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Transforming lives focus of Red Shield Appeal launch in Melbourne

Transforming lives focus of Red Shield Appeal launch in Melbourne

Transforming lives focus of Red Shield Appeal launch in Melbourne

12 May 2017

Major Brendan Nottle speaking with Inspector Dale Huntington from the Victoria Police. Photo: Justin Sebastian.

By Jessica Morris

Major Brendan Nottle has told a room of 600 corporate guests that they were “the army behind the Army”, encouraging them to give generously towards this year’s Red Shield Appeal national target of $73 million.

Major Nottle was speaking at the Melbourne launch of the appeal at the Sofitel Hotel, which had as its theme, “on the streets with the Salvos”. Many of the speakers shared their experiences of volunteering for the Army and also receiving its help.

Linda Dessau, Governor of Victoria, took to the podium and set the scene for the morning. “We are all diminished unless we do our part to ensure justice for everyone else,” she said. “That’s why the Salvation Army, as an institution that strives for justice, deserves our support.”

Major Brendan Nottle told guests about the work of Project 614, which he has overseen for the past 15 years and which works with the homeless community in Melbourne’s CBD. “The work here in the city is actually a microcosm of what The Salvation Army does right across the nation,” he explained. “Without you we wouldn’t be able to do the work that we do ... you’re side by side with us.”

Major Nottle (pictured below, right) also conducted a question-and-answer session with five guests who are directly involved with the work of 614: Inspector Dale Huntington from Victoria Police; Debra Tegoni, the Executive General Manager for Legal at Crown Melbourne; and former clients Marley, Rob and Chez.

Inspector Huntington spoke about how important Project 614’s Night Watch street team is to Victoria Police, calling it a “beautiful partnership”, but it was Major Nottle’s interviews with former clients that took centre stage.

Marley’s testimony about his journey from heroin addiction at birth and a broken family, showcased the transformative power of volunteering at 614, where he is now a staff member. Mentioning that he had just made it to the launch after coming off shift with 614’s Night Watch program, he was given a round of applause.

Rob shared of his descent into homelessness due to financial reasons, and how he was referred to 614’s ‘Magpie Nest’ program. Today, he works as a cleaner in the iconic Bourke St building which is home to 614. “I’m blessed to have Brendan and Sandra [Nottle] and the team at 614 in my life,” he said. “I appreciate it with all my heart.”

Chez spoke candidly about a life marred by sexual abuse, addiction and family struggles. Drug-free for 15 years and now a volunteer at 614, she said: “No one’s ever done for me what Major B and Sandra did for me. They gave me a chance to let them know what I am capable of. Without The Salvation Army and 614 I would not even be standing here.”

She urged guests to donate, saying, “Look at my street brothers and sisters and realise that no matter what we look like, please don’t judge us because if we can be given a chance in life to feel and know there are people out there that care about us ... we can help people have the same chance that I’ve had.”

Martin Foley, the Victorian Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing, Mental Health, Equality and Creative Industries, then challenged the corporate sector to dig deep and ensure the continuation of the vital work of the Salvos.

“We cannot overstate how central the Salvos are to the delivery of services we provide, not just because they’re good at it, not because they use their services efficiently ... but because of the relationships they bring to their work,” he said. Mr Foley then announced that the Victorian Government was donating $150,000 to the Red Shield Appeal. Along with contributions from the corporate sector the breakfast contributed more than $330,000 towards the Red Shield Appeal, which has its annual doorknock appeal on May 27-28.
 
The Salvation Army's National Chief Secretary, Colonel Mark Campbell, brought the launch to a close, using the Army’s new national vision statement to remind guests that the Red Shield Appeal was not about money, but people.

“In a sense today, you are Salvos,” he said. “Wherever there is hardship, me, you, volunteers who are doorknocking on the day, are actually in that space to see Australia transformed, to change lives, one life at a time.”

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