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Social program secretaries confer

Netty HortonMore than 20 delegates gathered for part or the whole of the Australia Southern Territory’s 2016 social program secretaries conference at Catherine Booth College in Ringwood (Vic.), from 8-10 August 2016.

Situation reports from the divisions, the Victorian State Social Command and the Northern Territory were interspersed with presentations by secretary for programme Lieut-Colonel Winsome Merrett, territorial social programme director Netty Horton (pictured right), social justice coordinator Major Sandy Crowden, territorial Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Greg Stowe, Salvation Army Housing/Salvation Army Housing Victoria CEO Mark Dall, HR representative Sue Chamberlain-Ward, quality accreditation lead agent Robert Cugley, and SPD leadership and staff members. 

After an acknowledgement of the original owners and custodians of the land, by Major Andrew Craib, Lieut-Colonel Merrett spoke to the conference. After quoting the organisation’s co-founder, General William Booth, the lieut-colonel said that ‘while our methodology has changed, it is my hope that our hope is as profound and passionate as it was’.

‘We stay in this business because we believe it is what we are called to do. Our heart’s passion drives us to work with the people with whom God has called us to work. We punch above our weight, and I stand in awe of what happens… We achieve amazing things on behalf of the people that we serve.’

Noting she had only been in her role for eight weeks, the lieut-colonel gave an update of events around the territory, shared integration stories and provided insights into the Australia One re-unification of the two Australian territories and prayerfully acknowledged a divine preferential option for the poor, noting that God ‘calls us to work with those who are disadvantaged; who are marginalised’.

The conference discussions included topics such as NDIS and its impact on those whom the Army serves. Other issues included inclusion and accreditations (such as Rainbow Tick, White Ribbon, Reconciliation Action Plans), continuous improvement issues, advocacy, housing and social justice.