I looked around at my congregation recently and noticed a growing number of visitors who are new to our country. Actually, several of them are Asylum Seekers who have come here for refuge, at least one of them in fear for his life.
Each of these people are intelligent and eager to integrate into our way of life. Yet, their future is not certain.
I couldn't help thinking of these people as I read about Australia's declining birth rate. The Australian Bureau of Statistics has recently released figures that show our birth rates continued to decline in 2013. Dropping since 2008, our fertility rate has declined to 1.88 children per woman, which is well below the replacement rate of just over 2 children per woman.
Scanning some news sites, I noticed that the International Business Times believes this trend is because of Australian's low confidence in our economy, while The Age talks about Victorian's low birth rates against their relatively high incomes, stating that people with higher incomes tend to have fewer children. So one site tells us having more money will lead to confidence in having kids, while another says something different. Not so sure how to interpret all this?
I do know that we're living in a country that is quickly ageing and we don't have a younger population that will be ready and able to sustain them; a generation who will live longer than any other preceeding them.
My thoughts on the matter are that if we could only find a way to help people like our Asylum Seeker friends stay in Australia, they might in fact provide a way to give back to us surprisingly more than we think.