Against the Wind is an initiative of members of Woden Valley Uniting Church and people concerned with justice. It is endorsed by Church Council but acts independently.
The political situation in Australia is deteriorating. Corruption and the influence of vested interests is growing in government. As a result, many people feel helpless and don’t know what to do. Against the Wind, by mobilising the strength of ordinary people, says that Yes, there are things that we can do, even if our bit is only small. It is Against the Wind’s belief that the more people become involved in informed advocacy, the stronger our democracy will be. We do not intend to replace current advocacy groups but to complement and further support them.
* Organise several public seminars on issues in need of advocacy which might include:
Nuclear Military Submarines (AUKUS agreement)
Increasing foreign aid for peace
Reducing poverty: increasing unemployment and student payments
Ending government support for the arms industry, and
Better support for asylum seekers and refugees.
* Support other organisations and individual who are already advocating in these areas.
By the end of 2023, it is hoped that Against the Wind will be an incorporated body within the ACT. Though having its origin in the Woden Valley Uniting Church, its membership is broader than the church, with members from across the country who are passionate about at least one of the Against the Wind’s objectives.
Currently Against the Wind has 50 members. We hope to have 300 members by the end of 2023. Currently membership is free, but when Against the Wind becomes incorporated, there will be a small fee, probably round $10 per year. It is expected that members would support at least one of the objectives, though not necessarily all. These are, after all, complex issues. As new members join and opportunities arise, debate on policy will be encouraged and existing objectives may be refined and new objectives embraced. Members can get as involved as much or as little as they want. Just by joining and doing nothing else, you give credibility to the organisation when it is advocating on an issue.
A social event with space to catch up with other like-minded people concerned with the work of justice. Against the Wind provides some light refreshments and everyone buys their own drinks.
We are currently looking for a new venue for this popular event after the sad closing of the Boardwalk Bar. The owner, Peter Dorree, had provided a uniquely welcoming and beautiful space to be ourselves, support each other, and dream of justice.
Date and venue for the next gathering to be advised.
Against the Wind held a successful screening of David Bradbury’s important new film, The Road to War. The evening included space for discussion, and opportunities to meet other people concerned about peace making in Australia. Half a dozen peace groups were represented as well as many members of the wider community.
David Bradbury introducing the film
Watching the film
Against the Wind made a submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Inquiry into International Armed Conflict Making. The submission can be found here.
Controversially, our submission was not accepted as a submission but relegated to the category of correspondence.
The Committee does not give reasons for such decisions, but the Parliamentary officer implied that because our submission dealt at length with the arms trade that it was not directly relevant to the terms of reference.
The main argument of our submission, clearly stated in the Conclusion and Recommendations, was that:
“ … the weapons industry is currently too influential in defence policy, and its objectives are poorly aligned with Australia’s self-interest and more closely aligned to the foreign policy of the United States. In such a situation it is unsafe to send service personnel into international armed conflict only on the decision of the executive.”
Much of our submission was devoted to giving examples to support this statement.
We have now sent our submission directly to Senator Jordon Steele-John, the member of the Committee who seems most likely to be sympathetic to our argument.
In November members of Against the Wind attended the Rally for Permanent Visas in front of Parliament House. For up to 10 years, thousands of people have been kept on insecure and temporary visas, many denied work or study rights, and all are separated from family.
Woden Valley Uniting Church also provided a welcoming environment for interstate supporters to rest and refresh.
IPAN: Independent and Peaceful Australia Network
Several Against the Wind members attended the above inspiring events between Nov 22-24.
The speakers at the public meeting and conference were terrific. Some highlights included:
Dr Emma Shortis, who had some of the most thought-provoking presentations at the public meeting and conference. Our thought needs to be deeper than just tinkering around the edges.
Michelle Fahy spoke on State Capture with the example of the weapons manufacturer Thales.
Dr Sue Wareham also spoke cogently on the malign influence of the weapons industry on our education system.
At the launch of the Inquiry Report, Kellie Tranter, Lawyer, researcher & human rights activist gave an historic speech which will hopefully soon be on the IPAN website.
Copies of this important report can be found here. It is an important and timely document to read.
Also at the launch was Peter Catt, President of A Progressive Christian Voice Australia. He was one of the panel leaders for the Social and Community section of the report.
After the launch there was a public rally in front of Parliament in the welcome sunshine.
Len Baglow has joined IPAN and he encourages other members of Against the Wind to also consider joining. It is a simple step in progressing peacemaking at a time when there are many pressures pushing us towards war. You can join through the IPAN website.
Against the Wind had a stall at the North Canberra Sustainability Festival in September. It was an opportunity to share Against the Wind’s new brochure and its document “We Need to Talk about AUKUS”, as well as information from ICAN on The Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty. Our free mini-muffins for peace were also well appreciated.
Members of Against the Wind attended the UN International Day of Peace Rally in Canberra on the 21st of September.
There were some excellent and inspiring speeches by Isabelle Gurney of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, John Minns of RAC, Dr Sue Wareham from the Medical Association for the Prevention of War and Tim Hollo of the Green Institute, as well as a speech read on behalf of Dr Nilofar Ibrahimi, former Member of Parliament in Afghanistan.
Members attended the “9 Years Too Long! Support Safe Settlement Now” Vigil organised by the ACT Refugee Action Committee.
It marked the 9 years since the then PM, Kevin Rudd, ruled that people arriving by boat to seek asylum in Australia after 19 July 2013 would never settle in Australia.
Emails with copies of our document We Need to Talk About AUKUS have been sent to the following politicians: the Hon Richard Marles, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Katy Gallagher, Senator David Pocock, Ms Alicia Payne MP, the Hon Dr Andrew Leigh MP and Mr David Smith MP.
Len Baglow: Former environmental activist and social policy advocate; hit by chronic illness but firing fiercely on three cylinders. Follow Len on twitter @LenBaglow
Joan Palmer: Bolshie Australian Scot; cook and catalyst. At our functions there will be good food and change.
Simply send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and stating that you support at least one of Against the Wind’s objectives.
You don’t have to do anything more. Simply by adding your name you give strength to our arm and help Against the Wind gain credibility.
However, if you want to become more involved, you are also most welcome and there will be ample opportunities, especially in a new organisation just starting up.
If you have questions, you can also send us an email on email@example.com .