Churches vow to combat violence, addiction woes
SUNSHINE Coast churches could unite with local and state agencies to battle family violence, youth issues, drug addiction and loneliness.
More than 100 Christians joined Sunshine Coast mayor Mark Jamieson at an historic mayoral prayer breakfast this week.
During the breakfast, Cr Jamieson cited domestic violence and youth unemployment and a lack of motivation as key social issues facing the region.
While he highlighted the success of his council over the past eight years in turning the Coast's economy around, he said churches had a vital role to play.
Commissioner James Condon, from the Salvation Army at Caloundra, told the Daily that he wanted to see churches to partner with the council and state government agencies to tackle welfare issues.
This week's breakfast was organised by the Caloundra City Pastors Network but included church leaders and members from Nambour to Marooochydore.
Mr Condon said he would be pushing at the next meeting of the Caloundra group to go back to the mayor with an offer to work more closely with the council, along with relevant health services, mental health and youth services.
He cited loneliness as one of the major issues he was seeing every week on the Coast.
Each week, the Salvation Army puts on a meal on a Tuesday night.
Mr Condon said he went along just to talk to the men who turned up, with women talking to other women there also.
"It grieves me the loneliness of people. "I have met families who come out to the meal who say that's their family outing for the week.''
Mr Condon said he was a member of the Movement organisation which had success in areas across Australia tackling problems like alcohol abuse, drug addiction, domestic violence and homelessness.
Former Caloundra chaplain Stuart White, who is the community pastor at Nambour's Flametree church, said Mr Jamieson had highlighted to him domestic violence as one of the greatest scourges on the Coast along with youth issues.
In his speech Cr Jamieson said while the council had achieved much through major projects to provide job opportunities, it relied heavily on volunteer groups and churches.
"You fulfil an important community responsibility and the Sunshine Coast would not be the region it is today, without the commitment and contribution of people like yourselves,'' he said.
"Churches like yours play an integral role in bringing our community members together, generating ideas, making a difference and lending a helping hand.
"It is heartening to see those who have come here today to offer their support and their prayers for the betterment of our Sunshine Coast and our community for 2020 and beyond.
"For us here on the Sunshine Coast, as we move into the 2020s, the prevailing sense as we consider our future is one of optimism and confidence.
"This sense of optimism and confidence is quite pervasive across our community."
"Intriguingly however, it is not a characteristic that I sense is as strong in other regions."
During the breakfast, Cr Peter Cox paid an emotional tribute to outgoing long-serving councillors Tim Dwyer and Jenny McKay for their years of service on the council.