Former Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon. John Anderson gave a confronting keynote address at the 2013 World Congress of Families today.
“The uncomfortable truth … is that the traditional family unit is in serious decline. The rate of marriage has halved in the last fifty years,” he said. “If the research is correct, why is it not gaining more traction, and what can be done to make more of a difference?”
Mr Anderson decried the lack of reasoned public debate, which he said was based on a failure of belief in any absolute truth or values. “If there’s just one thing I can say to Australian people now, don’t expect good policy out of bad debate,” he said, speaking from his political experience, which included nineteen years as a Federal MP, and six years as Deputy Prime Minister.
Mr Anderson spoke to the decaying of the Christian principles that Western society was founded upon, and how we, as a society, have “funded unsustainable entitlements by borrowing against our children’s future.” He blamed this on the self-obsessed nature of modern society, and warned against being “the generation that squandered a hard earned heritage of reason, of truth, and of family.”
The crowded auditorium including delegates from all over the world broke into spontaneous applause and cries of ‘hear, hear’ at several points through his address.
The World Congress of Families is a conference aimed at supporting the natural family. Sydney won the bid to host the Congress in 2013, and today was the first day session, which is being held at Australian Technology Park, in Redfern, Sydney.
The theme of the event was ‘Happy Families, Happy Economies’, and Mr Anderson was one of a panel of international speakers, describing how intact marriages and families positively affect children, the economy, and society, on a number of levels.
Mr Anderson was followed by Theresa Okafor, the Director of Life League, Nigeria, and African Coordinator of the World Congress for Families. Ms Okafor described the family basis in Africa in comparison to the West. She described the debt that Africa had to the missionaries from the West, but how much had changed, “We’re alarmed that the same ones that brought religion are trying to ostracise religion … Religion has been replaced by a new cult—the cult for equality.”
Missionaries had also made a significant impact for her own life. “I’m a twin, and in some parts of Africa, they were seen as evil. I’m alive, in part, because of the Scottish missionaries,” she said.
In an earlier session, Brad Wilcox, Director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia outlined statistics that showed children within two-parent families have an educational advantage across the world. “Most children (80 per cent) in Australia are growing up in a two-parent family. On average, these Australian children are more likely to benefit from the love, attention, and financial resources that a two-parent family can deliver,” he said.
These statistics form part of the inaugural 2013 World Family Map Report that he authored. It can be seen at www.worldfamilymap.org.
The World Congress of Families was originally founded in 1997 by the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society in Illinois. The Sydney event was the seventh Congress ever held; the previous Congress was held in Madrid. Their stated aim is to “inspire people from all walks of life to consider and implement strategies to help strengthen the natural family, the economy and civil society”.
The Congress continues for the next two days.