Have you ever thought about coming to Voices for Justice? We sat down with Emma, a first year social work student, TJ, an engineering student at UNSW, and Tara, a Project Officer at Baptist World Aid, and asked them to share some their experiences of Micah Challenge’s annual conference.
How would you explain Voices for Justice?
Emma: A gathering of like-minded Christians, actively pursuing to speak out about injustice to our nation’s most powerful leaders.
TJ: Voices for Justice is an annual advocacy event where Christians gather to be trained and then meet with politicians to let them know that they and many others desire Australia to be a generous nation and care about our part in alleviating poverty.
Tara: Voices for Justice is a gathering of people who not only desire to see change in their communities, but are also passionate about finding ways to make real change happen. It’s a movement of people saying, “we are not going to stand silent”. Voices creates a direct connection between us citizens with the leaders of our nation, and guides us on how to lobby our Parliamentarians on matters that are important to us.
Why did you decide to go to Voices for Justice?
Emma: I wanted to meet like-minded Christians who had a passion for seeing Justice and all things good prevail in this broken world.
TJ: Apart from it being part of my course, I went because I was attracted to the idea of speaking to decision makers about things I was passionate about, and also wanted to step out of my comfort zone a bit.
Tara: I wanted a better idea about how to reach, inform and persuade politicians on matters that are important to me and my community, and meet others who felt the same way.
What did you learn from attending Voices for Justice?
Emma: My position as a white, middle-upper class woman living in Australia automatically gives me more privilege and power than the majority of the world’s people. To be able to voice and advocate for change for those who are voiceless, to the leaders of our country was an immeasurable and worthwhile experience. I learnt the power of being united in humbly seeking justice. How together we can make a tangible difference to the lives of those who have no voice
TJ: I learnt a lot about the great opportunities that tax reform brings for the global South, and I got a glimpse into democracy by being a part of it.
Tara: Sometimes the political leaders of Australia seem ‘far’ from the people – and we think that the things we do or say, or what we believe, cannot make a difference at higher levels. I learnt at Voices that I have a right to have my say. I am able to have a tangible effect on the future of policy, and have my voice heard. I also saw that I was not alone in the race for justice, and that many people of all ages stood with me in an effort to do just that. That alone was uplifting and inspiring.
Do you have a favourite moment from Voices?
Emma: Meeting with Senator Hanson Young was a stand out for me. Her compassion for the marginalised and concern for the cuts to foreign aid was encouraging to see, and I remember leaving her office on a high, with the knowledge that empathetic leaders did exist within parliament. It was a refreshing experience, and as a year 10 student, encouraging to see a young woman in such an important governmental leadership position.
TJ: Meeting with Senator John Faulkner and being told what’s what by the father of the Senate at that time. It was also exciting strategizing in the Parliament House café.
Tara: There were many great moments, but the best thing that happened was being able to receive clarity and direction about how to prepare to meet a MP, how to talk to them, where to go, what to do, what to write and say etc. All the information was presented to us in such an accessible way, with heaps of people to help and guide first-timers.
What would you say to someone who was thinking about going to Voices for Justice?
Emma: Just do it. It is an invaluable experience, and an authentic way to put your faith into action.
TJ: Do it! It’s challenging, you learn a whole lot about foreign aid policy and our government system, and you get to be a part of something that politicians say actually impacts their decisions. It feels so cool participating in democracy and more importantly in the building of God’s Kingdom.
Tara: Don’t think – just go. If you’re passionate about …pretty much any social justice issue – and want to do more than simply feel frustrated at home, Voices can help prepare you to take action, starting with small steps. It can help you build a network, and remind you that there are others who want to join in and give a voice to the voiceless.
For more information about voices for justice, head to the Voices for Justice website.