21 October 2004


The more than 50 world leaders who met at the United Nations in New York recently were told that hunger continues to kill 24,000 people a day and 11 children every minute.

In an address given by Brazilian President Lula da Silva world leaders were urged to intensify their efforts to reduce global poverty in the face of concerns that the UN is falling behind in its stated target of halving world poverty by 2015 and in the achievement of the Millenium Development Goals.

The Millenium Development Goals were a commitment made by the nations of the world that by 2015 they would:-
eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
achieve universal primary education
promote gender equality and empower women
reduce child mortality
improve maternal health
combat AIDS, malaria and other diseases
ensure environmental sustainability
develop a global partnership for development

Each goal is broken down to eighteen specific, achievable targets and forty eight indicators of progress towards achieving the goals.

Whilst some progress has been made particularly in immunization, disease control, reduction in child mortality and the elimination of hunger and poverty in some parts of the world (in other places it has got worse) UN officials say the world body is falling behind in its efforts to achieve the 2015 goals.

For a progress report on the achieving of the millennium development goals visit the Development Gateway website.


Using two different approaches, the World Bank estimates that, if countries improve their policies and institutions, the additional foreign aid required to reach the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 is between $40-$60 billion a year.

This estimate is consistent with other agencies estimates of the costs of achieving individual goals, such as those for education and health. By itself, this additional aid will not be sufficient to attain the goals, as many countries will have to reform their policies and improve service delivery to make the additional spending effective but at the same time countries like Australia have reduced their level of overseas aid in terms of percentage of GDP.

By contrast the cost to the US of prosecuting the war in Iraq will nave reached $152 billion by the end of 2004, agricultural subsidies to farmers in rich countries total $300 billion annually and a conservative estimate of military spending in developed countries is $500 billion each year.


Despite the recent apparent softening of its opposition to GM food production by the Vatican as a means of alleviating hunger, other Catholic voices have warned of the danger of control of food supplies residing in the hands of a few powerful corporations. The fundamental link between world poverty and world hunger has also again been stressed.

In his address to mark World Food Day Pope John Paul II stated that solidarity was the key to the proper development of agricultural resources and called for action by individuals, governments, international organizations and institutions and all members of civil society to unite in solidarity to promote the common good of their society and the world.

In a statement for World Food Day Anne Lanyon of the Columban Centre for Peace Ecology & Justice pointed out that "Hunger and poverty have more to do with social injustice than with access to genetically engineered super seeds. The world produces enough food for everyone, yet 840 million people suffer malnutrition and about 1.2 billion people endure extreme poverty trying to live on less than US $1 per day."

It is appropriate that World Food Day (Oct 16th) is followed by Anti-Poverty Week in Australia. Information and ideas for action can be found at the Anti Poverty Week website.


The Victorian Women’s Trust, which sponsored the Purple Sage movement some years ago, has recently launched an ambitious new project called Watermark Australia which aims to bring together, support and resource small groups of people to talk about water use and management and come up with some vision for the future.

The following information taken from their website outlines the vision
“Between now and February it is aimed to build a base of 15,000 people who agree to convene small local groups of up to nine other people. This brings 150,000 citizens into a dialogue about our use and management of water, helping define the scope for future action.

The people come together in their groups, meeting monthly. What emerges is a shared vision for the future, guiding principles and a program of decisive action on water. Working together like never before, and with a high level of information, confidence and agreement, people adopt solutions for water on many levels - households, local communities, regions, states, and nationally.”

The Christian Brothers at their last Chapter pledged to support the Earth Charter. Members of the Edmund Rice Network may be interested in participating in the project by forming their own group or by joining together with other members of the network. I am happy to co-ordinate a group or to help put people who are interested in being part of a group in touch with each other - just email me. Further information can be found in the website mentioned above.


Thurs Oct 28th, Treacy Centre, 5.00pm-7.30pm
A conversation evening on “The Edmund Story – Another Perspective. How marriage and fatherhood influenced Edmund Rice’s passion for life” led by Professor Denis McLaughlin, from ACU Brisbane.

Thur Nov 11th, Treacy Centre, 10.00am-2.30pm
Edmund Rice Student Justice Seminar. “Australia’s Responsibility to East Timor” Guest presenter Kevin Bailey, Honorary Consul for East Timor.

Wed Nov 17th, Cardinal Knox Lecture Theatre, 383 Albert St, East Melbourne, 7.30pm.
Rerum Novarum Social Justice Lecture “Reconciliation and Human Rights: the challenge for all Australians" given by Larisa Behrendt Professor of Law and Indigenous Studies at the University of Technology, Sydney

7 October 2004


An assessment of the policies and responses of individual candidates on a range of justice issues is available on line from a number of sources.

The Edmund Rice Centre in Sydney has prepared two election report cards summarizing the policies of the parties on issues affecting Indigenous People, Asylum Seekers and Refugees and on Health, Education, Housing and Security

A Just Australia has prepared a report card on the position of candidates in each seat in regard to the treatment of refugees. Significantly no member of the Liberal Party has responded to the survey which continues the pattern of candidates generally declining invitations to attend any public forums in which the refugee issue is likely to be raised.

The Brotherhood of St Laurence has evaluated the policies of the major parties on employment, social security, housing, education, health and Indigenous Australians.

Polmin has prepared a review of the policy of each Party on Water and the United Nations. The review has not yet been placed on their website but I am happy to email a copy of the review on request.


Concerns about the movement towards genetically modified foods, and the role and motives of multi-national corporations who promote them have been expressed by many individuals and groups in recent years.

Most recently, alarm has been expressed at the Vatican’s apparent shift on this issue, signaled at its participation in a conference held in Rome in September. The more sympathetic stance to GM crops seems to be due to a perception that such crops have the potential to alleviate the problem of hunger, despite the fact that it is now generally recognized that the issues such as hunger, overpopulation etc are not the fundamental problems – rather it is poverty that is the basic issue that needs to be addressed.

Concerns about the Vatican’s stance expressed in a letter from the Columban Centre for Peace Ecology and Justice and by theologian Sean McDonough are reproduced on the website of the Christian Brothers’ Leadership Team

For information about the relationship between issues such as poverty, development, hunger and population you can also visit Global Issues That Affect Everyone


The next Edmund Rice Justice Network Student Seminar will be held on Nov 11th at Treacy Centre, Parkville. The seminar will address the issue of East Timor and Australia’s responsibility towards the fledgling nation that is one of our nearest neighbours, including the issue of the development of oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea. Guest presenter for the day will be Kevin Bailey, Honorary Consul for East Timor. If anyone else would like to attend the day please contact me.

Visit the Save East Timor website sponsored by the Christian Brothers for more information and also contact me if you would like a bumper sticker.

Readers of this bulletin might also be interested in attending the conversation evening on “The Edmund Story – Another Perspective. How marriage and fatherhood influenced Edmund Rice’s passion for life” on the evening of Oct 28th at Treacy Centre. The evening will be led by Professor Denis McLaughlin, from ACU Brisbane. Contact me for more information.


The most recent edition of Ozspirit deals with the issue of Overseas Aid. In an article highlighting the lack of priority given to overseas aid by Australia the Australia Institute estimates that more than $2.2 billion was spent on pets last year, compared to the Federal Government's official development assistance of less than $2 billion.

During the term of office of the present government Australia’s level of aid has declined from .32% of GDP to .25% of GDP despite Australia’s pledge to raise the level of assistance to .7% of GDP which developed nations agreed was the level necessary to halve world poverty by 2015.

The issue has largely been ignored in the lead up to the election although both minor parties have pledged to urgently move towards lifting the level of aid to the agreed target.


The Director of the Edmund Rice Centre Phil Glendenning has called for an end to the practice of deporting rejected asylum seekers to countries where they faced risk. He was commenting on the recently released report "Deported to Danger" a research project of the Edmund Rice Centre which set out to establish an answer to the question:-
What happens to Australia's rejected asylum seekers?
More specifically the project asked
Has the Australian Government or its agencies sent asylum seekers to unsafe places?
Has the Australian Government or its agencies actually increased the dangers for rejected people by sending reports about them to overseas authorities?
In managing removals, has the Australian Government or its agencies encouraged asylum seekers to obtain false papers or become associated with bribery and corruption?
Is the manner of conducting asylum seeker removals consistent with Australia's legal obligations?
Is the manner of conducting asylum seeker removals consistent with Australia's traditional values?

The report concluded that most Australians would feel ashamed if they subscribed to the values of respect for the rule of law, 'mateship' and a 'fair-go', let alone values of care, tolerance, respect, understanding and social justice.

A copy of the report can be found at the Edmund Rice Centre website.

The most recent edition of Good Business the Edmund Rice Business Ethics Initiative newsletter is also available at the site.

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