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Report on Activities across Australia

August 30, 2016

Across Australia, Sisters have been quite ecologically active in the second half of 2016 in conjunction with the MIRP process. The creation of the Mission & Ministry Unit for the Mercy Institute, led by Sr Elaine Wainwright, gives hope for the possibility and promotion of more concerted action.

Leading up to the Federal elections in July, an on-line petition on moving to a low carbon economy using was circulated. About 750 people signed. These messages were forwarded to the leaders of the major parties and the Environment Minister.

The Mission and Ministry Unit has established an Advisory Committee on Ecology. It is working on an ecological policy for the Institute. Chair of the Committee Sr Deirdre Gardiner is currently in Chinchilla speaking at the Knitting Nannas Against Coal Seam Gas Conference. She is opening up for them the paper that Aine O'Connor produced on International Human Rights Law and Fracking. Recently in Queensland one farmer succeeded in having representatives from the Government and the CSG Company visit his farm to assess damage to his property. More is being learned about the way Aboriginal people managed this continent.

Following on from an open letter to the Prime Minister signed by 154 Australian atmospheric, marine, environmental, biological and medical scientists, including several leading climatologists about the urgency of action on climate change, a letter from the Sisters of Mercy is currently being drafted to be forwarded to the Government before the first sitting of Parliament later this week.

There is deep concern among many people, including Sisters of Mercy about the way multinational companies are gaining control of resources in Australia. Recently a deal with a foreign based Company to take over the NSW electricity grid fell through.

In Adelaide, Sisters are active in the Repower Port Augusta movement, working to transition power generation from coal to solar thermal in this state. Also the campaign against the Nuclear Waste Dump being slated for rural/outback South Australia. The Australian Government’s commitment to coal mining and export continues to be an issue for Mercy groups in many parts of Australia.

A new Executive Officer has been appointed to Rahamim Ecology Centre in Bathurst. Ms Ellen Geraghty takes up this position in September 2016. Advocacy issues supported by Rahamim this year include the Anti-Nuclear Waste Dump at historic Hill End NSW; protesting the sale of recycled effluent, essential to inland river flow, to a new gold mine in the Bathurst region; education about and relocation rather than cull by shooting of kangaroos living on Mount Panorama in the vicinity of the car racing track; removal of established trees along city streets.

Brisbane Mercies’ Promotion of the Red group action re soft plastic recycling went viral on ISMAPNG ecological conversion list and was also publicised at the annual assembly of CRA. Sisters were encouraged to pass on their newsletter to a number of schools and other organisations in the archdiocese.

Other activities initiated by the Brisbane Mercies by means of their monthly newsletter included: Reminder to their members of their agreement to make voluntary individual payments to an ecological group for offsets of travel by plane or car; promotion of the “eat less meat eat less heat” campaign; publication of matters of ecological interest and other reading material to members; effort to further understanding of and action towards conscious evolution; encouragement of prayer for our planet Earth especially among our elderly Sisters for whom activism is no longer a viable option.

Many Sisters will be participating in the Global Catholic Climate Change Movement’s World Day of Prayer for Creation and the Season of Creation in September.

Messages to:  Patricia Powell rsm