The Salvation Army does not discriminate or withhold its services to any person on any grounds. We aim to help and support people regardless of their social situation, sexuality, ethnicity, income levels or gender. Consequently, we have a long history of engaging with
active gang members and their families through our services and also our churches (corps) located around the country.
We acknowledge that there are some gang members, family members and gang associates who engage in criminal activities. But we argue that membership of a gang does not automatically mean that that person is a criminal or engaging in criminal activity.
We want to continue to highlight our concerns about the social indicators and issues that can act as drivers for people towards gang membership and/or criminal activity.
The social hazards prevalent in our communities, particularly around drug and alcohol addictions, are leading more families that we deal with into harsh cycles of debt, unemployment, unsafe and unaffordable housing and more entrenched poverty.
In the same token, we acknowledge that many in our society have had their lives adversely affected by gangs and some of their activities. The Salvation Army always tries to be sensitive to all of the people we work with. For instance, many of our community ministries centres do not allow people to wear their patches or gang paraphernalia when using our social services out of respect for those who might have been affected by gangs. This balancing act is a very tough one for us to find. But we continue to strive in these matters with our families and communities.
We therefore submit that the Government should continue to focus on developing more effective plans and policies to address these drivers to crime and poverty rather than focus on debating and enacting this populist Bill.