We spoke to Major Geneen Wright, who is due to join the THQ social programme team early next year as assistant territorial social programme secretary.
How long have you served in the Northern Territory? I’ve spent 18 years here all up, out of 34 years of officership.
What challenges do you see for The Salvation Army? For a lot of our services, certainly mine, it’s difficult to attract and retain qualified staff members, who work for difficult wages and conditions and can struggle with difficult cohorts. For some areas, such as crisis accommodation and rehabilitation, it can take ‘several go’s’ – several times working through a service or a program – before a person makes substantial progress.
What is your underlying hope for the fundamental role of Salvation Army social programs? To do all the good we can, in as many places that we can; our mandate has to be broad. It has to be to make a positive contribution to the community.
What insights have you gained over your years of officership and service, and how do they guide your efforts? There is nothing new or startling in these thoughts, but I’m a slow learner! The overwhelming majority of people do care about others; an early, genuine ‘I’m sorry’ goes a long way; very few mistakes or situations are unredeemable; people just want to know they have been heard and are valued. These insights help me to be positive and to persevere in what life and ministry throws at us.
What are the key presenting factors of the Australians assisted by Salvation Army workers and officers? When you toss out the technical words and the jargon, the people presenting for assistance are in one or more of these situations: ‘I’m facing a brick wall down an alley’; ‘I’m hurting’; and ‘I need a partner in a three-legged race’.
Major Geneen Wright is the manager of Sunrise Centre - Homeless Men's Program, and Drug and Alcohol Services - Top End.