About 700 people, including many leading international and Australian speakers, attended the historic 7th World Congress of Families (WCFVII) in Sydney in May.
The congress addressed a whole range of issues, including the impact of government policies on the family, how families build society and the economy, sex education and the family, the impact of pornography and abortion on the family, and how to build stronger families.
There were sessions for parliamentarians, business leaders and indigenous Australians.
At the end of the three-day event, a congress resolution was carried by acclamation. It said:
We, the delegates of the World Congress of Families VII, assembled in Sydney Australia, this May 18, 2013, affirm that the sustained prosperity and happiness of nations rests on the foundation of strong natural families.
The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed by every nation on earth, states that “men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family.… The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State” (Article 16.1, 16.3).
In agreement with earlier world congresses and with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we hold that the natural family is the basic unit on which human societies are built and is the best environment for the moral, social and emotional development of children.
The natural family is the most efficient way of nurturing and educating children, of looking after the health and welfare of its members, of creating a vital domestic economy, of building cohesive communities, and of extending a compassionate hand to individuals and households, whatever their situation.
We affirm that the productive economy is sustained by strong families, which reliably shape the virtues needed for healthy economic exchange. Social and economic research overwhelmingly demonstrates that children born into stable loving homes have the best prospects for growing into healthy, intelligent, creative and morally grounded adults. On average, they become the most productive and engaged citizens and are the least likely to become dependent on the welfare state.
Accordingly, we declare that a family-centred economy requires the following basic framework:
• The economy should serve the family rather than the family being a servant of the economic system and the state.
• A strong domestic, household economy is a true measure of a healthy society and the basis of a robust economy.
• Economic policies should enable families to hold productive property and to be independent of the welfare state.
• Employers and governments need to respect the needs of natural families in their wage and labour policies.
• Market policies should support and encourage entrepreneurial innovation, ensure low barriers of entry into small business, and guard against excessive concentration of economic power and financial instability.
• Family-owned businesses should be encouraged as part of a market economy.
• Gross Domestic Product must be defined to include the economic value of unpaid work done in the home and the community by families, so that society can recognise the contribution of this form of labour.
• Governments must pursue policies of affordable housing, particularly for young first home buyers.
From these principles, we also affirm:
• Marriage as being the union of one man and one woman, voluntary entered into for life;
• The protection of human life from conception to natural death;
• The right of children to be raised by their biological parents, wherever possible;
• That the root causes of hunger, poverty and environmental decay are the breakdown of the natural family and political and economic failures, not human “overpopulation”;
• That the real demographic dangers of the 21st century are ageing and declining populations: the world needs more, not fewer, children;
• That the great opportunities for family-friendly commerce, communication and education on the internet must be made safe from the destructive impacts of pornography and other harmful content at the national and international levels;
• The concept of the family wage: wages, salary levels and taxation policy should reinforce natural family bonds; and
• That the natural family is the surest guide for the economic and healthy development of all peoples, including the indigenous communities of Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.
This congress appeals to policy-makers, community leaders, the media and people everywhere to recognise that overwhelming research-based evidence demonstrates the importance of marriage and families to our society.