Protest Against the Salvation Army: 17-31 July, 2014, Sydney

Hi there,

In my last post, I talked about a couple of things that I’m yet to follow through on by writing on this blog. One was the quest for the Salvation Army’s new restorative justice principles, and the other was the matter of my meeting with the Salvation Army’s handling of the Blayse family in a meeting I had in Sydney a little while back with several people from the Salvation Army. Work continues on both fronts, and I’ll provide updates on this site as soon as I can. For those curious to know what’s happening now, though, the short answers are:

(a) Restorative justice: the Salvation Army has provided quite a lot of information, but I am still trying to make sense of it in such a way as to be able to write intelligently about it.

(b) Justice for Lewis Blayse: In the air, but the Salvation Army are at least ‘at the table’. I can’t really say more than that at this stage, other than that I am now cautiously optimistic that there will be a better outcome than the disgusting way my Dad’s family has been treated to date.

For now though, there’s something slightly more important / pressing that I’d like to get out to readers. And this is an upcoming protest that commences today at 4 pm in Sydney and will run right through until the end of the month.

The protest is being conducted by prominent social justice campaigner and homelessness rights activist, Stephanie Calabornes. She’ll be protesting right outside Sydney Salvation Army headquarters.

Stephanie is an incredible woman who has deep compassion for those who’ve been harmed by organisations vested with responsibility for care of the most vulnerable people in our society, an extraordinary knowledge of social justice issues, and a level of strength and determination to fight injustice that puts me to shame. She’s known to many who take a keen interest in the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, but has been active on social justice issues for a very long time.

Stephanie will be doing something that I doubt I’d be able to do. She’ll be mounting a DAY and NIGHT protest for two weeks in Sydney outside Sydney Salvation Army headquarters at 140 Elizabeth Street. Which is going to be no mean feat, as it’s freezing in Sydney at the moment!

Stephanie has the wholehearted endorsement of the White Shield Appeal campaign (www.whiteshieldappeal.org), which originated as a protest against the Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal in May this year, but will soon be developed into an ongoing protest site for those with concerns about the Salvation Army in a very wide range of areas (please check the White Shield Appeal campaign site regularly over coming weeks for changes).

Stephanie’s 2-week protest against the Salvation Army in Sydney is a protest primarily against:

  • The Salvation Army’s treatment of homeless people;
  • How the Salvation Army allowed confessed child sex abuser Colin Haggar to work at women’s and children’s refuge, Samaritan House Shelter;
  • The Salvation Army’s treatment of victims of its children’s homes and their families; and
  • The Salvation Army’s delivery of services to homeless youth.

Stephanie is extremely knowledgeable, however, about the Salvation Army and its many failings in the areas listed on the White Shield Appeal campaign website, and will be speaking to Salvation Army representatives who come down to chat with her about her and others’ concerns in other areas as well.

It’s hoped that anyone in the Sydney area who supports the White Shield Appeal campaign, or otherwise has concerns with the Salvation Army, will come along and shake Stephanie’s hand and get to know her. Please also feel free to pass on your contact details to Stephanie if you want to be provided with updates about what’s happening during her protest or if you want to start receiving updates about the White Shield Appeal campaign in the future.

Most importantly, if you want to just have a quiet word to Stephanie and stay anonymous but nevertheless get your concerns about the Salvation Army noted and fed into the work that will be being done with the White Shield Appeal campaign in the future, please do that too.

Here’s just some of the things Stephanie will be protesting:

Homelessness Services:

Stephanie has long and direct personal experience that makes her very qualified to speak about homelessness services in Australia, and is well-known as a powerful and articulate advocate for the rights of homeless people. According to Stephanie, “The Salvation Army is using homeless people for free labour instead of directing them to meaningful employment via the Salvation Army’s Employment Plus Service.” She says this practice is appalling, and that the public should know about it. I couldn’t agree more, and I am looking forward to developing a deeper understanding of what is happening here by talking more to Stephanie in coming months and hearing what she has to say during her protest.

Stephanie also alleges that, “The Salvation Army is imposing conditions on some homeless people who are offered accommodation in Salvation Army shelters that they attend Salvation Army religious services.” Stephanie says, “This is disgusting. The Salvation Army is imposing its religious beliefs upon people as a condition of provision of basic services. All people, including homeless people, have the right to freedom of religious expression, which includes not attending Salvation Army church services.”

These are important issues that touch on problems such as separation of church and state, treatment of people who are homeless, and others. Again, I hope people will come along and have a chat with Stephanie and listen to what she has to say.

Colin Haggar:

Stephanie also wants to remind the public about the decision of the Salvation Army to allow confessed child sex abuser, Colin Haggar, to work at the Samaritan House Shelter, a refuge for women and children. Stephanie says, “What confidence can the public have in the Salvation Army to care for vulnerable young people if it allowed a person like Colin Haggar to be placed in this position?” Stephanie says she would like to see all governments review current funding to the Salvation Army following a thorough investigation of all Salvation Army refuge centres. Hear hear.

Children’s Homes’ Victims & Families:

Although not a survivor of a Salvation Army children’s home, Stephanie also spent time in an orphanage, and is acutely aware of the issues surrounding treatment of victims and families, and other problems associated with children’s homes. Stephanie says, “The Salvation Army’s dealings with victims of its homes has been callous.” She says she would like to see all levels of government force the Salvation Army to deliver true restorative justice to victims and families and says, “The Salvation Army is misleading the public that it is delivering justice to its victims; it is not.” Stephanie also wants the Salvation Army to tell the Australian public how many Salvation Army children’s homes victims are currently homeless.

In protesting on this issue, Stephanie is doing important work in bringing greater attention to the plight of survivors of children’s homes, both Salvation Army and, indirectly, others. I really hope that any survivors of Salvation Army children’s homes who are in the Sydney area drop around for a quick chat (and maybe a coffee, eh Steph 🙂 ) and share their stories about where things are at. I’ve been in touch now with many survivors who’ve been treated appallingly by the Salvation Army and continue to be treated appallingly, and Stephanie is as concerned as I am about the picture that’s developing about what’s really going on, despite all the positive messages being put out by the Salvation Army about it accepting responsibility for what it’s done. Stephanie is keen to do what she can to draw attention to what the Salvation Army is really doing, and deserves as much support as possible in this regard.

Homeless Youth:

Stephanie also alleges that the Salvation Army is, “Not doing the job it claims to do in provision of services to homeless youth.” According to Stephanie, “I have repeatedly told the Salvation Army that it needs to send its Oasis homeless youth vans to specific locations in order to reach homeless youth. It has not done so, leaving many young people without the support the Salvation Army claims to offer.” Stephanie has spent many a night out and about talking to people living on the streets of Sydney, and is very qualified to speak about what she has observed. I hope people will be listening.

I and others associated with the White Shield Appeal campaign hope anyone with an interest in these important issues will come along and support Stephanie Calabornes in her protest at 140 Elizabeth Street, Sydney.

While Stephanie is protesting, I’ll be busy on Twitter and on the White Shield Appeal campaign website (www.whiteshieldappeal.org) talking about what Stephanie is doing and what she finds out from her talks with Salvation Army officers and others who will hopefully come and talk to her about the issues she’s protesting about. If you’re on Twitter, you can follow developments by following me at @alethab, where I’ll be Tweeting regularly about what Stephanie is doing. If you’re interested in following Stephanie on Twitter in future (and I suggest that she’s a great person to follow), her Twitter account is @outandabout12. If you can’t make it to the protest, please send her a message of support and encouragement. Please use the hashtag #WhiteShieldAppeal when you do so.

Hats off to Stephanie for her determination to speak out against the Salvation Army and expose injustice and cruelty wherever she sees it.

If you’re inspired by what Stephanie is doing, and want to mount a protest of your own on any issue surrounding the Salvation Army, even if it’s just for a day or even for a few hours, please get in touch with me. I’d be glad to help you get your protest publicised through the White Shield Appeal campaign website or in any other way you see fit. Please do get in touch by using the contact page on this site (www.lewisblayse.net), or the White Shield Appeal campaign website (www.whiteshieldappeal.org) and I’ll lend a hand. Alternatively, if public protests aren’t your thing, but you would like to get a petition going about your issue to raise awareness and bring about change within the Salvation Army, please also get in touch and I’ll do everything I can to assist you in your endeavours.

Best wishes, Stephanie, and I hope you’re joined by many other people (whether in Sydney or in spirit) who will listen to what you have to say. Let’s hope at least a few senior people from the Salvation Army come down to the street and have a chat and start to listen harder to what people have been being saying to them for years, but they have yet to really absorb …

Aletha Blayse

Web: http://www.lewisblayse.net

Web: http://www.whiteshieldappeal.org

Twitter: @alethab

[Postscript: Just recently, Salvation Army Eden Park Boys Home children’s home survivor, Graham Rundle, had his book, Forty-Four: A Tale of Survival, published. I’ve ordered a copy of Graham’s book and eagerly await its arrival in the mail. For a list of stockists so you can order a copy of Graham’s book too, just Google Forty-Four: A Tale of Survival. It’s available in most good bookshops and through Amazon. If you can’t afford to purchase a copy, please ask your library to order in a copy. This book is essential reading for a deeper understanding of the reality of the Salvation Army, past and present, and of the incredible life of Graham Rundle. Graham, like Stephanie, is a person of great compassion, and I hope his story of courage and determination in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds gets read by everyone.]

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15 Responses to Protest Against the Salvation Army: 17-31 July, 2014, Sydney

  1. Hannelore Worrall says:

    Hannelore here I left my reply on a different site. Sorry. It all comes down to Aletha Blayse father having spent all his adult life chasing the truth. He has since passed on to heaven. These people are heartless. A husband lost and children have lost there dad. They are taking Aletha for a ride as long as they can. What a gutless lot. Help this family with the correct compensation that the family need to live. Do not drag it on so that we have a daughter who will become unwell as well. FIX IT. You have plenty of money and the army pays no tax at all. One day you will have to pay tax and I hope it comes soon. The Salvo’s treated children in there care with no mercy. I know what happens when living in these places as a child. I lived 15 years in an Orphanage. One day I hope Aletha Blayse can have her peace, be with her family and remember her dad. All it will take is the Salvo’s to do the right by this family.

  2. David Barnett says:

    You still seem to be a bit nervious of the Salvos, you come across as frigbtended of them, most of the senior officers of themovement are only bandsmen and songster who have come up through the system, what I suspect you are nervious of is their contacts in the State and federal governments tbeir senior officers have no power as individuals.

    You6 have a legitimate gripe against the organization, they are simply not taking you seriously because you are not taki g yourself seriously, saying tnings like “Get your act together” suggests you see a future for the organization in Australia and that you support their continuity , if I see this so do they, you would have little say other than the the Royal Commission” if you mean to call tnem to task take your case to court on no win no pay,

    I would find it interesting to see how they will pull behind the scenes contacts to move your thq exprion on, if you arevon the footpath you are on public land if you go into the Salvo land you are trespassing, they will pull behind the scenes to move you on.

    You would do a lot better putting out a call for how much money tne Army has stashed in future funds and sunk into property to secure it from liability if it is sued.

    Ask how much money from Red Shield industries, Salvo legal, and their Employment plus program is actually invested in to the charity programs, im only guessing but I would suspect it is all hidden aware in slush funds, you should raise these questions, my suspicion is that the only people gener2all6 who do not support tne Salvation Army financially is the Salvation Army the salvation Army is assumed to support its own charity programs I suspect they dont, but conince them you will take them to civil court you might be surprised athow quickly they will suddenly become pious and misunderstood and start taking you seriously, at this point they probably think you are just a combination of crank and eccentric, and worse! lower working class after their nest egg

    • Jack McDonald says:

      David you take a guess regarding slush funds and your way off. Everyone hopes for a big conspiracy theory where charities like the salvos are getting rich. The highest ranked salvos get about $600 a fortnight plus accommodation. They retire to modest places in the western suburbs. It’s always been that way and remains so. There are no exceptions, if you can find even one I’ll shut up.
      So no, there are no slush funds the money gets put into services and such. Nobody is getting rich.
      And Aletha said she is getting what she wants from the salvos, she got he restorative justice principles, she’s getting her money. Sick of people just making things up.

      • lewisblayse says:

        Actually, Jack, there is still much to be said about the matters you raise. There is most certainly no closure on any of these matter, so you are incorrect. Perhaps I was not clear in my last post. I merely said that there have been developments. There is still much more to be said.

        More importantly, there are still so many people out there who are being treated heartlessly. This current protest is about them too. I hope you’ll lend your support to Stephanie and other people like her who champion the rights of those who’ve been treated badly by institutions and deserve so much better.

        Kind regards,

        Aletha

    • lewisblayse says:

      Thank you for your comment. Obviously, everyone has a different take on the issues and what should or should not be done. Your thoughts and insights are welcome.

  3. Brian Jones says:

    Stephanie should get a job. I have followed her on twitter and she definitely is a bit “out and about”. More made up facts than a disney movie.
    Oh and Hagar wasn’t put in charge of a children’s home, he did admin on a different site. Been proven, even the women working at the home attest to it. Why fight battles that don’t exist when there are so many real ones?

    • lewisblayse says:

      There was no mention of Haggar having been put in charge of a children’s home. What is so ‘unreal’ about a battle to ensure people like Colin Haggar are not allowed to be in positions where they potentially have access to children?

      • Brian Jones says:

        I apologise “work at a children’s home” nobody ever even accused him of doing that. Not in the commission, not in Dingles’ report. The issue was that it wasn’t a good look to have him even connected (even though it was remote and resulted in ZERO interaction between him and children) So protest against that is protesting against fantasy.
        Perhaps Stephanie would be better getting some actual evidence for her claims. For starters where are people forced to attend religious services? At this point it’s an unsubstantiated accusation, not worth freezing on the street for.
        Secondly she should know homelessness is a difficult issue. She could choose to protest the government who underfunds solutions to it, she could set up outside the house of some person who has never done anything for the homeless. But no she going to protest the Salvation Army against their homelessness services. One of the only organisations doing anything at all! One that every night is providing shelter for people all over the world, both in countries like Australia but also third world countries where there is no ‘government funding’. Imagine a family in India living in a Salvo shelter hearing that someone is protesting the salvo’s homelessness service. Come on get a real cause!
        She told Oasis where to send their vans and they didn’t go? she isn’t protesting human rights she is protesting because she didn’t get her way. That’s not injustice or cruelty. Seriously an organisation has vans for the homeless, and she is going to protest because they didn’t go where she said? protest the people who don’t send vans anywhere!!
        Come on Aletha why implicate yourself in such nonsense?
        It’s totally admirable to commit your life to a cause, but aim your missiles and a worthwhile target.

  4. Michael Mathews says:

    This is a wonderful cause and God bless Stephanie Calabournes and Aletha Blayse for for their courage and determination helping Australia’s millions of victims of child abuse and large hidden numbers of homeless people.

    • lewisblayse says:

      Thank YOU, Mike, for your encouragement and for Tweeting everything that is happening (for updates on what Stephanie is doing, people can follow me on Twitter at @alethab).

      Kind regards,

      Aletha

  5. Hatchet Templar_The. (Harry) says:

    Whatever I can do to help you I’m more than willing to do for you and your cause.

    • lewisblayse says:

      Hi there. Thank you so much for your offer of support 🙂

      There are a number of things that people can do to support Stephanie’s protest and victims of the Salvation Army over the next 2 weeks, depending on people’s time, energies, etc. They include (choose one or more):

      (a) Tweeting or sharing on facebook, etc., a link to this blog article (https://lewisblayse.net/2014/07/16/protest-against-the-salvation-army-17-31-july-2014-sydney/) to raise awareness about what Stephanie is doing to encourage people in Sydney to drop by and have a chat to her and offer words of encouragement and share their own stories of how they’ve been treated by the Salvation Army. If on Twitter, please use the hashtag #WhiteShieldAppeal

      (b) Tweeting or sharing on facebook, etc., the White Shield Appeal website link (www.whiteshieldappeal.org) with whatever comments you feel are appropriate to help raise awareness about what the Salvation Army has done to its victims. If on Twitter, please use the hashtag #WhiteShieldAppeal

      (c) Tweeting or sharing on facebook, etc., links to media articles about the Salvation Army from the list on the White Shield Appeal campaign website (www.whiteshieldappeal.org). If on Twitter, please use the hashtag #WhiteShieldAppeal

      (d) Retweeting my regular updates about what Stephanie is doing throughout her day and night protest from today until 31 July (see me on Twitter at @alethab). If on Twitter, please use the hashtag #WhiteShieldAppeal

      (e) Encouraging friends and family and people you work with to read the information on the White Shield Appeal campaign website (www.whiteshieldappeal.org) and this blog (www.lewisblayse.net) to become educated about the reality of the Salvation Army’s treatment of victims.

      (f) If possible, mounting mini-protests (even an hour or two) about issues of concern about the Salvation Army at locations other than Sydney headquarters. If you do this, please use the contact form on this website to let me know what you have planned, so I can help publicise it. Don’t forget to bring a camera so you can send me pictures of your protest (send me a message through the contact form on this website, http://www.lewisblayse.net and I’ll give you my direct email address).

      (g) Starting up petitions on issues surrounding the Salvation Army that are of concern to you (please be prepared to maintain and regularly update your petition). There are many free petition sites (e.g., http://www.change.org). If you set one up, please use the contact form on this site (www.lewisblayse.net) to send me a link to your petition, and I’ll add it to the White Shield Appeal campaign website (www.whiteshieldappeal.org) and help to promote it.

      (h) Getting in touch with the Salvation Army in Australia (see http://www.salvos.org.au or http://www.salvationarmy.org.au for contact details) or their international headquarters (see http://www.salvationarmy.org for contact details) and letting them know how you feel after you’ve read the material on the White Shield Appeal website and asking them to please treat their victims better than they are.

      (i) Simply talking to people you know and discussing the issues and helping to raise awareness about the plight of Salvation Army victims.

      (j) Sending Stephanie a Twitter message of support (her Twitter account is @outandabout) so she knows that people do care about the issues.

      (k) Doing a letterbox drop in your street with a letter explaining how you feel about the Salvation Army and how it’s treated people and what you think people should do (e.g., you might suggest they get in touch with the Salvation Army to express their concerns). If you do this, please respect people’s right not to receive unsolicited mail by checking stickers / plaques on people’s letterboxes that say if they don’t want unsolicited / non-Australia Post mail.

      (l) Jumping on the many Salvation Army facebook sites (e.g., https://www.facebook.com/SalvationArmyIHQ?fref=ts) and expressing your feelings about what you’d like the Salvation Army to do differently. Please check the site’s facebook posting policies prior to posting a comment.

      (m) Following this blog (www.lewisblayse.net) and the White Shield Appeal campaign website (www.whiteshieldappeal.org) to receive inbox updates about developments and then emailing them on to friends, family, and colleagues.

      (n) Copying and pasting all of this information in this reply message and emailing it on to friends, family, and work colleagues suggesting that if they care about victims of the Salvation Army, they too might like to do one of the things on this list.

      Thank you so much for asking about this and for giving me the opportunity to answer! Your support means so much.

      Kind regards,

      Aletha

      Aletha Blayse
      http://www.lewisblayse.net
      http://www.whiteshieldappeal.org
      Twitter: @alethab

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