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Celebrating 100 years at the heart of remote Australia

South West Queensland Project Offi cer for the Remote Area Families Service, Felicity Voigt. Photo courtesy of Frontier Services
FRONTIER Services will turn 100 this year and the celebrations will reach some of the most isolated communities in the

On 26 September 1912, Rev John Flynn encouraged the Church to support the work approved by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church – the Australian Inland Mission (AIM).

“Difficulties of a serious nature will arise in the shoals of every fertile mind.

To each one, a reply can only be made in words already made familiar; do not pray for tasks equal to your powers, pray for powers equal to your tasks,” he said.

The Church responded by establishing the Australian Inland Mission (AIM), appointing Mr Flynn as its Superintendent.

Mr Flynn’s dream was to create a “mantle of safety” so people could build sustainable communities despite the challenges of distance and isolation.

The first AIM patrol padres went out in 1913 by camel and horse from Pine Creek, Oodnadatta, Broome and Port Hedland to provide pastoral care and counselling services to people on isolated properties, mine sites and road gangs.

Nursing posts and hospitals were established in locations across the outback.

As the work of the AIM grew, Mr Flynn envisioned using aircraft to conquer vast distances across the nation and in 1928 he formed the Aerial Medical Service, which later became a separate organisation called the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Following church union in 1977, the outback work of the AIM, the Methodist Inland Mission and the Congregation Union came together using the name Mr Flynn himself had used – Frontier Services.

Frontier Services is still serving rural and remote Australia through the provision of ministry and community services, striving to break down the disadvantage created by distance and isolation.

In its centenary year, Frontier Services will celebrate Mr Flynn’s vision for the people of outback

Australia and the remarkable contribution made by so many in remote Australia.

It will also be an opportunity to celebrate the hope, spirit and resilience of the people who live in remote Australia.

Cunnumulla Patrol Minister, Pastor Dennis Cousens, feels privileged to be called to do a job he loves.

“I love the job because it is taking the church to the people and not expecting anything in return.

"It allows Christ to meet people where they work, play and live – all without bricks and mortar and a stained glass window. And I love it because God called me to it.”

South-West Queensland Project Officer for the Remote Area Families Service, Felicity Voigt, said her work provides unique programs and services to rural and remote people who do not have access to mainstream services.

“I want to be part of something that goes where no one else will go.

I want to make a difference, no matter how small or large to people’s lives who live in all types of isolation; this is what Frontier Services does.

“I am able to interact, engage and support children and their families who do not have access to mainstream early childhood

“I feel very proud to work for Frontier Services.”

Anna Burley is a Primary Health Care Nurse at Savannah Regional Health Service, Far North Queensland.

She loves the way Frontier Services addresses people’s needs with a focus on the practical nature of the services offered to those who live and work in remote areas.

“I have to address needs in a flexible and creative way to empower people to live and work in the area they want to be in,” she said.

Centenary celebrations will take place across Australia.

More than 2000 people are expected to attend the official Centenary celebration, open to all, on 26 September 2012 in Melbourne.

People could also host their own Centenary event, e.g. a Centenary Great Outback BBQ, a Frontier Services Sunday, or an
activity in the community.

More than ever, as a nation, a church and a community, we must find the courage and innovation needed to ensure equity extends beyond the urban boundaries to those who live in rural and remote Australia.

As we reflect on Flynn’s words a century ago, it is our hope that all across Australia people will honour this amazing story
of continued commitment and work together to ensure we can support remote Australia for another 100 years.

For more information contact Centenary Events Coordinator, Kate Higginbotham, on (02) 8270 1361 or email kate.h@frontierservices.org or visit www.frontierservices.org/centenary

Photo : South West Queensland Project Offi cer for the Remote Area Families Service, Felicity Voigt. Photo courtesy of Frontier Services