CHRISTMAS is a time of flickering fairy lights, rooftop neon and technicolour carolling, but in its annual yuletide message, one church has urged Australians to give thought to those who remain "in the dark".
In his Christmas address, Uniting Church president Reverend Professor Andrew Dutney drew a parallel between the Roman occupation under which Jesus was born, describing them as "dark times" and compared his trials to those facing asylum seekers, refugees and indigenous Australians.
When Jesus was born, many were poor, lacked leadership and "walked in darkness", Rev Dutney said in the address.
"This Christmas I invite you to remember all who walk in darkness - especially Australia's first people who continue to miss out on sharing the benefits of this wealthy nation; asylum seekers and refugees living in our communities and held in detention..."
The message from Catholic Archbishop Denis Hart also encouraged Australians to remember asylum seekers saying they, "like the Lord, had nowhere to lay their heads".
Prime Minister Tony Abbott paid tribute to families with loved ones fighting in foreign lands, those who will tirelessly work to keep us safe this Christmas and those working for charities.
"On Christmas Day, like every day, our hospitals, our police stations and our fire brigades are ready and working. So I thank the nurses, the doctors, the police, the firies and the emergency services personnel who are missing Christmas lunch or Christmas dinner because they're keeping our communities safe," Mr Abbott wrote.
"We all hope you have a quiet day.
"And I also pay tribute to those working for charities today to ensure that everyone who's less fortunate enjoys their Christmas meal too.
"From my family to yours, I wish you a happy, a peaceful and a safe Christmas."
Although Buddhists do not celebrate Christmas, they are the largest non-Christian religion in Australia.
Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils president Kim Hollow said it was a time of "good metta" - a feeling of loving kindness- that should be embraced by all, no matter what their faith.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.