Friday, 27 March 2015

Who is it all for and what did we learn?

Carole and Huong after conversation group on Wednesday.
Last week you saw dedicated volunteers learning the skills of speaking more effectively to non-native speakers.
1) Who is it all for and 2) what did we learn?

1) It is for those in our community who have found a new home in our town of Hillston,who do not yet speak English. By learning English people are able to find employment more suitable to their talents and previous education and also are able to make friends in town.  People like Huong, above, who helped by local tutor, Carole, is learning English fast.
Huong is eligible for the AMES program set up by the NSW government which entail 510 hours of free lessons but while Huong was waiting for her spouse visa to be approved, Carole stepped in to get her started in her new language.Now Huong has distance education lessons, with one hour of skype lessons, each week and also attends a conversation group each week on a Wednesday. You see her with Carole after the group last week. A friendship has been forged and thanks to Carole, Huong is well on the way to learning English and making friends in Hillston. Carole and Huong attend the Catholic Church and Huong can now join in conversations after Mass as well as after class.

Now conversation is possible after class.
2) As for what we learnt -
Mostly we hesitate talking with people who do not speak English well because we are not sure how we should listen and how we should speak to be best understood.
Alanna gave us advice on this to give us confidence.

A few tips we were given for speaking with a non-native speaker are-

·         Speak clearly and pronounce words correctly
·         Speak slowly
·         Turning up the volume does NOT create instant understanding
·         Don’t cover your mouth
·         Avoid running words together(How-r-ya-goin) and avoid idioms
·         Choose simple words
·         When repeating, repeat it as you said it the first time
·         Be explicit
·         Listen and try not to form your response while the other person is talking
·         Draw pictures/mime
·         Be patient and smile –a smile conveys a lot in any language.


The program is  run in Hillston by Sue, as Uniting Church Rural Chaplain Support  person, with training provided by Alanna Townsend from Griffith TAFE with funding by Unitingcare Aging West.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Lessons on the Telly.

The lessons we had so capably delivered by Alanna from Griffith TAFE were via "the telly" (or I should say -video conference facility) generously supplied after hours, by Hillston Central School.

Alanna in full flight during our lesson. (Note the students
 in the small screen top left)
One of the issues for working in rural areas,well, anywhere in Australia really, is distance. When time costs money and you want to make the best use of grant budgets the use of a video conferences gives good "bang for your buck."

Many of the current volunteers work during the day so day time training is not an option. But how do you ask a TAFE teacher to risk the 'roos on a 1 1/4 hour trip to the teaching venue in the dark? She was willing to do it but a better solution was to use the video conference facilities available in most rural schools and TAFEs.

This way Hillston volunteers could get lessons in their own town - a real treat! and the teacher put in one to one and a half hours in the classroom plus preparation time, instead of  four, on top of a day's teaching and prep. time.

Volunteers give of their time to be trained for tutoring or conversation groups.

Friday, 13 March 2015

CADR leaves Home

There are many projects which can be done by chaplains and any ministry agent and part of the job is choosing what to do and where.
Opportunities come and go. Situations give rise to ideas,especially in the context of other work being done on various projects. One such is the CADR -Congregations And Disaster Recovery- project so named because the full title to describe this exciting project is rather a mouthful -“Integration of Faith Communities with Disaster Resilience, Response and Recovery”.

CADR was designed to make sure that when this,

or this happened,


was not the best response local congregations could give-  a disorganised, really wanting to help, but not really sure what to do, response.

CADR is a program which in the words of the outcome statement on the grant ....

.... will seek to establish better communication and a clearer understanding between faith communities such as church congregations with their leaders, local governments, emergency services and welfare service providers in relation to disaster response and recovery.

This is done with the intention of allowing more helpful integration of the largely untapped resource of faith communities and their assets in building resilience and more inclusive and integrated locally-led recovery.

This will seek to overcome some negative interactions (such as unhelpful spontaneous involvement and interventions) and build positive, long-lasting partnerships with emergency and local government agencies in response and recovery.

 Congregations and faith communities not only are permanent entities in the community but the reach of their members is often substantial, especially to those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged. By helping these groups and emergency services to develop working relationships and trust, the ability to build resilient communities and respond to disaster will be greatly enhanced.

CADR began its life with the Rural Chaplain, Julie Grieg but will now be leaving home to be in the capable care of David Riethmuller. Julie has done the ground work of writing the grant and getting the project started out of her experience in dong disaster work in rural areas over the last few years but now it is time to hand over to the next person who will support CADR through the next phase in its life.

May God bless those who serve in this project and those it is intended to benefit.

We wish David and the CADR project all the very best.

Julie, Phill and Sue.

Friday, 6 March 2015

But what do you do as a Rural Chaplain 2

Last week I talked about some the partnership building things that I do. However it is impossible to be active in rural NSW without constantly coming across the last of services and inequalities that exist compared to urban areas of our state. As Christians we can't ignore these inequalities or not be involved when help is needed. So the third role that I'm involved in is 3. Providing a voice for rural issues and rural communities.

This is done in a number of ways including this blog and facebook page. They provide a great forum for us to tell you about the things we come across and it is wonderful that you have all been great followers and help us to spread the news. We use other vehicles as well and Uniting Church members will often see some of our news in Insights and Ruminations. We also make submissions to government or other bodies and speak at various functions.

A number of years ago the Rural Ministry Unit identified mental health issues as one of the greatest challenges for congregations in the rural areas. This is one area where lack of services is absolutely chronic. Phill has been active in this area but some of the projects I have been working on are the supports for congregations around mental health and supporting community groups working to prevent suicide. You may remember reading about some of these in the blog previously.

This little booklet is the first phase of resources for congregations. You can see an interactive version here.

The Communities Matter toolkit is for community groups who are working to prevent suicide in their communities. We have highlighted a number of happenings in past blogs here.

I also represent rural and remote communities on the TAFE Western Institute Advisory Council.

4. Supporting individuals and Communities pre, during and post disaster.

As one of the Assistance Senior Chaplains for the Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy Network I am often involved in managing and supporting Chaplains who go to disaster areas. It is a work I am passionate about the role of Chaplains at disasters is growing and being more recognised by other disaster services. I also chair the Riverina Disaster Response Committee but we are all thankful that we had a quiet summer. Part of my role has also been to design and write (with the help of my very clever son) some specialist software to help with logistics in disaster.

5. Work for the Broader Uniting and Ecumenical Churches
This last role is about being the Uniting church in other places. Some of the things I do is facilitate the Rural Chaplains Network. We come together about once a year and meet with Chaplains from a variety of denominations who are working across NSW. You can read about our last gathering here.

Another facilitating role is to bring together all the small churches in the NW sector of the Riverina Presbytery. Our times together are always a good chance to learn something new and share what has been going on. The wonderful thing about many of these small lay-lead churches is that they are growing.

So you can see the role is varied and interesting - never a dull moment.

But underneath it all is the desire to be faithful to the call from our Lord and King -

“I tell you the truth, whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine you did for me.”



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