Displaying items by tag: Australia
Devastating flash floods have killed 37 people and hundreds are still missing in eastern Kentucky’s worst disaster for decades. The death toll will continue to rise. Hundreds of homes and businesses have been destroyed. People are sitting on their porches, hoping somebody is coming to save them. See In July, Sydney in Australia was hit with a month’s worth of rain in five days; people are still cleaning up three feet of swirling mud. Pakistan has 7,000+ glaciers, but rising global temperatures are causing them to melt rapidly, creating thousands of glacial lakes that might burst and release millions of cubic metres of water and debris, flooding villages in just a few hours. Worsening Indian monsoons cause Mumbai residents to commute on Venetian gondolas and inflatable dinghies. This year residents are being asked to tweet details about floods in their neighbourhoods. The data is then used to issue immediate geographically-specific flood alerts.
Seven Australian rugby league team members boycotted a championship match against Sydney Roosters on religious grounds, after being told to wear a jersey celebrating LGBTQ+ rights, replacing white stripes with rainbow bands. Reverend Palu has never met the players but he’s proud of them, saying, ‘Christianity takes a very strong root in our people’. After another team told players to wear such a jersey without consulting them, that was another flashpoint in deepening tensions between people of faith and the mainstream community over sexuality and same-sex marriage. A similar battle is happening in schools, politics and inside the churches as secular and progressive religious communities embrace sexual diversity while theological conservatives say it contradicts the Bible. Reverend Fihaki said Christianity was ‘ingrained into our culture. It’s not just a matter of going to church on Sunday, it’s part of our DNA, it’s part of our culture, it is who we are’.
In March floods killed 20 people and 60,000 were evacuated. On 2nd July, tens of thousands of people were again fleeing flash floods in a life-threatening emergency. By 4th July, 70 flood evacuation orders were in place across New South Wales, affecting 32,000 people, with further alerts expected as a trough of 100km/h winds and heavy rainfall moved north. Some areas had more rainfall in three days than Melbourne, Canberra and Hobart have in a year. A charity worker reported, ‘Everybody is in shock’. Boats took food and water to those stranded in upper rooms of homes. By July 7th, the week-long deluge affecting 60,000 residents in greater western Sydney continued to threaten communities farther north. Pray for the emotionally exhausted rescue workers to have the stamina and wisdom to know where they are most needed. Pray for the evacuees and those fearfully expecting evacuation orders.
Scott Morrison's government is criticised for its inaction on climate change. When Australia - long considered a climate policy laggard – holds an election on 21 May, the outcome could be significant for the planet's future. Still reliant on coal for most electricity, it is one of the dirtiest countries per capita, making up over 1% of global emissions with only 0.3% of the world's population. It is also a massive supplier of fossil fuels globally; when that is factored in, it accounts for 3.6% of the world's emissions. Australia is most at risk from climate change, having recently suffered severe drought, historic bushfires, successive years of record-breaking floods, and six mass bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef. It is racing towards a future full of similar disasters. Climate policy played a role in toppling three prime ministers in a decade. Most voters want tougher climate action, but some coal towns in swing constituencies are key to winning elections.
One in three nursing homes still spend less than $10 a day per resident on food despite being given an extra $10 a day by the government to improve the standard of meals. A government audit of 2,600 residential aged-care facilities’ spending on food and ingredients for the last six months of 2021 shows average daily food spend per resident is about $12.35. 67% of residential services in the past six months reported an average daily spend on food and ingredients of more than $10 per day. The audit concluded that 2% of nursing homes are still spending an average of less than $6 per day. The aged care services minister said the sector’s performance ‘isn’t good enough’. All providers spending less than $10 per resident per day on food would be referred to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission to consider regulatory action.
Recently the east coast experienced the worst flooding on record; now extraordinary rain has caused thousands of residents to evacuate their homes again. Pray for NSW residents inundated by a month's worth of rain in six hours across already saturated landscapes. Pray for the half a million who have been told to evacuate, or be ready to, as torrents lash Sydney. Pray for those whose homes and businesses have been destroyed. In Lismore water breached the levee for the second time in a month. Flood defences were criticised when there was no official warning of the breach after sirens malfunctioned. The levee system was built to protect the area from extreme flooding, but it reduced flood risk by only 10%. Professor Pittock said the repeated flood risk to towns like Lismore highlights the grave risks of rebuilding in harm's way, ‘No amount of house raising or flood resilient materials will adequately reduce flood risks in some parts.’
A storm battering Australia, described as a rain bomb, began flooding the Brisbane area on 27 February and damaged 15,000 properties before moving south. New South Wales river towns were under water the next day, with Wilsons River rising 14.46 metres. A flotilla of private boats rescued residents trapped in flooded homes. Authorities were overwhelmed by the scale of the rescue operation. On 1 March military helicopters airlifted stranded people from rooftops of flooded neighbourhoods in eastern Australia and then the wild weather slowly moved south. By 3 March half a million people across NSW were under evacuation orders. Warragamba Dam west of Sydney was spilling 225 gigalitres a day, which meant that thousands of households and businesses could avoid damaging flooding from the Hawkesbury and Nepean rivers north-west of Sydney. Pray for threatened communities to be safe as river levels continue rising. Pray for the 11,747 families who have requested help from military and other rescue services since the crisis began.
Tennis player Novak Djokovic wears a wooden cross and is known for praying during his matches. He received a visa to visit Australia on 18 November and arrived in Melbourne on 5 January with a Covid exemption approved by Tennis Australia's chief medical officer and a Victorian government independent expert panel. Novak belongs to the Serbian Orthodox church and on 7 January (the Orthodox Christmas Day) he was held in detention for an invalid visa while lawyers fought for his freedom. Three days later a judge ruled he could remain in Australia. Djokovic wants to play in the Australian Open, which begins on 17 January: if he won he would become the most successful men's player in history. However, Australia's immigration minister insists his recent Covid infection does not exempt him from vaccine requirements and could still deport him. He admitted that there were mistakes on his immigration forms and that he had met a journalist after testing positive for Covid.
On 25 November prime minister Scott Morrison introduced a controversial Religious Discrimination Bill, which will allow faith-based organisations to prioritise hiring and enrolment of people from their faith. The bill, tabled just months before next year’s election, is seen as an attempt to woo votes from religious citizens, as Mr Morrison is a Pentecostal Christian. When introducing the bill to parliament, he said it would protect those who expressed their religious faith outside the workplace as long as it did not cause financial damage to their employer. ‘People should not be persecuted or vilified because their beliefs are different from someone else’s. Australians shouldn’t have to worry about offending an anonymous person on Twitter.’ The bill will be put to vote in the lower house next week, but is unlikely to pass into law before the elections.
On 16 October four-year-old Cleo Smith was camping with her family. During the night she woke up and asked for a drink of water. Ms Smith checked on her other daughter, Isla, who was sleeping separately, then went back to bed. A few hours later she woke up to give Isla a bottle and saw that Cleo had gone. Her red sleeping bag was also missing. It is a very harsh environment, with limited freshwater. If she wandered off and is still in the area, there are grave concerns for her survival. Investigators are now imploring people across Australia to keep their eyes peeled for her, as another scenario is abduction. Marine and sea-based searches, mounted section officers, helicopters, drones and local Aboriginal bush trackers have all been deployed to help locate Cleo. The police are determined for a positive outcome, saying that they are ‘throwing everything’ at the effort.