What is Pasifika Empowered?
This is a chance to highlight the significant impacts of climate change and cost of living felt by residents of Western Sydney, and most particularly by Pasifika communities and their families. By speaking directly to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen, we are making our calls heard, and offering opportunities for change.
Following the success of our last forum in 2022 with Minister Bowen, he is honouring his commitment to meet with Uniting Pasifika leaders during his term!
It will be a celebration of Pasifika culture, including live performances, storytelling about experiences of climate change and cost of living, and asks for the Minister. It will be led by Uniting Church Pasifika Leaders, including the Uniting Church NSW & ACT Moderator, Rev Mata Havea Hiliau. Cochairs for the day are Uniting Church Rev Vinnie Ravetali and Pastor Joyce Tangi.
Saturday, 7 October
Arrive at 1pm (for registration, food), start at 1.30 sharp
Nexus Room, Sydney Olympic Park
To reflect the focus on culture and diversity, wearing items of clothing reflecting your cultural background and community is welcome and encouraged. Otherwise, organisational clothes (e.g. branded t-shirts, uniforms), religious wear (e.g., stoll/collar for Revs), or business wear would also be appropriate.
Pasifika leaders and community members are being prioritised in seating allocation but there is capacity for allied organisations and communities to send delegates. Venue capacity is limited so please register ASAP to save your seat!
Note: The event has been moved to Olympic Park to give attendees a chance to participate in the weekend’s Fiji Day celebrations afterwards!
This follows the Uniting and Uniting Church Pasifika Forum ahead of the 2022 Federal Election in Penrith. Uniting Church Pasifika Leaders led a gathering of over 200 people highlighting the concern around and impacts of climate change on Pasifika communities, in particular in Western Sydney. Candidates from across the political spectrum were invited to attend and Minister Chris Bowen attended as a member of the Opposition.
In response to that colourful and passionate gathering, he agreed to meet again on climate in the next year if he was elected. Now, in his role as part of the Federal Government, and as Climate and Energy Minister, Chris Bowen is honouring his commitment.
Climate change affects everyone, but not everyone equally. Pasifika people, First Nations peoples and communities in Western Sydney will be hit earlier and harder. These communities also have less resources to adapt. We believe that climate justice and equity are crucial elements of the energy transition, and will help safeguard a good and hopeful future for all.
We want the government to hear and acknowledge the concerns of Pasifika communities around climate change. This event is a chance for storytelling, to highlight the experiences of people feeling a range of impacts connected to climate change – these include more common and more intense extreme weather events in Australia and the Pacific like cyclones, flooding and extreme heat (especially in Western Sydney). Experiences also include facing the cost of living pressures made worse by climate change e.g. rising energy bills. This is also a chance to push for a better future for our communities and celebrate the richness, diversity, and strength of Pasifika culture.
Checkin on arrival (arrive by 1pm)
When you reach the event, you will be greeted at the door by our checkin team so please try and have your ticket ready to be scanned – either on your device or printed. We will be able to help you out on the day if you can’t access the code but having tickets ready will help us make sure we start and finish on time.
Please arrive at 1pm to get food and get checked in before the event kicks off at 1.30pm sharp.
If possible, public transport is recommended – Fiji Day celebrations are expected to mean high traffic.The Pullman Hotel is a 3 minute walk away from Olympic Park Train Station.
The combined carpark for underground carpark for both Pullman & Novotel/ibis hotels is below the Novotel Hotel at a rate of $15 for the first hour and $5 extra for every additional hour. Alternatively, event attendees can get full day parking for $30. Details are included in the PDF document below.
This event will be catered – light lunch and refreshments will be available at no cost. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options will be provided.
The venue is wheelchair accessible with lift access to the Nexus Room.
Note: If you or anyone in your community have accessibility needs or specific dietary requirements we can support you with, or if the cost of parking would limit your ability to attend, please reach out to Deepthi Mathew at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Lunch and registration
- Event Briefing – Rev Alimoni Taumoepeau and Rev Kili Mafaufau
- Minister enters + welcome
- Welcome to Country – Brendan Kerin (Metro LALC)
- Reflection on the Voice – Nathan Tyson
- Cochair introductions – Rev Vinnie Ravetali, Pastor Joyce Tangi
- Address from the Moderator – Rev Mata Havea Hiliau
- Roll call – Cochairs and the audience
- Musical performance– Uniting Creative
- Faith and Care for Creation – Rev Dr Seforosa Carroll
- Choir performance – Canterbury Fijian Congregation Choir
- Minister’s Address – Chris Bowen
- Stories – Various
- Talanoa – Asks and responses from the Minister
- Call to Action and Closing Prayer
For us to build on the mutual relationship Uniting Church Pasifika leaders have built with the Minister, and to make sure the event runs smoothly, we have a few ground rules:
- We will keep to a schedule – with a time keeper – because we value the time of you, our attendees, and our speakers
- We will be disciplined and respectful – that means no booing or comments from the floor
- We support and recognise our storytellers and speakers
- Asks have been provided to the Minister ahead of time – we are not going to ambush politicians
There will be times throughout the event that you will be asked for active participation – this includes opportunity to meet and talk to someone around you (preferably someone you don’t already know
We will also be having a roll call to acknowledge the diversity and strength within the room. This will be organised by cultural groups, starting with our First Nations community members and leaders, and then going through each of the Pasifika groups in attendance. Then we will call on allies in the room – starting with Uniting congregations; then interfaith and ecumenical networks; and finally other organisations, community groups and Unions who campaign for the community and climate justice.
When your group is called, we encourage you to stand as you are able and make your presence known! When other groups are called please cheer them on as well.
There will also be a chance for all attendees to stand together to show their support of stronger climate action and show the politicians in attendance our strength in unity.
This will be a way for Uniting Church Pasifika leaders to use the relationship they have built with Minister Bowen to call for more urgent action on climate change and its impacts on communities both in Australia and in the Pacific.
Our asks were developed by key Uniting Church Pasifika Leaders with a focus on the priorities in their congregations and wider communities and informed by and research and advice from key climate organisations.
We are calling on the Minister to urgently and rapidly transition away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy, and to ensure impacted Pasifika, Western and South Western Sydney communities are given a fair share of the benefits of the shift.
The asks fall in four main areas. These are: reduce Australia’s climate-change-causing emissions; help with climate adaptation and cost of living reduction; fair share of new training and job opportunities; and continuing the conversation. These are listed and detailed below.
1. We call on you and your government to respect our islands and our culture and act in line with that respect. Continued use of fossil fuels threatens the existence of our island homes and way of life. Drastically reducing emissions is the single most important action to safeguard our homelands.
- Reduce emissions: At the moment, the Australian government’s goal is lowering climate-change-causing emissions by 43% by 2030 – but this is not enough to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees. Warming higher than this would mean even worse impacts for communities in Australia, the Pacific and worldwide. We want to see stronger, science-based emissions cuts and a transparent plan for moving away from fossil fuels.
- Consulting impacted communities: consult with Pacific partners and vulnerable communities here, regarding the speed, fairness and equity of Australia’s transition to renewables
- Adaptation to climate impacts: more money given to respond to effects of climate change we are seeing in Australia and the Pacific e.g. extreme weather responses, sea walls for rising sea levels, a “loss and damage fund” that would support poorer nations to respond to negative effects of climate change, and starting to set up a long-term climate migration and re-settlement plan between Australia and Pacific Nations.
2. We call on you to support our communities here, to deal with cost of living and climate adaptation. Our people in Western Sydney face some of the worst impacts of climate change (extreme heat, flooding, fire), but we lack resources to adapt to these new extremes
- Savings programs: access for low-income and renting households, including in Western and South West Sydney, to energy savings programs
- Improve access to cheap, clean energy: community batteries and solar banks for communities in Western and South Western Sydney
- Information and support: a mobile community energy information hub would help residents in Western and South Western Sydney, especially non-English speakers and migrants understand what support and options there are available to reduce cost of living and adapt to climate impacts
These asks build on the work of the Sydney Alliance and partner organisations through the Voices for Power campaign.
3. We ask for a fair share of the economic/job opportunities in the transition to renewable energy. We congratulate your Government on the announcement of new job and training opportunities through the New Energy Apprenticeships Program and the New Energy Skills program. We are keen to hear how young people in our communities will benefit from these programs.
- Will you work with us to ensure that a fair proportion of these and other training and economic opportunities go to communities in western and south- western Sydney?
4. Finally, we realise there is a lot more to discuss and we look forward to more conversation with you. Will you commit to meeting with us again in the New Year?
We hope to continue to raise these issues and priorities with the Minister going forward and building on a relationship of accountability.
The Uniting Climate Team aims to support the Uniting Church community to take action on climate change in line with the call to care for Creation.
To find out more and stay up to date on our next actions, events and training opportunities, sign up to the Uniting Climate Action Network.