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Salvation Army work and partnerships celebrated at Melbourne RSA launch


Bendigo Bridge Programme graduate Jess Mabilia giving his testimonial with Major Warren Elliott, Victoria Divisional Public Relations Secretary. Photos Trudy Photography.

By KIRRALEE NICOLLE

“You're in the room this afternoon because you are a hope giver, or a hope bringer,” Commissioner Miriam Gluyas told attendees at the Melbourne Red Shield Appeal Launch on 11 May.


Philanthropists, corporate partners, beneficiaries, Salvation Army staff and officers and government officials gathered at the Sofitel Hotel for a luncheon to mark the beginning of the yearly fundraising drive. More than $66,000 had been raised for the appeal by the close of the event.


The event featured keynote speaker Damien Nicks, managing director and chief executive of AGL Energy Australia, master of ceremonies Christine Ahern, Melbourne correspondent for the Today Show and a testimonial from Jess Mabilia, a graduate of The Salvation Army’s Bendigo Bridge Program.


Hundreds gathered at the Sofitel Hotel for the Melbourne launch of the Red Shield Appeal.

Senior Wurundjeri elder Aunty Joy Murphy AO brought the welcome to country, along with stories from her upbringing in a Salvation Army Sunday school. She said how fundraising was important to enable the organisation to keep offering services to the community. Aunty Joy told how growing up as one of 10 children, her parents had worked hard to maintain an income, clothing and food for their family. She said the Salvation Army had supported them in this.


“While we struggled, we still had that friendship and love and support from the Salvos,” Aunty Joy said.


In his opening speech, Colonel Kelvin Merrett said the support shown by those who partnered with The Salvation Army was never taken for granted. He told a story of how a woman in Victoria had recently approached The Salvation Army looking to get a washing machine.


“She said to the helper, ‘I've broken my arm’,” he said.“‘That's the reason I need a washing machine’ And that obviously sparked a conversation. We discovered that this lady with a family of four children had been hand washing their clothes for about six years, because they've never been able to afford a washing machine. She couldn't do it with an arm plaster.


“How's that possible in the society that we live in?”


Colin Brooks, Victorian Labor Minister for Housing and Minister for Multicultural Affairs, giving the government message.

Colin Brooks, Victorian Labor Minister for Housing and Minister for Multicultural Affairs, told in his government message that as a representative of Premier Daniel Andrews he was very thankful for the work of The Salvation Army.


“Everybody knows that if you're in need, you can get down to the Salvos and they'll always do their best to help you out,” he said.


Keynote speaker Damien Nicks from Salvation Army partner AGL Energy said the services provided by the Salvation Army were wide ranging and diverse, and that it was staggering that The Salvation Army was able to assist someone every 17 seconds. Damien said AGL was looking to pledge over $350,000 to the work of The Salvation Army over the next three years.


“AGL has recognised the importance of The Salvation Army’s work in the community for many, many years and will continue to do so,” he said.


In a testimonial Q&A with Major Warren Elliott, Victoria Divisional Public Relations Secretary, Jess Mabilia, Bendigo Bridge Program graduate, told of his upbringing experiencing sexual abuse and drug usage and subsequent dependence on drugs as an adult. He told how following two jail terms he joined the program for 12 weeks after developing trust with a Salvation Army chaplain in prison. Jess said the program was tailored to each participant’s individual needs, with a focus on areas where help was most needed. He said he had now secured full-time work and was celebrating 280 days sober that day.


“They really taught me that there’s hope,” Jess said.


Colonel Rodney Walters with Kmart community partnerships manager Frankie Swithinbank and the Others Award.

Commissioner Miriam Gluyas presented the Others Award to Kmart for their generosity across 35 years of working alongside The Salvation Army to provide gifts and support at Christmas time to those experiencing disadvantage.


“Kmart has brought joy to many disadvantaged individuals and families who would otherwise go without at Christmas time,” she said.


Westpac Bank received the Eva Burrows Award for 130 years of partnership with The Salvation Army.


In her closing remarks and benediction, Colonel Winsome Merrett thanked sponsors and attendees for their generosity and thanked God for his faithfulness and presence.


“As we leave today, may the compassionate love of God motivate us, the transformative love of Jesus touch our hearts, and the Holy Spirit of God move us to see and to meet the needs of others,” she prayed.


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