The 2008-9 CES Forums on Social Inclusion

Among the innovations of the new Federal Labor Government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, was the appointment of a Parliamentary Secretary for Social Inclusion, Senator Ursula Stephens.  The concept is important to our Government and we may expect to hear a lot about it in the next few years but most Australians have never heard the term. What is social inclusion and why is it important to Christians?


The meaning of social inclusion, or overcoming social exclusion, is multifaceted.  Its modern use probably began in France in the 1970s when those who slipped through the social security net were called (socially) excluded.  Conservative governments took up the term to describe efforts to reduce poverty without having to admit its existence; however, social inclusion is a much richer term than poverty reduction.  For example, while poverty is a very widespread cause of inability to participate in society, it may be a symptom of social exclusion rather than the underlying cause which, for example, could be the inability to participate fully in the labour market due to  poor English skills.  The use of the term ‘social inclusion’ encourages attention on the causes of exclusion and encourages interest in the interaction of the various causes.


In both the Old and the New Testaments, social inclusion is an important attribute of an ethical society. At the heart of Old Testament law was the principle that God was specially concerned with the disadvantaged and vulnerable:  the socially excluded. For example, Deuteronomy 10:18 says to the Israelites, the Lord your God “executes justice for the orphan and the widow and shows his love for the alien by giving him food and clothing’.  When Jesus outlined his messianic mission in Chapter 4 of Luke’s gospel, he used quotations from the prophet Isaiah about what the Messiah would do.  These were acts to include the socially excluded. 


 It is natural, therefore, that the CES is running forums on social inclusion.  

Author: Professor John Nevile


(Additional information)


The 2008 Series on Social inclusion


Forum 1:  The Biblical imperative for social justice and the practical implications of this      Media release

This forum was held on the 28th August 2008.

Michael Fallon spoke on the Biblical imperative for social justice followed by Terry McCarthy speaking on the practical implications of this for Australia.


Father Michael Fallon is a Missionary of the Sacred Heart (MSC). He has a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture (LSS) from the Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome. He has been involved in Adult Education since his ordination in 1961 and is at present working in Canberra. Michael is currently Parish Priest at St John's Parish Kippax, ACT.


Michael has lectured widely throughout Australia, and also in Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and for a brief period in Israel. His lectures, as well as his many books and audio recordings, continue to make a significant contribution to adult biblical literacy.

His many publications include: Fundamentalism: a misunderstanding of religious experience; New Testament Letters, Vol. 1: An Introductory Commentary on the Letters of Paul, and Vol. 2: James, Peter, John, Jude and Hebrews; and other introductory commentaries on the New Testament. Later this year his new books on the Pentateuch will be published. Additional information can be obtained from Michael's website.



Terry McCarthy left school teaching in 1965 to join the Australian Public Service in Canberra. He spent the last 25 years of his public service as a career diplomat . He served in a number of posts both in Australia and abroad including Pakistan and Afghanistan, The Hague, Chicago (Consul General), Sydney (Regional Director), Dublin and The Holy See (Ambassador).

 Terry has been an unpaid volunteer  with The Society of St Vincent de Paul (Vinnies) for many years.  In 1997, following his retirement from paid employment, he was asked by the then National President of Vinnies (John Moore) to create and then chair the National Social Justice Committee of the Society. He continued in that role until 2005/6. For those 10 years he advocated vigorously for social equity and fairness for the poor and marginalised.  


He led the Vinnies team in a number of important inquiries, including those on the GST, Treatment of Refugees, Welfare Reform and The Senate Poverty Inquiry, to name a few. He has delivered many speeches on the Christian obligation to pursue social justice in his role for Vinnies and has  given many interviews in both the print and electronic media.  He was co-author of  “Two Australias: Addressing Poverty and Equity in Australia”.


The audio recordings for this forum are now available from our download page. Speaking notes and Powerpoint slides used can also be downloaded.


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Forum 2:  Federal Policy on Social Inclusion

This forum was held on the 5th November 2008 and was chaired by Fr Michael Fallon msc.


Ursula Stephens spoke about the federal government's social inclusion policies.


Senator the Hon Ursula Stephens, Senator for New South Wales
Parliamentary Secretary for Social Inclusion and the Voluntary Sector
Parliamentary Secretary Assisting the Prime Minister for Social Inclusion
Prior to her election to the Senate in 2002, Ursula Stephens worked as a teacher. She went on to operate a small business and then worked in the NSW Premier's Dept. She has been a Member of the ALP National Executive and of Labor Women's Network National Executive and was the President, ALP (NSW) from October 2002.  More details.

On the 18th April, the minister gave a speech at the Blacktown Community Centre on "Towards a Social Inclusion agenda for Australia: making it a reality together"  More details about the government's social inclusion policy



Kasy Chambers spoke on social inclusion from the view point of the non-government sector


Kasy Chambers
Executive Director of Anglicare Australia.

Anglicare Australia is the peak body for a national network of locally based Anglican care organisations serving the needs of disadvantaged Australians and their communities. New Report shows Social Inclusion Antidote to Turbulent Times. Kasy Chambers has recently spoken out on the alarming lack of affordable rental housing and on impacts of climate change on vulnerable sectors of the community.

Kasy has worked in the non-profit sector in Britain and Australia. She has been involved in the social welfare sector nationally and in the ACT and WA. She has an MBA from University of Western Australia and has been the CEO of two organisations as well as sitting on the boards of many organisations including some national ones. She has also studied environmental ethics and has a passion for balancing social justice with environmental sustainability.


The audio recordings for this forum are now available from our download page.

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The 2009 Series on Social Inclusion


Forum 3:     "White Man's Dreaming: the NT Intervention"  

This forum was held on  23 February 2009



Greg Thompson, Anglican Bishop of the Northern Territory and former Rector of St John's Anglican Church Reid discussed government efforts to effect change in the NT and the dilemmas faced. He  highlighted a marginalization of the Indigenous church and a denial of the spiritual in local community solutions. "The Australian Church can no longer remain an audience to government policy or to the suffering of its own marginalized people. It must engage Indigenous Australia with at least the same commitment and research it places upon church growth and renewal – its spiritual health and good conscience depends on it."


More details

Forum 4:  (our 1st forum on Mental Health)

"Access to Mental Health Care: There're people to help you out but not many to stop you falling in."

This forum was held on 30 April 2009


David Crosbie, Chief Executive Officer, Mental Health Council of Australia

 David Crosbie


As CEO of the Mental Health Council of Australia, Mr Crosbie leads a peak national organisation that is driving mental health reform across Australia and actively advocating the interests of a broad range of members and stakeholders including professional groups, consumers, carers and service providers.






Kat Szukalska, Coordinator CYCLOPSACT, Litmus Program of Anglicare Canberra and Goulburn & Youth in the City.        

Litmus Program:

Litmus supports young carers looking after a parent, parents with a mental illness and other family members. It understands that mental illness can impact all members of a family by offering tailored case management for both individuals and families as a whole.


More details

Forum 5:  (our 2nd forum on Mental Health)

"Mental disorder plus addiction: I can't fit in anywhere"

(dual diagnosis, the co-existence of a mental health problem with some form of substance use)

This forum was held on 3 June 2009


Prof Ian WebsterProfessor Ian Webster AO, is a physician and Emeritus Professor of Public Health and Community Medicine of the University of New South Wales and Patron of the Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia. He has held senior appointments in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of New South Wales and appointments at Monash, Sheffield and Sydney Universities.



Deb Wybron, Convenor, ACT Women and Prison Group  


From a very young age Deb Wybron used alcohol and drugs to numb her pain, which led her to be

institutionalized as one of the 'Forgotten Australians'. Years on, an ACT women's service and many other

women within the Community Sector of ACT supported Deb through her mental health, drug and alcohol

issues. In this time Deb has achieved an Advanced Diploma in Community Development, a Diploma in

Alcohol and Other Drugs and moved on to finalize a Bachelors Degree in Social Work.



More details


Forum 6: "The social inclusion agenda: What does it mean for poverty in Australia?"

This forum was held on 14 October 2009


Speaker:  Julian Disney


"The global financial crisis is greatly increasing poverty and hardship in Australia. Its greatest victims, especially those without work, will continue to suffer long after the financial markets have recovered and the crisis has been declared over. Many Australian governments and community organisations have adopted the European concept of "social inclusion" as a policy theme. Will it help to promote hard-headed attention on those in greatest hardship and on underlying causes in areas like employment, income, housing and transport ? Or will there be a softer focus, concentrating more on alleviating symptoms and on the less deeply disadvantaged?"

Professor Julian Disney is Chair of the National Affordable Housing Summit and National Chair of Anti-Poverty Week. He is also Convenor of the Community Tax Project and of the Neighbours Program, which works to strengthen engagement between community leaders in Australia and neighbouring Asian countries.

He has previously been Coordinator of the Sydney Welfare Rights Centre where he worked for six years assisting people who were unemployed or experiencing other forms of hardship. He has also been President of the NSW Council of Social Service (NCOSS) and the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS). He has been World President of the International Council on Social Welfare (ICSW) which represents social welfare organisations from more than 80 countries.

Professor Disney has been a full-time NSW Law Reform Commissioner and Chair of the NSW Ministerial Task Force on Affordable Housing. He was a member for seven years of the Australian Government’s Economic Planning Advisory Council (EPAC) and has been chair or member of national advisory committees in fields such as education, employment and training, social security, public administration, literacy, housing, superannuation and immigration.

During the last two decades he has been a policy consultant to a number of social welfare and business groups, a regular speaker at national and international conferences, and a frequent media commentator. He has also been the principal author or editor of books and articles relating to aspects of the legal profession, taxation, housing, social welfare, governance, national development and international organisations.

In 1994, Julian Disney was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for services to the development of economic and social welfare policy, and to the law. In 1999, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws (LL.D) by the University of New South Wales.

His research Interests include: Global governance, Regionalism, Public investment and taxation, Access to justice, Social security and unemployment, Urban and regional development, Taxation.


Audio downloads from this forum are not currently available