The Southern Cross : November 2012
Page 6 November 2012 www.thesoutherncross.org.au The Southern Cross | news Privacy and peace in a premium burial courtyard. 8139 7400 Port Road, Cheltenham 5014 www.aca.sa.gov.au TRANQUILLITY CORNER *Conditions Apply 1300 906 456 Free digital hearing aids supplied to Pensioners and Veterans.* Private and workers compensation clients are our speciality. Private Health fund rebates apply. We provide FREE hearing ser vices and hearing aids to eligible clients of the Australian Government Hearing Ser vices Program.* Consulting at over 60 clinics www.digitalhearing.com.au On the day he became Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley AC, DSC, invited all the service chiefs to an afternoon church service. His motivation was not to evangelise, he says, but "to make a point from day one that there is another aspect of our lives that we, as an organisation and as leaders, need to address". The importance of focusing on the spiritual side of life was a key message in General Hurley's address to the 32nd annual South Australian Prayer Breakfast on September 27. This follows his bold move to introduce a DVD-based course called Faith Under Fire which explores Christian faith in the modern defence force. The concept was put to him by the Defence Anglicans and General Hurley, a Presbyterian convert, embraced the idea and arranged for military funding for its production and distribution. "One of the reasons I released Faith Under Fire when I took over the job was that when you look at how we look after the people in the ADF I think we do a very good job looking after their physical well being -- their resilience to go to battle and deal with the day to day pressures of defence life," he said. "We do well preparing them mentally to go to places like Afghanistan and so forth and we do well when they come back home; it's not perfect, but we do okay. But we really need to look at the whole of the being so the spiritual side of life is a very important aspect that we need to take care of." General Hurley stressed that it might not be a Christian faith, or any belief in religion, but to be complete, we need to have "addressed some of the major issues we face on a day-to-day basis, that tell us and give us reassurance about the direction we are taking our lives." "We talk about spiritual fitness, spiritual resilience -- we have a program around our training centres called Battle Smart where we teach people how to steel themselves to prepare for some of the challenges life brings and how to be more fruitful in life," he said. "So we're talking about world views, ethics, values, morals, character, behaviour, and this is not a bad thing to do if you're in an organisation where you're under threat about your culture -- you'll make better people if people understand themselves." He said Faith Under Fire, which was produced originally by the Centre for Public Christianity and then topped and tailed with military aspects, was not about Christian evangelism but about developing an understanding of an individual's beliefs, an understanding the influence this has on their character and their capacity to cope with changes. General Hurley cited a testimonial from a flight lieutenant who had suffered significant emotional stress and mental health concerns after three tours in Afghanistan: "in order to seek true internal restoration it's most important to take a holistic approach because God really does provides resilience and relief as well as the greatest level of security, direction and fulfilment one could ever hope for." The General referred to his own experience in dealing with what he calls VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) and how the teachings of Christ had helped him to respond and counter VUCA with stability, certainty, simplicity and clarity. "God is the one solid rock in your life; his enduring and unchanging message of life and the certainty of salvation is what we need to grab hold of," he said. His journey to that point, he said, was not unusual. He was born in Wollongong and brought up Anglican, joined the army at 18 because he couldn't afford a tertiary education, went to Duntroon and "spent the first 12 months in an alcoholic haze, (something I'm trying to address now)". He met his wife, a Presbyterian, which led to his conversion -- "a hard road" -- and over time became an elder of the Church. He said there was "no great revelation" but "as I've been through many difficult times in my life, coming back to these touchstones has been critical". These hard times include service in Somalia, for which he was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross, the burden of speaking to the wives and families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and dealing with the release of a review of hundreds of allegations of sexual abuse in the defence forces over a 60 year period. He is adamant that the ADF cannot let the report define it. "The ADF is not an abusive organisation, it has a proud history...we have our faults like every organisation and every human being," he said. "But we are a bigger and better organisation than sometimes depicted." By Jenny Brinkworth Commanding faith INSPIRING: General Hurley at the Adelaide Convention Centre after his address to the annual Prayer Breakfast.