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Opportunity knocks on a red door in Melbourne

Opportunity knocks on a red door in Melbourne

Opportunity knocks on a red door in Melbourne

10 July 2018

The Red Door Movement, launched last week at Melbourne's Project 614, is about having an impact in communities where people are isolated and need someone to take an interest in them. Photo Vincent Branciforti on Unsplash.

By Faye Michelson

Major Brendan Nottle, leader of The Salvation Army’s Project 614 in Melbourne, launched The Red Door Movement to around 200 people at a community meal on Monday 2 July.

Describing the Red Door Movement as “an idea we’re going to try and evolve to give people an opportunity to look out for each other”, Major Nottle kicked off the interactive part of the evening by inviting guests, seated around tables of eight, to discuss what they thought were the social issues affecting Melbourne.

“Red Door is an idea that doesn’t involve busy people getting even busier, it’s not about doing more ‘stuff’, Red Door is simply people reframing what they already do,” Major Nottle said. 

He explained the symbolism of the red door, based on the Passover where God instructed his people, who were slaves in Egypt, to mark their doorposts with the blood of a lamb. By doing this, his spirit passed over those homes, protecting them from the last plague he inflicted upon the Egyptians – the death of the firstborn of the household.

The red door was also a tradition of 19th century America; if travellers saw a house with a red door, they knew it was a place of welcome where they could go for a safe place to sleep. Red doors mean protection and welcome.

“Are you involved in youth work, a band, a Bible study, knitting group, any type of group? It’s about doing these things, and also praying, looking out for each other and seeing what the Bible says about bringing light into a dark place. It might be that once a month your group goes to our 614 café and teaches people to knit, or visits an aged care home to play board games or talk to people, or you all volunteer somewhere.

“It’s thinking about what we can do to have a greater impact in our community because so many people are isolated and desperately need someone to take an interest in them.”

The event, hosted by Channel 9 journalist Seb Costello, included entertainment from group Island Breeze and an interview with Collingwood football player Jordan De Goey.

Various people who have been helped by Project 614 shared their stories on the night. Jordan, who started volunteering with 614 as part of disciplinary action after a drink-driving charge, said working there “was the best thing that had happened to him”.

That thought was echoed by testimonies from Project 614 team members Matthew and Elena. They shared how they were able to work through the hard times in their lives because of the caring people around them.

Major Nottle spoke about the many innovative social programs set up in Melbourne in the late 1800s in response to great community need. Melbourne was known across the world for its progressive social programs, several of which were established by Salvation Army officers James and Alice Barker and were world “firsts”. These included rescue houses for women, Prison Gate accommodation and employment for men released from jail, and a labour bureau to assist the unemployed.

Major Nottle concluded the evening by saying: “Have you got a network you can tap into? If ever there’s a time when we need to be a city that challenges and changes structures that create victims and leaves people behind – it’s now. We need to create social uplift for all, where no one is left behind and where we look out for each other, especially the most vulnerable and lonely.”






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