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Baptists On Mission Blog

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The Only Wrong Answer – To Do Nothing…

29th August 2016
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Last year's Academy Award for Best Film went to Spotlight, a true story of the sexual abuse of children by clergy and an attempt to cover it up by the Catholic Church in Boston.

The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse last month cast a spotlight on the Newcastle Anglican Diocese. The public hearing showed some of its senior clergy and lay people were part of an equally shameful paedophile network which wreaked havoc on the lives of vulnerable children and whistle-blowers. 
Paul Gray and Phillip D’Ammond horror stories exposed the silent victimisation in the Newcastle Diocese, not by 'stranger danger' or 'monster predators,' but by those they most admired, trusted and loved. We also heard evidence of victims overdosing on drugs and alcohol to deal with the undeserved shape and a pain no one cared to believe. 
The 'conspiracy of silence' by certain senior clergy helped it fester and propagate in the darkness for decades. Nobody seemed energised to follow up on any allegations and, for the most part, denying any disclosures occurred.
It took three insiders, Michael Elliot, current Director of Professional Standards, John Cleary, the Diocese Business Manager and, Bishop Greg Thomson, current Bishop of Newcastle, to bring child sexual abuse into the clear light of day even when people with structural authority stood against them and made it nearly impossible to find.
So how is it that men knew and did nothing? Part of the answer is that most do not want to stand out from the crowd; to break ranks and, many are bad at whistle-blowing. This can be a good thing. Men are stronger together. They have each other’s backs. The problem lies when they band together to conceal abuse; to look the other way; to keep the code of silence. 
If there is any good news to come out of the Commission it is that child sexual abuse is preventable. It starts by recognising the negative behaviours and attitudes that shaped this high risk environment, for example, a culture of intimidation and silence and, practices which were at best poor and at worst, dangerous.
One particular view that I hear often from people is this: 'I would step in if I thought a child was being abused.' Most are certain they’d recognise abusive behaviour if it were happening. What I say is, ‘No, not necessarily. I want to get you in touch with the ‘pressures’ that cause passive bystander behaviour, such as fear of losing friendships, fear of bad consequences, fear of getting too involved, or believing that nothing good will happen if you were to speak up. Then, when you feel those pressures, I want that to be a cue that you may be ignoring abuse when it's staring you right in the face.
This article is by Dr Ree Bodde from the Sep 2016 Think Prevent e-newsletter. Think Prevent is a violence prevention program developed and managed by Kempster Consultants with the assistance of a network of Multifaith and Denominational Advisors, Violence Prevention Policy Makers and Prevention Practitioners, all of whom are committed to advancing the violence prevention agenda. Think Prevent delivers active bystander training and other prevention presentations in a range of faith settings. The purpose of Think Prevent is to raise community awareness and engage bystanders around ending family violence and violence toward women. Their goal is to help men and women to effectively and safely call each other out; to confront abuses when they occur.  Active Bystander Workshops offer skill-building opportunities - helping people to a point of having many options for action with only one wrong answer – and that is ‘to do nothing. More information on Think Prevent here

Baptists face the same pressures which lead to passive bystander responses in our churches and communities. How is your church raising awareness and becoming active bystanders, preventing and confronting abuse of women and children in our communities?

Below are a list of referrals providing Australians with access to expert advice from trained counsellors and an opportunity to speak up about child abuse.


Child Wise National Child Abuse Hotline:  1800 99 10 99 - 24/7 

Sexual Assault Crisis Line:  1800 806 292 – 24/7
Kids Helpline:  1800 55 1800 – 24/7

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On Mission in the Workplace

26th August 2016
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A new study of more than 1000 Australians has revealed that those who identify as church-going Christians experience greater job satisfaction than their colleagues.
The State of Work in Australia study was initiated by Reventure, a new organisation specialising in faith and work research, utilising the Barna Group, a globally recognised polling firm.

While under half (44%) of Australian workers are satisfied with their jobs, Christians show a higher degree of satisfaction (51%), with 63% saying that they enjoy going to work everyday, compared to 53% among the general population of workers.

“It seems clear that the Christian faith makes a difference to the degree of satisfaction workers find in their jobs,” explains Reventure Managing Director Dr Lindsay McMillan, “And I believe a key ingredient to that is related to the purpose and meaning they find in their work.”

Christian workers responded significantly higher than their colleagues on three dimensions of finding meaning in work:

  • I am looking for ways to live a more meaningful life (77% Christians/72% total). 
  • I find purpose and meaning in the work I do (69% Christians/60% total).
  • I feel my contributions at work are valued (69% Christians/59% total).

“While a deep search for purpose and meaning is significant for all workers, Christians in particular seem wired for meaning, and enjoy discovering that in their work,” Dr McMillan said.

Christian workers are also more likely to develop deep friendships at work, which assist them in finding satisfaction in their work. 65% of Christians report that they have a personal friendship with someone at work that they are comfortable going to for advice.

Christian workers also seem more satisfied with the training, resources and coaching they receive (60% versus 52%), and also report more regularly receiving praise and recognition for their work (55% versus 47%)

“While accounting for these differences is open to speculation, it demonstrates that Christians appear to be more proactive in developing relationships which allow them to seek resources and feedback,” Dr McMillan said. “It is certainly is an area worthy of further research.”

Details of the study:

  • The study was conducted in April 2016 and consisted of a nationally-representative survey of 1,001 Australian employed adults with an oversample of church attenders with 321 identifying as church-going Christians.
  • The study was representative of all major denominations.
  • The sample was balanced for gender and age and included fulltime (57%), part-time (33%) and 10% self-employed/independent workers.
  • The sample included a representation of workplace settings including 40% professional office workers, 12% working in retail, 11% working from home, 9% in education, 6% in a health setting.

How is your church equipping members to be effective in sharing their faith in their workplace? For many the business/work setting is their primary mission field…..


For more information:
Contact Dr Lindsay McMillan, Managing Director, Reventure Ltd, +61 (0)409 186 322.

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Upcoming Events

31 Aug
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Rural Ministry Fellowship - North West 2016

Presented By: Baptist Union of Victoria

Regional Ministry Fellowships (RMFs) are a time to join together, be nourished, and share your journeys of ministry. RMFs are invitation only.

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Safe Church Awareness Workshop - Traralgon

Presented By: BUV

Safe Church Awareness Workshops are interactive, awareness raising workshops covering Christian foundations of safe ministry, duty of care, vulnerable people and child protection (abuse prevention), due diligence in relation to recruitment and supervision of all church leaders and the management of program risks.

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