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Nazareth Social Justice

Parish Groups
As a Christian community our Parish understands that through our baptism we become the hands of God in our world. With the intention to live an active baptism, we are committed to creating justice and supporting the vulnerable, the marginalised and the oppressed whoever they are and wherever they may be.
If you would like to know the underlying principles of our Social Justice Group, you can read the SOCIAL JUSTICE STATEMENT.

Letters from the Girls in Kon Tum

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Letter of Gratitude from Kon Tum

Attached is aletter from Sr Nhung at the convent in Kon Tum, followed with bio’s from all the girls that we are currently supporting. 

Thank you letter and Update from Kon Tum

REACH Vietnam Appeal 2023

REACH Vietnam visit April 2023

A group of parishioners visited Kon Tum, in Vietnam, where this project takes place, during April. They were greatly taken by the project which will soon enter its 11th year. Excerpts from the reflections of some of these people are displayed in the foyer of your church or can be found below.

Click here for reflections

Mass in Kontum

A short video showcasing the a Mass in Kontum,which was concelebrated with Fr Linh and Fr Gerry. There was about 50 girls from Knotum along with main local youths, and the Nazareth Parish tour group.

Welcome concert

Arriving at the convent to a beautiful welcome by the girls in Kontum.

Abandon Fossil Fuels – Nazareth Parish Petition

Letter to the Politicians  August 2023

Climate Change is one of the three issues that the Nazareth Social Justice Group (NSJG) is focussed on. Climate Change is already affecting millions of the poorest  people on earth. As the major threat to life as we humans know it, we are called by our church’s social justice teaching to take action against it, particularly as there is still time for its impacts to be restricted to a certain extent, if governments urgently take action. Pope Francis initiated a call to this action in his 2015 Laudato Si document and has very recently called for the world to “Abandon Fossil Fuels”. This petition is intended as a unified action across our parish to raise our voice with our Government. It will be taken to our local, federal government MP’s. 

Petition is now closed 

Our parish is geographically located within the Corangamite federal electorate, a key marginal seat. Including our 5 schools and 3 churches, and our mix of children, middle aged and older people, there are more than 4,000 of us. If a good proportion of us sign this petition, and then as planned, we deliver it to our local, federal representatives, we believe that our voice will make a difference. Therefore this is an opportunity for you to make a difference to a situation, that is already having a big impact on the poorest and least powerful people in the world and without big change will be massive problem for our young people as they grow older.

Petition Instructions 

  • The petition requires your name , signature and an email address (or phone number for the handwritten version to be used at church Masses)
  • The petition will be available  for signing in a traditional hand written form, at Sunday Masses on 21st and 28th May .
  • There is additionally an on-line  version that can be accessed at anytime until 15th June, 2023. CLICK HERE.
  • One check box asks “Show my signature publicly online”. Please select “Yes” for this because the petitions will finally be printed out to present to politicians, and must have the detail shown.
  • Another checkbox asks you “I am at least 16 years old and have read the privacy policy”. Again please select “Yes”.
  • This online version will only permit one name/signature per email address. If you wish to sign as a family but only have one email address it is suggested that you write in the first name  as “Family” and in surname your family name e.g. “SmithX4” if you are a family of 4

Petition Question 

We the undersigned, as members of Nazareth Catholic Parish (Grovedale, Armstrong Creek, Torquay, Anglesea), call on the Government (and Opposition) to immediately start to develop, and as soon as possible implement, a plan that will see Australia’s exit from fossil fuel production for both domestic use and export sales, in the medium term; that is within 8 to 10 years.

Further information

  • Current climate change science indicates that the average temperature increase due to emissions of greenhouse gases, in Australia, is already very close to 1.5 degrees C, and for the remainder of the world only a little below. While only a single measure, this rise is already, clearly causing an increase in more frequent climate catastrophes both here and around the world.
  • These catastrophes are already having a greater impact on the world’s poor and marginalized. As this is set to continue, we, as wealthy Christians, have a duty to act in ways open to us, both personally and as a community.
  • While we shall now inevitably pass the 1.5 degrees C rise, it is still possible to limit the long-term temperature rise to a level where the impacts on life on the planet will still be somewhat manageable, but this requires a global effort right now to eliminate the use of fossil fuels. These time limits are well before the 2050 “zero emission” levels set by the now outdated “Paris Agreement”.
  • This petition is a community effort, by our Christian community, both churches and schools. With 4,000 or so people within our Christian community, if enough of us sign this petition, our voice will be heard by our political leaders. Our political leaders need enough of us across the country, to call for action, in order that they will take the required action. Let us join those already calling for such action.
  • The petition question is a “big ask”, as, if acted upon, it will require sacrifice linked to the amount of revenue that our country would forgo, particularly in export of fossil fuels, and the amount of money that needs to be spent to transition quickly to a sustainable energy future.  Australia, in total produces around 8% of global fossil fuels. Are we willing as a nation to make these sacrifices?
  • Giving us encouragement to act in this way, our leader Pope Francis, in September, 2022 , was reported as saying   “We can no longer be content to wait for the next international summit: the earth is burning today. And today is the day to change,” and “We grew up abusing the planet and the atmosphere. Today we must also learn to make sacrifices in lifestyles that are still not sustainable,” and “sacrifices will demand new courage, especially for abandoning fossil fuel sources and accelerating the development of zero or positive impact sources”. Read the full text that includes these quotes here :https://international.la-croix.com/news/religion/pope-calls-for-the-courage-to-abandon-fossil-fuels/16651
  • The question is what will the future look like if we, as the human race do not act now with urgency? The answer looks bleak, and it is the younger generations who will pay most if we do not act.
  • Let us raise our voices together. CLICK HERE

Yoo-Rrook Truth and Justice Commission - May 2022

Victoria’s Truth and Justice (Yoo-rrook) Commission 


Victoria started on a path to Treaty in 2015. It is now in the second of three phases. In pursuing Treaty, the government is committed to acknowledging the truth of Victoria’s history and laying the foundations for new, positive relationships between the State, Aboriginal Victorians and non-Aboriginal Victorians. In partnership with the Assembly, the Victorian Government has established  the Yoo-rrook,  Truth and  Justice Commission, as the nation’s first truth-telling process.  (Yoo-rrook is the Wemba Wemba / Wamba Wamba word for truth.)


The Yoo-rrook Commission will examine the ongoing impact of the genocide and dispossession of Aboriginal people in Victoria, as well as the impact of current-day racist policies. Troy McDonald, a Gunai Kurnai man and member of the First Peoples’ Assembly Victoria, said “The east coast of Australia really took the brunt of the invasion full on and the effects of that filtered down to families, communities and individuals across this country, right up to this very minute.”

Victoria is the first jurisdiction in Australia to announce such a commission, but other states and territories are expected to follow suit. The Northern Territory is aiming for such a Commission, and Queensland is also moving toward a Treaty process. Note that to date, the federal government has sidelined calls for a national truth and justice commission, one of the demands of the Uluru Statement from the Heart in 2017 (Hopefully this situation is about to change following the Federal election in May 2022).

Professor Gregory Phillipsa, Waanyi and Jaru man  said the process would help not just Indigenous Australians, but non-Indigenous Australians. It should be viewed not as a symbolic gesture, or something to be done for the sake of political expediency, but as a foundational step in becoming a strong nation that was skipped in the colonial creation of Australia.

Yoo-rrook Commission Plan

Five  Yoo-rrook commissioners have been selected (see next page). Delayed by Covid lockdowns The Commission began its hearings in May 2022 . It is expected to run for  2 to 3 years, but will publish interim reports. The first is scheduled for June 2022

Public hearings with Elders began in May 2022. Story 1 is an excerpt from an article in the Age in March 2022. The remainder are excerpts from the transcripts of the Commission hearings. For the sake of conciseness, excerpts are used as an illustration of what people said at the hearings  The parts in italics are either extra words by the author or questions from the counsel assisting. These are to provide context. The remainder is the spoken word taken from the transcript.  The  full transcript provides a much more complete story. A link to the transcript is on each page and it is well worthwhile reading one or more of these in full. However reading all of the excerpts here  conveys the similarity in the stories being told and provides insight to the systemic devastation caused to Aboriginal people in Victoria from colonization through to the present.

NOTE – The Yoo Rrook Commission is equivalent in many ways to a Royal Commission

Story 1   Story 2   Story 3   Story 4   Story 5

Good news from REACH VIETNAM Sept 2018

Sister Simone sends her best wishes and blessings as she offers this SEMESTER 2 REPORT – SCHOOL YEAR 2017 – 2018

English tuition:

The children still undertook English tuition, financially supported by Parishioners in Australia. We are very grateful for your on going support.

Maths tuition:
The children also still undertook Maths tuition supported by the Order.
Academic results:

· 2 girls in Grade 3: Both achieved Excellent grade.
· 1 girl in Grade 4 achieved Good grade.
· 2 girls in Grade 6 achieved Good grade.
· 8 girls are in Year 7, 6 achieved Good grade, 2 achieved Average grade.
· 5 girls in Year 8 achieved Good grade.
· 5 girls in Year 9, 4 achieved Good grade, 1 achieved Average grade.
· 13 girls in Year 10, 4 achieved Good grade, 9 achieved Average grade.
· 4 girls in Year 11, 1 achieved Excellent grade, 3 achieved Good grade.

· 7 girls in Year 12, 3 achieved Good grade, and 4 achieved Average grade.

Tertiary results for Year 12 children:
· Thiec: was accepted in Diploma of English course in Kontum. She’ll continue boarding at the Convent.
· Xoan: was accepted in Diploma of Sociology course also in Kontum. As Thiec & Xoan will be going to the same University, they’ll be sharing Thiec’s family motorbike.
· Le Na: was accepted in Diploma of Education course (Pre-school Education) in Kontum. The course is 3 year long including boarding at school. Although Le Na was successful, her family has limited ability to afford her education. Given Tertiary courses in Education are supported by the Government, course fee is minimum. Major cost is in living expenses and educational needs. Exact cost is unknown until course commencement.
· Van: achieved more than enough mark to apply for Tertiary courses. However her family, also in similar condition as Le Na’s, does not have the ability to provide her further education. Da Minh Tam Hiep Order in Dong Nai offers to assist with her education, at the same time undertaking the religious life. At first Van was unsure, but the in end, she accepted the offer.
· Giao: was accepted in Bachelor of Education course (Primary Education) in Kontum. She’ll also take boarding at school.
· Lac Lo: Lost interest in academic education and decided to undertake apprenticeship in a Beauty Parlour.

· Mlung: Also lost interest in academic education and decided to undertake cooking course in Saigon to become a Chef.
Children undertaking Tertiary education:

· Tran: completed her first year undergraduate degree in Mathematics, achieving 12th highest mark in her year. She has started coaching maths to younger girls.
· Na: completed her first year undergraduate degree in Music, achieving outstanding result, 2nd highest mark in her year. During summer holiday, Na plays music for the children in the Parish. Na’s family continues to support her. We offer Na to stay at the Convent, however Na’s school is too far for her to transport on bike daily.
· Hang: completed her first year undergraduate degree in Education (Primary School). She receives scholarship support for $500,000 VND (about $30 AUD) at the end of Semester 1.
· De: Completed her first year in diploma of Nursing/Pharmacy. De doesn’t need to pay for course fee in 2nd year. She however needs to purchase educational tools, but we can help as it does not cost much.
· Ngoe: is completing her final year in Diploma of Nursing/Pharmacy, and will graduate in October this year.

Reach Vietnam

n late 2011, Fr Linh told his story of leaving Vietnam to the Year 6 children at st Therese School. Consequently, the Year 6 Outreach Group approached Fr Linh about the possibility of making some connections in Vietnam, as part of their participation in their Studies of Asia.
In 2013, Fr Linh and the then Principal Pauline Audley, visited Vietnam to explore some options and the decision was made to support the Sisters of the Divine Providence Order in Kon Tum, who care for and encourage approximately 400 children in the pursuit of education, so that they may be better able to make a link with Catholic values as they grow.
Read more of the original story.
REACH Vietnam 2017 .
During the July school holidays a group of parents and past students from St Therese School, together with a couple of teachers and a member of Catholic Education Melbournem(CEM) visited Kon Tum and were delighted to see how well ourprogram is developing and have come back with lots of new ideas. A report of the visit with some photos appeared in the St Therese School Newsletter.
Our REACH Vietnam project will soon enter its fifth year. Reports from some of our folk who recently visited the girls in Kon Tum indicate that the program is going very well. Sr Simone who replaced Sr Phuong last year is totally committed to the program and the girls. Our contribution feeds fifty girls, plus now also funds extra curricular tutoring in English and Maths which has markedly improved the girls’ school results. As well, the girls are all growing emotionally. One indicator of the success is that this year five girls will move on to tertiary education and next year potentially seven will do so. However, we have become aware that some girls are precluded from either finishing high school as their families are unable to meet the financial requirements that grow towards the end of high school and likewise, some girls cannot move on to tertiary education. Some of these costs have been covered, but the decision has been made that we, as a parish, shall try to increase our contribution to cover these additional costs. Putting this into perspective, the amounts are quite small by Australian standards, totalling perhaps a couple of thousand dollars per year, on top of our current contribution of around $16,000. Given our plan to continue this project foreseeably, we are enabling, via education, parts of an ethnic minority community to move out of the cycle of poverty over a generation or so. We are using our gifts for the good of others, and at the same time gaining an understanding of their culture, thus enriching our own lives – isn’t this the gospel message in action?

Achieving this is, of course, totally based on your ongoing generosity and support.

Are Aboriginal Peoples Justified in Taking a Radical Stance?

The following two articles in combination, give insight into how many aboriginal people feel and think.
Presuming that what is reported in the first is accurate, it is a small example of how Aboriginal Peoples have been deceived, let down and frankly, abused by politicians of many stripes over a long period of time.
The second article is written by Ghillar Michael Anderson, the last living founder of the tent Embassy in Canberra. He is a qualified lawyer in Western law. He would be what some might perceive as the radical end of aboriginal activists. And so the question in the heading.

Gathering of Nations Extended

BHP and Rio Endorse the Uluru Statement – A must read article

The link below is a discussion about the previous week’s supportive statements by Rio and BHP about the “Uluru Statement”. 
This statement was put out in 2017 by the biggest gathering of Aboriginal people in many years, and immediately dismissed by the P.M. at the time, Malcolm Turnbull,. He said it called for a third house of Parliament. It in fact never did this, but provided a very good way forward, beyond the current impasse to Aboriginal justice.
This discussion gives a very clear view, I think, of the core issue facing us and Aboriginal people at the present time. The link takes you to the Drum on iView. Select Summer Drum for Thursday 31/1/2019, and fast forward to the 10 min mark.
If you are interested to read more, you can read the Statement itself here, along with further background. 
Joe Annettss 

Treaty for Aboriginal Victorians

Last week Fr Linh went to the priests’ annual gathering that was held in Torquay. He noted that he was very taken by a presentation by Eugene Hurley the Catholic Bishop of Darwin. Linh recounted Eugene’s story about how he came, when he first arrived in Darwin, to go down to the river and speak to the old Aboriginal men there. He did this without letting them know who he was, he just wanted to engage face to face to learn more about them, and their lives. They eventually found out who he was, but he further recounted how, much later, when he was walking towards the river some white guys said to him ‘It’ll cost you $10 if you go down there’ ; he replied with ‘it’ll only cost me a blessing’.

You may already be aware of the moves towards a Treaty process in Victoria, but if not, then a visit to “TREATY” is definitely interesting and very informative.

Another website “DEADLY QUESTIONS” gives the views of a number of Aboriginal Victorians about this process as well as a section where questions from other Victorians are answered.  (to the right of the middle is a small cross to click on)
So, like Bishop Eugene, spending some time at these two websites,  gives us an opportunity to find out more about Victorian Aboriginals, their lives and their thinking.  It behoves us all to ensure we are well briefed about the stories of our Aboriginal brothers and sisters.

Do you regard yourself as Captain Catholic???

As far as being a Catholic I’ve done all the right things. Married a Catholic in a Catholic church, children educated in catholic schools, Parish councils. Worked for the Catholic Church. Killed no one. Maybe coveted some of my neighbours goods. Millions of venials, no mortals to speak of. I toed the party line. I was Captain Catholic and I was going straight up.

Things changed however when I began to work for Caritas Australia. I discovered Catholic Social Teaching– commonly referred to as the church’s best kept secret.

In the last 2 centuries numerous Papal encyclicals and documents on contemporary issues have been written. Concerns such as the widening gap between the rich and the poor, worker’s rights, globalization and care of the earth have been examined in light of the Gospel.

Put simply, Catholic Social Teaching is a collection of guiding principles, based on the combination of the teachings of Jesus Christ and the wisdom and common threads from Papal encyclicals. They help form a basis on which the church and its people make judgement and commentary on contemporary social issues. 

Underpinning all principles is the Dignity of the Human Person. Every human is made in the image and likeness of God and therefore has innate human dignity.
The Preferential Option for the Poor is a core principal. Jesus was a friend of the poor. As his followers we are challenged to defend those who are vulnerable and marginalized.
The Common Good suggests that every person should have access to enough resources to enable them to live fulfilling lives. When we work together to improve the well-being of all people we are working towards the common good.
Solidarity acknowledges that our responsibility to each other crosses racial, religious, economic and ideological differences. Nazareth Parish through REACH Vietnam is in solidarity with young schoolgirls in Kon Tum.
In today’s world a critical principle is Care of the Earth. Indigenous Australians are a great example to us – protecting the land rather than exploiting its resources.

Francis has clearly articulated that he wants a poor church for the poor. For him the vulnerable and marginalized are paramount. Just imagine a hierarchical church that shared his vision. Just imagine the Australian Catholic Bishops sharing that vision. Just imagine that the principles of Catholic Social Teaching were fundamental to their thinking and subsequent actions. Were this the case we may have had a very different and far more compassionate outcome for those survivors of clerical sexual crimes.
Amidst the challenges of modern society, the Church’s Social Teachings are a rich treasure of wisdom urging us to build a just society and to live honourable and ethical lives, mindful of those in our society who are the most vulnerable. 

For me, the principles of CST are a lens through which to ascertain whether I’m on the straight and narrow. Of course I have more than my fair share of the world’s resources. My carbon footprint is far too large. I don’t always treat people with the dignity they deserve. I fear my Captain Catholic badge has been severely tarnished. I’m not sure now if I’ll go straight up!!!.
Mary Anne Collins’  talk on Social Justice at Mass was pithy and challenging to say the least. You can find some further information and a set of questions that might chllenge one’s own thinking in such a personal way a to initiate action. if you are looking for a discussion topic for a group meeting these would be ideal.

Social Justice - what's that??

Our Social Justice Group want to help us gain a better understanding of what Social Justice means and looks like. Here is their first offering:

Pastoral Letter for the Feast of St Joseph the Worker

This important document begins:

“On this Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker, let us consider the importance of the just wage. This is particularly important in today’s Australia, where wage growth has been very slow and low-paid workers often experience real hardship.”

A Fair Day’s Pay – for the dignity of workers and the good of all.” Bishop Vincent Long

“Richard Flanagan 'Our politics is a dreadful black comedy’

This article is a must read for all us Christians. Reflect on it and ask yourself how we as a Christian community need to act?”

Read the article by Richard Flanagan


‘The Government’s assessment of Indigenous disadvantage ignores how far behind remote commuities are when compared with cities, and how top-down policy making reinforces economic disparities.’
Many will remember Fred Chaney as Minister for Aboriginal Affairs under the Fraser Government.  He continues to fight for justice for our Aboriginal people, but as this article by Mike Seccombe notes, he is “despairing.” 

On 17 November the bones of Mungo Man will be returned to their original resting place at Lake Mungo, part of the Willandra Lakes about 100km north of Mildura. This is internationally significant because the discovery of Mungo Man and Lady in 1974 established that our settlement in Australia dates back 45,000 years. The three Aboriginal groups associated with the area will welcome back the remains which have been stored at ANU and the Australian Museum, and they are inviting all Australians to join with them as they celebrate Return to Country Festival. For full details see the attached brochure.
It is both very human and very Australian to have a treasure before us and not know what to do with it,
or not even know it’s a treasure 
…Mungo Man’s return…gives our entire community, balck and non-black, a new bond and a national glory 
Tom Keneally, The Age, 26 April 2016 


Several weeks ago we had the gospel about the ‘generous landlord’. To add to Fr Linh’s interesting homily on this text, you are urged to read Michael Bowden’s reflection on the same text, and his link to the treatment of a small group of Aboriginal people in Alice Springs. It says a lot about our society’s relationship to Aboriginal people, as well as how we should/must be a voice for “generosity” in the gospel sense. By the way for all you Tiger fans Michael Bowden, an Alice Springs resident, is the father of Joel Bowden.
This article, Aftermath, by Melinda Hinkson, gives a very good summation of the negative impact that ten years of the Intervention has had on Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory; hinting at how it is driving these rich cultures towards extinction. Should we be standing by and doing nothing about this?”
ANOTHER OF MICHAEL BOWDEN’S REFLECTIONS  which highlights the power of the Aboriginal concept of ‘belonging to‘ the land, rather than ‘owning‘ the land. What could happen if we were to learn from Aboriginal culture by opening ourselves to proper reconciliation??