Because of Her, We Can!   Grief, hope and unity    Larissa Minniecon is on the frontline of a new pilot project by    AEF    and ADM that is bringing hope and healing to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and communities. We are sharing this story as part of NAIDOC week. This year, the theme of    NAIDOC Week    is 'Because of her, we can!' and we wanted to celebrate the work of Larissa and the other women involved in 'Our Story'.      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Larissa Minniecon, project manager of  Our Story: Finding Hope Beyond Grief   
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     Larissa Minniecon is a Christian Aboriginal woman, born in Sydney. Her father, Ray, is from the Kabi Kabi and Gureng Gureng nation, and is also a descendant of the South Sea Islander people. Her mother, Sharon, is from the Meriam Mer language group from Ugar Island, in the Torres Strait.  Early in her life, Larissa moved with her family to Western Australia, when her father was called to ministry there. Many of Larissa’s family live in far north Queensland. “We know a lot of Christian Aboriginal folks from all over Australia!” she says.  Larissa and her family, especially her parents, are prominent figures in the Aboriginal Evangelical Fellowship. They spend much of their time working alongside other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christians to spread the gospel, support their people and push for a better future for Australia’s first inhabitants.    Being an Indigenous Australian is a joy for Larissa, but it’s also a great challenge. The weight of a traumatic and sad history is upon Larissa’s shoulders. Even today, she and her fellow Aboriginal sisters and brothers still face racism regularly.  The complexity of these issues doesn’t disappear in churches. “We believe the message of the gospel, but we couldn’t understand the messenger,” Larissa explains. “When white people came here, there were people saying from the pulpit ‘don’t kill your brother’, but outside, they were massacring my people.”  She continues, “Seventy-three percent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people call themselves Christians. This is because Aboriginal Missions were run by Christian denominations. The government moved my people off our lands and we were to be assimilated into white society, at the cost of our Aboriginal society."  “So though we are Christians, we don’t really have many Aboriginal churches here. I grew up in the Assemblies of God, and my grandparents, for over 30 years, started churches in Far North Queensland. Growing up in the church, I witnessed white ministers and pastors who’d discriminate and unfairly treat my grandparents, aunties and uncles, telling them they were not qualified enough to preach the gospel or run a church. But my grandparents, aunties and uncles were champions of the Christian faith, and they built their own church, their own denomination, called the Gospel Outreach Centre. It's in Ayr, QLD. It's the one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Church that I know of in Australia.”  "So even today, we’re still asking: what does it mean to have an Aboriginal church; to have Aboriginal ministers? They’re so very rare.”  But even as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to wrestle with what it means to be involved in, form or lead churches, Larissa is on the frontline of an exciting new, biblically-based project. This project provides a biblical foundation for understanding and responding to the loss, grief and trauma experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.  Titled  Our Story: Finding Hope Beyond Grief,  the   pilot project has been co-designed by the Aboriginal Evangelical Fellowship (AEF) Women’s Fellowship (Eastern Region) and ADM. As Project Manager, Larissa has helped to run  Our Story  workshops in communities and enabled other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to implement this training in their local area.  The training content presents the historical and clinical context for the Aboriginal experience of loss, and provides a biblical foundation for understanding and responding to the loss, grief and trauma experienced by Aboriginal women – both historically and currently. The training uses story sharing, lamenting and culturally-appropriate creative expression as healing tools, embedded in the belief that hope and healing can be found in a relationship with the living God.  “It’s called ‘Sorry Business’, what we do when someone has passed on” Larissa explains. “There are a lot of cultural protocols that go along with it, depending on where the people are from. In some tribes and nations we don’t say the [deceased’s] name, in others there are certain families that will prepare the funeral on behalf of the grieving families, or a certain cultural songs or dance must be performed. So we just call it Sorry Business, which covers all those different things.”  Larissa says Sorry Business can be incredibly sad and difficult – and with the high mortality rates in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, it happens regularly, which perpetuates cycles of grief.  Other organisations have sought to bring assistance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people going through the trauma of regular deaths in the community. “All these health services and NGOs will come in to try and give us a medical model for dealing with our loss," Larissa explains, “but that doesn’t give hope, it gives labels and information.”  She notes the difference of the  Our Story  program, which is both “fully Indigenous and fully Christian”. Larissa says, “It breaks the cycle of loss, grief and trauma by giving the hope of a better life in knowing God. It reveals hope to women in the midst of challenge, and Aboriginal women overcome challenge by talking in community.”  The program has so far been trialled in Queensland, where Larissa shares, “The impact was so amazing. One of the ladies being trained, Aunty Tracy, said it beautifully:       
   
     “ The is the first time we’ve had a biblical model, and we can actually talk about loss, grief and trauma without feeling guilty about why we feel this way. In the end, we’re looking for hope for another day, and the biblical model gives us hope. God is there, in all the dark places. ” 
   
  
 
     As the program continues to be trialled and refined, Larissa hopes that it will continue to impact many – and even provide a cross-cultural bridge between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. “My hope is that we get to do this together, because we are a community of Christians. You can’t do grief alone because you won’t survive. Hopefully one day, we will all be brothers and sisters under the same roof, as an Australian Church. We’ll all be together, and we’ll be able to say, ‘this is what church looks like’.”                  Find out more about  Our Story: Finding Hope Beyond Grief        

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Because of Her, We Can!

Larissa Minniecon is on the frontline of a new pilot project by AEF and ADM that is bringing hope and healing to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and communities. We are sharing this story as part of NAIDOC week. This year, the theme of NAIDOC Week is 'Because of her, we can!' and so we wanted to celebrate the work of Larissa and the other women involved in 'Our Story'…

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      ADM celebrates successful completion of refugee grant programs      In early 2017, ADM was privileged to award over $50,000 in small grants to eight churches across greater Sydney and Wollongong, for ministries of welcome and support to arriving Syrian and Iraqi refugees.  The grants were provided as part of the Syrian Iraqi Refugee Response, a consortia group of five Anglican agencies led by Anglicare.  We were thrilled to see how the grants were used to resource and expand a range of ministries including a homework club, welcome dinners, employment support, ESL classes, playgroups, hospitality, and Arabic language church gatherings.  One year later, the grant-funded activities have come to completion. Earlier this week, representatives of grant recipient churches gathered at ADM to share stories of encouragement, to discuss lessons learned, and brainstorm ideas for furthering ministry to refugees throughout greater Sydney. New connections were made and opportunities for future collaboration discussed.  It was a privilege for ADM to host these ministry leaders in a brief time out of their demanding ministry lives. It was an inspiration to hear of the many ways these churches are reaching out to refugees, and others new to greater Sydney, with the good news of Jesus in word and deed.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     Present were (L-R in photo):    Margo Leach, Director, Mercy & Justice Ministries, ADM    Pastor Sami Youkhana, Jesus Light of the World Arabic Church, Hoxton Park    Ian Moore, Regional Manager Community Services Western Region, Anglicare    Sue Radkovic, ESL Coordinator, St Michael’s Anglican Church, Wollongong    Rev Grant De Villiers, Assistant Minister, St Paul’s Anglican Church, Bankstown    Rev David Clarke, Senior Minister, Hoxton Park Anglican Church    Rev Margaret Powell, Cross Cultural Worker, St Andrews Anglican Church, Lakemba    Keep an eye out for further information on everything achieved by the grant recipients!

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ADM celebrates successful completion of refugee grant programs

In early 2017, ADM was privileged to award over $50,000 in small grants to eight churches across greater Sydney and Wollongong, for ministries of welcome and support to arriving Syrian and Iraqi refugees. Here's the latest update on these grants…

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      ADM recognises the contribution of foster carers with change to paid parental leave policy     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      There were over 57,200 children living in out-of-home care in Australia during 2016–2017*. That’s roughly the same population as Wagga Wagga, Hervey Bay or Mildura. And each year, the number of children in out-of-home care grows.   It is foster carers who step up to provide safe and loving homes for these vulnerable children. While sometimes this is only for a short time, until they can be reunited with their biological families, for other children, this move may be permanent, as they remain in long-term care or go on to be adopted, often by their foster-care families.  For many foster-care families, paid parental leave is unavailable when they welcome a new child into their home, adding employment and financial strain at a time when they most need support. Anglican Deaconess Ministries (ADM) is seeking to address this issue through a change in its paid parental leave policy, giving the same access to paid and unpaid parental leave to employees who receive long-term foster care or kinship-care placements as those employees who have biological children or adopt. The change to ADM’s policy also includes a provision for short-term carers to access paid parental leave.  Catherine Stephenson, Anglicare Community Services Out-of-Home Care Manager welcomes this change:      
   
     “ This is a great initiative from ADM. It dovetails well with Anglicare Out-of-Home Care’s initiative to encourage Christian people to become foster carers. Fostering is a wonderful way to show a child or young person the love of Christ, by providing a caring Christian home, and the opportunity to be part of a local church community.  We congratulate ADM on this innovative  and important enterprise. ” 
   
  
 
     Through this update, ADM seeks to recognises that we, as Christians, have a responsibility to not only care for our own biological or adopted children, but to care for the most vulnerable children in our society, and to empower employees to live this out in real and practical ways.  CEO of ADM, Dr Kate Harrison Brennan, reflects on this update: “ADM has built further on our practical commitment to see women and men flourish in Kingdom work by extending our parental leave policy. I’m proud of us as an organisation, for the way we have recognised the value of parents by providing a benchmark parental leave policy. This is an incredibly important extension that reflects our belief that, as Christians, we have all been adopted into God’s family.”  Providing foster parents with paid parental leave can be a significant step towards ensuring the success of a foster-care placement, as the most critical time for the bonding and attachment of a new child is when he or she first arrives in a new family. Paid parental leave means that the primary caregiver can be at home full-time with the child, or children, in their care. Having access to paid leave may also reduce the financial strain on foster families and relieve the burden of worrying about returning to employment while caring for a foster child.  Dr Harrison Brennan adds: “We hope this change encourages other organisations to look at their parental leave policies and consider how they might support employees who are already foster carers or are considering becoming carers.”                  *According to the ‘   Child Protection Australia 2016-17 Report   ’ by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, published in March 2018.

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ADM recognises the contribution of foster carers with change to paid parental leave policy

An update to ADM’s paid parental leave policy gives parity to long-term foster carers…

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       Struggle and healing: National Sorry Day     An interview with Ray Minniecon       Ray Minniecon is an Aboriginal pastor. He is a descendant of the Kabi Kabi nation and the Gurang Gurang nation of South-East Queensland. He is also a descendant of the South Sea Islander people, with connections to the people of Ambrym Island. He is married to Sharon and they live in Glebe, in Sydney. Together, Ray and Sharon have had an extensive ministry serving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities over many years. As we mark National Sorry Day, Ray spoke with ADM about his work with the Stolen Generations …         Can you tell us about the focus of your current ministry work?   The short answer is, I’m trying to follow the footsteps of Jesus in the community. There’s so many challenges there and I just love the way that Jesus just did it: he got out there in the streets, in the highways and byways, amongst people in the communities. I’m just trying to do what Jesus did.  This could be ministering to a family that has lost loved ones – that takes a lot of my time and energy. It might mean helping people connect to the services they need at a certain time. It means a lot of praying with people. And that’s just this week!  Then there’s ministry with different denominations, including Anglicans, to help them come to grips with Aboriginal ministry and my work in building the capacity of Aboriginal Christian organisations to meet the huge challenges that we face as Aboriginal pastors. And also being at the cutting edge of helping the Stolen Generations with the many, many serious challenges that they face, both personally and collectively. Or you might find me helping out with whatever needs to be done at our local Aboriginal school,  Gawura , as well working on the broader challenges we face with our young people.       You work with people from the Stolen Generations, particularly those who were in the Bomaderry Children’s Home and the Kinchela Boys’ Home. Could you share what you do and what that experience is like for you?   I’ve worked amongst Stolen Generations nearly my entire ministry – almost the last 40 years. Here in NSW, I started the Kinchela Boys’ Home Aboriginal Corporation (KBHAC) with the men who were placed in the home. It took 13 years to get that established, registered and funded to go and to grow. KBHAC has helped the men to take control of their own future for the first time in their lives, helping not only them, but also their families. The same with the Bomaderry Children’s Home.  Even though they’re all people from the Stolen Generations, each one has unique experiences and unique problems according to the way they were treated in those specific homes. It’s been, for me, the greatest joy of my life to work with such incredible people in their challenges and their struggles. When I see them have their own voice, find their own way forward, do their own thing in terms of their own ways of healing, it gives me great satisfaction and joy.      What difference does National Sorry Day make for people from the Stolen Generations?   First and foremost, it ensures we remember the ‘ Bringing them Home ’   report and the national apology, made by Kevin Rudd. This day reminds our nation that these important events took place. And Sorry Day continues to challenge us because we can see that the issue has not gone away. Children are still being removed from their homes, and this is a growing issue around the country. We need to start looking at how we can rebuild families and homes.      How has your faith and trust in the Lord Jesus influenced your work with the Stolen Generations?    It’s simply fundamental. I’m just trying to do what Jesus would do. I would not be able to do what I’m doing if it wasn’t for the Lord’s help and the role of the Holy Spirit in my life.      What would you like non-Aboriginal Christians to know about Sorry Day and the Stolen Generations? Is there anything practical that Christians could do as part of National Sorry Day and Reconciliation Week?   It would be good to see the church get a little bit more fair dinkum around it. The church can insulate itself from this kind of pain and struggle. And yet the church should be the very first place that someone from the Stolen Generations can seek help (within the congregation of the local church), where they can find fellowship. The church is a fair distance from this, and I’d like to see it playing an active role in closing the gap between the nation and the pain and the struggles of my people.  Come and support National Sorry Day events. Listen to the stories and hear what the Lord is saying to you, personally, in terms of what you can do. There could be a whole host of things you might do as a result, and I wouldn’t want to pre-empt anything that might come from an interaction with one of our members of the Stolen Generations.      To find out more about National Sorry Day, visit    www.commongrace.org.au/may_26_national_sorry_day          To find out more about the Kinchela Boys’ Home Aboriginal Corporation, visit    www.kinchelaboyshome.org.au

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Struggle and healing: National Sorry Day

As we mark National Sorry Day, Pastor Ray Minniecon spoke with ADM about his work with the Stolen Generations …

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      Celebrating our deaconesses      ADM was delighted to welcome a number of deaconesses and female deacons for a lunch in our offices on Friday, 13 April. These women have played a vital role in churches and communities across Sydney and beyond.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     Deaconesses were first ordained in the Sydney Anglican diocese in 1886. They worked in parishes – visiting people in their homes, ministering to and nursing the sick, teaching at Sunday schools and Scripture in schools and conducting evangelistic meetings, among other activities.  Over lunch, several deaconesses shared their memories of working in Sydney, as well as overseas. These days the deaconesses are cared for by Rev. Jacinth Myles, ADM’s Chaplain to Deaconesses & Retired Female Deacons. The clerical role of deacon was opened up to women in Sydney in 1989. Since 1991, women became ordained as deacons rather than deaconesses. Several of the next generation of women in ministry were also in attendance at the lunch.  Guests enjoyed tasty food, prayer and sharing together, and were also presented with a beautiful floral brooch to wear and take home. The deaconesses and female deacons were asked to share some words of encouragement for the next generation of Christian women, and their responses were deeply inspiring:   “In the midst of different interpretations of what people understand women’s ministry should look like, be encouraged that God, in his wisdom, has a wonderful ministry for you, which may not be the ministry he has organised for someone else. Enjoy what you have been raised up to do, and rejoice that God will always use your ministry, that you may be a blessing to others.”  – Gill Jones, Deacon       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      “In everything, give thanks to the Lord who has called you to ministry, because the Lord is a faithful Lord, friend, teacher, provider. He cares and he will supply all your needs as you serve him faithfully and with joy.”  – Lay Kum Ho, Deaconess     “Trust God for your future. His plans are always more amazing than we could think of – and he’ll go with us and never let us down!”  – Kay Clark, Deacon     “Commit your life to Christ fully, and make sure to ask him what he wants you to do with your life. Pray very hard and be very sure – there is always something that God wants you to do that could be very special. Work hard at finding out what that is.”  – Doreen Garrick, Deaconess     “Always be listening to what God might want you to do. Walk every day listening to his voice, reading his word and asking the Holy Spirit to guide you. The opportunity will come up at the right time. Know that God is sovereign. Trust God and he will fulfil his purpose for each one of us.” –  Joan Egan, Deaconess    We thank God for the gifts and service of these women and the many others who have served so faithfully as deaconesses and deacons in the Sydney diocese.     Discover more about ADM's programs and funding for women...

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Celebrating our Deaconesses

ADM was delighted to welcome a number of deaconesses and female deacons for a lunch in our offices on Friday, 13 April. These women have played a vital role in churches and communities across Sydney and beyond…

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      Key Findings for ADM and the Church at Mental Health Conference       Keith and Sarah Condie, Co-Directors of the Mental Health & Pastoral Care Institute at ADM, were privileged to attend ‘The Struggle is Real’ – a conference on mental health and the mission of the church, at California Baptist University at the end of March. Keith and Sarah report on their time at the conference and their learnings:    The conference was run by the American Association of Christian Counsellors. While most of those attending were psychologists and counsellors working in a variety of settings, a good number of delegates were ministers and others with pastoral responsibilities in churches. The particular focus of the conference was how the church might assist those struggling with their mental health.  Statistics were shared on the extent of mental health concerns in the USA, but one of the most powerful aspects of the conference was the willingness of some of the speakers to share so openly about their own experiences. It was deeply moving to hear Christian leaders speak about the impact upon them of a family member’s suicide. One speaker shared that youth suicide in their local community was a stimulus for their church to reach out with help to the local schools. Another shared how, as a young man, he had had to flee the family home due to abuse from his alcoholic father. The love he had received from Christians at this time changed his life and shaped the way he conducted his academic work and therapeutic practice.  In addition to the plenary sessions, we also participated in numerous workshops. At a number of these, we heard some thoughtful consideration about how Christian faith relates to psychological theory and practice.  Overall, one of the key positive messages we heard throughout the workshops was that gracious, compassionate relationships provide the sense of safety that facilitates positive change and provides the support that is needed by all of us for our mental wellbeing. Churches, therefore, have much to offer and, by working in partnership with mental health professionals, can assist in achieving positive outcomes.  We left the conference with much to reflect upon. We were inspired by what some are doing to fight stigma and to educate churches in how to provide an effective pastoral response to mental health concerns. We were challenged by how much more still needs to be done. But, above all, it deepened our conviction that the Christian gospel and the community of the church can make a positive contribution to mental health.   Learn more about ADM's Mental Health and Pastoral Care Institute ...

Comment

Key Findings for ADM and the Church at Mental Health Conference

Keith and Sarah Condie, Co-Directors of the Mental Health & Pastoral Care Institute at ADM, were privileged to attend ‘The Struggle is Real’ – a conference on mental health and the mission of the church, at California Baptist University at the end of March. Keith and Sarah report on their time at the conference and their learnings…

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      ADM Invited to Attend Skoll World Forum  ADM’s Director of Mercy & Justice Ministries, Margo Leach, was privileged to attend the 2018 Skoll World Forum on social entrepreneurship in Oxford, England. Running over four days in mid-April, the Skoll World Forum seeks to connect the world’s leading social entrepreneurs and accelerate their impact in large-scale social change.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Keynote speaker, President Jimmy Carter, addresses the Skoll World Forum.  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     The Skoll World Forum is a time for invited global leaders of social change initiatives to connect and share ideas, celebrate achievements and explore challenges as they work to address some of the world’s most pressing problems.   Inspiration  was provided in plenary sessions through keynote addresses by international leaders including President Jimmy Carter, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka – the Executive Director of UNWomen – and Fred Swaniker, the Founder and CEO of African Leadership University.   Challenge  was prompted through the many panel discussions on topics ranging from impact investing, emerging technologies and climate change initiatives, through to gender equity and power structures.   Connection  was created through ‘quick connections’ introduction meetings, serendipity dinners at various colleges around Oxford, structured small group conversations and through sharing of personal experiences over coffee and lunch.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              ADM's Director of Mercy & Justice Ministries, Margo Leach.  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     The theme for this year’s gathering was ‘The Power of Proximity’. Participants were all seeking to be effective ‘proximate partners’, whether they were funding or implementing initiatives for change.  Margo says:   “It was truly inspiring to be around so many talented, thoughtful and determined people who, in their enormous variety of ways, were all seeking to make an impact for good in the world – to be merciful, to achieve justice, to serve those in need and, ultimately, to advance the common good.”              Learn more about ADM's Mercy and Justice Ministries...

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ADM Invited to Attend Skoll World Forum

ADM’s Director of Mercy & Justice Margo Leach was privileged to attend the 2018 Skoll World Forum on social entrepreneurship in Oxford, England. Running over four days in mid- April, the Skoll World Forum seeks to connect the world’s leading social entrepreneurs and accelerate their impact in large-scale social change…

Comment

      ‘Raising Resilient Parents’ Course Expands  Sarah Condie, Co-Director of ADM’s Mental Health & Pastoral Care Institute, recently received the good news that more churches will have the chance to implement the ‘Raising Resilient Parents’ course, thanks to funding from Fuller Seminary in the United States.  The course – which is particularly aimed at first-time mums – was designed by Sarah in collaboration with Lyn Worsley, a clinical psychologist and director of The Resilience Centre. They have already successfully trialled the course at Church by the Bridge in Kirribilli, where Sarah is the part-time Women’s Minister and Lyn is also a congregation member.   Now, with the help of an extended grant from Fuller, the door has opened for the course to be run in other churches.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Lyn Worsley (left) and Sarah Condie (right)  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     Sarah says,  “Lyn and I are very encouraged by this support from Fuller Seminary. Their interest in the project was sparked by the lack of similar courses (even in the US). So they saw a huge need for the course that we have developed.”    Sarah outlines how the funding could be used to further develop the course: “We would like to use this money to go towards funding our first ‘scholarship’, where we train a woman to run the course in her own church and partner with her in this training for 12 months.”  In the long term, Sarah and Lyn hope to equip and train many more churches to implement the course and to extend the four-week intensive course into a 12-month program that provides longer-term support and connection for parents through monthly discussion groups.  Please continue to pray with us for Sarah and Lyn, and for all the first-time mums who will experience this program – this year and in the future.    Find out more about ADM's Mental Health and Pastoral Care Institute ...   

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‘Raising Resilient Parents’ Course Expands

Sarah Condie, Co-Director of ADM’s Mental Health & Pastoral Care Institute, recently received the good news that more churches will have the chance to implement the ‘Raising Resilient Parents’ course, thanks to funding from Fuller Seminary in the United States…

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      ADM Grant Recipient at the United Nations     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Ruth, second from right, with with Anglican delegates from Japan, Madagascar, Botswana, north Sudan, DR Congo.  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


       Ruth Brigden – who receives an ADM grant to work with emerging female Christian leaders in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the Northern Territory – recently attended the 62nd session of the United Nations Commission of the Status of Women (UNCSW62). Held on 12 to 23 March in New York, representatives from all over the world attended to discuss the main theme of ‘challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls’.       Here Ruth describes her experience and key learnings for Australian Christians, especially in working with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sisters towards their greater social inclusion.   The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women was a wonderful experience for me, despite the serious and weighty subject matter it dealt with.  It was wonderful to be part of a group of 20 Anglican women from places as far apart as Botswana and Japan, D.R. Congo and New Zealand, and Madagascar and Korea to talk about our work among rural women and girls, and to work together to think of ways ensure women and girls are given proper respect and recognition as image-bearers of our creator God.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Ruth with with the Anglican delegate from north Sudan  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     In many places around the world, women and girls still do not have the same rights as boys and men to education, health or financial resources. In some parts of the world, women and girls are deliberately singled out for harsh and inhumane treatment simply because of their gender. In an address by human rights defender Sameena Nazir from Pakistan, we heard that in some villages, women pregnant with female babies are beaten or denied food because it is thought that they are responsible for the resulting gender of their child.  Women and girls living in rural parts of the world face significant disadvantage with respect to standard socio-economic measurements. The word ‘intersectionality’ came up many times during CSW62 side events and parallel sessions. Intersectionality refers to the interconnectedness of social categories like race, class and gender, where these overlapping systems result in discrimination or disadvantage experienced from more than one angle. Discussions about ‘intersectionality’ are highly relevant to Aboriginal women living in remote parts of the Northern Territory and, arguably, other parts of Australia.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Ruth (left), with human rights defender Sameena Nazir (second from left) and two other delegates at CSW26  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     CSW62 afforded me a great opportunity to hear from Indigenous groups around the world about Indigenous women and intersectionality, some with very similar colonial histories to Australia. I attended sessions on the ‘Mass Incarceration of Rural and Indigenous Women in Canada’, hosted by the Institute for International Women’s Rights in Manitoba; ‘Violence Against Indigenous Women in Rural America’, by the Indian Law Resource Center; ‘Indigenous Women’s Rights’, by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs; and others. These sessions were stimulating and helpful in thinking about how the Anglican Diocese in the Northern Territory, and the wider Anglican Church, could be working with Aboriginal women toward greater social inclusion .         Discover more about ADM's programs and funding for women...

1 Comment

ADM Grant Recipient at the United Nations

Ruth Brigden – who receives an ADM grant to work with emerging female Christian leaders in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the Northern Territory – recently attended the 62nd session of the United Nations Commission of the Status of Women (UNCSW62). Held on 12 to 23 March in New York, representatives from all over the world attended to discuss the main theme of ‘challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls’.  

1 Comment

      International Women's Day      " Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise  ..." (Proverbs 31:31)  It's time – time to recognise the vital role that women play in Kingdom work. This role is not additional or supplementary. It's not minimal or optional. Women are fundamental, essential and foundational to the work of building God's Kingdom.  As we celebrate  International Women's Day (8 March 2018) , we recognise the work of the women who have gone before us, as well as that of today's Christian female leaders.  We hope to encourage Christian women to persevere, and inspire you to keep on innovating, serving and creating in every kind of Kingdom endeavour.   As a gift to you, we will be providing wallpapers for your desktop/laptop or your smartphone. We hope that you will be encouraged by God's word each day and spurred on in your Kingdom work.           DAY 7: "WHO KNOW BUT THAT YOU HAVE COME TO YOUR ROYAL POSITION FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS?" – ESTHER 4:14       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
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       Day 6 : "She speaks with wisdom" – Proverbs 31:26       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
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       Day 5: "She is clothed with strength and dignity" – Proverbs 31:25       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
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       Day 4: Honour Her for all that her hands have done (Proverbs 31:31)       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
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       Day 3: Let Her Works bring her praise (Proverbs 31:31)       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
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       Day 2: I arose, a mother ... God chose new leaders (Judges 5:8)        

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
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       Day 1: What She has done will also be told... (Matthew 26:13)        

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
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International Women's Day

It's time – time to recognise the vital role that women play in Kingdom work. This role is not additional or supplementary. It's not minimal or optional. Women are fundamental, essential and foundational to the work of building God's Kingdom ...

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      Fighting Female Trafficking      Penny Attwells is restoring and empowering women who have survived human trafficking through an innovative support program, writes Hayley Lukabyo.  The trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and children is the fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the world. Penny Attwells, founder of Iysha and a member of ADM’s 2018 Hub program, is committed to caring for the victims of such crimes in Australia.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     For as long as Penny can remember, she has been “personally affronted by the oppression experienced by trafficked women”. However, it was an encounter with a woman supporting sex workers in Australia two years ago that convinced Penny to take action, and eventually led to the establishment of Iysha. “She explained to me that women are trafficked into Australian brothels, predominately from Asian countries,” Penny recalls. “She also explained that women in Australia can experience slavery as a result of forced labour or forced marriage. It was at this time that I started to feel a stirring to help. After doing some research, I realised the extent of human trafficking and slavery in Australia, and it is unacceptable.”  This year Penny is developing Iysha through The Hub. Iysha is committed to working towards the worldwide abolition of slavery, servitude and slavery-like practices, including forced labour, forced marriage, human trafficking and extreme labour exploitation. Iysha aims to empower and restore women who survive human trafficking by placing them with ‘safe families’ for periods of time. Many survivors are currently waiting for NSW priority housing or attempting to secure private rentals, and Penny hopes that that Iysha will provide them with the final step that they need before transitioning to independent living.  What makes Iysha unique from similar not-for-profits is its focus on Australia. Before founding Iysha, Penny noticed that while there were multiple organisations and charities focused on overseas women, those trafficked to Australia were being overlooked. “We wanted to establish a not-for-profit with a local focus,” Penny explains. “At the moment, there are only one or two safe houses in Sydney where survivors can be referred to for housing and support. We did consider starting another safe house, however, we decided to think about a strategy that was innovative, scalable and therapeutic.”  Penny hopes that through the work of Iysha, the lives of vulnerable women can be transformed by making them feel safe and connected. “We believe that the framework is restorative, empowering and has many therapeutic qualities,” she says. “Initially, we sought advice from a professional working directly with survivors and asked, ‘Do you think the survivors would feel safe in homes and would want to live in this sort of arrangement?’  Her response was ‘yes and yes’ because survivors want freedom of movement within the wider community, and they want to build new relationships and community connections. We believe that being placed with an Australian family provides a sense of connectedness and belonging, restores trust, provides positive experiences and helps survivors imagine a better future.”      
   
     “ I believe that a genuine love for the Lord will also meet those on the underside of power with mercy, compassion and justice. Whatever we do for the least, we do for Him. ” 
   
   — Penny Attwells 
 
     Penny acknowledges that the goal of Iysha is “quite ambitious”, but she trusts that God has called her to pursue it. “I believe that God wired me to deeply care about women experiencing oppression. And I wholeheartedly believe God is grieved by the oppression of women … Jesus made no secret of being opposed to certain things during his life and ministry, and he took particular aim at oppression in various forms: social, religious, political, etc. I believe that a genuine love for the Lord will also meet those on the underside of power with mercy, compassion and justice. Whatever we do for the least, we do for Him.”  Penny is qualified in law and community development, and has worked for 15 years among people facing disadvantage and marginalisation. Her work has mostly focussed on child protection and working with children and families. Penny sees the work of God in both her own life and the development of Iysha.  “Without trying to be overly 'spiritual', I do believe God has called me to start up lysha for ‘such a time as this’,” she says. “This is the first time I have led an initiative, and I believe I am ready and able for the task.”              Read more about Penny and how she is developing Iysha through The Hub

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Fighting Female Trafficking

Penny Attwells is restoring and empowering women who have survived human trafficking through an innovative support program, writes Hayley Lukabyo…

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      Sharing the Storm of Postnatal Psychosis      For Deborah Vickers, becoming a new mum was a deeply traumatic experience. Now she is supporting other women who have experienced postnatal psychosis through a unique community, writes Elisabeth Carter.  Deborah Vickers seemed to be super-mum.  After her first baby was born, Deb didn’t feel the need to sleep. She took dozens of photos of her newborn. She was out and about attending conferences, baby in her arms, just a few weeks after giving birth.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     But in reality, all was not well. In fact, while on the surface Deb appeared to be coping amazingly well with new motherhood, this quickly tipped over into mania, which for her was characterised by obsessive behaviour and worry. It wasn’t long before hallucinations, delusions and paranoia set in.  For Deb, a family history of mental illness meant she and her husband were wary of postnatal depression. But postnatal psychosis (PP) came as a complete shock. Frustratingly, the symptoms of PP are the complete opposite of those of depression, so warning signs are often missed by those on the lookout for mums who aren’t doing so well.  Deb ended up in a general public psychiatric ward for a couple of months, on strong medication and unable to see her baby. Unlike other Australian states, in NSW there are no public Mother Baby Units where a family can receive the perinatal specialist care the mother needs, while also maintaining the important mother-baby bond.  It took nearly three years for Deb to feel herself again after her first baby was born. But sadly, despite careful plans having been made, PP struck again after baby number two.  Deb is a Christian, and although her faith was her stronghold while she was unwell, some of the doctors and nurses saw it differently. “In PP,” Deb explains, “religious grandeur can be a symptom of the illness – meaning women think that they are Mary, or that their baby is Jesus, or even that their baby is the devil … Being in a general psych ward where they were watching out for these things, it made it harder for me to read the Bible or to have the chaplain come and visit. Some people thought this was part of my illness and that I should be more medicated.”  Throughout that time, Deb clung to  Psalm 71 , which speaks of being protected by God when in horrible places, and of God caring for children and infants. Even when Deb was away from her babies, she recalls, “It was reassuring that God could still take care of them and they could rely on him.”      
   
     “ From birth I have relied on you;     you brought me forth from my mother’s womb.     I will ever praise you. I have become a sign to many;     you are my strong refuge. ” 
   
   — Psalm 71:6-7 
 
     While Deb had her faith to cling to, PP is such a difficult storm to weather. It seems bizarre that so few people know about this serious illness in Australia, and Deb saw this as a major problem. She wondered how women were supposed to get the support they needed to work through the pain of what has happened to them – the effects of which are felt for years to come.  An online community for those who had suffered from PP existed in the UK, and Deb decided to reach out to those in this community who were living in Australia and New Zealand to see if they’d be interested in forming a smaller, localised community. ‘Beyond PP’ was born.  Since it began in 2016, Beyond PP has been involved in raising awareness about this distressing condition. They are also active in connecting people with PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia) and their resources, which include checklists of symptoms, stories from those who have experienced PP, and a hotline for those who want to chat.  Most importantly, Beyond PP is about connecting women with each other. As Deb says, “The best healing comes when you have someone you can relate to, share your story with, and talk about the good, the bad and the ugly with.”     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Deb Vickers (centre) amongst 4 PANDA Community Champions, 2 BeyondPP Mums, 1 Politician raising awareness for Postnatal Psychosis at a PANDA fundraiser  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     Deb is hopeful that Beyond PP is a safe space where women can share the highs and lows of their journey – from the strangely funny moments, to the grief of missing out on the first few months with newborns, to the difficult process of considering a second child after such a harrowing experience. She hopes that it will provide a united voice for the 600 women and their families who experience PP every year in Australia.  As Deb says, “Women are good at taking care of each other”, and Beyond PP is a place where women can do what they do best.  This year, Deb is participating in The Hub program at ADM. She will receive one-to-one mentoring, essential training and guidance to help develop Beyond PP. She is looking forward to seeing how God continues to use this community as an encouragement for women who have faced PP.             Read more about Deborah and how she is developing Beyond PP through the Hub program  ...    Find out more about    Postnatal Psychosis    through    PANDA    - Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia    PANDA supports women and their families who are suffering from antenatal and postnatal anxiety or depression. If you or someone you know is worried about feelings or emotions associated with becoming a new parent, please call PANDA’s Helpline on 1300 726 306 (9am – 7.30pm AEDT Monday-Friday).    If you'd like to connect with the Beyond PP community,    send them an email.

Comment

Sharing the Storm of Postnatal Psychosis

For Deborah Vickers, becoming a new mum was a deeply traumatic experience. Now she is supporting other women who have experienced postnatal psychosis through a unique community ...

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      Who was Mary Andrews?     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Deaconess Mary Andrews  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     Mary Andrews College and ADM* stand on a legacy of inspiring women – one of whom is Mary Andrews herself. This courageous pioneer sets an example for women of faith today, writes Hayley Lukabyo.  God has used many faithful women to do great works in his name. One example is Mary Andrews. She lived out her faith by helping other women to flourish in Kingdom work, as well as ministering to and caring for the gospel-poor and the disadvantaged. Throughout her life, there was a verse that guided and inspired Mary – Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me .”  Living by faith in Jesus led her to serve in dangerous and challenging places; to become a champion for the marginalised; and to be a fearless Bible teacher.  Mary was born in 1915 in the small town of Cooma in NSW. Her father was a grazier, and her mother had always hoped to be a missionary. As her mother saw that it was God’s will for her to remain in Australia, she prayed that somebody else in her own family would become a missionary.  Mary became a Christian as a little girl. Reading through the Bible when she was 10 years old, she wept at the injustice of Jesus’ crucifixion and at the realisation that she shared responsibility for his death. This led her to pray for forgiveness and, in thankfulness, she committed her life to Jesus – a commitment that she honoured for the rest of her life.  As a teenager, Mary heard the voice of God say to her, “China, China, China”. In response, Mary said to God, “From this day, I yield the control of my life to you. I am willing to be obedient, even if it means going to China.” After she finished school, Mary trained at Gladesville Psychiatric Hospital and then studied at Sydney Missionary and Bible Training College. Afterwards, she studied at Deaconess House, beginning a long-lasting relationship with the institution.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Mary Andrews visiting a family in Erskineville  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     Mary spent time working among the poor, the sick and those who had suffered great injustice. She fought hard against what she called the “powers of darkness” around her. This impulse to work selflessly for the gospel continued when Mary felt the call of God to mission work in China in 1937. Despite her fears of going to China on her own as the threat of World War II loomed, and the dangers and obstacles that she knew that she may face, Mary was convinced that to fulfil the will of God, she must go. She was comforted by the knowledge that she was   “in the centre of the circle and will of God”. Mary was sure that God had sent her to China to share her experience of God’s transcendent grace with the war-torn country, and that God would protect her and provide for her as she endeavoured to do his will. While in China, she taught Sunday school and English Bible classes, ran home evangelistic meetings and made hospital visits. She also taught at short-term Bible schools.  In 1944, as the war progressed, Mary escaped from China to India. There she continued her ministry and care for the disadvantaged by working at a children’s home and a home for destitute women and girls. She returned to China in 1947, but was forced to move back to Australia when the Chinese Community Party came to power. However, this did not lead to the death of her ministry in China. It continued to flourish in her absence, prompting a pastor from Beijing to tell Mary on her visit there in 1991, “It is good that you came back to see that the fruit of your work, and that of the other Christian missionaries, is still going on, in fact increasing.”     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Deaconess Mary Andrews & students at King Memorial Middle School in Shaohsing, China  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     Mary served as the Principal of Deaconess House (which later became Mary Andrews College) from 1952 to 1975. In her time as Principal, Mary was devoted to helping women flourish with the gifts, and in the ministry contexts, that God had given them. A student wrote this about her experience with Mary at Deaconess House:   “My memory of Mary Andrews is that of a loving yet firm director in a very big house of women … She always seemed to be calm and joyful … Her focus in all things was on the Lord. ‘Whatever you do, in word and deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus …’. She used the practical parts of the epistles with real effect as she attempted to guide us and mould our Christian characters. [Mary] made it clear that her strength and help came from our Lord.”  Mary was a strong advocate for recognition and respect for women’s ministry. She said, “The more I studied the gospels, the more amazed I was by the way our Lord elevated women and entrusted them with the deepest truths, and gave Mary the privilege of telling Peter and his other disciples that he was risen.”  In speaking about her life, Mary said, “The measure of what you can do for the world will be simply what you let God do with yourself. With most of us, God can do so little because we are so little between his hands. That Jesus really wants me and needs me is the wonder and strength of my life. He has met my every need and in him I am fully satisfied.”  Mary died in 1996. She leaves behind for Mary Andrews College and ADM a powerful legacy of what it looks like to be a courageous Christian woman, unafraid to boldly answer the call of God to fight injustice and help women flourish in Kingdom work, regardless of the personal cost. She has inspired Christian women for generations to use their gifts to serve God’s Kingdom, and her story continues to do so today.            All quotes taken from Going it Alone, by Margaret Yarwood Lamb.     *   Mary Andrews College    is a ministry of Anglican Deaconess Ministries. The college was first established as Deaconess House in 1891. The aim of the college is to raise up women with theological formation for practical ministry. For more information about the history and purpose of Mary Andrews College, visit    www.mac.edu.au/about

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Who was Mary Andrews?

Mary Andrews College and ADM stand on a legacy of inspiring women – one of whom is Mary Andrews herself. This courageous pioneer sets an example for women of faith today ...

Comment

      Meet ADM's New Chief of Operations       Anglican Deaconess Ministries is proud to continue our heritage of exceptional leadership with the appointment of Clare Steele as the new Chief of Operations (COO), as long-serving Director of Operations Ken Breakspear steps down from this role.     “I’m ready to pass on the primary responsibility for the operations baton to Clare and to the rest of our exceptional team at ADM,” says Ken, who will continue to work as Company Secretary part time. Noting the wealth of experience that Clare brings to the position, he says, “Clare’s engineering and systems/ project management experience is a great asset to ADM in ensuring things get done on time and within budget.”     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              ADM's new Chief of Operations, Clare Steele (left) and Ken Breakspear (right), who has stepped down from the role of Director of Operations.  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     Clare began her career as a consultant at Accenture and then moved into project management at Macquarie Bank. She has since worked as a project manager and team leader across a number of different industries. She holds a degree in mechatronics engineering and a Master of Divinity, and has worked in ministry alongside her husband, Matt, who now serves as Assistant Minister at St Alban’s, Five Dock. Clare first began at ADM in 2016 as Special Projects Officer, driving a major review of ADM’s IT systems. In this role she worked closely with Ken, especially when he served as Acting CEO from February to July 2017, during CEO Dr Kate Harrison Brennan’s maternity leave.  According to Clare, the generous mentoring Ken provided has helped prepare her to tackle the role of COO. She says, “Ken has taught me to ask questions – to evaluate the risks and the needs of each situation. He also continues to inspire me to be prayerful about my work, to understand that we are stewards of the resources that God has given ADM for future generations.”  Ken has played a pivotal role in ADM since he was appointed in 2005. He spearheaded the sale of Hope Healthcare to Hammondcare, a project involving three public hospitals with 400 staff and $30M in annual subsidy funding. In 2007 he became Company Secretary, supporting the ADM Board in the appointment of Dr Karin Sowada as the first CEO in 2009 and in the appointment of Dr Kate Harrison Brennan as CEO in 2015.  Ken reflects, “Looking back over the past 13 years and even further back in ADM's remarkable 127 years, I clearly see God's hand at work in the lives of so many servants of the Servant. The long life of our organisation is a blessing of the Lord, as it means that we have remained faithful to our core gospel beliefs while adapting to the contemporary context and fresh opportunities arising.”  Both Ken and Clare are excited about the plans that God has in store for the future. As Clare shares, “ADM is in an exciting phase of developing. I love the passion that the team has for seeing women come to know Jesus and then to flourish as they spend their lives serving him. I am looking forward to working with Kate and the ADM team, as we build the future of ADM and serve the women who interact with us in all our different programs.”

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Meet ADM's New Chief of Operations

Anglican Deaconess Ministries is proud to continue our heritage of exceptional leadership with the appointment of Clare Steele as the new Chief of Operations (COO), as long-serving Director of Operations Ken Breakspear steps down from this role ...

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