Looking to the future

29 September 2012

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The focus turned to the future today as the Frontier Services Centenary National Staff Conference in Geelong draws to a close.

A diverse range of speakers examined the challenges and the choices facing remote Australia today and reflected on how Frontier Services can continue to build sustainable communities as we move forward into the next 100 years.

National Director Rosemary Young gave an inspiring address on the importance of investing in remote Australia and, above all, to sustain and provide hope.

“Collectively, we can renew the heart of remote Australia,” she said.

In a personal thanks to all Frontier Services staff, she spoke about how no words quite summed up all that we do, except “Thank You”.

ABC Rural’s Drew Radford was MC for the day’s program at the Geelong Performing Arts Centre. Mr Radford reflected on the close ties between the ABC Rural and Frontier Services who “shared an office” in remote Australia and shared stories of some of the inspiring people and organisations he had come across in the outback.

Aboriginal elder and Indigenous advocate Dr Tom Calma, who laid the groundwork for the Close the Gap campaign, spoke about how Frontier Services had a role to play in reconciliation and breaking down Indigenous disadvantage.

Michelle Hau'ofa from the PNG Tribal Foundation gave a heartfelt account of her work in remote areas of Papua New Guinea. She urged staff that even when faced with the greatest of challenges it was important to get involved, to never give up, and to always have hope.

Rural education expert Professor John Halsey from Flinders University told Frontier Services how he saw sustainability as the biggest issue facing remote Australia in the future. Moving forward, he stressed the importance of relationships and suggested that Frontier Services build on a “mantle of relationships” as it continues to maintain care and services for remote people.

Toby O’Connor, CEO at St Laurence Community Services, explored how the Christian values of an organisation, like Frontier Services, are integral to what we do and how we go about it.

Frontier Services Patron Tim Fischer addressed the staff by video, giving his “salute” to the capable men and women who are carrying on John Flynn’s care for the people of remote Australia.

Queensland singer songwriter Mick Lindsey, who has recently spent time performing in Nashville, played two songs for the staff, giving a taste of his performance coming up at the closing night of the conference.