Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ministry (ATSIM) leaders from across Australia gathered for workshops in leadership development training, followed by community presentations in collaboration with Messages of Hope International Ministries (MOHIM), from November 1 to 9.
MOHIM is a non-denominational ministry organization in the United States dedicated to offering support through various initiatives, including health and community-building projects worldwide. Andrew Harewood, a Seventh-day Adventist pastor and U.S. Army chaplain, is the CEO of MOHIM. The MOHIM team was composed of 11 professionals, including health specialists, counselors, chaplains, and a Bible worker.
The meetings started with an induction and cultural awareness overview from Leo Wright, Dhungutti Elders Council chairperson. Over the week, valuable community relationships were established, and presentations on crucial health topics for the community, such as mental health and wellbeing and diabetes, were well received by those in attendance, organizers said.
The collaborative effort resulted in the establishment of meaningful relationships with numerous community leaders holding key positions in diverse organizations. Notably, connections were forged with Durri Aboriginal Medical Service, Dalaigur Preschool, the Bellbrook Aboriginal Community, and the Dhungutti Elders Council, fostering plans for future collaborations to implement targeted initiatives benefiting the community, which contributes to improved health and wellbeing outcomes.
“This partnership with MOHIM is special,” Australian Union Conference (AUC) ATSIM director Darren Garlett said. “We are on the same page in terms of implementing sustainable initiatives that will target closing the gap in Indigenous health and education.”
He added, “The MOHIM team is made up of professionals with a heart for mission; this is key to creating change in the Indigenous community.”
The MOHIM team has commenced planning to return with an expanded group in 2024. AUC ATSIM is enthusiastic about the potential impact and positive outcomes these collaborations can bring to the Kempsey community for making a real difference.
National ATSIM Camp Postponed
Another long-expected activity of ATSIM in Australia is its National ATSIM Camp. Harewood was expected to return in January 2024 as the guest speaker for the event. On December 19, ATSIM leaders announced their decision to postpone the camp, scheduled to take place in Gordonvale, Queensland, January 10-15, 2024, due to weather-related constraints.
In a letter, ATSIM director Darren Garlett wrote, “Considering the unprecedented rain triggered by ex-tropical cyclone Jasper … we have reached the difficult decision to postpone the National ATSIM Camp.” He added, “Our paramount focus is the safety of all attendees, and as organizers of such an event, we recognize our duty of care to guarantee a safe environment for everyone in attendance.”
Garlett explained that the present severe flooding “has made numerous roads in and out of Cairns impassable, creating a substantial risk for accessing the region.” His letter also explained that the forecast for the upcoming weeks indicates further rain, “possibly worsening the already challenging situation.”
He concluded by saying, “We deeply appreciate your understanding and support during these challenging times and encourage you to join us in prayer for those affected by Cyclone Jasper and the flooding.”