Size and outcome are not always connected. Jesus sums this up when he tells the parable of the mustard seed. I sense the same principle in the story of the feeding of the 5000; a small lunch feeding many. This faith dynamic reflects the ways that God works in and through us. What we have, and what we offer, is multiplied in the grace and goodness of God.
Our experience of God at work in this way builds our trust when there are other realities impacting on us. It is true that while we are not protected from pressurising matters, we do have a way of finding peace in the midst of turmoil.
Some time ago, and with the blessing of the company members of GMP, we became a Participating Institution in the National Redress Scheme. This is a step we took before the Australian Government made it a requirement for all institutions. This step was taken on behalf of the past activities of the Australian Churches of Christ Indigenous Ministries (ACCIM) and their historic care of Aboriginal children. We took this step willingly with the prayer that in doing so we would be part of healing past hurts. We also had no idea as to what might be brought to our attention.
What have we learned? Children (now adults), in greater numbers than we expected, have applied to the Redress Scheme as a result of having been abused. We deeply regret the hurt that was caused.
We accept that many were abused. GMP condemns such abuse and it is a cause of deep regret that is occurred in the context of the activities of ACCIM. It is clear that there are many that live with trauma stemming from their treatment in the past.
The individual payments that recognise this are not huge. However, together they are adding up to a large sum of money and are making the future of Indigenous Ministries Australia (IMA) somewhat uncertain.
GMP is working with the Council of Churches of Christ in Australia and our Company members to find a way to enable both Redress to be paid and an important ministry to continue. COCOA (Churches of Christ Overseas Aid) and ICP (International Church Partnership) funds and programs are NOT at risk.
We need to be clear:
- Some children were abused in the past.
- While it was not the intent of those who led ACCIM that this occurred, it must be accepted that many were abused.
- We accept that this was a tragic season in Australia’s past that has left many Australian Indigenous people living with long-term trauma and pain, as well as also being part of the ‘stolen generations’.
- GMP is involved, not because of our own actions, but as the current holder of the assets of the past.
- Not all children were abused and not all ACCIM staff were abusers.
Recently the GMP Board affirmed its ‘zero tolerance’ of any child abuse, sexual assault, harassment or abuse happening in its ministries. We intentionally invest in training partners in the safeguarding of vulnerable children and adults.
We look to the future – yes, with fewer resources but with a stronger confidence in God’s call to follow.
If you want to talk about this matter please contact John Gilmore (firstname.lastname@example.org) or 0413 754 874 or the National Redress Scheme.