Barry Gittins spoke to Major Sandy Crowden on 21 January, 2015, four days into her new roles as the territory’s social justice secretary and Indigenous and multicultural ministries consultant.
Your role has ’moved desks’ across to a new home, logistically – what’s that about?
The Just Salvos social justice team has been moved by THQ from the social programme department to the mission resources department, the better to attempt to influence and resource Salvation Army corps more strongly.
What’s your first order of business?
I see my first priority as extending the partnerships that already exist and capitalising on the respect and affection they have for my predecessor, Major Marion Weymouth. I am appalled at our social justice track record, as Australians, and I have a strong desire to partner with others to address inequities and injustices.
Social justice issues have to have a voice within our own organisation, but we also do well to utilise the connections that have been established with other fellow travellers.
What motivates Sandy?
I have a social justice heart, and my passions are for those groups who are most put upon, most disadvantaged and marginalised in our communities. We can make a difference by helping people achieve their potential; that’s done through education processes that helps us make informed choices.
‘I fully intend to speak up on issues where Australia has fallen down over human rights and social justice issues – you don’t go to Manus Island and not speak about what you have seen. I do not feel obliged to be silent. I’m pretty proactive, so perhaps I am the right person to hold these roles.
What do you bring to the role?
I have some understandings of Aboriginal peoples’ connections with the land, having served as a corps officer at Alice Springs (NT), but I will be looking to others to help guide us through my role with Indigenous and multicultural ministries, which runs parallel with my role as the territorial social justice secretary.
‘I’m passionate about people; we are all God’s people. That’s an important point to note; people of the gospel, of God’s good news, do not exclude others.
I taught at the Army’s training college for six years, four in a full-time role. I am familiar with the majority of our current officer strength; it was a privileged post, where I had the opportunity to develop relationships and build trust with them.
What obstacles does The Salvation Army face in acting justly and pursuing social justice?
It can be difficult to discuss organisations and complex issues. Hindsight is often a tempting path when it comes to evaluating Salvation Army mission initiatives, but as a Salvation Army officer I was proud to serve refugees who were seeking asylum but incarcerated offshore. If we were not there, who would have been there?