Integrate faith and work urges award winner

Dr Wilma Gallet wins 2017 Ridley College Faith and Work award winner

By Chris Shearer

June 13 2017It’s not hard to see why Dr Wilma Gallet was the 2017 recipient of the Ridley College Faith and Work Award, presented on May 12. She’s worked with the Salvation Army for many years, including as the founding CEO of its Employment Plus job seeking program. She’s served on a range of government committees and forums, including both the National Council of Drugs and Welfare Reform Consultative Forum. She’s also spent the past 12 years as a social policy consultant for Christian organisations, and somehow managed to find the time to complete a PhD at the University of Melbourne on how government funding impacts on the mission, the values and the behaviour of church-related organisations.

“Wilma has a passion for social justice, and a passion enabling Christians, as individuals and organisations, to be salt and light,” Chair of the Melbourne Anglican Social Responsibilities Committee, The Revd Dr Gordon Preece, said as he introduced Dr Gallet during the award dinner. “Wilma is one who’s displayed a Christ-like character across that wide range of areas.”

Watch Dr Gallet's full address


Dr Gallet said she was humbled by the award, whose previous recipients include former Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson, The Age religion editor Barney Zwartz, and women’s leadership mentor Wendy Simpson OAM.

“I don’t know if I am worthy of such an award, but I am grateful for the opportunities that I’ve had over the years to work with very many church groups… and faith based organisations over the past 20 years or so.”

Dr Gallet’s address, entitled ‘We don’t do God!’ Keeping Christian organisations Christian, which drew its name from a famous line uttered by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s press secretary Alastair Campbell, focused on the difficulties faced by some organisations in celebrating their Christian heritage, and the risk of mission and identity drift as Christian organisations take on multiple identities.

“Not only is the dominance of faith-based organisations under challenge, so I think are those distinctive attributes, those defining characteristics that have marked Christian organisations as unique, are also under threat,” she said.

“Integrating faith and work should matter to Christians… Just as individual Christians are called to reflect the Gospel in our daily lives and carry out God’s mission in the world, the work of faith-based welfare organisations needs to be acknowledged as God’s mission, and it shouldn’t be compromised.”

Watch the Revd Dr Gordon Preece's opening address at the 2017 Faith and Work Award dinner