Dr Freier completes pre-poll video call for policies promoting 'human flourishing'

Videos shot in Corio, Mernda and Footscray highlight need for government action

By Mark Brolly

June 30 2016Archbishop Philip Freier has released the third of three pre-election videos, accompanied by articles in the general media, on the problems and priorities he wants voters to consider on 2 July and political parties to act upon in the new Parliament.

Dr Freier is presenter in the three videos – shot in the northern Geelong suburb of Corio; Mernda, on Melbourne’s north-eastern fringe; and Footscray – which focus on the need for policies and government action to promote what he describes as “human flourishing”.

In the video series, Archbishop Freier acknowledges the contributions made by Anglican parishes and agencies – from St Andrew’s in Corio and Norlane to Plentylife at Mernda and Doreen, plus the Brotherhood of St Laurence – but adds that people “need government policies, both short- and long-term, that put human flourishing as the top priority”.

The first video, entitled Change and challenge: Halting decline in disadvantaged suburbs, was released on 23 June and examines Corio, ranked the seventh-most impoverished of Victoria’s 667 postcode areas, with the systematic disadvantages of its residents increasing.

“People in Corio are working hard to build their community in the face of systemic disadvantages,” Archbishop Freier wrote in The Age online on 28 June. “They need Government policies that help now, as well as longer term. They need policies that make helping people flourish the top priority, and this cannot be measured only in economic terms.

“The major parties are right to focus on long-term jobs and growth, health and education, but people in suburbs like Corio can't wait on a restructured economy to solve their problems. Politicians and economists sometimes say a rising tide lifts all boats, but too many people in Corio are stuck in a dinghy that is at risk of capsizing.”

The second video, Out of service: The issues facing urban growth corridors, was filmed in Mernda and released on 28 June.

In an article posted on the ABC Religion and Ethics website the following day, Dr Freier wrote that Mernda was already home to 10,000 people, and in a decade it and neighbouring Doreen would hold 55,000 people.

“Even now, before this astounding growth, there are huge problems of limited infrastructure: public transport, roads, schools, hospitals, childcare and social activities, especially for teenagers.

“There is just a single-lane highway in and out. The nearest railway station is South Morang seven kilometres away, but you have to get there ridiculously early to get a carpark. Those who drive to the city may spend up to four hours in their cars, which hits productivity, the environment, and families' work-life balance.

“The result is social isolation, high rates of domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse and problem gambling… Ordinary Australians would be distressed if they knew how often people in places like Mernda have to choose between mortgage/rent and the family meal. One in 10 families in Mernda cannot put food on the table every day.

The third video, Cohesion and inclusion: Pathways to hope, was released two days before the election.

It was filmed in Footscray and focuses on the challenges faced by young people.

Dr Freier appeals to politicians and the community to examine what kind of structures outside the family can help or hinder young people.

He warns that hundreds of thousands of young people in Australia have fallen through the cracks, with those from non-English-speaking backgrounds at particular risk of social exclusion.

“It's fairly plain to see that without the proper support young people can find themselves trapped in a vicious cycle,” Archbishop Freier said.

“We need to consider programs and policies that not only pick people up but ensure that they don’t fall in the first place.”

Education, recreation and community engagement were the keys to setting them on the right path, he said.

“I have commented before on a disturbing trend in Australian political and economic discourse, whereby we treat the economy as a living person, complete with character, interests, emotions – and a crippling list of debilities,” Archbishop Freier concluded in his ABC Religion and Ethics article. “We are even encouraged to make sacrifices for it.

“This is wrong because instead of the economy serving the people, which is the proper order, the people are urged to serve the economy. This leads people to relate to each other not as family, travellers on a shared journey, or even as citizens, but as components of the economy – and our merit is determined by whether we deemed contributors or takers. We no longer work for a common-wealth, but as competitors.

“Too often it seems policies are devised independently of each other with little thought of the social effects. I urge voters and candidates to understand that we cannot afford to separate social issues from economic issues if we are to build a nation in which all can flourish.”

*The videos may be viewed at:


Archbishop Freier on Election 2016: Putting the economy in the service of the people
Philip Freier, ABC Religion and Ethics

Dr Freier: Affordable housing is a key election issue
Philip Freier, The Age