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Welcome, Lieut-Colonel Winsome Merrett

Lt Col Winsome Merrett

Change is a slow process

e-connect talks to Lieut-Colonel Winsome Merrett as she commences in her new role as Australia Southern territorial secretary for programme.

e-connect: I was interested to hear your call for holistic mission in our programs, which is a message we have been getting out for a fair while now. The word ‘mission’ started with the Jesuits in the 1590s and meant ‘sending’ or ‘releasing’ people to share God’s word and love. What’s our mission as The Salvation Army?

WM: In the territory at the moment it’s encapsulated in our four mission intentions, which are – in no particular order – reforming society, making disciples, caring for people and transforming lives.

e-connect: And inclusive of a whole of life experience…

WM: It’s a holistic approach, not just for the individual, but for our communities in terms of reforming society.

e-connect: You are the fourth territorial secretary for programme in four years. As you come into the role, how important do you think stability in leadership is?

WM: When you are in a longer-term appointment, I think you have opportunities to really wrestle with areas that are difficult. That’s been the case in our longer-term appointments, at any rate; you address the issues and find a way through.

It’s a long term process. Sometimes it’s incremental, step by step, little by little. But you have to recognise areas that need work, and culture doesn’t change overnight. Often the culture feeds into the presenting issues. When you commence changing the culture, sometimes the issues sort themselves out.

e-connect: When we look back even 10 years ago, we can recognise some changes in culture. It is a slow process…

WM: And you do have to be intentional in addressing cultural change. It’s not something that just happens; you recognise issues and work with others to resolve them…

e-connect: You can’t fix a problem if you don’t acknowledge that it’s there, can you?

WM: No.

e-connect: Sometimes if we aren’t careful we can develop a crash or crash through approach…how do you protect yourself, and sustain yourself in your efforts?

WM: As I’ve gotten older I’ve needed to exercise more, and be intentional about that. I eat healthily…

e-connect: Are you the chef de jour?

WM: My husband Kelvin* has been the chief cook… that may change, depending on who gets home first. Since we’ve been back in Melbourne, with me serving as divisional commander in the Eastern Victoria Division, Kelvin’s cooked most of our meals. That may change because of his current role; he likes cooking and we often share the cooking…

e-connect: The whole process of balance is important to you both?

WM: Yes; we try to take a day off each week, which is often Saturday. We don’t do appointment-related work; we try not to look at emails. We unplug and try not to do strategic thinking work, so we do get a ‘Sabbath’; a day of rest.

I need that. I am a fairly strong introvert and I can ‘give’ of myself, if I know I am going to get space and time to myself thereafter. It’s a matter of space and balance.

To be continued in July and August  

* Winsome’s predecessor as secretary for programme, Lieut-Colonel Kelvin Merrett, is now the secretary for personnel.
– Interview by Barry Gittins