Posted by: jkirkby8712 | May 20, 2011

Tuesday, 17 May to Thursday 19 May 2011 – three days observations about a variety of subjects!!

Beginning with some Tuesday observations:   I mentioned on  Monday about a  fascinating Q & A program on ABC TV that night, in which I felt that even the two politicians on the panel  deserved a bit of praise in responding to a couple of self-preserving and bigoted questions from the audience!  A Face Book friend, in turn, commented that she was impressed with the two women,  [Judge Felicity Hampel , County Court of Victoria and Anna Rose, Youth Climate Coy], as well as Bill Shorten, the Government Labor Minister. As with myself, she was not however, particularly impressed with John Roskam from the Institute of Public Affairs, or as my friend put it, “the guy on extreme left of screen, from that extreme rightwing think tank was not particularly bright. That think tank guy was a last minute replacement for the tapir they were going to have on the panel” [tongue in cheek comment!!   The other panellist was the Opposition’s Leader in the Eric Abetz.

 A little summary of the ‘conversation’ which followed, by myself and others, follows here, and it basically dealt with the current debate within much of the community about the Chaplaincy program currently operating within Australian government schools. Looking at a program overview, we see that ‘the National School Chaplaincy Program supports schools and their communities to establish school chaplaincy and pastoral care services, or to enhance existing services. This voluntary program assists schools and their communities to support the spiritual wellbeing of students. This may include support and guidance about ethics, values, relationships, spirituality and religious issues, the provision of pastoral care and enhanced engagement with the broader community’.  The program is partially funded by governments, and from 2012-2014 an additional 1,000 schools will be provided with funding to support chaplaincy or pastoral care services.  This funding will be made available to schools, including in regional, remote and disadvantaged locations most in need of chaplaincy or pastoral care services. This funding is in addition to the funding announced by the Australian Government in August 2010 that will extend approximately 2,700 schools, currently funded under the Chaplaincy Program, to 2014. So the Program is funded until 2014, but recent announcements, and statements ‘unwisely’ made by representatives of the program have put under a bit of a cloud in future years.

My response to the remark at the end of the first paragraph was as follows.

“He was probably as intelligent as a tapir!!  I agree with all you say in your first note,   – was impressed by the Judge, with one exception – her knowledge of the Chaplaincy program was surprisingly weak – in fact overall, the understanding of the ‘aims’ of that program seemed to be poorly understood.  The fact that some chaplains have apparently ‘used’ it to try and ‘recruit’ kids to the church  is a sad cause of such misunderstandings [there are always bad eggs in every organisation who refuse to follow the rules] – in the majority of cases, it is a very valuable program for the welfare of our school kids, a godsend to some [excuse the pun] and the fact it is generally associated with the churches should not be used as a disparaging criticism of the value of chaplains. Those attacking it need to talk to some of the families that have benefited from a school having such a person on site”.

My correspondent replied that:  “Yes, tend to agree, for two reasons- if there is no real alternative to a warm, caring, skilled chaplain of any denomination- getting rid of them seems premature. Teachers may be concerned but hardly have the time to address such issues. I think rather, that school counsellers or chaplains should be mature and skilled in emotional issues and be chosen on that basis. I think, and this is second reason I agree with you- that some in our culture now have little actual exposure to the totality of church, Christian culture- although no longer involved in the church, I had years of exposure to intelligent, socially aware, giving people, who would not dream of trying to convert anyone or judging others based on belief etc. So they see the Christian church as monolithic- much as many see Islam in our culture.”

I then responded that your  “Last sentence, good point, we are all guilty at times of assuming impressions of intractability of other beliefs and cultures – usually those impressions are created because of the extreme views of ‘fringe’ representatives of that particular belief. Hence, the developing ‘ill-informed’ hysteria which immediately jumps to the conclusion that the Chaplaincy program is simply a ‘recruiting agency’ because a couple of it’s reps get out of line, or the odd parent decides to kick up a fuss because of some personal prejudice!! Mmmmmm, suddenly wondering here, why am I defending a program I have nothing to do with, lol? Simply because it does far more good than the perceived harm by a few individuals, who often can’t see beyond their own prejudices!

On this topic, the panel was asked by one in the audience  ‘Why is the Federal Government spending more than $200 million on a program that allows vulnerable school kids to be counselled by men who believe most of life’s problems can be resolved by talking to an invisible despot in the sky?’ Some interesting online responses to that question – as indicated above, I don’t believe the Q & A panel demonstrated a complete understanding of the Program, the very mention of, generated such comments as “It’s a disgrace that the Government of an atheist PM, who claims to be the administrator of an “education revolution”, and one of her ministers, Bill Shorten, can promote such inappropriate religious representation in the public school system. Just another opportunity for these parasites to infect young minds with their moralistic imperatives- which are driven by the perpetual agenda to recruit sheep into their churches. How dare the Australian Government direct yet more largesse with taxpayers money at churches. Where does it end? Vast land grants, massive asset wealth, untaxed profits, outrageous fiunding of their exclusive schools, on top of the fees families stupidly pay. And protected paedophilia in return. How dare they…the education revolution that goes round in perpetual circles. And no-one ever learns the truth, or learns from past mistakes and tragedies. The churches DO NOT belong anywhere in public education”.  Or   “I send my children to public schools as a choice to avoid indoctrination, and to have money wasted on chaplains in schools rather than trained counsellors is absurd. They constantly lie, saying they don’t preach but that is not true, they run Hillsong programs, they go on school camps and talk about god. Honestly they say it is optional, should I deny my children the right to go on school camps? This is a revolting policy that is divisive and is very inappropriate in a secular school system. If people want religion, go to church for goodness sake. I hear it is FREE of charge. Why are we tightening our belts on spending yet wasting money on such an awful policy?”

 This latter comment does of course go well beyond the question of the Chaplaincy, and the writer obviously has an inbuilt prejudice to anything remotely connected with a ‘church’! But, nevertheless, he is no doubt far from being on his own in those views, which is all the more of a pity in light of the recent poor publicity given to the program. Another friend expressed the view that  ‘the statement in 2008  by the ACCESSS CEO  [ACCESS is the organisation  that runs the Chaplaincy program] doesn’t help matters much, and muddies the waters further, and helps to erode support – ” Chaplains and chaplaincy have very much been copping it lately as a ‘religious fanatics’ and other similar descriptions, which I prefer not to remember because it upset me too much to read all the negative comments in response to the ACCESS CEO’s latest statement.  Actually my reaction to what she said was “are you with us or against us” because she confirmed all the fears of non Christians that we are in schools to convert – or in her words “make disciples of” students – exactly as you say in your first para Bill.   

THE Christian group that provides religious education and chaplains in Victorian government schools will be investigated after its chief executive told a conference: ”We need to go and make disciples.” The remarks appear to breach guidelines governing school religious programs, which ban trying to convert students to any one religion.  The federal and state governments said last night they would investigate Access Ministries after a recording of the speech by Evonne Paddison was brought to their attention. Despite repeatedly denying that Access Ministries tried to convert students, the recording reveals Dr Paddison told the 2008 conference that ”without Jesus, our students are lost”.  ”In Australia, we have a God-given open door to children and young people with the Gospel, our federal and state governments allow us to take the Christian faith into our schools and share it. We need to go and make disciples,” she told the Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion national conference in Melbourne. ”What really matters is seizing the God-given opportunity we have to reach kids in schools’.

That quotation fuelled my annoyance,  but I continue to  support the program,, so long as the guidelines are followed and participants are not on a recruiting campaign. – my understanding is  that recruitment to the church IS NOT the purpose of Chaplaincy – but most of the public think it is, and that perception is doing more harm than good in broad terms in the non-Christian community. And as my second contributing friend said:  ‘That is exactly my impression of what the CEO said – I nearly freaked when I heard it, I can see those against Chaplains thinking that her view is the real one and that Chaplains have all this time been hiding their real intentions which are to ‘indoctrinate’ the students.  Strange thing is though, that it’s only just been dragged to the surface – apparently she said all this in 2008!! – according to the following article, quoted above’.

This is obviously going to continue as a public concern, but the Program itself will continue until at least 2014, unless our atheist Prime Minister has a change of heart, and succumbs to the wishes of what is probably becoming a broad community view these days!   I think I might leave the subject at this point  -that all arose out of my regular Monday night TV viewing!!

It was in fact today,  that I received a brief text message from my second son, Adam, which simply said ‘Bob Davis just died’.  From the ‘ABC Grandstand’ report we read that   ‘Geelong Football Club legend Bob Davis has passed away due to illness aged 82. Known as “Woofa” and the “Geelong Flier”, due to his on-ground speed, Davis kicked 149 goals in 189 games for the Cats between 1948 and 1958. The half-forward won two premierships with the club (1951, 1952) as a player and coached the Cats to the VFL flag in 1963 over Hawthorn. Davis was the club’s best and fairest in 1957, named as captain of the All-Australian team in 1958 and is a member of Geelong’s team of the century. He was an inaugural inductee into the Australian football Hall of Fame in 1996 and represented Victoria 13 times. Although he was seen less often in public in recent years, Davis was on hand at the MCG to present the 2009 premiership cup to the Geelong team coached by Mark Thompson. “The elation that Bob shared with the players that day on the MCG is something that will live long in the memory,” the club said in a statement. “Bob will be deeply missed by all those who loved him, and indeed by all those that have been fortunate enough to know him or meet him”.

My interest in Bob Davis whom I recall meeting at least once [at my Uncle’s funeral in Ballarat a few years ago] was that he was a cousin of my [Uncle] Jack Davis, who was married to my late father’s sister, Margaret. Speaking about Bob during the week,  the AFL’s  chief executive Andrew Demetriou said Davis was one of the key foundation stones on which the game had built its current position.

“Bob Davis was a wonderful player in his time, whose skills and speed saw him star in two Cat premiership sides, won him a place in the club’s team of the century and earned him a place in the Hall of Fame as one of our on-field greats,” he said in a statement. “He coached his beloved club to a premiership in 1963, but perhaps his greatest contribution of all was to take our game into lounge rooms every weekend, as television developed in this country, and forged a powerful bond between our players and our fans.  “With his great mates Lou Richards and Jack Dyer, under the stewardship of Ron Casey, League Teams and World of Sport were a staple diet for generations of football supporters for nearly 30 years and brought our game up close to everyone who wished to be part of it’.  And while I don’t watch any of the ‘those’ kind of sporting panels these days, I do certainly recall lots of enjoyable Sunday lunch time programs, back in the days when Australia’s major football competition was just centred on Victorian teams, and we had six matches every Saturday afternoon – leaving Sundays free for shows such as World of Sport. Meanwhile, as the current Coach of the Geelong team said, Bob Davis was a legend of the club and it’s all the more disappointing for me that I never got the chance to spend much time with him,” he said.  “Everyone speaks very highly of not only his involvement and contribution to the club as a player and coach, but the time he spent at the club when his official duties had ended. It’s just a really sad day.”  It will be interesting to see how this loss will affect the Geelong players when they line up against my team on this coming Friday night –  hopefully, they won’t be too inspired!!

Top Cat ... Bob Davis enjoyed a successful television career after his playing and coaching days were over.

[Top Cat … Bob Davis enjoyed a successful television career after his playing and coaching days were over]. (Network Seven)

Tuesday night, saw your personal essayist on air for two hours, playing show and other music, and I made a point of featuring two of Australia’s best known soprano and tenor singers [usually best know for their work in opera, and the classics, etc but also fully able to sing some of the great songs from musical shows etc – talking of course about Yvonne Kenny and David Hobson, whom I had the pleasure of seeing on stage last week. Tonight was another one of those radio shows that I thought was ‘a beauty’ with some wonderful music for the whole two hours –  but left me wonderful if I was just listening to myself, in the absence of any feedback!! I do know there are listeners out there, but sometimes it really doesn’t feel like it!

Wednesday, and a quiet day at the office after yet another ‘long drive’ in the morning.. I’m a little worried about the way my car [the work car in fact] is running at present – can’t put my finger on, does doesn’t seem right, and as a consequence, I am avoiding the freeways and doing the long trip across the northern suburbs to my destination. After a few days of this, I’m starting top become a little frustrated at my own decisions to go the ‘long’ way. If things still feel ‘uncertain’ after this next weekend, I will get the car looked at, despite my ‘boss’ not really wanting to spend too much more money on the vehicle before I leave the job! That argument won’t buy with me – I’m the driver, and if something needs fixing, I will be insisting on it whilst I have charge of the vehicle!!  On the way to work, I called in at the radio station – for my now weekly ‘Wednesday’ morning sports report, host Ron having changed his mornings, again! It was an early, and a cold start to the day, although followed by a reasonably pleasant Autumn day –    admittedly, a morning on which I would have preferred to have remained in bed, or at least returned to that place after the radio visit.  Just simply not feeling well, and at the time, was not looking forward to the drive ahead. But with some time planned to be off for medical appointments over the next couple of days, I didn’t it appropriate to take some additional time, so we just kept going. Mind you, it was late afternoon, and almost time for the return journey by the time I began to feel ‘normal’ again.

Meanwhile, my Susie has been in Sunbury all this week – hopefully, that means the Bendigo campus is in mid-semester   break this week, and not that she has simply not returned.  That of coursed hasn’t prevented the accommodation in which she resides whilst in Bendigo from continuing as a financial commitment, whether occupied or not.

A very cold Wednesday – again, a commitment I wish I could have foregone – a General Members’ meeting of the local family history society – as a Committee member, one felt obliged to put in an appearance!! Glad I did, because it was a worthwhile exercise again. Although it meant a late night – home near 10pm., at which point we watched the taped episode of  tonight’s  ‘East West 101’, which again, contained  some superb acting!

Thursday, a short day at the office, in view of an appointment with my cardiologist‘ this afternoon. I’d forgotten how quickly the years were beginning to pass –  Dr Warren noted that it was 4 years ago since that  little ‘stent’ was placed inside my artery to clear up the 80% blockage that had been found there.  Annual visits to the Moreland clinic since then, have noted good progress reports, but this year, everything was ‘apparently’ perfect – cholesterol, blood pressure, ECG tests, etc – all ‘perfect’ says the doc, come back in twelve months!! I don’t mind being told that, and inwardly hope there will be no necessity to shorten the time between visits.

There was an interesting little piece in this morning’s ‘Age newspaper’, about the colour of this year’s Autumn leaves! Apparently, and I can’t admit to actually noticing this, but this year’s Autumn leaves have turned richer in colour, and more quickly this season. According to experts, following a sunny Summer [though not too hot] followed by some good rains and the subsequent cold snap, has meant that Victoria’s deciduous trees are producing  vivid reds, oranges and browns – must have a look at this phenomena  on my next walk through the local parklands.  Quoting from Melbourne University arborist, Greg Moore ‘in species such as claret ashes, liquid ambers and some oaks, the sugar generated by good growing conditions put extra pigments into the cells, which are often deep oranges and reds. The more sugars you have and the colder it is, the more pigments you get…….the sugars provide luscious foliage growth. You get extra pigments and all of those sorts of things, so the canopies [of the trees] look wonderful…………….particularly after struggling for the last few years in the dry [drought]’. How’s this for a beautiful ‘painting’ like description  –  ‘Dr Moore said a highlight was the combination of natives with exotic trees, such as the oaks at Marysville, which survived Black Saturday [Feb 2009]. You get the wonderful crisp greens of the natives in the forests on the hills, then you come into the town, where there might be poplars, elms or oaks, and the contrasting colours are just fantastic.\’.  I wonder if I can get a photo here  –   I’ll try anyway!  –  this picture from today’s ‘Age’ – ‘Autumn in Melbourne 

Kalorama, by reader David Thornton

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