COVER STORY: by Peter WestmoreNews Weekly
Sydney wins bid to host World Congress of Families
, June 11, 2011
Sydneyis set to host the seventh World Congress of Families in May 2013, the international secretariat of the World Congress of Families has announced.
The WCF is an international network of pro-family organisations, scholars, leaders and people of goodwill from more than 60 countries that seek to restore the natural family as the fundamental social unit and the “seedbed” of civil society, as found in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948.
The WCF was founded in 1997 by Dr Allan Carlson and is a project of the Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society in Rockford, Illinois. To date, there have been five World Congresses of Families — Prague (1997), Geneva (1999), Mexico City (2004), Warsaw (2007) and Amsterdam (2009).
In making the announcement at NSW Parliament House, Mrs Mary-Louise Fowler, chair of the bid committee, said the theme of the Congress would be “Happy Families — Healthy Economy”.
More than 3,000 participants from over 100 countries are expected to gather in Sydney for the congress. It has been conservatively calculated that this international event will inject $6 million into the local economy.
“Research shows that the intact family is the best builder of social capital, providing as it does, better health, educational and employment outcomes, and that the intact family contributes to society more than it takes,” Mrs Fowler said.
“Yet for all the rhetoric we have not been able to stem the tide of family breakdown. In Australia, one quarter of our children are no longer raised by both their biological parents.
“The World Congress of Families will apply purposeful effort in finding out why families are breaking apart, and come up with real solutions, because all children deserve to grow up in a happy home with their mother and father together.
“If we can do this, we will have happier children, safer communities, and far fewer families in need of government assistance. Hosting the World Congress of Families in Australia could be the turning-point.”
Dr Patrick F. Fagan, a Washington-based academic and member of the World Congress of Families management committee, was in Sydney for the announcement.
While Sydney has been chosen as the host city for the congress, the bid was a joint venture between Australia and New Zealand. Mr Bob McCoskrie, a leading family advocate from New Zealand, and Bev Adair from Family First New Zealand came to Sydney for the announcement.
The Australian bid was supported by a range of organisations and churches across Australia and New Zealand.
They include the Australian Family Association, the Fatherhood Foundation, the Adventist Institute of Family Relations, Antioch Gospel Church, Arncliffe Community Life Centre, Australian Christian Heritage Foundation, Australian Christian Lobby, the Australian Christian Values Institute, the Australian Heart Ministries, the Australian Indigenous Prayer Network, the Bible Society of NSW, Anglican Church communities, C3 Church Springvale, ClearStream Media, the Canberra Declaration Secretariat, Catholic Women’s League, Catholic Church Wollongong, Endeavour Forum, the Family Councils of Queensland and Victoria, Focus on the Family, Family First Party (Australia), Family First New Zealand, Family Voice Australia, Institute for Judaism and Civilisation, the International Convention of Faith Ministries, Kids First Parent Association of Australia, Knights of the Southern Cross, the Lausanne Movement, the Marriage for Life network, the Medicine with Morality organisation, the Mesihat Bosnian Islamic Council, the National Civic Council, the National Marriage Coalition, the Australian Family and Marriage Education Services, PureGen Energy, Salt Shakers, the Sikh Association of Sydney, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Transforming Sydney, Universal Peace Federation, Women’s Federation for World Peace, and Marriage Encounter.
Additionally, letters of support were received from many prominent Australians, including South Australian Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi, NSW Labor MLC Greg Donnelly, Major-General Peter Phillips (former president of the RSL), Jason Blaicklock of Australian Pearl Divers, and well-known finance commentator, Kevin Bailey.
The broad base of support for the bid was one of the principal reasons why Sydney was chosen to host the World Congress of Families in 2013.
Larry Jacobs, managing director of the WCF, said, “Australia represents not one but three firsts for World Congress of Families.
“WCF VII will be the first Congress in the southern hemisphere, the first in an English-speaking country, and the first time the location of a congress has been announced before the preceding congress is held.” World Congress of Families VI will take place in Madrid, May 28-30, 2012.