Home - Claire Moore - Labor Senator for Queensland

ADJOURNMENT: Youth with a Mission: Medical Ships Australia

Senator MOORE (Queensland) (21:30): This evening I want to talk about a wonderful group of people who offer services to communities across the world. Youth with a Mission, which people call YWAM-which I have some trouble with-is a Christian charity which has operated across the world for about 30 years now. It is a Christian movement operating in more than 1,000 locations in over 180 countries, with 25,000 full-time staff, and it has been operating since 1960. It is a decentralised structure and actually encourages local community networks through nations to form their own process.

What I want to talk about this evening is Townsville-based YWAM medical ships. This organisation has been running out of Townsville since the 1990s and has operated as a process to provide services to Papua New Guinea. It is based on a structure of building to 'care, connect, serve and build with individuals and communities'. It values people's motivation to work together to develop change and has a range of goals: access to quality health care, food, drinking water and shelter; opportunity for education; expression of local culture, arts and entertainment; healthy relationships; exposure to Christian faith and values; fair and productive government; and an opportunity to work and develop. You would understand that many of those echo the intent of the Millennium Development Goals. We are coming to an end of that process now, but they have key work in working together to develop the best possible communities.

YWAM is actively developing communities by addressing health care and training needs in Papua New Guinea alongside the priorities and vision of the PNG National Health Plan and Australia's commitment to the UN's Millennium Development Goals. We have a large medical ship which actually operates as a base for the group, which does trips into Papua New Guinea, providing the services there. We hope that the wonderful history that has been in place for the period will continue.

The first services operated in February 2010, when they had a 16-port relations tour along the east coast of Australia. This was replicated earlier this year with the celebration of the launch of the new ship, which is going to provide enhanced services in the area. The idea is to raise awareness of the services, engage people, and make people see that they can genuinely make a difference to community.

The MV Pacific Link under, YWAM MSA management, made its maiden voyage to PNG in August 2010. They had a three-month pilot program in the Gulf Province. In 2011, it continued with enhanced programs-2012. And in 2014 it has seen the growth pattern continue, with training and medical ship outreaches to all major areas of Gulf Province and Western Province, also working effectively and very strongly with the local community.

Each year the organisation puts out a stunning annual report. As always, not only does it create knowledge and have a range of statistics, but also it has the most amazing photographs which capture in an immediate way the joy and commitment of the people receiving the services and also of those providing them. I really do encourage people to go on to their website and have a look at this stunning process, showing real community work.

Just a couple of stats-I can't do a speech without putting some stats in-in 2014, and this is from a long list of health interventions that were made, there were: 9,109 primary healthcare patients; 9,833 immunisations, an integral part of the process working locally; and 2,960 in dentistry, an enhanced program that is working.

Whilst the new ship travelled down the east coast earlier this year, there was an encouragement for people who came to visit the ship to see what it was all about. Over 18,000 people did that down along the east coast of Australia. People were encouraged to bring along toothpaste, toothbrushes and things that could work effectively, and they would see that the value of their gift would actually have an impact on providing dental hygiene through these remote areas of PNG.

There were 2,810 health interventions in optometry, and 109 in ophthalmology. They held local health promotion sessions, and 36,167 people attended those. They provided professional development, working with local professionals to develop and raise skills so that this work can continue after the ship moves on, and 889 people attended. And preventative health resources, information that can be taken into the community, were distributed to over 19,000. The total for 2014 of services in the medical field for YWAM ships was 81,759.

Another area that I am particularly interested in-and I have spoken in this place before on-is the issue of water and sanitation. There is a particular focus with the group there working technically to fix taps and tanks and to ensure that there is effective drinking water in local communities. There were 359 special activities in this area, and that meant that 175,000 litres of water were put on tap through collaborative projects. Those numbers are truly impressive, and they reinforce the value of this great program.

There is a very special relationship with Townsville and this service, and the YWAM team now have got their base in Townsville at the beautiful old TAFE building in the centre of town, where they actually focus their work and train volunteers to be involved in the projects. And all the workers are volunteers-people who give up their time to be involved.

There is a great link with the local media, the Townsville Bulletin. I have a copy here of a special story they put in the paper on 14 July 2015, which talks about Angeline, a little girl living in Woodlark, a remote community halfway between Papua New Guinea's main island and the Solomon Islands. This little girl fell out of a tree and badly broke her arm, but she was particularly fortunate because the YWAM ship was close. She was able to get effective, professional service straight away so that her arm would be dressed and the bone would be set and she would be able to continue without any ongoing problems with her arm. That is focused on in the Townsville Bulletin so that people there can see their involvement with YWAM at work.

I particularly want to mention my friend Mike Reynolds, an old friend who was both the mayor and state member for the Townsville region, who is now one of the co-patrons of YWAM. There are two co-patrons-Mike, with his long history of public service in Queensland and also part of the group that originally made Townsville a sister city with the capital of New Guinea, and the other co-chair is the Rt. Hon. Sir Rabbie Namalui, a former Prime Minister of PNG. These two gentlemen, with a history of public service, have come together to be the co-patrons of the organisation, providing credibility to this process because the vision of YWAM is working effectively with the country where they are providing service, being linked into the political and medical programs and signing memoranda of understanding with both the national government and the local provincial governments so that this link is entrenched.

It is exciting the YWAM has been able to move onto a larger ship. I was one of the 18,000 people who went onto the ship earlier this year when it stopped in Brisbane. To see this wonderful ship, which is now being transformed into a moving medical base, was a real excitement and an inspiration for the future work we can do together.

YWAM has been acting in this way for over 30 years. I am pleased that the Australian government provides support for our development program because this is indeed what development should be about-investing in communities so that they can be stronger and know that they have a better future and can build on skills. I have the front page of the 2014 annual report in my office. It is a stunning photograph of a little girl in Papua New Guinea with a hand on her shoulder-I would think it is one of her parents-and they are clutching her health record. This young child now has the opportunity to have strong medical support, an immunisation program and there is hope for her future. That photograph sums up, I believe, the commitment of YWAM, the program which has been so successful and one which I think will continue. I wish all the volunteers well, and the extraordinarily strong group of directors who work on this project and the people across Australia who donate to keep the program operating. When you see the face of a child who now has a strong, healthy future, that is what makes the program worthwhile.