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Our faith in democracy: How do you have a meaningful say?

Most of the social justice causes church members are concerned about require government action, from addressing climate change, modern slavery, and family violence to the treatment of people seeking asylum and justice for First Peoples. In order to see positive change in our society, we need to care about making government work for the betterment of our community and the world.

Globally, and in Australia, there has been declining trust in democracy as a system of government. On the positive side, people are looking for more meaningful ways to have a say in how our society is run and the laws that govern us than voting in an election every few years. On the negative side, the declining trust in democracy is leading to greater cynicism towards elected governments and all that they do. Such cynicism makes it harder for any reforms of any nature to be introduced by any government.
The Justice and International Mission Convention will explore what the Christian faith has to say on the subject of government and trust in societies. The Convention will also hear from movements seeking to re-energise our democracy and give us a greater say in how government runs.

The Convention will also seek input from participants on the work areas of the Justice and International Mission Cluster.


Workshop Options

Please list your top three workshop options from the list below using the number of the workshop. Workshops will be run based on the number of participants. Workshops will not run where there are not enough participants to make them worthwhile. Each workshop will aim to look for a specific way forward in each area.

  1. What does the public good mean and how do we get people interested in it? – Tim Molineux, Synod Social Justice Officer and Millie Rooney, Australia reMADE will explain how you can get your community involved.
  2. How do we reduce corporate influence in subverting our democracy? – Saffron Zomer, Australian Democracy Network will  outline how you can get involved.
  3. Increasing engagement with your local MPs and the political process so your voice can be heard – Mark Zirnsak, Senior          Social Justice Advocate
  4. The need for a National Integrity Commission to address corruption and foster good government – Serena Lilywhite,              Transparency International Australia will outline the campaigning options you can join in on.



9.30am – Introduction, acknowledgement of country and opening worship

Rev Associate Professor Sean Winter, Pilgrim Theological College, on a Christian view of forms of government and the role of trust in a society.

10.30am – Morning tea

11am – PANEL
Jolene Elberth, Democracy Campaigner, Australian Conservation Foundation, on the findings of how Australians see our democracy.

Millie Rooney, Australia reMADE, on the vision of a better Australia to unite the Australian community.

Damian Charmichael, Commonwealth Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, on what the Commonwealth Government is doing to increase opportunities for democratic participation.

Saffrom Zomer, Australian Democracy Network, on reforms to reduce corporate influence in our democracy.

12.20pm – Lightning talks: One minute presentations about what you are doing in your church or community on social justice. Please register your interest in advance if you would like to make a presentation.

12.35pm – Lunch

1.15pm – First round of workshops

2pm – Short break

2.15pm – Second round of workshops

3pm – Discussion on the direction and work areas of theJIM Cluster

4pm – Closing worship

4.15pm – Finish




Rev Associate Professor Sean Winter – Principal and Co-ordinator of Studies in New Testament, Pilgrim Theological College

In 2009 Sean was appointed as Coordinator of Studies in New Testament at the Uniting Church Theological College, now Pilgrim Theological College. In 2015, he became Academic Dean at Pilgrim, and from 2018 has served as the College Principal. He teaches and writes about issues relating to the historical Jesus and has an ongoing interest in issues of hermeneutics with a focus on the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Jolene Elberth – Democracy Campaigner, Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF)
Jolene leads the ACF’s work to address the systemic issues with our political system that drive ecological unsustainability. Prior to joining ACF, Jolene spent years as a grassroots community organiser working with directly impacted communities to build political power and win policy change.

Dr Millie Rooney – National Co-ordinator, Australia reMADE
Millie has a research background with a PhD in local community and social norms around neighbourhood sharing and community building. Working with Australia reMADE she has the privilege of listening to people reflect on their hopes and dreams for this country.

Damian Carmichael – Commonwealth Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources
Damian has had 25 years’ public sector experience in policy and service delivery and has held leadership positions in Canberra, the States and Territories and overseas. He led a project examining the barriers to Commonwealth public servants better engaging with the community. The project also examined how the public service can more meaningfully provide opportunities for members of the community to participate in policy development and design of services.

Saffron Zomer – Executive Director, Australia Democracy Network
Saffron is a lawyer, campaigner and political strategist. Prior to the Australian Democracy Network, Saffron was Government Relations Manager at the Australian Conservation Foundation. In 2017, Saffron co-founded and led the Hands Off Our Charities Alliance which secured critical changes to 2017 Electoral Act amendments to protect the rights of civil society organisations to engage in advocacy.


To register, click here



To download printable flyer,  click here