For the last seven years, I and the NGO I founded, Friends and Partners with East Timor, have been working closely with Palms. Seven Palms volunteers have been working on collaborative development in our partner parish in Atabae, Timor-Leste. But I have followed Palms’ work for over thirty years through friends who have done Palms placements, like Peter and Angela de Haas. Palms has an impressive and inspiring track record!
I would hope now to champion and promote Palms Australia’s contributions to promoting peace, reducing poverty and contributing to sustainable capacity development. I will do this by seeking to engage with Government and non government leaders and agencies, as well as churches and other people of goodwill. I also want to thank, encourage and support our Board, staff and volunteers.
My background is as a peacemaker and peacekeeper in the Army and the police over 43 years. During that time I have served in many overseas missions in the Middle East, SEAsia and the Pacific. I have come to realise that we Australians have much to offer and much to learn in being good neighbours. For the past 18 years I have also been a married deacon in the Catholic tradition, serving as a chaplain, promoting peace, justice and ethical behaviour amongst our troops and in communities that have struggled with violence or disaster. I have come to see all peoples, no matter what their race or religion as my brothers and sisters. I am still learning myself, but am in total agreement with Palms Vision, Mission and Values.
Palms has an inspiring tradition of service to humanity, in a spirit of Solidarity, acting justly, walking humbly and loving tenderly. I am sure God delights in this great movement of peace.
Some may have seen my son Michael and I working for peace in Timor Leste on two episodes of ABC’s Australian story. Without carrying any weapons, we have found that even in violent conflict situations, peace can be nurtured through human beings taking the risk to look each other in the eye, engage in dialogue, and walking together.
Palms volunteers have been doing that for many years – being channels of peace.
May we continue that in Solidarity.