Image: Julie Webb
The article Paxton, a haven of peace during WWII, by Bill Metcalf, about a small Quaker commune, known as Paxton (peace-town, or place-of-peace) near Brisbane Queensland started in 1940, which provided a safe haven for Australian conscientious objectors seeking to avoid conscription, and for respite following terms of imprisonment.
Quakers and Peace
In Australia, our committees and meetings are involved in a range of peace activities. These include silent vigils, releasing public statements, participating in peaceful protests and supporting community activities in partnership with other organisations. Regular vigils are held Brisbane and Melbourne and all are welcome.
The Quaker peace testimony is the testimony most frequently associated with Quakers. Peace is seen by Quakers as far more than a rejection of warfare. In the silent meditation and prayer of the Quaker Meeting for Worship, and in our search in daily life for that of God in all other people, Quakers have sought to develop an ethos which puts a love of fellow humans into practice.
Quakers have been advocating peace for 350 years. We have driven ambulances and fed the starving on both sides in many conflicts. We send people into the midst of conflicts all over the world, to help find out what is going on, and to do whatever presents itself to help build a peace that 'takes away the occasion of all wars'.
Public Statements and Letters of Concern
Australian Quakers write to politicians expressing their concern and desire for more just and peaceful policies and practices. Read our most recent statements below, or follow this link for public statements from previous years. Some of the most recent include:
- July 22 - Letter of Accountability to Albanese Government
- October 2021 - Quakers Australia signs statement condemning outlawing of Palestinian human rights organisations
- September 2021 - Letter to the Prime Minister expressing concern over the new trilateral defence alliance (AUKUS)
- September 2021 - Public Statment to stop excluding military from climate agreements
- July 2021 - Quakers call upon the Australian Government to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
- April 2021 - Letter to the Prime Minister relating to the Brereton Report and alleged war crimes by Australian solders in Afghanistan
- January 2021 - Quakers speak out regarding the recent awarding of the Order of Australia to an opponent of the equality of LGBTIQ Australians
The Future of Palestine - Watching Brief 20-12 (December 2020) - This Brief looks at the trends affecting Palestine and particularly the two-state solution that has long been advocated.
IPAN Inquiry - Action Alert 20-7 (December 2020) - The Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) is to launch an Inquiry ‘exploring the case for an independent and peaceful Australia’. This Alert provides some information about the inqury, and how people can make submissions. January 2021 - Quakers speak out regarding the recent awarding of the Order of Australia to an opponent to the equality of LGBTIQ Australians
- January 2021 - Public Statement following the violent disruption at the Capitol Building in Washington DC
- December 2020 - Letter to the Prime Minister to express deep concern for the plight of over 200 asylum seekers and refugees brought to Australia under the Medevac legislation for treatment
Concern over refugees and asylum seekers under Medevac legislation, letter to PM - November 2020
- Wellbeing of Asylum Seekers, letter to tPM - October 2020
- Concerns over increased military spending, letter to PM - September 2020
- World War I Exhibition about the peace and resistance work of Quakers during World War I.
- The article Paxton, a haven of peace during WWII, by Bill Metcalf, about a small Quaker commune, known as Paxton (peace-town, or place-of-peace) near Brisbane Queensland started in 1940, which provided a safe haven for Australian conscientious objectors seeking to avoid conscription, and for respite following terms of imprisonment.
- A Quaker Calendar of Active Nonviolence - prepared by David Johnson, this calendar provides suggestions for inspiration and meditation for every day of the year, with a prominent leader or organisation noted for each month.
Australian Quaker peace organisations and activities
- Quaker Peace and Legislation Committee - A national committee of Australian Quakers that lobbies the Federal Government on issues of human rights and social justice and issues background papers and public statements to keep informed.
- Peace and Social Justice Fund Committee - A national committee of Australian Quakers that provides financial support to Quaker peace committees and to individual Members and Attenders to implement the peace and social justice concerns of the Society.
- Quaker Service Australia - Aims to express in a practical way the concern of Quakers for the building of a more peaceful, equitable, just and compassionate world.
Other Quaker Peace Work
- Friends Peace Teams - FPT’s Initiatives build on extensive Quaker experience combining practical and spiritual to create programs for peacebuilding, healing and reconciliation aspects of conflict resolution around the world.
- Alternatives to Violence Project - A network of independent not-for-profit grass-roots volunteer groups offering experiential workshops on creative conflict transformation in prisons, schools, and the wider community
- Quaker UN Offices, Geneva and New York
- National Council of Churches - Australian Quakers are represented on the NCCA by our Presiding Clerk and others.
Backhouse Lectures related to Peace and Social Justice
- 2007 Lecture - Support for our true selves - Nurturing the space where leadings flow - by Jenny Spinks - MP3 (6.63MB)
- 2006 Lecture - One Heart and a Wrong Spirit: The Religious Society of Friends and Colonial Racism - Polly O. (Daksi) Walker
- 2005 Lecture - Peace is a Struggle - David Johnson
- 2004 Lecture - Growing a Fruitful Friendship - A Garden Walk - by Ute Caspers - MP3 (3MB)
- 2015 Lecture - This We Can Do: Quaker faith in action through the Alternatives to Violence Project - by Sally Herzfeld and Alternatives to Violence Project Members
- 2012 Lecture - From the inside out: Observations on Quaker work at the United Nations - by David Atwood
- 2002 Lecture - To Do Justly, And To Love Mercy: learning from Quaker service - by Mark Deasey - MP3 (66.82KB)
- 2001 Lecture - Reconciling Opposites: Reflections on peacemaking in South Africa - by Hendrik W van der Merwe - MP3 (65.49KB)
- 1995 Lecture - Emerging Currents in the Asia-Pacific - by Donna Kyle Anderton & Barbara Baker Bird Bangkok, Thailand - MP3 (65.49KB)
- 1994 Lecture - As the Mirror Burns Making a Film about Vietnam - by Di Bretherton
- 1988 Lecture - Creative Conflict - by David Purnell
- 1987 Lecture - The Vision That Connects - Building The Future We Choose - by Carol and Dougald McLean
- 1986 Lecture - Looking for Meanings of My A-Bomb Experience in Nagasaki - by Susumu Ishitani
- 1985 Lecture - For All The Saints - by Gerald Priestland
- 1984 Lecture - Pilgrims for Justice and Peace - by Peter D. Jones
Other peace organisations we support
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) "is a coalition of non-governmental organizations promoting adherance to and implementation of the United Nations nuclear weapon ban treaty."
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) "brings together women to oppose conflict, violence and global militarisation, and provides a unique space where peace activists across Austrealia and internationally can link together."
The Independent and Peaceful Network Australia (IPAN) "is a network of organisations around Australia...aiming to build public dialogue and pressure for change to a truly independent foreign policy for Australia - one in which our government plays a positice role in solving international conflcits peacefully."
Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) "is a united voice avocating for justice and peace for Palestinians. We support grassroots advocacy, are active politically and in the media."