She is Dean of Candidates at United Theological College and has been the acting principal.  Before ministry she was a teacher in New Zealand, Fiji and Australia.  She has served in congregations and as Presbytery Minister of Parramatta Nepean Presbytery.  She is an accredited supervisor of ministry practice.  She has served on the Australian Council of Churches Overseas Programs Committee, the NSW Ecumenical Council, Uniting International Mission Reference Group and the UCOA Board.  She chairs the Conveners’ meetings which bring together the conveners of a number of working groups in order to foster communication and co-operation.


Nominee – Multicultural and Cross-cultural Ministry Chairperson

Rev Kisoo Jang
Kisoo is and experienced and respected Minister of Korean background. He has been the Presbytery Minister for the Korean Presbytery, served in several Congregational settings, planted new communities, assisted in developing new forms of Cross-cultural education, served on every Council of the Church, and developed excellent networks among colleagues, both within and beyond the Church. His gentle demeanour and deep wisdom have earned him the respect of people across cultures. He first served on the National Reference Committee as a translator-interpreter and he is able to understand the subtleties of intercultural communication. Kisoo is currently the Minister-in-Placement at the Han-bit Korean Church in Box Hill, Melbourne. He has also served in Placements in NSW, supply in South Australia, and consulted in other Synods. He has a good grasp of the National context.


Nominee – Church Polity Chairperson

Rev Gordon Ramsay
Gordon Ramsay (BA, LLB (Hons) B Th)
has been the Executive Minister at Kippax Uniting Church since 1997.   He is also Chairperson of the Board of UnitingCare NSW.ACT.

Gordon is a former Chairperson of the Presbytery of Canberra Region.

He was a member of the 13th Assembly, Associated with the 10th Assembly and a Member of the 7th Assembly Worship Committee.

He has been a member of the Assembly Church Policy Reference Committee since 2006. He is a former member of the Assembly Development Committee and the UnitingWorld National Committee.

Gordon was a finalist in the 2014 Australian of the Year Awards ACT Local Hero category.

Gordon served on the General Committee of ACTCOSS from 2005-2010. He was a member of the ACT Community Inclusion Board from 2008-2009, and an ACT Community Inclusion Advocate in 2009-10. Gordon was invited to be part of the Canberra 2020 summit held in 2008, and in 2010-11 Gordon was one of the Community Champions of the “Canberra 2030 Time to Talk” process and a member of ACT Anti Poverty Week from 2006-2010. He co-convened the body in 2009. He was the author of Living on the Edge – an Overview of the community of West Belconnen and the services and service gaps of the area in October 2007.

In 2011-12 Gordon chaired the ACT Targeted Assistance Strategy Panel, commissioned by the ACT Government to bring recommendations on ways to redesign support for people on low incomes. He was a member of the ACT Better Practice Better Service Advisory Group to the ACT Government in 2012.

He has conducted consultancy work with community organisations for over a decade regarding their Governance structures and leadership. He has been instrumental in the governance and leadership reviews of the national body of the Uniting Church’s community services network – UnitingCare Australia. He has worked in a national advocacy project with the national office of UnitingCare Australia.

With training in the law, and a long history of community development engagement, Gordon brings a combination of analytical and strategic skills, extensive on-the- ground community involvement and experience, and insight into the everyday impacts of public policy. A student of social ethics and their effects on individuals, communities and systems, Gordon is a well-recognised advocate for social inclusion in the ACT.


Nominee – UnitingJustice Chairperson

Dr Deidre Palmer
Dr Deidre Palmer is currently serving as Moderator of the Uniting Church in South Australia. She will conclude this placement on October 30, 2016.

Deidre is a senior lecturer in Christian Education for the School of Theology of Flinders University and the Adelaide College of Divinity. She is currently an adjunct faculty member for Uniting College.

Deidre is also a social worker. Prior to becoming Moderator, she worked part-time for four and a half years as a counsellor with UnitingCommunities in their Childhood Sexual Abuse Counselling team. She is a member of Rosefield Uniting Church.

Deidre is very much shaped by and passionately committed to the Uniting Church’s understanding that our participation in God’s mission in the world calls us to act justly and work in solidarity with those who have been denied justice. Deidre believes that the hope which shapes us as a church is God’s vision, revealed in Jesus Christ, of a world of peace with justice, compassion, love and reconciliation.

Deidre is proud that the Uniting Church has embodied this hope in many ways, in our advocacy for asylum seekers and refugees; in addressing poverty locally, nationally and globally; in seeking to live in ways that are nonviolent and working for peace; in developing approaches to the environment and our earth that reflect God’s care for the creation. Deidre’s particular interests include justice for First Peoples, domestic violence and age and gender discrimination.

Deidre has been involved with various aspects of the life of the Assembly of the Uniting Church over the past 30 years, having previously served on a number of committees including the Uniting Education Reference Group, the Board of Coolamon College, the Commission for Mission, Church Polity Reference Committee and as Chair of the Ministerial Education Commission. Deidre currently serves as a member of the Assembly Standing Committee,

the Formation, Education and Discipleship Working Group and

the National Task Group responding to the Royal Commission.

Deidre would be delighted to support the work of the Assembly and its justice unit through serving as Chair of the UnitingJustice Australia Reference Committee.


Nominee – UnitingCare Chairperson

Mr Peter Bicknell
BA, M Soc Admin. JP


Chair UnitingCare Australia National Committee
Member 1995, Chair 2006-2015

Chair Portway Housing Association Inc
Member 1993, Chair 2007-15

Chair Adelaide Brighton Cement Community Liaison Group 2006 -15

Chair; Energy Industry Ombudsman (SA) Board

Member Uniting/Methodist Church since 1962

Recent Involvements
Chair UnitingCare Wesley Port Adelaide Inc Member 1993, Chair 2007-2014

Mental Health Commissioner, Australian Government Mental Health Commission

INTERESTS   Family, Social Inclusion, Housing, Primary Health, Mental Health, Child & Family policy & services, Consumer issues, Education in disadvantaged areas, sport and Christian community service.


Nominee – National Working Group on Doctrine

Rev Alistair Macrae
Rev Alistair Macrae has been the convenor of the Doctrine working group over the past triennium and is willing to continue in the role.  He is minister of Wesley Uniting Church in Melbourne.  He was President of the Uniting Church from 2009-2012. He served as the executive director of the Uniting church Centre for Theology and Ministry in Melbourne 2004 – 2009. He was Moderator of the Victoria and Tasmania Synod from 2000 – 2003. Previous to that he served in rural, regional and inner city congregational placements. He has degrees in Arts, Theology and Philosophy from Melbourne and Dublin. Alistair brings wide experience in the life of the church to the Doctrine working group as it seeks to resource the whole church.


Nominee – National Working Group on Worship

Rev Dr Graham Vawser
Graham was ordained into the Methodist ministry on 22 October, 1975, and has been a minister of the Word in the Uniting Church since inauguration.

His academic qualifications are as follows:

2012    Doctor of Philosophy (Flinders University of SA

2000    Master of Theology (Flinders University of SA). Thesis: ‘The Uniting Church commits its ministers to preach’ (BoU, Para 5): a review of the foundational and historical documents of the Uniting Church in Australia, identifying the place and importance of preaching in the life of that Church.

1995    Master of Theology (Qualifying) (Flinders University of SA).

Thesis: Backgrounds to New Testament Preaching: Judaic and Greco-Roman Sources of the Preaching of the Early Church as seen in the Letters of Paul;

Reading Topic: An understanding of preaching as it developed from the late Medieval period through the thought of Luther and Calvin and into the English Reformation.

1983    Awarded Diploma in Liturgical Studies (Melbourne College of Divinity).

Part II Major Essay in the area of Liturgy in Relation to Catechetics and Christian Education – Topic: What creative relationships do you see between Christian Public Worship and the teaching role of the Church?

1979    Awarded Bachelor of Divinity (Melbourne College of Divinity).

1972    Awarded Bachelor of Arts (Flinders University of SA).

Graham has served in 6 Uniting Church (and 1 Methodist) placements:

09/2008 – current   Minister in the Brighton Congregation

01/2000 – 08/2008  Minister of the Word in Payneham Rd and Argent Congregations

1993 –1999  Minister of the Word in West Hindmarsh Parish.

1984 –1992  Minister of the Word in Strathalbyn Parish.

1978 –1983  Minister of the Word in Southern Yorke Peninsula Parish

June – December 1977  Minister of the Word in Hawker Uniting Church Parish.

January 1975 – June 1977  Minister in Hawker Methodist Circuit

From November 2005 – 2007 Graham was Moderator of the Presbytery and Synod of SA. He was Chairperson of the Presbytery of Mt Lofty from December 2001 to December 2003, and had served as Worship Consultant of Adelaide North West Presbytery from 1993 to 1999, where he had oversight of presbytery worship events (ordinations, inductions, and commissionings).

From 1984 till 1991 Graham was a member of the Assembly Commission on Liturgy, and part of the team which prepared Uniting in Worship. he was convenor of the working group on the Marriage Service, and as a member of the Commission was active in the review of drafts of all the worship resources.

In the late 1980s and 1990s he taught and tutored both candidates for specified ministries and students in the lay ministries programmes, in the areas of worship and preaching.


Nominee – Relations with Other Faiths Working Group Convenor

Rev Michael Barnes
Michael has reflected upon his interfaith dialogue and cross cultural experience during the course of his ministry, the learning from his academic background and his continuing commitment to interfaith and peace building and believes he has the experience, passion and the skills to offer leadership to the Assembly in the capacity of the Convenor of the Relations with other Faiths Working Group (RoFWG).

Interfaith Dialogue Experience.
Michael has been a participant in the National Uniting Church Jewish Christian Dialogue for ten years till 2010 and was Convenor of the Dialogue for the last four years of that period. He has found the notion of Jesus as a faithful Jew very important in interpreting the scriptures for congregational ministry and the work of interfaith.

Experience with Interfaith Networks and Cross Cultural Relationships.
Michael has had ministry placements in various congregations in the NSW ACT Synod.   In those congregations Michael has experienced and ministered into a wide variety of cross cultural contexts, including those of the Tamil Sri Lankan community.  During his ministry Michael has been a part of local interfaith networks and has strong relationships with Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist communities. He has offered educational experiences with others about different faiths to congregations. He has supported the Australian Muslim community as the threat of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has grown internationally by supporting and initiating local interfaith peacemaking efforts after the Sydney Martin Place siege.

Michael strongly believes that living in a diverse and fractured community requires building bridges of interest, understanding, peace and tolerance.  This is an important part of God’s mission in a multicultural and multifaith society.  Michael has lived and worked in third world countries and has had the experience of living with those persons from another faith.   He has led an interfaith programme to India for 10 weeks in 2006.

Academic Background.
Michael has undergraduate degrees in Arts (Honours) and Theology and a Master in Theology. He is looking to pursue interfaith doctoral studies on pilgrimages to Gallipoli from the Turkish Muslim experience.


Nominee – Christian Uniting Working Group Chairperson

Rev Dr Morag Logan
Rev Dr Morag Logan is nominated as chairperson of the Christian Unity working group.  Maureen Postma has been the chairperson and will step down from this role while continuing on the working group to the end of 2015.  Morag has been involved in the Christian Unity working group for a number of years and has served as Deputy Chairperson.  Currently she is Presbytery Minister, Pastoral Care in the Presbytery of Yarra Yarra.  She is an associate faculty member of the theological college as she has a Ph. D. from Princeton Theological Seminary in Biblical Studies (Old Testament).  She has served in the Church of Scotland.  She has been chaplain of the University of Melbourne.  She is a member of the Victorian Council of Churches Faith and Order Commission.  She is currently a member of the World Council of Churches Faith and Order Commission.  She brings experience, expertise and a commitment to ecumenism to the role.


Nominee – Education for Ministry Working Group Chairperson

Rev Dr Andrew Dutney
Andrew was the President of the 13th Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia. He is Professor in Theology at Flinders University. Andrew has been a leader in theological education for more than two decades. He was the Principal of Parkin-Wesley College 2001-2008 and foundation Principal of Uniting College for Leadership & Theology 2009-2012. Among his many publications in education is the book “A Genuinely Educated Ministry”: Three Studies on Theological Education in the Uniting Church in Australia (Sydney, The Assembly of the UCA: 2007 and 2011). He is the current chairperson of the Education for Ministry Working Group. Andrew is a member of Pilgrim Uniting Church in Adelaide.


E – Members of Assembly

Roll of Assembly


Ex-officio members [Reg. 3.6.2(a)]

Rev Alistair Macrae, past-President

Rev Dr Andrew Dutney, President

Mr Stuart McMillan, President-elect

Rev Terence Corkin, Assembly General Secretary

Mr Dennis Corowa, National Chairperson, UAICC

Rev Dr Chris Budden, Interim National Coordinator, UAICC

Appointed by the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress [Reg 3.6.2(c)]

Ministers: Rev Garry Dronfield, Rev Dorothy Harris-Gordon, Rev Sealin Garlett, Rev Ken Sumner

Lay: Mr Robert Jetta, Ms Marda Pitt, Ms Candice Champion, Mr Hayden Charles, Ms Joya, Ms Denise Champion, Mr Nelson Varcoe, Ms Cheryl Lawson, Ms Kirsty Burgu, Ms Rose Gurlarrangi, Ms Louise Thomas, Ms Di Torrens

Appointed by Assembly bodies, by decision of Assembly Standing Committee [Reg. 3.6.2(e)]

Church Polity Rev Jenny Tymms

Christian Unity Working Group Mrs Maureen Postma

Education for Ministry Rev Bev Fabb

Christian Unity, Doctrine

and Discipleship Rev Dr Chris Walker

UnitingWorld Mr Rob Floyd

Working Group on Worship Rev Dr Chris Walker

Working Group on Doctrine Rev Alistair Macrae

Secretariat Rev Glenda Blakefield

Appointed by Assembly Standing Committee [Reg. 3.6.2(f)]

Youthful members Jordan Crass, Sam Fangatu, Jemma Whittaker, Petilosa Faleta;

Migrant-ethnic congregations Rev Dev Anandarajan, Rev Ki Soo Jang, Rev Do Young Kim, Rev Amelia Koh-Butler, Mr Moses Leth, Mrs Nga Ly, Mrs Akesa Racava and Ms Charissa Suli.


Rev Myung Hwa Park (Moderator)

Rev Dr Andrew Williams (General Secretary)

Ministers: Rev Christine Bayliss Kelly, Rev Lindsay Cullen, Rev Dr Chris Goringe, Rev Haloti Kailahi, Rev Aimee Kent, Rev Duncan Macleod, Rev Kath Merrifield, Rev Dr John Squires, Rev Suzanne Stanton, Rev Gordon Ramsay.

Lay: Ms Rebekah-Lee Allcroft, Mr Brandon French, Mr Zac Hatfield Dodds, Mr Semisi Kailahi, Ms Emma Parr, Ms Catherine Pepper, Ms Malia Puna, Ms Hannah Reeve, Mrs Radhika Sukumar-White, Mr Adrian Sukumar-White, Dr Katalina Tahaafe-Williams, Ms Amanda Thomson, Mrs Jacki Watts.


Canberra Region Rev Julie Furner Mr Geoff Wellington

Far North Coast Rev John Thornton Mrs Sue Duncan

Georges River Rev Grant Bilbey Mrs Christine Gordon

Illawarra Rev Peter Chapman Mrs Sharon Hoogland

Korean Rev Ju Min Hyung Mr Jung Eun Noh

Ku-ring-gai Rev Ann Hogan Mr Allan West

Macquarie Darling Rev Gareth Thomas-Burchell Mr Kevin Barrington

Mid North Coast Rev Elizabeth Raine Ms Penny Archer

New England-North West Rev Tony Winter Mr Rob Wood

Parramatta-Nepean Rev Ellie Elia Mr Filikesa Kamotu

Riverina Rev Dr Gerald Duncan Mrs Dorothy Creek

Sydney Rev Nicole Fleming Mr David Hay

Sydney North Rev Graham Perry Ms Fiona Blair

The Hunter Rev Rex Graham Mr Grahame Pricter


Rev Thresi Mauboy Wohangara (Moderator)

Mr Peter Jones (General Secretary)

Ministers: Rev Felicity Amery, Rev Colin Gordon

Lay: Ms Matjarra Garrawurra, Mr Gary Lewis


Pilgrim Presbytery Rev Dr Lee Levett-Olson Ms Jemma Whittaker

of Northern Australia

Nthn Regional Council Rev Djawanydjawany Gondarra Mrs Gurimangu Bukulatjpi

of Congress


Rev David Baker (Moderator)

Mr Gary Doyle (General Secretary)

Ministers: Rev Peter Armstrong, Rev John Cox, Rev Hedley Fihaki, Rev Linda Hanson, Rev David MacGregor, Rev Hohaia Matthews, Rev Viliami Mila, Rev Kaye Ronalds, Rev Lu Senituli.

Lay: Mrs Jennifer Brecknell, Mr David Busch, Ms Colleen Geyer, Mrs Elaine Rae, Mr Glenn Schweitzer.


Bremer Brisbane Rev Brian Hoole Mr Greg Braithwaite

Calvary Rev Dennis Corowa Ms Roxanne Yunkaporta

Central Queensland Rev Brian Gilbert Ms Donna Muston

Mary Burnett Rev David Thomas Mr Philip Smith

Moreton Rivers Rev Bruce Johnson Mr David Greig

North Queensland Rev Christy Allen Ms Lyn Anderson

South Moreton Rev Alan Robinson Mrs Gaye Pitman

The Downs Rev Faye Talatonu Mr John Agnew


Dr Deidre Palmer (Moderator)

Rev Nigel Rogers (General Secretary)

Ministers: Rev Sandy Boyce, Rev Rob Brown, Rev Diane Bury, Rev Dr Benji Callen, Rev Carol Chambers, Rev Simon Dent, Rev Naomi Duke, Rev Suzanne Ellis, Rev Philip Gardner, Rev Sean Gilbert, Rev Jana Norman, Rev Sue Page, Rev Dr Ian Price, Rev Robert Stoner, Rev Dean Whittaker, Rev Susan Wickham.

Lay: Ms Pam Barthalomaeus, Mr Scott Davis, Ms Rachel Dempster, Miss Rosalie Dow, Mr Bruce Ind, Mr Craig Mitchell, Ms Jenni Morel, Ms Nicole Mugford, Mr Graeme Painter, Ms Robyn Painter, Ms Sharonne Price, Mr Kai Strobel, Ms Marian Wicks, Mr Bronte Wilson, Miss Kerry Wilson, Mr Malcolm Wilson.


Mr Dan Wootton (Moderator)

Rev Dr Mark Lawrence (General Secretary)

Ministers: Rev Gavin Blakemore, Rev Dr Jenny Byrnes, Rev Stan Clarke, Rev Michelle Cook, Rev David Fotheringham, Rev Avril Hannah-Jones, Rev Sharon Hollis, Rev Jason Kioa, Rev Swee Ann-Koh, Rev Denise Liersch, Rev Lauren Mosso, Rev Allan Thompson, Rev Dr Apwee Ting, Rev Sani Vaeluaga, Rev Sue Withers.

Lay: Mr Aaron Blakemore, .Ms Sue Clarkson, Mr Adrian Greenwood, Mr Geoffrey Grinton, Ms Hanna Drew, Ms Anna Harrison, Ms Cheryl Lawrie, Ms Carlynne Nunn, . Mr Joshua Ocampo, Ms Rachel Prewer, Mr Rohan Pryor, Mr Cameron Shields, Ms Kelly Skilton, Ms Heidi Stabb, Ms Isabel Thomas Dobson, Ms Lorraine Threlfall, Ms Wendie Wilkie.


Gippsland Rev Anne Honey Mrs Wendy McDonald Mr Lindsay Oates

Loddon-Mallee Rev Cynthia Page Mr Max Cooke Ms Judy Berridge

North East Victoria Rev Rosalie Rayment-Hewitt Rev Andrew Delbridge Mrs Helen Collins

Port Phillip East Rev Dr Paul Chalson Rev Wendy Snook Ms Kaylea Fern

Port Phillip West Rev Ann Key Rev Robert Renton Mr David Wall

Tasmania Rev Carol Bennett Mrs Helen Geard Mr David Reeve

Western Victoria Rev Denise Naish Mrs Joy Robinson Rev Paul Blacker

Yarra Yarra Rev Dr Morag Logan Mrs Beth Horsfield Ms Bethany Broadstock


Rev Steve Francis (Moderator)
Mrs Rosemary Hudson-Miller (General Secretary)
Ministers: Rev Emanuel Audisho, Rev Craig Collas, Rev Lesley de Grussa-Macaulay, Rev Mark Illingworth, Rev Alan Jeffrey, Rev Cathie Lambert, Rev Isobelle Shortreed, Rev Denise Savage, Rev Ian Tozer.
Lay: Ms Merrenaite Aiaf, Ms Alison Atkinson-Phillips, Mr Cameron Harries, Ms Kalo Fotu, Ms Vivien Lee, Ms Margaret Martin, Mr Rick Morrell, Mr Richard Telfer, Ms Yuko Toai-Moore.


1. Guests from overseas churches

Rev Kan Baoping, China Christian Council

Bishop Pradeep Kumar Samantaroy, Church of North India

Rev Dr D R Sadananda, Church of South India

Rev Alberth Yoku, Evangelical Christian Church of Papua

Rev I Nengah Suama, Protestant Christian Church in Bali

Rev Samakul, Evangelical Church in Minahasa

Mr Wellem Nunuhitu, Evangelical Christian Church in Timor

Rev Dr John Ruhulessin, Protestant Church in Malaku

Rev Moises Da Silva, Protestant Church in Timor Leste

Rev Dr Albert Jebanesan, Methodist Church in Sri Lanka

Rev Sudu Tada, Presbyterian Church in Taiwan

Bishop Reuel Marigza, United Church of Christ in the Philippines

Rev Dr Iutisone Salevao, Congregational Christian Church of Samoa

Mr Uvenama Rova, United Church in Papua New Guinea

Rev Aifolia Poumale, Congregational Christian Church of Niue

Pastor Allan Nafuki, Presbyterian Church Vanuatu

Rev Kibaunimatang Robuti Rimon, Kiribati Uniting Church

Rev Amos Ndhlumbi, Methodist Church in Zimbabwe

Rev Peter Gai Lual, Presbyterian Church of South Sudan

Rev Bae Tae Jin, Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea

Rev Byung Ho Kim, Korean Christian Churches in Japan

Very Rev Andrew Norton, Presbyterian Church Aotearoa New Zealand

Rev Tovia Aumua, Methodist Church of New Zealand

2. Guests from Australian churches and church bodies

Major Grattan Savage, Salvation Army

Sr Elizabeth Delaney, National Council of Churches in Australia

Rev Greg Pfeiffer, Lutheran Church

Deacon Theodore Issa, Syrian Orthodox Church

Bishop Allan Ewing, Anglican Church

Mr Paul Martin, Society of Friends

3. Additional guests from Australian churches attending the Opening Service

Very Revd Fr. Molirad Soaktar, Serbian Orthodox Church

Most Rev Timothy Costelloe, Catholic Church

The Venerable Lionel Snell, Anglican Church of Australia

4. Associated with Assembly:

(a) persons who will assist in resourcing the Assembly:

for the whole of the Assembly:

Mr Jim Mein for Frontier Services

Mrs Lin Hatfield Dodds for UnitingCare Australia

Rev Elenie Poulos for UnitingJustice Australia

Mr Rob Floyd for UnitingWorld

(b) for specific business of the Assembly:

Mr Jim Mein for the Beneficiary Fund

Rev Murray Earl for Defence Force Chaplaincy

Mr Grahame Ryan for Frontier Services

Rev Dr Matthew Wilson for Relations with Other Faiths

Mr Robert Watson for UC Adult Fellowship

Rev Dr Chris Mostert for the Anglican – Uniting Church proposal

Mr Krikor Youmshajekian for the proposal on the Armenian Genocide

5. Co-opted members:

F – Ministerial Matters




Lettie Ellen Abraham


Received by ordination

Craig Betty


Received by ordination

Francis Bartholomeusz

Casey Lau

Lyn Leane

Albert Patrizi

Karen Paull


Received by ordination

James Godfrey



Received by ordination

Grant Atkins

John Barker

Paul Cosier

Ellie Elia

Salesi Faupula

Do Young Kim

Hye Ja Kim

Sung Kwang (Ace) Kim

Keun-Il Ko

Steve Lee

Rebecca Lindsay

Bridget Ocean

Helen Paine

Christine Palmer

Jo-Anne Smalbil

Suzanne Stanton

David Stuart

Charissa Suli

Fololeni Tafokitau

Seung Jae Yeon

Received by admission or readmission

Tony Blake

John Cox

Dirk van Doorene

Gaby Kobrossi

Martin Levine

Krikor Youmshajekian

Recognition has been withdrawn

Matthew McBurney

(i) Resignation

Leone Hill

Sophia Ng


John Amery

Anthony Baker

Alastair Bathgate

Edward Alexander (Ted) Brash

Robert James Brown

Frank Butler

Russell Dancey

Gordon Dicker

Donald Drury

Maxwell Fox

Frank Glen

Cyril Goodwin

Thomas Gordon

Neville Guthrey

Elizabeth Howard

Graham Hughes

Lester James

Eric Knight

Moira Laidlaw

Semisi (James) Latu

Peter Looby

Malcolm Macleod

John McCarthy

Daniel Mistry

Gordon Moyes

Sandy Murray

Roy Nash

Robert Arthur Oakley

Shirley Parkin

Merle Pearce

Leslie Pearson

Peter Pereira

Harvey Perkins

Lloyd Phillips

Doreen Prowse

Burnel Reeve

Kelvin Russell

Jack Sharp

Rob Silver

Hendrick Smit

Marilyn Stacy

Ian Tanner

Laurie Thompson

John Thompson

Russell Thompson

Dieter Tieman

Rae Trenerry

Lloyd Vidler

Tuikilakila Waqairatu


Received by ordination

Tapera Teubiti

Timothy Wanamayku Wunuŋmurra


Peter Nyaningu

Larry Garawirrtja


Received by ordination

Anna Ashby

Matthew Baunach

Somporn (Lek) Branjerdporn

Jennifer Coombes

John Dansie

Melissa Lipsett

Annelisifa Ngaluafe

Luke Smallwood

Catherine Solomon

Received by admission or readmission

Stephen Henderson

Darren King

Sunil Kadaparambil


Ellis Bramley

Charles Cunningham

Allan (Ken) Cutmore

Louise Edwards

Oliver (Joe) Gunders

Donald Kassel

Moira Laidlaw

David Lowry

Donald Mackay

Ian Mavor

Ken Neill

Thomas Scarlett

Corin Nyree Svenson

Keith Thompson

Paul Trigge

John Tully

Ron Wallace

Godfrey Williams

Recognition has been withdrawn

(i) Resignation

Michael Brumpton

Johan Loots

Joseph Jang

Bob Mitchell

(ii) Withdrawal of Recognition

Victor Wolfgramm


Received by ordination

Adam Low

Robyn Caldicott

Andrew Everson

Sherrin Jackman

Esteban Lievano

Christine Manning

Cheryl Wilson

Received by admission or readmission

Mark Butler

Phil Webber


Tony Baker

Robert Grant Dunning

Wali Fejo

Ray Harold Gifford

Oswald (Os) George Edwards

Ivan Robert Goss

Janette Maude Greig

Milton Lewis Hopkins

Bryan Lawrence Michie

Mervyn Vivian Norman

Keith Douglas Seaman

Geoffrey Donald Scott

David William Frederick Smith

George Andrew Wright


Received by ordination

Temukisa Amituana’i-Vaeluaga

Claire Dawe

Lindell Gibson

Jenny Hayes

Tupe Ioelu

Ross Pearce

Juliette Tautala’aso

Bruce Watson

Received by admission or readmission

Nigel Hanscamp

Jung-Ha (Andrew) Hwang

Glen O’Brien

Uilisone (Kili) Mafaufau

Brian Spencer

Alf Thistlethwaite

Peter Welsh

Kevin Yelverton

Recognition has been withdrawn

(i) Resignation

Paul Kruse

Steven Lewis

Nicole Lourensz

Robert McUtchen

(ii) Committee for Discipline

Barrie Porch


Kenneth Allen

Robert Anderson

Bonnie Bradley

Graham Briscoe

Robert J Brown

Alan Collins

Graham Colquhoun

Archibald Crow

William Gillard

Kenneth Gilson

Walter Goff

Richard Golding

George W Grant OAM

Norman Gray

Malcolm Hay

Alexander Hodgson

Ronald Hollick

John Hudson

John (Jock) Lavender

Evan Lewis

Norman Lowe

Jack Lutge

Douglas Miller

Peter Moonie

T Maxwell O’Connor

Alexander (Alec) Peerman

Barry Prior

Robin Pryor

Alan Reid

Jean Shadforth

Ruth Smith

Ian Steer

Ian Tennant

Keith Tinkler

Athol Wall

Robert Weatherlake

H Roy Westaway

Albert Wicks

Sylvia Widdicombe

Alfred Wilhelms

Ian Williams

Malcolm Williams

Pamela Wyley


Received by ordination

Rev Ruth Vertigan

Rev Corina van Oostende

Rev Luke Williams

Rev Andrew Broadbent


Desmond Fielding

Max Smith

John (Jack) Wilson

Jack Hutchinson

John McCarthy

William Bartlett

Val Bock

Norman Hogg

Mervyn Jay

Recognition has been withdrawn

(i) Resignation

Ron Larkin

Vivien Larkin




Jo Clark



Lesley McMullin

Valmai Schmidtke





George Chambers



Heather Coral Willmott




Kinyin McKenzie

Information supplied by Synods May 2015