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Author: UnitingWorld

From Dr Sureka Goringe, National Director, UnitingWorld

There’s change in the air. Maybe you feel it. For the longest time, an elephant in the room of Australia’s contributions to end world poverty has been the question: what about the struggles of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples here at home?

This was a challenge and reminder posed to the whole UnitingWorld team by Professor Anne Pattel-Gray, UCA theologian and Aboriginal leader, who was a special guest presenter at our annual team week in February.

Her words were not bitter or angry, they were deeply introspective, herself having travelled to do mission and community development work among Dalit peoples in India. While there, she was struck by her relative privilege, and realised how difficult it can be when you are well-meaning, but ultimately have little connection to people’s unique experiences of poverty, racism and injustice.

It led her to focus on what Christianity has to say about the value and dignity of all life, and the call on Christians to be a “transforming presence” from inside the dominant system – to turn oppression and domination into  justice.

It’s a calling to work that has no borders or postcodes because it’s about who we are.

Her words made me think of you, and the thousands of people touched by this mission we do in partnership with the global church. In our constantly changing world, we can’t pit local and global issues against each other – we need to address suffering and injustice wherever we can, with whatever skills we can bring.

The young leaders who attended the Pacific Australian Emerging Leaders Summit understand this, and their commitment to embedding justice for First Peoples within their vision of our region is truly inspiring.

Our international partners understand it too, always eager to meet, honour and gain the wisdom of the First Peoples who cared for this land for millennia.

We’ve started a conversation within UnitingWorld about how to strengthen links between our partners and Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) and embed a First Nations perspective into our work.

Change is happening in our government too, with the search for an Ambassador for First Nations People going on as I write.

As the national conversation about Voice, Treaty and Truth goes forward, I hope and pray that whatever happens, we Christians would strive to be that “transforming presence” alongside First Peoples that Professor Pattel‑Gray described.

When I asked her what gives her hope for the change she works for, she gave my whole team this encouragement: “my hope comes from the Creator, who has the power to transform people and communities.”


Representatives from eight of our partner churches in the Pacific and young people from the Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) and the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) were part of the inaugural Pacific Australian Emerging Leaders Summit (PAELS), held in Canberra in December 2022.

100 young people from 14 countries were brought together by Micah Australia* and the Pacific Conference of Churches to build relationships and advocate for the issues that matter to them.

Through the generosity of UnitingWorld supporters, we were able to sponsor two young women from our partner church in West Papua to join the delegation. They shared powerful stories from their homeland during the Summit, and also visited a Uniting Church in Canberra that is home to a large West Papuan diaspora.

The first two days of PAELS were led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian leaders. The delegates spent the first two days listening, learning, sharing their cultures and experiences and being trained and equipped for political advocacy. The deep conversations and learning from First Peoples continued as the delegates were invited to the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, where they received a generous welcome and storytelling from Elders.

Then over two days in Parliament House, delegates met with 84 Members of Parliament. The vision that the PAELS delegation brought to their meetings in Parliament was:

… to see healthy environments, empowered young people, and flourishing communities across the Pacific region. This is a vision that will only be realised in full when communities enjoy self-determination and when no one is left behind.

During the meetings, delegates shared their personal stories and heard from our nation’s leaders about their own experiences and hopes for our region.

UnitingWorld partner networking

PAELS was also a chance for representatives from our partner churches from Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Samoa, the Solomon Islands and West Papua to meet with UCA and UAICC members.

Below we share what some of the young leaders had to say about PAELS and the future.

Raúl Sugunananthan

Uniting Church in Australia

“Connecting with leaders from across Australia and the Pacific was such a valuable experience because it showed me the vibrancy and diversity of the church beyond my Inner-West Sydney bubble.

Through the amazing young leaders I met, I learnt first-hand that God is moving through the leadership of First Nations communities  from Arnhem Land to Sydney.

God is moving through the Pasifika songs and stories woven throughout their island nations and diaspora communities.

God is moving through the courage and determination of people striving for self-determination across our region.”

Tetavaa Namoto

Tuvalu Christian Church

“It was such a great experience to share some of the issues affecting my home and our islands. We have experienced cyclones, drought, climate change and sea‑level rise. They say we can migrate, but I don’t want to be a refugee. I think that when we lose our land, we would lose our culture too. We pray, pray, pray that climate change won’t happen and won’t affect future generations.

I love meeting other young people [at events like this] because we can share stories and it makes me realise there are more people struggling and also working for change.”

Hayden Charles

Wiradjuri man and Uniting Church in Australia member

“I had the privilege to be in a group with members from Sydney and Kiribati to share our vision of the region with four parliamentarians. Our shared vision will be the focus of the world in a couple of years and that’s why we started these conversations in 2022.

I hope we as leaders in the Pacific will work side-by-side to keep the conversations at the forefront of these parliamentarians and keep working to build sustainable partnerships in our region.

I would like to thank the team at Micah and all the partners that helped bring together this amazing group of young leaders.”

Grace Talei Tuiono

Fijian-Australian Uniting Church in Australia member

“No one has the same story. Every story is unique in their own way, and every voice is important. I want to use my voice to tell people of different abilities that they matter.

And as a young woman, I want to tell the world, ‘You can do it! You have skills and abilities to contribute.’ I learned that perspective from my mother and father, who’ve never just seen my disability – they see God in me.

I am so grateful that God gave me a voice to share here at Parliament and make a difference. Not everybody gets that opportunity. I may fall, I may fail, but God gave me the ability and a choice to take it. And when I take it, I believe God will provide for me along the way.”

* Who is Micah Australia?

Micah Australia is a coalition of churches and Christian organisations raising a powerful voice for justice and a world free from poverty. UnitingWorld is a member of Micah Australia.

Where can I find more info about PAELS?

The Pacific Australian Emerging Leaders Summit was an initiative funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Office of the Pacific and coordinated by Micah Australia.

Discussions at PAELS focused on key development priorities identified by research (surveys and conversations) among Pacific delegates prior to the Summit. The findings were summarised in the report The Pacific We See, which was available to delegates and MPs during the event. You can read it for yourself here.

If you are interested in attending PAELS 2023, register your interest by emailing marcusc@unitingworld.org.au

Group photos by Amelia Dorey for Micah Australia. Individual photos by UnitingWorld staff.

Rev. Samuel Gnanarajah
Deaf Link, Methodist Church Sri Lanka (MCSL)


All mighty Heavenly Father,

People with disabilities are one of the most marginalized and vulnerable minorities in Sri Lankan society.

They are less likely to have access to education, health care facilities, economic and social status than those without disabilities.

Our prayer is that the ‘self-help’ groups we’ve formed will become independent and include themselves in wider society confidently.

Our prayer is always for children with special needs, for their education, livelihood and inclusion with other children.

God of life, we are sorry for looking down and treating people with disabilities as objects for charity instead of considering them as fuller humans who need our empathy and understanding.

Our prayer to have a fruitful life together towards an inclusive community in our country.

Lord, Deaf Link is on an incredible journey to embrace the PWD’S and uphold their dignity. Guide us throughout our pilgrimage.

God of the disabled, give us the vision to see that all people have gifts and abilities to share as part of our community of faith.

We pray in the name of the one who always saw the best in people, Jesus Christ, our lord,



UnitingWorld supports our partner Deaf Link to provide occupational training to women with disabilities and provide access to education for children with disabilities. This enables people with disabilities, through work and study, to be accepted, equal and valued members of society. Find out more



Pray in solidarity with our partners

As part of Lent Event this year, we asked our church partners from around the world how we can support them in prayer. Their responses allow us to pray in solidarity, but also to learn about their struggles and what they long to see in their communities.

The above prayer was one that was featured in the guide in a shortened version.

Click here to download or order a printed booklet.


A community in Papua Guinea came together to construct a system to improve the water quality of their entire village. 

In the remote village of Masingara in Western Province, the people have been determined to improve the quality of life in their community.  

For years, people in the area had been sourcing their water from an unprotected pond outside the village. Despite it being fed by a natural spring, the water quality was very poor and people had to travel long distances to collect it.  

Locals say the pond was used by the first missionaries who arrived in the area more than 150 years ago. 

The people of Masingara spoke to their local government Ward Member and village Development Committee about possibilities for new water infrastructure and found out what they needed: a ‘spring box’ to extract the water before it becomes contaminated, and a large header tank to store and pump the water to three points across the village.  

They sought expertise from the United Church of Papua New Guinea (UCPNG) water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) program team and funding for materials through the Australian Government Church Partnership Program (CPP). 

The people then mobilised their community and church to support the venture through donations and volunteer labour.    

The whole community contributed, applying a philosophy of ‘sweat equity’ to ensure everyone played their part bringing stones and gravel to the construction sites, digging trenches and installing the pipes.  

The project was a huge success, with water now being pumped by solar power from the spring box to the header tower and then on to three locations across the village.  

UCPNG WASH Program Team Leader Clement Nusama said he was thrilled to see the determination of the community to see the project through and hopes it will inspire future development projects in the area. 

“When the team and volunteers finally connected up the pipes to the spring head, they were excited to see how clear the water was when it flowed to the surface, compared to how murky and filled with algae it was,” he said.  

Well done to the people of Masingara, UCPNG and the Church Partnership Program (CPP) for working together to bring clean water to another remote community in Papua New Guinea!  

The PNG Church Partnership Program is supported by the Australian Government through the Papua New Guinea–Australia Partnership. It impacted the lives of 14,300 people over the past financial year.



Pipit Purwadi
MBM Foundation, Protestant Christian Church in Bali (GKPB)




Lord Jesus, we are grateful for Your presence in our lives.

Towards the end of the year, there were many natural disasters around us.

Floods, landslides, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions.

Previously, Covid-19 haunted our lives. Many of our brothers and sisters have been laid off, resulting in an increase in poverty in our assisted communities, they have difficulty accessing basic rights: Education, health and food. Assistance for women’s reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, plastic waste management that was previously carried out by MBM, can no longer be carried out optimally due to the pandemic.

Dear God, as social workers assisting the community, we also experience confusion. However, we know that You are always with and blessing. For this reason, we continue to try to help the community with what we have.

We are grateful, through the help of partners, communities affected by Covid-19 and natural disasters, have received business capital assistance and assistance to survive. Likewise, support from the Village Government in dealing with disasters helps residents survive difficult situations.

O God, give us the strength to survive the threat of future disasters. Enable us to be able to adapt to climate change, while maintaining this nature.

We believe, only by Your help can we go through every struggle.

Thank you Jesus,


The Maha Bhoga Marga Foundation (MBM) is an advocacy and empowerment organisation established by our partner the Protestant Christian Church (GKPB) in Bali. UnitingWorld supports MBM to advocate for the rights of women and the poor to participate in village decision-making processes and provides women and poor families with vocational skills training so they can generate an income. We also support rural communities with health and hygiene services and education. Find out more



Pray in solidarity with our partners

As part of Lent Event this year, we asked our church partners from around the world how we can support them in prayer. Their responses allow us to pray in solidarity, but also to learn about their struggles and what they long to see in their communities.

The above prayer was one that was featured in the guide in a shortened version.

Click here to download or order a printed booklet.



Applications are invited for a volunteer Administration Assistant, supporting our International Programs team.

Purpose of the Position:
This role will provide administrative support in preparation for our upcoming DFAT re-accreditation assessment.

Flexible depending on availability.

However, given the time investment to train a volunteer, we would need a minimum commitment of approximately 120 hours. This can be 8-10 hours, ideally across two days per week for up to 12 weeks, or this could take the form of intensive blocks across 2-4 weeks.

This volunteer role could suit students looking for office experience, parents considering returning to the workplace, career changers seeking insight into work in the Not-for-Profit sector, or late-career professionals wanting to do community service.

See the Position Description for more information.

To apply, please email your cover letter and resume to Mya Rae myar@unitingworld.org.au

UnitingWorld has launched an appeal to support ACT Alliance partners in Türkiye and Syria responding to the earthquake crisis. 

On 6 February 2023, a series of devastating earthquakes hit southeast Türkiye and northern Syria causing widespread damage. At least 33,000 people were killed and more than a million people are now living in temporary shelters. 

Rescuers are still searching rubble for survivors, but hopes are fading and the death toll is expected to rise.

The Government of Türkiye said this week that about 80,000 people are in hospital, and more than a million have been made homeless and are taking refuge from the bitter cold. In addition to the freezing conditions, food and water and appropriate shelter are becoming scarce and increasingly difficult to access. 

You can help get critical aid to people in affected communities.

Click here to donate now.

Your donation will support churches working together through ACT Alliance to assist people in Syria and Türkiye. Donations made here will be directed to ACT Alliance members in the region to provide this much needed humanitarian support. 

Donations of $2 or more are tax deductible in Australia. Please give generously.

With everything going on in the world, it’s easy to feel powerless. The challenges are huge.  

But here’s the thing: by supporting UnitingWorld, you’re part of a global movement working together to change lives – including yours! Because when we work for change, we ourselves are changes. 

Lent is coming. It’s a 40-day season to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, seeking to practice a life focused on prayer, simplicity and generosity. It’s a precious opportunity to step back from the noise, take some intentional time to fix our hearts on what we can do to love our neighbours and heal our hurting world. 

Join us for Lent Event 2023

Pray – Use our prayer guide to pray alongside our partners as they address the challenges facing their communities. 

Live simply - Give up something in solidarity with people who have less. 

Give - Donate or fundraise to help our partners fighting poverty and injustice.   

This is the difference you can make

$25 can provide nutritious food to kids in Timor-Leste. 
$50 can help a family start pig breeding in Indonesia. 
$100 can provide job opportunities and education for a person with a disability in Sri Lanka. 
$500 can send a girl to school in India. 
$1,000 can supply clean water for a village in Papua New Guinea.

Join Lent Event


Kim’s Story

Kim is a youth leader and champion of bringing clean water and sanitation education to where it’s most needed in remote Papua New Guinea. 

“When we build clean water infrastructure on our church or school properties, we always try to put it in the middle of the island so people can stop by on their way to town to get water,” Kim told us.   

“We try to do things in ways that ensure everyone in the community benefits.”  

Kim is making waves in his community with the support of people like you. Read his full story here. 

This is what happens when we choose to walk hand in hand with our neighbours. Together, we can change lives. 

Will you join us?

Make a difference

“When I was a child, I would sit on my mother’s lap and she would tell me the stories of our people. It meant that my whole life I’ve known who I am because I know my story. 

“I’m so grateful for it because today it’s fading away. It’s harder for young people because of the noise of modern life.” 

Ever since I heard this from Kim Allen (pictured), a youth leader with our partner, the United Church in Papua New Guinea, I can’t get it out of my mind. I think it’s because his words transcend his culture and speak into our current moment in time.   

At just 28 years old, Kim is responsible for around five thousand youth across almost ten remote islands. He acts as a facilitator to connect youth to the work of the church.  

“The challenges we’re facing are school dropouts, unemployment, early marriage and the impacts of climate change,” he told me.  But the underlying problem affecting young people today is what he describes as ‘noise’.  

“Young people are exposed to so much noise, with the internet, mobile phones, drugs, peer pressure, music. They can’t focus.”  

I asked Kim how he and his church are addressing it: 

“The first step is to help them be aware of themselves and their lives as children of God,” Kim said. “With that awareness we can then meet them at a practical level, training them to be good citizens, to work against violence, to build up their communities. The church gives them hope and a solid foundation to be human. We see that as intrinsic to spiritual development.”  

I think we can all relate to that feeling of too much noise in our busy, modern world. I love that Kim’s antidote is having greater awareness of who we are as children of God as a first step to refocusing our lives.   

I know I don’t have to tell you how powerful that idea is, but I always find the reminder encouraging. When we see ourselves and others as created children of God, infinitely loved and valuable, our hearts are changed. We can’t ignore the cries of people suffering in poverty and injustice. We long to make a difference, and through God and God’s people, we find the power to do it.  

I hope, like me, you find strength and encouragement in that thought, because it’s a critical time to play your part, however you can. Here at UnitingWorld and across our church, we do that together during Lent with Lent Event. We reach out to others through prayer, living more simply and practising generosity.  

It’s such a powerful time! 

Pray – Use our prayer guide to pray alongside our partners as they address the challenges facing their communities. 

Live simply - Give up something in solidarity with people who have less. 

Give - Donate or fundraise to help our partners fighting poverty and injustice.   

Every prayer, action and gift make a difference, and not just for people overcoming poverty. Because when we work for change, we too are changed.  

I hope you’ll join us for Lent Event this year as we seek to refocus our lives through prayer, simplicity and generosity.  In 2023, Lent is from 22 February to 6 April.

Head to www.lentevent.com.au today to get started.  

In hope and gratitude,  

Dr Sureka Goringe
National Director, UnitingWorld

We asked some of our partners participating in our recent South East Asia partners conference what they would like to share with UnitingWorld supporters.

Julio Da Costa
Protestant Church in Timor-Leste (IPTL)

“Thank you so much to the Uniting Church in Australia for your support and friendship. We have been in partnership for a long time, back before the independence of Timor-Leste, and we are very grateful. Please continue to pray for us and please continue to work with us so that one day we can be independent in terms of finances, human resources and other things that we need. I would like to say thank you and may God continue to bless you and give you a long life to enjoy.

Rev Grietje (Grace) Monim
Evangelical Christian Church in Tanah Papua (GKI-TP)

Thank you for your partnership and supporting the economic development of women in Papua. I’m passionate about raising up women in leadership in ways that are respectful of culture. That’s important. Working in mutual partnership allows us to lead a cultural transformation on gender equality rather than outsiders telling us what to do. Partnership can start with economic development, but must lead to sharing information, knowledge, and getting different perspectives.”

Marisa Christine
Christian Evangelical Church in Timor (GMIT)

“Partnership with UnitingWorld means we can make a bigger impact in our communities. The more people we can include the more our program will be successful! I would like to say thank you so much to all the supporters in Australia for helping us for so long, and for giving assistance beyond material. Prayer and technical assistance give us hope for us to help other people. On behalf of people of West Timor, TLM and GMIT, thank you so much for your help.”

Bishop Nyoman Agustinus
Protestant Christian Church in Bali (GKPB)

“I do hope this relationship will grow and grow with UnitingWorld, the Uniting Church and our partners across Indonesia and Asia. I believe that because we share the same heart for people who are needy, we are going to strengthen our relationship to each other. On behalf of the Protestant Church in Bali, our members and the people we serve, from the bottom of our heart thank you so much for the support and prayers you send. They really do help us in Bali, thank you.”