In 2016, General André Cox announced that The Salvation Army’s two territories in Australia (Australia Eastern and Australia Southern) would amalgamate to create one national territory.
The project, known as Australia One, aims to provide a structure for The Salvation Army to best deliver its spiritual and social mission to all Australians. The official start of the Australia Territory is planned for 1 January 2019.
Since the General’s announcement, significant work has been done to support an aligned vision and united voice for The Salvation Army in Australia. This has led to the creation of a structural foundation for a new Australia Territory, which was unveiled on 1 May 2017 by the National Commander, Commissioner Floyd Tidd.
Crucial to this foundation is the development of a new vision for The Salvation Army in Australia – a vision built on the back of broad and deep engagement. It states: 'Wherever there is hardship or injustice, Salvos [a commonly used term in Australia for Salvationists] will live, love and fight alongside others to transform Australia one life at a time with the love of Jesus.' Speaking to this vision for the Army has been the creation of '12 Essentials' that define a vision of the Army.
The structural foundation had been approved in London in April by The Salvation Army's International Management Council, including the General, the Chief of the Staff (Commissioner Brian Peddle), Commissioner Silvia Cox (World President of Women's Ministries) and Commissioner Rosalie Peddle (World Secretary for Women's Ministries).
Explaining the thinking behind the decisions, Commissioner Tidd said: 'These foundation blocks approved by our international leadership will be built upon in the coming months of transition and change. I am confident that the National Vision Statement can be realised through the continued dedicated service of Salvos in communities across Australia, supported by an appropriate national administrative structure. The days ahead will be filled with challenges and opportunities as together we work to position The Salvation Army for 21st century Australia.
'I am grateful to so many who have selflessly contributed to the development of these key components in the development of Australia One. I have been impressed by the engagement of officers, employees, soldiers and volunteers who have contributed to the process leading to these foundational steps for Australia One irrespective of personal implication, considering first the mission.'
The Australia One project has required a decision to be taken on the location of a territorial headquarters (THQ). Commissioner Tidd announced that the new united Australia Territory will have its headquarters in Melbourne. In a significant shift, though, leadership and support roles will be dispersed across the country.
The commissioner said the decision on where to locate THQ was 'probably one of the most gruelling and difficult tasks undertaken by the Australia One Steering Committee'.
The creation of a new national territory provides The Salvation Army in Australia with an opportunity to be an early adoptee of the international move towards a new way of governing the Army, as outlined by the General as part of the Accountability Movement. The single governing authority will be a board chaired by the territorial commander. This board, which will be responsible for strategy and governance, will include officer leadership and five non-officers, with at least two being active Salvationists. All other members must have a strong Christian faith. Membership will be based on minimum one-third female and minimum one-third male. Appointments to the board, which will be made by the General, will also be conscious of 'broader diversity considerations'.
Further explaining the new senior board and council set-up (for a full version of his speech, click here) Commissioner Tidd also revealed that a Gender Equity Plan is being devised to 'address the systematic inequality faced by women officers'. The plan will implement the Army’s biblical teaching about women’s leadership and ensure that the new Australia Territory structures value the unique gifts of each individual.
As a result, an Advocate for Women’s Equity will be appointed, supported by a Women’s Equity Committee. The committee will have internal and external members, with equal representation of women and men. Its role will be to develop and implement strategies to achieve the goals of gender equity for women. The Advocate for Women’s Equity and the Women’s Equity Committee will report directly to the chief secretary.
For more information on the Australia One process and history, go to australiaone.info/update.
To watch a video of Commissioner Tidd announcing the new arrangements go to others.org.au/video/videos.