ONE of Brisbane archdiocese’s long-serving social justice advocates has received a United Nations award for his work.
Brisbane archdiocese’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission executive officer Peter Arndt recently was honoured with a United Nations Association of Australia Queensland Branch Community Award for his contributions to human rights and social justice.
Mr Arndt, who has been with the CJPC for more than 15 years, said the award came at a time when new doors were opening in his thinking processes about social justice.
“I’m just starting now after all this time to really think hard about what solidarity means and what it should look like in practice in a respectful way,” he said.
Mr Arndt said the award was also a reminder “of the great privilege” it had been to learn from the people he worked with.
“I realise how patient they have been with me,” he said.
Mr Arndt said some of the groups he had worked with over that 15 years included Aboriginal people, West Papuans, asylum seekers, and Tamils in Sri Lanka.
He said travelling to Cambodia, Sri Lanka, West Papua and the Solomon Islands as part of his work had also been eye-opening experiences.
“It really opened my eyes about what people are dealing with but also more importantly how I can work with them in a respectful way to support them,” he said.
“In most cases people on the margins and vulnerable people are doing stuff for themselves.
“They’re engaged in the struggle and we are not there to solve their problems; we are there to walk with them and support what they are doing.”
Mr Arndt praised the social justice efforts in many Brisbane parishes but said more could still be done.
“I think there is some great work being done in parishes around Brisbane but would love to see more social justice groups really thinking about what Pope Francis has been saying in regard to encounter,” he said.
“So (that means getting) out of the four walls of the parish office or the church and into the community and actually encountering people on the margins, talking with them and walking with them in their daily lives, understanding their concerns and understanding how they are trying to deal with things and supporting them in respectful ways.”
By Robin Williams.