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The Murray-Darling Basin: Pastoral care and a prophetic voice 2013

A resolution passed by the Synod in April 2013, asking the Synod and the Assembly to speak and act both pastorally and prophetically in the Murray-Darling Basin. The proposal was an initiative of the Moderator's Murray-Darling Basin Consultation group. 

This resolution was passed by consensus.

That the Synod:

(i) Note the current crisis in the Murray-Darling Basin is an extremely complex issue that impacts directly not only on the health of the Basin and the lives of people who live there but on all Australians. All Australians must share in the cost of addressing the issue.

(ii) Recognise the efforts farmers, especially irrigators, have made and are making to implement more sustainable farming practices.

(iii) Recognise that the science clearing points to the fact that our rivers remain in poor health. 

(iv) Calls on the Moderator to ensure the church has a growing role in this debate in the areas of (a) pastoral care for the people and (b) a prophetic voice for the reconciliation and renewal of the whole creation, in this case the Murray Darling River system and the human communities within it. 

(v) Request the President to contact the Synods of Queensland, South Australia and Victoria Tasmania, encouraging them and the Synod of NSW/ACT to explore ways of working together for the common good of the Murray-Darling Basin and its people. 

Rationale

The current crisis in the Murray-Darling Basin affords us the opportunity to work together through a consensual process so that Basin communities can move toward a sustainable future, resulting in more resilient communities and a healthier basin river system.

It is important to understand that Basin communities are diverse and complex, and tensions exist between those of differing world views.  Further more, research has shown that many communities are vulnerable and fragile following the last drought and subsequent floods.  Many residents have lost trust in governments and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority which exacerbates their sense of fear and insecurity.

There is also the sense that farmers and those living in basin communities are not respected; their knowledge, skill and experience are not recognised and have not been heard by the various government authorities involved in water policy and management.

The Rural Chaplains and other members of the church are currently working with and alongside those communities most affected.  There is a need to harness further support for this mission in a time of complexity and uncertainty.  

There is also a lot of distress in the Murray Darling Basin and beyond about the damage that is being done by current policies to our wonderful rivers and the associated ecosystems. We need to work harder to restore the rivers to good health. To do this with our communities who are immediately impacted by steps towards more sustainable use of our rivers will require the church to find new ways to be a truly transforming presence in our Murray-Darling communities. 

Download a report prepared by the Murray-Darling Basin Consultation group.