Hello to Publica, a new policy think tank

Australia has a new not-for-profit that “is Christian in motivation but secular in orientation”. It’s called Publica, and it aims for the common good by promoting policy ideas, producing research to further debate, and encouraging volunteers to support those in need.

“Publica’s concern is about the deteriorating social environment in which we live together, and in which our children are growing up,” says Prof Patrick Parkinson, who will head the new body. He points out four areas of focus:

  • how we can better ensure that children grow up in safe, stable and nurturing families;
  • how we can address the growing problem of loneliness;
  • how we build caring, local communities where people look after one another;
  • how we can look after the disadvantaged better.

Publica will disseminate research-based information on these issues and put forward policy ideas. It aims in particular to produce materials that will engage those who are under 25. Research topics will include understanding the causes of family instability, relationship-destroying behaviours, and social isolation.

We want to make a positive contribution to the work of public policy in areas where political parties and secular organisations have few answers

Publica will also explore ways in which local churches can partner with different levels of government and government-funded NGOs to support safe, stable and nurturing families and help the socially isolated.

Michael Jensen, author and Senior Minister of St Mark’s Anglican Church in Sydney’s Darling Point, has been appointed as the first chair of Publica.

Publica’s Executive Director Patrick Parkinson AM is a professor of law at the University of Queensland. Patrick is an expert on family law and child protection. From 2004-2007 he was Chairperson of the Family Law Council, an advisory body to the federal government. He also chaired a review of the Child Support system in 2004-05, which led to major changes to the Child Support Scheme.

“In establishing Publica, we want to make a positive contribution to the work of public policy in areas where political parties and secular organisations have few answers,” Parkinson tells Eternity.

“Our voice, as Churches, is heard loudly in opposition to various kinds of detrimental social change, but is less heard in terms of positive and distinctive contributions to pressing societal problems.

“Most commonly, we are heard on many social issues when we add Christian voices in support of the agendas of non-religious organisations. Examples are concern for refugees and action on climate change. On these matters, important as they are, there is not necessarily a distinctive Christian contribution.

“Publica aims to have something distinctive and positive to offer an increasingly troubled secular society by its focus on public policy that promotes safe, stable and nurturing families, addressing the problems of loneliness and disconnection, and seeking to understand drivers of poverty that few are now talking about.”

Publica’s website is live here.