Just connecting - The highlights
Barry Gittins spoke to Major Marion Weymouth on 9 January 2015 about her tenure as territorial social justice secretary; her lessons, her liaisons and her legacy.
In terms of your tenure, what have been the highlights?
Harmony Day last year… I went to Carrum Downs for a book launch. Captain Gen Peterson, my predecessor in the social justice role and the book was Captain Rachael Castle’s third children’s book on social justice issues, Jemima’s Lullaby. By combining the launch with that setting, with the Harmony Day celebration, we were able to mix with diverse people from the community and recognise the significance of ‘local’, neighbourhood connections.
There have been some good fair trade initiatives, such as a university fair trade fair in 2012 when cadets from the training college serve chocolate fondue and spoke with people about fair trade chocolate.
Surrender is a major annual event for JustSalvos, engaging with the broader church and para-church /NGO community. Surrender looks at the realities facing poor and marginalised people from Christ’s perspective. Specifically it engages those who are marginalised and those doing the reaching out – there is a ‘gelling’ going on there, and good interaction with the Indigenous community.
I am a member of the Army’s National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander reference group, where connecting with others and building relationships has been a highlight. It’s been a big learning curve for me, engaging with Indigenous people who are very good teachers. ‘We’, Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-Celtic people, will do well to listen to them as to how we go about living our lives, and how we ‘programmatise’ stuff. The white fella perspective is markedly different from theirs. As we engage in Reconciliation Action Plans (RAPs) I believe it will help us overcome discrimination and disadvantage.
A valuable event was recognising identity through an Aboriginal and Indigenous engagement with Major Pam Marshall, where we dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags during the reconciliation week in 2014. Our reconciliation statements were distributed to all of our corps. The effectiveness of my role was more to engage in actions than drive them.
What are the communications highlights re social justice?
I see the JustSalvos website, and Facebook, as a medium for great communications – we can do a lot better with stronger resourcing. Facebook is a useful way of reaching some demographics. We’ve had a lot of help from Mission Resources Department and good partnership. I would love to see it escalate in highlighting justice issues on our website. Another comms highlight was engagement with passionate and skilled partners at events such as Surrender Truth labs, Uniting Justice theological forum, ‘Voices for Justice’ movement, Stop the Traffic awareness raising events, the Catherine Booth College event with Whitley re refugees and asylum seekers, etc.