BISHOP

Presidential Address – Synod 2018

Welcome to Country

I acknowledge the B/Pangerang people, the traditional owners of the land on which we meet for this 2nd session of the 39th Synod of the Diocese of Wangaratta, and recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community.

I pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging and the Elders from other communities who may be here today. I acknowledge Auntie Betty who will welcome us to country at the Synod Eucharist and bless us with smoke according to the ancient way.

Introduction

I concluded the 1st session of this Synod last year with some words of St Paul:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Our resolve to honour the words of the blessed saint have been sorely tried since we last met. It is no exaggeration to say that the last year has been our annus horribilis.

Personal

In a personal sense, Margaret had a serious fall whilst on bus duty at School, landing on her head. She suffered an acquired brain injury which is proving slow to resolve. In addition our house at Carboor was extensively damaged in the gale which struck on 19 December. The old dairy was unroofed, the major shed had the roof destroyed by falling branches, the minor buildings lost roof sheets, the mains power cable was cut by flying iron sheets and the back veranda of the house was destroyed. So the Parkes family has been doing it tough.

Aged Care

In a Diocesan sense things have been extremely difficult. These difficulties revolve around aged care.

 

Last year saw a significant epidemic of influenza which affected 4 states. The flu outbreak put a record strain on Victorian emergency departments, which recorded a 13 per cent increase in daily admissions to about 3964 admissions each day during August — the highest ever for the month.

More than double the numbers of people were affected by the flu in 2017 than last according to the Victorian Health Minister. Figures collected late in September last showed there had been more than 370 confirmed influenza deaths recorded in four states. Many of these were in aged care facilities. More than 120 elderly Victorians in nursing homes have died from the flu, after three horror strains infected more than 14,000 in the state and led to deaths of an 8-year-old girl and a young father.

Our own St John’s family lost 10 residents from flu related illness, a tragedy for 10 families and for us. The effects of the epidemic were significant; around 79 residents and 53 staff contracted flu, putting an enormous strain on our resources. I pay tribute to the way that the staff rose to the challenge of continuing to provide the best possible care under such trying circumstances.

We spent over three weeks in lockdown, which must have been hard for residents and their families. This was required by state regulation which dictates how such an outbreak must be managed.

These tragic events caused a high level of critical media interest. As Chair of the Board I carried the responsibility of being the spokesperson for St John’s. I was ably assisted in this high stress undertaking by our media advisers Good Talent Media.

At the direction of the Federal Minister for Aged Care the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency conducted a review audit between 19 and 24 September. A review audit is an in depth examination of the facility in the light of the 4 standards and 44 outcomes which need to be met to secure accreditation. It is fair to say that the review audit threw up some challenges for us to deal with.

What follows is a good news story of resurrection. The Board of St John’s had already begun to reflect on our experience during the flu outbreak, and had appointed Michelle Harcourt to be our lead clinical consultant to assist in the process of continuous improvement. Michelle was assisted by Marg Foulsom and Prue Dear. They brought a mix of skills and very significant experience in aged care to the task of ensuring our continuous improvement. Michelle and Marg are both surveyors working with AACQA, and Prue brought with her great depth and expertise in clinical systems and change management

We had also been working with Michael and Aaron Goldsworthy of Australian Strategic Services on Board Governance for a period of time. I became Executive Director for the balance of 2017 as we worked through all levels of the organisation to remedy the failings which the Review Audit had identified, and to ensure that we have in place a process of continuous improvement. By the end of the year we were found by the agency to have met all 44 outcomes.  Subsequently we have undertaken a process of Board renewal. Recognising the complexity of the task of governance in contemporary aged care we have resolved to remunerate the skills based board. Desiree Harker  now chairs the Board and acts as managing director as we search for a suitable CEO to manage the operations of SJV.

St John’s Village had emerged from this crisis renewed and strengthened and moves confidently in the delivery of high quality aged care in the North East.

Kellock Lodge (Alexandra) has also been under scrutiny by the Agency over unmet standards. An unannounced audit by the Agency in January found 2 outcomes unmet out of the 4 inspected. A subsequent Review Audit between 7 and 14 February caused the Delegate of the Agency to find the following 7 outcomes unmet.

  • 1.8 Information Systems
  • 2.1 Continuous Improvement (in Health and Personal Care)
  • 2.4 Clinical Care
  • 2.5 Specialised Nursing Care Needs
  • 2.7 Medication Management
  • 2.10 Nutrition and Hydration
  • 2.14 Mobility, Dexterity and Rehabilitation

Intensive remedial action is currently underway under the guidance of the same team of expert aged care consultants.

The Trustees of the Diocese who are the Approved Providers of Aged Care at both St John’s Village and Kellock Lodge continue to review their position in regards to aged care services with the intention of ensuring the continuation of high quality Aged Care whilst at the same time de-risking the Diocese.

Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

On 15 December 2017 the Royal Commission presented a final report to the Governor-General, detailing the culmination of a five year inquiry into institutional responses to child sexual abuse and related matters.[i] The report makes chilling reading into the failure of society as a whole to deal with the scourge of child sexual abuse. The Church is singled out for particular criticism – and so it should be. We set ourselves up to a higher standard, and should not be surprised when we are judged against that standard. Not only did significant abuse occur but there is ample evidence that on too many occasions abuse was covered up and perpetrators protected

As to the extent of the problem in the Anglican Church, this is specifically dealt with in a dedicated section of the report. I quote from it.

Seven of our case studies examined responses to child sexual abuse in institutions managed by or affiliated with the Anglican Church. Three of these case studies focused on the institutional responses of various dioceses and one associated organisation, the Church of England Boys’ Society. The remainder examined the institutional responses of schools, each of which had varying degrees of oversight and governance by the Anglican Church. Evidence in these case studies provided us with information about institutional responses to child sexual abuse in Anglican institutions before and after the development of national model procedures by the General Synod in 2004. These national model procedures were designed to bring greater consistency across all 23 Anglican Church dioceses in their responses to allegations of child sexual abuse.

Our institutional review hearing involving the Anglican Church in March 2017 considered some of the key factors that may have contributed to the occurrence of child sexual abuse in Anglican institutions or affected institutional responses to this abuse.

As of 31 May 2017, of the 4,029 survivors who told us during private sessions about child sexual abuse in religious institutions, 594 survivors (14.7 per cent) told us about abuse in Anglican institutions. The majority (76.4 per cent) were male and 23.4 per cent were female. The average age of victims at the time of first abuse was 10.6 years. Of the 376 survivors who told us about the age of the person who sexually abused them, 309 survivors (82.2 per cent) told us about abuse by an adult and 90 survivors (23.9 per cent) told us about abuse by a child. A small number of survivors told us about abuse by an adult and by a child. Of the 309 survivors who told us about sexual abuse by an adult, 95.8 per cent said they were abused by a male adult. Of the 565 survivors who told us about the position held by a perpetrator, 26.0 per cent told us about perpetrators who were people in religious ministry. This was followed by teachers (21.8 per cent), residential care workers (15.0 per cent) and housemasters (11.5 per cent).

We also commissioned a survey to gather data from the 23 Anglican Church dioceses in Australia regarding complaints of child sexual abuse they received between 1 January 1980 and 31 December 2015. This data showed that:

1,085 complainants alleged incidents of child sexual abuse in 1,119 reported complaints

the largest proportion of first alleged incidents of child sexual abuse occurred in the 1970s (25 per cent of all complaints with known dates)

75 per cent of complainants were male and 25 per cent were female, and the average age of the complainant at the time of the first alleged incident of child sexual abuse was approximately 11 years for both male and female complainants

94 per cent of alleged perpetrators were male

of all known alleged perpetrators, 50 per cent were lay people and 43 per cent were ordained clergy

472 complaints of child sexual abuse resulted in a payment being made following a claim for redress, with a total of $34.03 million paid, at an average of approximately $72,000 per claim.

The Commission identifies a series of factors which contributed to the failure of our church in the area of child sexual abuse.

  • The lack of a consistent national approach in the Anglican Church to responding to allegations of child sexual abuse has led to inconsistent outcomes for survivors. Barriers to a consistent national approach include dispersed and decentralised authority, diocesan autonomy, and theological and cultural differences between dioceses
  • A failure of leadership by some diocesan bishops contributed to inadequate responses to child sexual abuse.
  • In some instances conflicts of interest arose for diocesan bishops and senior diocesan officeholders in their responses to individuals accused of child sexual abuse.
  • In some instances in the Anglican Church, responses to child sexual abuse have been affected by particular lay cultures in a diocese. These local cultures, when they do not prioritise the safety of children, can have a significant impact on the ability of a bishop to effectively lead a diocese, and can contribute to inadequate responses to allegations of child sexual abuse.
  • Aspects of clericalism – that is, the theological belief that the clergy are different to the laity – may have contributed to the occurrence of child sexual abuse in the Anglican Church and impeded appropriate responses to such abuse.
  • In some cases in the Anglican Church there was a focus on extending forgiveness and compassion to perpetrators rather than properly considering the needs of victims. One consequence of a culture of forgiveness, when combined with a poor understanding of child sexual abuse, was that survivors were encouraged to forgive the person who abused them. Similarly, third parties who raised complaints were encouraged to forgive the person they suspected of perpetrating child sexual abuse.
  • In addition to these cultural factors there were failures in the selection and screening of people for ordination. Clergy and church workers in the Anglican Church also need professional supervision and support.

The Commission concludes its section on the Anglican Church thus:

 At its 17th session in September 2017, the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia passed a number of canons aimed at achieving national minimum standards in many of these areas. It is now up to the 23 dioceses to adopt uniform legislation to ensure that the Anglican Church has a consistent national approach to child safety.

At this seminal time and in response to the Royal Commission Report it is fitting that we reiterate our apology as a Diocese to the survivors of child sexual abuse. At General Synod in 2004 by the General Secretary of the General Synod Office at the Royal Commission Public Hearing in March of last year and most recently by the Primate at the 17th Session of the General Synod of our church the following apology was made:

That this General Synod and we as members of it acknowledge with deep regret and repentance the past failings of the Church and its members. On behalf of the whole Anglican Church in this country we apologise unreservedly to those who have been harmed by sexual abuse perpetrated by people holding positions of power and trust in the Church. We apologise for the shameful way we actively worked against and discouraged those who came to us and reported abuse. We are ashamed to acknowledge that we only took notice when the survivors of abuse became a threat to us. We apologise and ask forgiveness for the Church’s failure at many levels to listen to and acknowledge the plight of those who have been abused, to take adequate steps to assist them, and to prevent abuse from happening or recurring. We commit the Church to listen to survivors of abuse to respond with compassion to all those who have been harmed, both to those who have come forward and to those who may choose to do so in the future, and to deal appropriately, transparently and fairly with those accused of abuse and negligence. (Moved by Bishop John Harrower – 4 October 2004)

The Diocese of Wangaratta should adopt this statement without reservation, and I will seek your endorsement so to do at the proper time.

General Synod 17, 2017.

The suite of legislation which comes before this session of Synod is that which is referred to by the Royal Commission. It represents the best efforts of our church to achieve a common national approach in relation to child protection. You will be advised in due course that we have no power in this Synod to amend General Synod legislation. We either accept it or not. I commend the legislation before you for your serious consideration.

Safe Church:

As you heard at last year’s Synod, a small team of diocesan staff, clergy and lay people from around the Diocese has been busy reviewing and improving our safe church systems and processes. A safe church review audit initially conducted in early 2017 was revisited in March this year and it showed the Diocese has made significant progress in implementation against the child safe / safe church standards over the past year.

The Diocese has been working towards compliance with the Victorian Child Safe Standards as these are the legislated requirements for us. Other States and the Royal Commission have produced and promoted recommended standards, but for organisations in Victoria these are not merely an ideal or a “nice to have” but a “MUST have”.  It is important to note that in meeting the Victorian Standards, we will also be meeting those recommended by the Royal Commission and NSW.  The Standards are comprehensive and involve almost every aspect of running an organisation.  Most of us can’t begin to fathom the complexity of what is required in order to fully comply with the Child Safe Standards, but our small, committed safe church team have worked hard to get their heads around it, to guide the rest of us through the necessary changes.

Critically, the team is working towards real, meaningful change: The sort of change that will provide a safe environment for each and every one of us.  This requires more than just ticking a few boxes or producing documentation that will never leave the shelf.  It has involved communication, training, resource development, communication, looking at the local context for each parish, identifying where expert advice is needed… did I mention communication?

You should all have posters up in your parishes with important contact information. Some of you will already have attended a Safe Church Awareness Workshop.  Each month you will find useful information in the Safe Church Safe People column in The Advocate.  Our new website has a page dedicated to safe church information and resources, with more to come in Stage 2 of that development.  Some of you w ill have received updates and briefings through different Diocesan or parish groups.  This and much more, has been part of the process towards making safe church a reality.

There is still work to do. Sometimes this will mean changing the way we do things.  Sometimes it might not be clear why one thing or another needs to change, but I assure you we aren’t changing things for change’s sake.  The changes are all necessary to build a strong system of protection and support.  As the Royal Commission clearly showed, the way we have done things in the past has not provided that protection and the results have been terrible and confronting.  Yes, change can also be pretty confronting, but doing nothing, changing nothing, is simply not an option if we want to prevent the horrors of the past from happening in the future.

Most of you will be familiar with my assistant, Nikki Collins, who has been leading and coordinating the safe church work over the past 18 months. Not long after starting as my PA it became clear that she brought with her more than basic administration skills. That extra skillset has proved invaluable in progressing the safe church work for the Diocese.  After a tough year and a half of juggling multiple roles, Nikki is stepping back from the safe church work.  She is taking some much needed time off so isn’t here today, but I would like to thank her in absentia for all she has done.

I am pleased to announce today that the safe church work will continue under the capable eye of our own Rector of Benalla, David Still. David has accepted the position of Diocesan Safe Church Officer and will replace Nikki as the Chair of the Safe Church Committee.  David has been involved in the safe church work as a committee member since the work began.  One of the proposed amendments to the Parish Administration Act which is before you is to mandate a Safe Church Officer in every Parish in the Diocese.

It also gives me pleasure to announce that Michelle Bester will take on the role of Safe Church Training Coordinator. Michelle will support our continued involvement with the NCCA Safe Church Training Agreement program.

Ministry Development:

A considerable challenge for the Diocese continues to be the struggle to find suitable clergy to fill parishes. This challenge is exacerbated by the general decline we encounter in parishes, especially the smaller parishes. Since October 2017, we have also had 2 resignations and 3 retirements. A strategic plan continues to be worked on by the Bishop and Archdeacon for Ministry Development to restructure some of the part-time Parishes into larger Ministry Units where there will be the support of a Ministry Team of laity and clergy (Stipendiary, Non-Stipendiary and Retired. The Parish of Shepparton and its surrounding parishes provide the test tube experiment for this development.

During April I ordained four clergy to the Priesthood. The process of discernment of further vocations to the Distinctive and Transitional Diaconate continues. In addition to his work in supporting, equipping and training Parishes within the Diocese in their re-organisation and re-definition, the Archdeacon for Ministry Development is also receiving enquiries about Vocations. We will soon be able to start a ‘Fellowship of Vocations’ programme as well as a Professional Development Mentoring Programme directed at those who have been recently ordained but open to the clergy generally. Following the report of the Royal Commission we are beginning to explore further professional development, supervision and accountability for clergy and will keep Synod advised of the progress of this work

We are rethinking the structure of the senior leadership of the Diocese. We intend to replace what has commonly been known as the Senior Staff Team,  with an expanded  Bishop’s Leadership Team to bring on board our newly Inducted Area Deans. As a Diocese and through the work of our Human Resources Task Team, we have been able to draw up position descriptions for the different Office Holders and Leadership Groups within our Parishes and the Diocese.

Schools

Our schools continue to be among the jewels in the crown of the Diocese. As the economy in the West has stalled, our schools are growing fastest in the system and making a significant contribution. You will hear the good news stories in the course of this Synod.

I want to revisit the relationship with the fledgling Anglican School in Samoa. In October 2017, as I foreshadowed last year, ASC CEO Peter Laurence, Adrian Farrer from CCW and I, with my son-in-law Tanumafili Nu’u as cultural broker, visited All Saints School in Apia. We met with the Primate of Polynesia, Archbishop Winston Halapua to gain his blessing for an exploration of partnership. At the recent meeting of Chairs and Principals of the ASC Schools in Wangaratta, the Chair of the Board and the School Principal from All Saints School presented. As a result a team of 20 from all the ASC Schools will be making a further scoping visit at the end of July.

This exciting initiative will offer our students the opportunity to experience a very different culture, but also provide opportunities for support to this fledgling Anglican School as it seeks to develop.

Changes to the Commonwealth Marriage Act

On 15 November 2017, the Australian Bureau of Statistics announced the results of the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey. A total of 12.7 million (79.5%) of eligible Australians expressed their view, with the majority (61.6%) indicating that the law should be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry. All states and territories recorded a majority ‘Yes’ response.

As a result by overwhelming majority the Commonwealth Parliament passed the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Act 2017.This Act amended the Marriage Act 1961 to redefine marriage as ‘the union of 2 people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life’. In other words it legislated for same sex marriage.

I have been asked what the passing of this Act means for the Anglican Diocese of Wangaratta. The position of the National Church remains as stated in 2004.

In a suite of resolutions, the 2004 General Synod considered questions of ordination, marriage and blessing in relation to same sex persons. The two resolutions dealing with marriage are as follows:

62/04 SEXUALITY & GENDER RELATIONSHIPS – 2 Recognising that this is a matter of ongoing debate and conversation in this church and that we all have an obligation to listen to each other with respect, this General Synod does not condone the liturgical blessing of same sex relationships.

64/04 SEXUALITY & GENDER RELATIONSHIPS – 4 This General Synod welcomes the initiative of the Federal Parliament in clarifying that marriage, at law in this country, is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.

Given the realities of the divisions within our Church this is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.

Anglican clergy who are Authorised Celebrants under the Marriage Act are authorised to conduct marriages in accordance with the rites of the Anglican Church of Australia and not otherwise. A marriage conducted otherwise by Anglican clergy would not be valid.

The authorised rites for marriage in or church are contained in the Book of Common Prayer, An Australian Prayer Book and A Prayer Book for Australia. None of these contain a rite for same sex marriage. Because changes have to be approved by General Synod this is not likely to alter in the foreseeable future.

Since the law of our church is that marriage is between a man and a woman and since same sex weddings cannot lawfully be conducted by Anglican Clergy, then it follows that they should not be conducted on Anglican church property.

I am deeply conscious that this statement will cause pain to our LGBTI sisters and brothers, and I take no pleasure in spelling it out. However for good or ill that is the position of our church.

Whilst it remains not possible to conduct marriages according to the rites of the Anglican Church of Australia, the question does arise whether clergy are able to bless civil unions. Questions of law and theology are being considered by the Church Law Commission and the Doctrine Commission. They will advise in the fullness of time what position the national Church might take.

I am taking my own advice as to whether I have the power at law and the proper theological, exegetical and hermeneutical justification to promulgate a service of blessing of same sex unions for use within the Diocese of Wangaratta. There seems to be some precedent for such an approach. Already the Diocese of Sydney uses a service book not authorised by the General Synod. Should I determine to proceed in this way, I will force no person to act against their conscience. Nevertheless, and despite the trenchantly expressed views of some, the question of same sex attraction is not a settled question in our church. And we need to deal with it.

Which leads me to the question of the need for an apology to LGBTI people, which I now address.

 

 

Apology to LGBTI People.

On the 12 June 2016 Omar Mateen, a security guard killed 49 people and wounded 58 others inside a gay nightclub, Pulse in Orlando Florida. This dreadful occurrence was the worst mass shooting in modern US history. The reverberation of this terrorist hate crime was felt around the world. On 15 June Archbishop Glenn Davies led a memorial service at St Andrews Cathedral. In his address His Grace said this:

As Australians, we abhor violence in all its forms – domestic violence, street violence, xenophobic violence, religiously motivated violence, and especially violence against members of the LGBTI community… and if any members of our churches have participated in such acts of violence against women, against young people, against religious minorities or against those from the LGBTI community I offer my heartfelt apology…

We have all fallen short of the glory of God. None of us are (sic) without fault.  Words of derision, mockery and exclusion so frequently fall from our lips when directed against persons who are different from us.  This is especially the case for members of the LGBTI community, who have suffered the verbal abuse that so deeply cuts into a person’s soul. (Davies, 2016)

I echo those inspiring words of Archbishop Glenn.

The history of the treatment of LGBTI people in society and in the church is not good. Rejection, marginalisation, violence, shaming even torture and death have been too often the experience of same sex people. The vicious anti-LGBTI campaign in the Russian republic of Chechnya provides a sobering contemporary example. The evidence is clear. Hundreds of men have been detained, beaten, humiliated and tortured — for the sole offense of being who they are.

The 1998 Lambeth Conference marked a signal moment in the response of this church to LGBTI folk. We hear regularly the condemnatory aspects of resolution 1.10. We do not hear with equal emphasis the need for sensitivity in relation to LGBTI people which was recognised in that resolution.

(The Conference) recognises that there are among us persons who experience themselves as having a same sex orientation. Many of these are members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God’s transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of relationships. We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ;

and again; calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals, violence within marriage and any trivialisation and commercialisation of sex;

The need for sensitive listening to LGBTI people has been endorsed by our General Synod in resolutions 61-63 of 2004.

It is fair to say that we have not always undertaken the task of sensitive listening well across our church. On occasions we have been more ready to talk to (perhaps at?) rather than listen to these our brothers and sisters. And some of our language has been less than kind, respectful or dignified. But words have power and wrongly chosen words can do damage.

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists[ii] has sobering reflections on the challenges to mental health for LGBTI people, who they identify as being at increased risk of exposure to institutionalised and interpersonal discrimination and marginalisation which in turn increases vulnerability to mental illness and psychological distress (King & Nazareth, 2006)[iii]. Mental health outcomes for our LGBTI population are amongst the lowest of any demographic (Chakraborty et al., 2011)[iv].

They report that In Australia, LGBTI people have very high rates of suicidality, with 20% of trans people and 15.7% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people reporting current suicidal ideation (Rosenstreich, 2013)[v]. Same-sex attracted people are up to 14 times more likely to attempt suicide, twice as likely to experience anxiety disorders and three times more likely to experience affective disorders compared with the broader population (Rosenstreich, 2013; ABS, 2007[vi]).

Rates of youth suicide in Australia are truly horrifying. The College reports that during adolescence, young people undergo biopsychological development phases where they must establish their social and sexual identities. This can be a particularly challenging period for young people who identify as LGBTI, and a time of heightened vulnerability to mental health issues (Smith et al., 2014[vii]).

An Australian survey of gender variant and sexually diverse young people found that almost two thirds had experienced homophobia and/or transphobia, and that more than two in five young people interviewed had had thoughts of self-harm (41%) and/or suicide (42%). In addition, 33% of respondents reported having self-harmed in the past, and 16% had attempted suicide (Robinson et al., 2014)[viii]. LGBTI young people are at particular high risk of suicide in the period prior to ‘coming out’, or identifying themselves as LGBTI to others (Rosenstreich et al., 2013)[ix].

It has to be acknowledged that a significant amount of the vilification of LGBTI folk has emanated from religious communities. The love of God for all God’s children is too easily transformed into the manufacturing of God’s wrath on all who are not like me. This is both a distortion of the Gospel and the cause of great damage to the other.

Acknowledging that all human beings are made in God’s own image, loved by God and are full members of the body of Christ, it is timely and responsible that we repent the ways in which we have by words or behaviour which have not displayed the love of God caused hurt or damage to LGBTI people.

It is right and proper that we offer our heartfelt apology and commit ourselves to foster church communities which abound in love where all of our sisters and brothers feel safe.

Acknowledgements.

As a Diocese we continue to punch above our weight. The Registrar Tim and his team, Julie and Fiona do an extraordinary job with massively limited resources. The Diocesan Treasurer Norm Kenny continues to give freely of himself, his time and talents to manage our finances. The Archdeacon for Ministry Development Clarence has become an invaluable member of the leadership team. My PA Nikki has taken on the load of ensuring our Safe Church compliance and has performed above and beyond the call of duty at some personal cost. Our advocate Rachel has given freely of herself not only to the Diocese and the Provincial Legal Committee but also to the National Church on fashioning our response to the Royal Commission. My Chancellor Clyde serves not only the Diocese but also provincial and national church with great distinction.

I could go on. But to every member of every committee of the Diocese, to every parish councillor, lay leader, worker, supporter and worshipper, to my wonderful and inspiring team of clergy I give my heartfelt thanks. In the good and bad, in the light and in the dark, I remain deeply grateful that God has called me to be your bishop and privileged me with the task of leadership through these troubling times. May we continue to work to God’s glory and in the service of God’s people, for Christ’s sake.

And now unto God’s gracious mercy and protection we commit you. The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you, the Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon you and give you peace, in this Synod and forever.

 

[i] https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/final-report accessed 19.06.2017

[ii] The Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, 2016. Position Statement 83: Recognising and addressing the mental health needs of the LGBTI population, s.l.: The Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.

[iii] King M, Nazareth I (2006) The health of people classified as lesbian, gay and bisexual attending family practitioners in London: a controlled study. BioMed Central Public Health. 6:127.

[iv] Chakraborty A, McManus S, Brugha T, Bebbington P, King M (2011) Mental health of the non-heterosexual population of England. The British Journal of Psychiatry 198: 143-48.

[v] Rosenstreich (2013) LGBTI People Mental Health and Suicide. Revised 2nd Edition. National LGBTI Health Alliance. Sydney, Australia.

[vi] Australian Bureau of Statistics (2007) National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results. 4326.0. Australian Government, Canberra.

[vii] Smith E, Jones T, Ward R, Dixon J, Mitchell A, Hillier L (2014) From Blues to Rainbows: Mental health and wellbeing of gender diverse and transgender young people in Australia. The Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society. Melbourne, Australia.

[viii] Robinson K, Bansel P, Denson N, Ovenden G, Davies C (2014) Growing Up Queer: Issues facing young Australians who are gender variant and sexuality diverse. Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre, Melbourne, Australia.

[ix] Rosenstreich, G., 2013. LGBTI People: Mental health & suicide, Sydney: National LGBTI Health Alliance.