High profile humanitarian priest calls for positive post-election action
21 May 2019 at 4:30 pm
Controversial priest and humanitarian, Father Rod Bower, is calling on the community sector to unite and engender a sense of belonging within disparate groups, following results from the federal election.
Speaking at the Communities in Control conference on Monday, Bower said it was vital that communities and community organisations brought people together and celebrated the things that connected, rather than divided society.
Bower is an Anglican priest who came to fame after photos of the billboards outside his Gosford Church campaigning for LGBTQI+ acceptance, action on climate change and better treatment of refugees attracted nation-wide attention.
He also announced in late 2018 he was running in the federal election as an independent candidate in the NSW Senate but was unsuccessful.
He told Pro Bono News that creating a deeper sense of belonging for everyone in our communities was one of the biggest challenges we all faced as Australians.
“If we actually look for and discover each other’s humanity, we will discover that we share common humanity in a common place and that can be part of a deeper sense of belonging,” Bower said.
He said that often people behaved badly or anti-socially because they felt like outsiders in their communities.
“I think the things that we hear from people like Pauline Hanson, or the more extreme right-wing groups are because they are also expressing a deep sense of not belonging,” he said.
“So engendering a deeper sense of belonging in our community is a very important foundation on which to base all our community activities.”
The two-day post-poll conference, organised by Our Community, featured over 1,000 delegates from across the social sector.
Main speakers included human rights lawyer David Manne, Professor Helen Milroy, and former PM Malcolm Fraser’s daughter, Phoebe Wynn-Pope.
Denis Moriarty, the Our Community managing director, said the conference was about inspiring community organisations to take control of their own futures, no matter which party was in government.
“[Community organisations] are the ones who do the most to improve the lives of others, and we’re doing our bit to give them a spark,” Moriarty said.
“I want people to be provoked, even angered, by what they hear. But most of all, I want people to walk out with renewed purpose, whatever their path.”
Bower said there was a strong feeling of collective responsibility between community delegates to move forward in a strong positive direction following the election.
“After the election, I think the sector is a bit more conscious of the need for our work in the community, and if anything is even more dedicated to it,” he said.
“It’s on us collectively to create belonging where people from all faiths, politics, traditions, and views are able to flourish.”