Author Archives: ACBC Communications

Bishops call for an inclusive and sustainable economy Social Justice Statement 2017-2018

Untitled design (3)Australians are called to work for an economy that is based on principles of justice and equity – one that is at the service of all, particularly the most vulnerable and marginalised, says the Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, Most Rev Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv.

Bishop Long was speaking at the launch of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ 2017–2018 Social Justice Statement, entitled Everyone’s Business: Developing an inclusive and sustainable economy.

The Statement highlights that although Australia has enjoyed a quarter-century of Untitled designuninterrupted growth, the benefits have not been spread evenly. The top 20 per cent of households have received far greater increases in wealth than the poorest 20 per cent and nearly three million Australians, including 730,000 children, are living in poverty.The Bishops point to four major examples of economic injustice and inequity today.

Growing numbers of Australians are in insecure, ill-paid work, and some live below the poverty line even though they are employed. Those on welfare are also likely to be in poverty and face greater bureaucratic hurdles. Australia’s housing crisis has terrible effects on those on welfare, low-paid workers, asylum seekers and older renters, especially women. And, Indigenous Australians are disadvantaged in health, education, employment and income, while grossly over-represented in our prisons.

Drawing on the teachings of the Gospel and more than 120 years of Catholic social teaching, the Statement sets out five principles that could form the foundations of a just and inclusive economy:

  • People and nature are not mere tools of production.
  • Economic growth alone cannot ensure inclusive and sustainable development.
  • Social equity must be built into the heart of the economy.
  • Businesses must benefit all society, not just shareholders.
  • The excluded and vulnerable must be included in decision-making.

The Bishops call for a new approach to the economy that prevents exclusion from the outset and builds justice into the very foundation of our society.

They echo the words of Pope Francis, who calls us to be ‘an instrument of God for the liberation and promotion of the poor, and for enabling them to be fully a part of society’.

 The 2017-2018 Social Justice Statement can be downloaded from the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council website: 

Click to access photos here.

Link to story in The Australian: Bishops takes government and business to task on poverty gap


“See Me, Hear Me” Child Protection Sunday – 10 September 2017

Untitled design (1)National Child Protection Week is one of the most significant events on Australia’s child protection calendar. Now in its 27th year, the Week supports and encourages safety and wellbeing of all Australian children and families.

Each year the Australian Catholic Church dedicates the Sunday at the end of Child Protection Week as Child Protection Sunday. This year it falls on 10 September.

The National Committee for Professional Standards (NCPS), a committee of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia, has put forward the theme for 2017; “See Me, Hear Me” to raise awareness for the voice of the Child, highlighting the importance of safety in our communities of faith.

“We all have a part to play in protecting our children and most vulnerable,” says Sr Annette Cunliffe rsc, Executive Officer, NCPS.

“Actively listening, and pro-actively responding to the voices of children is essential if our Church and our communities are to be safe places for children and young people to flourish.”

This year, along with resources for parishes and schools, the NCPS has commissioned a video and brochure through the Australian Catholic University Institute of Child Protection Studies reflecting on research around what young children think about their safety.

The Institute was commissioned by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and surveyed more than 1400 young Australians as part of Kids Safety Studies to gain insights into their views, perceptions and experiences of safety. The most important message expressed was for adults to ‘pay attention’ when they raised a concern.

“Our children believe that the whole community needs to take safety seriously, especially for those who find it hard to protect themselves. Supporting the most vulnerable will always be the face of a strong community.”

All resources for Child Protection Sunday can be found at

Media Statement on Withdrawal of Refugee Support


By Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv
Bishop Delegate for Migrants and Refugees
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference


It is of great concern that we have heard of the Australian Government’s plans to withdraw support to refugees who have come to Australia for medical treatment. These men, women, and children were brought to Australia from offshore detention centres, to remove support for them leaves them vulnerable to exploitation, and risks leaving them destitute.

As refugees, these men, women, and children, are under the care of the Australian Government. To deny them appropriate support is to leave them at a risk of further harm.

These people, some with history of mental health largely due to prolonged detention by the Australian Government policy, have been searching for safety and a better life; they deserve more than this treatment.

I urge the Australian Government to continue to provide support services for these men, women, and children, who are awaiting a resolution to their current situation. As a well-resourced nation with a long tradition of caring for migrants and refugees, we can do better than to throw a small number of refugees out onto the streets. It is a bridge too far. It is cruel and simply un-Australian

People seeking asylum are some of the most vulnerable members of our global community. It is imperative that they are treated humanely and with dignity. I urge the Australian Government to honour its international obligations, and continue its work within the region and with non-government organisations to ensure the safety of those seeking asylum.

Catholic Professional Standards Limited Announces the Appointment of Board Directors

Members of Catholic Professional Standards Limited (CPS) today announced the appointment of Professor The Hon Michael Lavarch AO and Dr Robyn Miller PhD as Directors of the Company.

Professor Lavarch has had extensive involvement in Australian public life, and served in local Untitled design (10)government before being elected to Federal Parliament in 1987, serving as Attorney General in the Keating Government.

Since leaving Parliament in 1996, Professor Lavarch has been the Secretary General of the Law Council of Australia, Dean of Law at QUT and, since 2012, Commissioner at the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA). He has worked with organisations supporting child welfare programs including the Forde Foundation which was established by the Queensland Government in response to the findings into the abuse of children in Queensland Institutions.

Dr Robyn Miller brings over 30 years’ experience in the community sector, local government and child protection areas, and has practised in the public and private sectors as a therapist, clinical supervisor, consultant and lecturer.

From 2006-15 Dr Miller provided professional leadership as the Chief Practitioner within the Untitled design (9)Department of Human Services in Victoria, and has worked as a consultant with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Since 2015, she has worked as the CEO of MacKillop Family Services, provider of specialist services to vulnerable and disadvantaged children, young people and their families in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia.

In welcoming both Professor Lavarch and Dr Miller, CPS Member representative and Vice President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Mark Coleridge said, “We are confident that both Michael and Robyn will bring not only a wealth of experience and expertise in their fields, but enlightened and incisive perspectives to our operations.

“They will be tremendous assets, and we welcome them warmly to our Board of Directors.”

Professor Lavarch and Dr Miller join The Hon Geoffrey Giudice AO, Ms Patricia Faulkner AO and the Hon John Watkins AM on the Board, which will operate and function independently of Church.

The Chair of CPS, Geoff Giudice, welcomed the appointments saying: “The new Directors have skills and experience which will be invaluable in carrying out CPS’ functions – particularly in the areas of child protection and quality standards.”

Sr Ruth Durick, President of Catholic Religious Australia, and CPS Member representative, also welcomed the new Directors: “I’d like to welcome both Robyn and Michael as new Directors and feel confident that the wisdom, skills and expertise which they bring to the Board, will enrich its capacity to achieve the outcomes so deeply desired in our Church today.”

CPS was established by the Catholic Church in Australia in November 2016 to develop, audit and report on compliance with professional standards across Catholic entities, and represents a national Church response to the safeguarding of vulnerable people.

Looking into the Face of Homelessness Catholic Social Justice Series Paper #80


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The 2011 Census showed there were more than 105,000 people living in Australia who were homeless. Anecdotal evidence suggests that number is growing rapidly. Thankfully, many agencies of the Catholic Church are working to assist people who are homeless, but a lot more needs to be done.

Homelessness, and the people affected by it, are the subject of the latest publication from the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council in collaboration with Catholic Social Services Australia.

The paper, The Human Face of Homelessness, is by Liz de Chastel and Frank Brennan SJ AO, respectively the Director of Social Policy and the CEO of Catholic Social Services Australia. It is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the issue and to bring about change.

People become homeless for a variety of reasons, including insecure and low-paid employment, the high cost of housing and general living expenses, poor mental health and domestic violence. Without a place to call home, people will struggle to work, support their families and contribute to society.

The authors look at people who experience homelessness, at its causes, and at what the Catholic Church is doing to alleviate it. The paper also examines the Church’s social teaching as it relates to homelessness. It suggests more ways in which governments and the Church can help people who are homeless.

The Chairman of the ACSJC, Bishop Vincent Long, says in the foreword:

‘The figure on a street corner huddled on a bench or in a doorway – even in the doorway of a church – is a daily rebuke to us as followers of Christ in a rich society. Yet, as this paper reminds us, the face of homelessness is not just that of the woman or man sleeping rough. Homeless people find themselves in run-down, exploitative boarding houses, or sleeping in cars, or trekking from house to house of friends or family in the hope that there will be a spare bed, a couch or a bit of floor to sleep on for a week or a night.’

Bishop Long says Jesus ‘spent his life seeking out and ministering to the excluded and rootless, and reminded us constantly that our obligation is first of all to them’.

The paper is available for $7.50 from the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council:


High Accolades for Catholic Press and Media Australasian Catholic Press Awards for Excellence 2017


Melbourne Catholic, published by the Archdiocese of Melbourne, was announced winner of the 2017 Bishop Philip Kennedy Memorial Award for Overall Excellence presented at the recent Australasian Catholic Press Association (ACPA) Awards held in Auckland. Best newspaper was won by The Catholic Leader (Archdiocese of Brisbane), and best online publication was About Catholic Schools, published by Sydney Catholic Schools. The aim of the ACPA Awards is to encourage and reward excellence in the field of Catholic publishing and media.
For winning citations Read more >

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In a wonderful acknowledgement of excellence, the Archdiocese of Perth publications The eRecord and The Record Magazine were honoured with the prestigious 2017 Gutenberg Award at the recent Australasian Religious Press Association (ARPA) Annual Conference

Read more here

Statement from Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB Chair, Bishops Commission for Catholic Education

Untitled design (7)As Chair of the Australian Catholic Bishops Commission for Education, I made the following statement on Friday in response to a request from Fairfax Media for comment on issues in relation to the same-sex marriage debate as it may impact on Catholic schools.

The full text of the statement is reproduced here.

      Catholic schools are committed to being welcoming and inclusive communities for students, families and staff. They are          operated under the auspices of the Catholic Church in Australia and seek to provide a quality              education within the context of the Catholic faith. An essential element of that faith is the Church’s      teachings about marriage.

     Families who choose a Catholic education for their children understand that Catholic schools              always seek to be expressions of this Catholic world view and that their children will be educated        within a Catholic framework.

     Those who seek employment in Catholic schools also understand the nature of Catholic schools as       faith-based schools. In accepting a role in a Catholic school staff will recognise their responsibility      to conduct themselves in such a way as not to undermine the fundamental ethos of the school.            Like all other employers, the Catholic Church should be able to ensure its values are upheld by            those who choose to work for the organisation.

The statement does not, either explicitly or implicitly, propose or suggest that, to quote one of the headlines on this matter, someone who enters into a same-sex marriage will be “married Sunday, fired Monday”.

Individual Catholic Bishops will, in consultation with their Directors of Catholic Education and other advisers in their own jurisdictions, make decisions about how to manage any issues which may arise, should the legal definition of marriage be changed to include same-sex couples.

Normally such issues would be addressed, in the first instance, in discussions between the staff member concerned and the local leadership of the school. The aim would be to discover a way forward for the school and the staff member that preserves the Catholic ethos of the school. And always, of course, the well-being of the students who attend the school, and the families who choose a Catholic Education for their children, will be paramount. Young people and their families are, after all, the reason for the school’s existence in the first place.

I join all those people who are pleading for a measured, mature and sensitive community debate as the nation prepares for the postal vote on proposed changes to the legal definition of marriage.

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB
Catholic Archbishop of Perth

Migrant and Refugee Sunday 27 August 2017


FacebookBy Fr Maurizio Pettenà
National Director, Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office

Next week the Catholic Church in Australia will be celebrating the contribution Migrants have made in our communities. This week-long celebration culminates with Migrant and Refugee Sunday, on 27 August 2017.

Each year the Universal Church commemorates the contribution migrants have made to our communities. The Catholic Bishops of Australia have selected the last Sunday in August each year to be the date where Masses are celebrated for the enrichment these communities have provided in the Church.

Every year, for over 100 years, the Holy Father has chosen a theme to be the focal point during these celebrations. For 2017, the message for the 103rd World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis chose the theme, “Child Migrants, the Vulnerable and the Voiceless”.

Pope Francis draws our attention to the needs of child migrants globally. He encourages by pointing out that, “Each person is precious; persons are more important than things, and the worth of an institution is measured by the way it treats the life and dignity of human beings, particularly when they are vulnerable, as in the case of child migrants.”

In Australia, schools and parishes have many successful programs that have assisted in the integration of migrants. The Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office (ACMRO) has produced a Migrant Kit, a parish and school resource to assist in the celebrations. Contained are stories of resilience and success in the integration of migrant communities in Australia. Copies of the kit have been sent to schools and dioceses, and electronic copies are available for download on the ACMRO website,

As part of the week-long celebrations, the ACMRO and Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, have organised a free public lecture on “Freedom of Religion in a Multi-religious Society: the Contribution of Migration”, at the Philippa Brazill Lecture Theatre, ground floor, Daniel Mannix Building, 8-18 Brunswick St, Fitzroy Vic. at 7:00pm.

Statement from the President of the Conference

“Confession in the Catholic Church is a spiritual encounter with God through the priest.  It is a fundamental part of the freedom of religion, and it is recognised in the Law of Australia and many other countries.  It must remain so here in Australia.  Outside of this all offences against children must be reported to the authorities, and we are absolutely committed to doing so.”

Archbishop Denis J Hart
Archbishop of Melbourne – President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference

Archbishop Denis Hart

Archbishop Denis Hart








Homelessness Week 7-13 August

Media Release from Most Rev Terence Brady
Chairman, Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life

On any given night in Australia 1 in 200 people are homeless.

While the media storm continue Untitled design (6)around the tent city in Martin Place in Sydney, Homelessness Australia has revealed startling statistics around the rise in the hidden forms of homelessness, such as sleeping in cars and couch surfing.

The rate of homelessness in Australia has been increasing and extends beyond our major cities to rural and regional Australia.  Day-to-day stresses on families and individuals such as insecure and low-paid employment, high costs of housing and general living costs, mental health and domestic violence contribute to homelessness.

Many individuals and families, for a variety of reasons, find themselves homeless and rely on increasingly stretched support services to assist them find a secure place to call home.  However, without a secure and affordable place to call home, other stresses in the lives of individuals and families cannot be addressed.

Catholic Social Teaching, based on the dignity of the human being, asserts that everyone deserves respect and protection – everyone has the right to food and shelter.

Homelessness is not just a housing problem, it has many drivers and causes including the shortage of affordable housing, long-term unemployment, mental health issues, substance abuse, and family and relationship breakdown.  Among women, domestic and family violence is the main reason.

The Catholic Church in Australia has been involved in helping people who are homeless for many years and will continue to support people to overcome terrible disadvantage.

Manus Island Refugee Death

Media Release from Most Rev Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv
Bishop Delegate for Migrants and Refugees

bishop-Long“It is with sadness that we have heard of yet another death of a refugee on Manus Island. This death could have been prevented. The Australian Government has been removing support services on Manus Island since the announcement of the closure of the detention centre.”

“Those in the care of the Australian Government whilst in offshore processing, who have come to Australia for safety and a better life, deserve more.”

“I urge the Australian Government to provide support services for those who are on Manus Island, awaiting a resolution to their current situation. The Australian Government needs to listen to the concerns of these people and treat them with dignity.”

“People seeking asylum are currently some of the most vulnerable members of our global community. It is imperative that they are treated humanely and with dignity. These people must be provided with options for settlement in safe countries free from further persecution.”

“I urge the Australian Government, to be committed to its international obligations, and continue its work within the region and with non-government organisations to ensure the safety of those seeking asylum.”

“Whilst it is important to prevent the loss of life at sea, it is equally important to provide adequate care for those in offshore detention. The Australian Government needs to provide adequate amenities, and provide quick resettlement options.”

“I urge the Australian Government, to provide adequate amenities to those on Manus Island, and to endorse programs that both protect lives at sea and in its care.”

Bishops Commission for the Plenary Council Announces Appointment of Plenary Council Facilitator and Facilitation Team

LT 200x200The Bishops Commission for the Plenary Council today announced the appointment of Ms Lana Turvey-Collins as the Plenary Council Facilitator.  She will work in partnership with members of the Formation Team of Catholic Mission, forming a Plenary Council Facilitation Team which will comprise Fr Noel Connolly SSC and Mr Peter Gates, Deputy National Director of Catholic Mission.

Ms Turvey-Collins and the Facilitation Team are humbled by the opportunity.  “We look forward to collaborating with leaders and their teams across the diverse ministries and works of the Catholic Church and all people in Catholic communities across Australia.  Over the coming years, we hope to support local Churches to lead and facilitate authentic and open dialogue about how we are, and how we can be, a community of missionary disciples in Australia.  Pope Francis’ writings, teaching and witness are inspiration for us, as he reminds us what Jesus in today’s society looks like.”

Plenary Council 2020 and the process of consultation and dialogue is an unprecedented opportunity for the Church in Australia.  It’s an opportunity to engage with all Catholics in Australia – those who lead, those who work in Catholic organisations, those who may feel they don’t have a voice, those who feel they are outside the Church and those who show up every Sunday for Mass – a process inclusive of all.  It’s about becoming the kind of Australian Catholic community which Pope Francis is calling us to be: “a community of communities…” (EG§28).

After considerable deliberation, the Bishops Commission for the Plenary Council made the decision to move away from the more typical Executive Secretary position, which had been previously advertised, and have instead appointed a Facilitator and engaged a Facilitation Team which will be better equipped to respond to the realities of preparing for and celebrating the Plenary Council.

Ms Turvey-Collins has a wealth of experience in senior leadership, strategic planning, facilitation and stakeholder engagement. She has been seconded from Catholic Mission, where she has been leading the mission formation team and adult formation program.  She brings to this role a passion for God’s mission and believes there is great strength and wisdom in the diversity of the Australian Catholic community.

The Bishops Commission welcomes Lana Turvey-Collins to this new role and asks that you pray for her, the Facilitation Team and the Executive Committee as preparation for the Plenary Council 2020 gathers pace.