It has been a few months since our last statement was posted. These months have been filled with many meetings, discussions, and brainstorming, as we continue to evaluate and implement the feedback that we received last year.
For context, in 2019 we admitted a student onto a DTS who was awaiting trial on a sexual assault charge. We did so in communication with the relevant authorities and put in place boundaries to monitor the student closely throughout his three months with us. In our desire to come alongside anyone who wants to grow in their faith, we see now our decision lacked insight and we did not have full understanding of the impact it could have on others. In hindsight, we should have handled this situation differently and have since publicly apologised.
Although there were no incidents during the student’s time with us, a year after he left, we received feedback from some former staff and students who felt different areas of hurt, disappointment or misunderstanding related to their time with us.
We are grateful for each person who has reached out to share their experiences and perspectives with us and have carefully considered each piece of feedback we’ve received.
As we outlined in our October statement, we invited an external review to better help us reflect on potential areas for growth. We have also sought input from leaders within YWAM International, as well as leaders within the broader Body of Christ. Caring for our staff and students is a high priority and we always want to keep growing.
Meaningful change takes time, and we are committed to continue to reflect prayerfully and make thoughtful, strategic improvements.
One of the points of feedback was a need for training in how to respond when someone experiences mental health challenges. In response to this, we have partnered with a local counselling practice to offer regular mental health training for our staff and school and ministry leaders. The first training took place in December 2021 and the next is planned for May 2022. The aim is to give people more tools to care for their own mental health and for staff to offer appropriate, informed care as they come alongside others who are experiencing challenges with their mental health.
Another point of feedback was that some felt a distance between staff and base leadership, which made it harder to give open feedback. Our desire has always been to create a culture of open communication, open doors, and easy, approachable access to leadership. This happened organically in our early days, but as we’ve grown over the years, we have recognised the need to formalise more communication pathways for this. As much as possible, we would love to keep our internal communication personal and face-to-face, but where this is not possible, we are creating alternative avenues for people to share concerns through anonymous feedback options and third-party alternatives.
As YWAM Perth, we have sought input from beyond our own missions community since our early days. We are strengthened by the wisdom, experience, and perspective of other voices in the Body of Christ and YWAM International. This external accountability and connection have helped shape and guide us. We are now actively developing ways to formalise this value of external input, particularly within our leadership structures. We continue to seek God, hear feedback, and prayerfully consider what this will look like. We will keep you updated as we move forward.
We are deeply grateful to God for His faithfulness in this season. We are thankful for the voices of feedback, input, and support that we have received. Our desire is for Him to continue to shape us so that those we encounter would see Him clearly.
Peter and Shirley Brownhill
on behalf of the core leaders team
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