Why equip and connect CMDFA members? – Dr Ross Dunn AM


from Luke’s Journal 2020 | #CMDFAlyf | Vol. 25 No. 1

In this brief article we will look at an overview of the Equip and Connect Training day, reflecting on its current role and future directions.

What is the day about?

“E and C” is an annual training day initiated and organised by the national board of CMDFA. The aim of the day is to do exactly as the title says – to “equip” and “connect”.

Who is it for?

While the training day is open to any CMDFA member, the target group includes individuals on the national board, state and regional committee members, and student representatives.

Why “Connect”?

Compared to say the UK, Australia is very large and sparsely populated. It becomes difficult in a small national organisation such as CMDFA to feel a sense of oneness as a national family. A member in Perth finds it difficult to feel connected to those in Sydney, and those in Townsville may not even feel connected to Brisbane, and so on.

At its very core, CMDFA is relational – a family of Christians from across the country. It is therefore imperative that the leadership reflects that in its structuring and setting up of programmes – a culture of relational activity needs to be modelled from the national board down. At a practical level, we are brothers and sisters in Christ. When we deal with each other at an organisational level we should, as a family, do so in Christian love, knowing who the person is and what they are like. The stronger the fellowship bonds are between individuals, the better and more God- glorifying our organisational bonds will be.

Connectedness is in our basic DNA, and in this vast land it takes structure to achieve this.

Why “Equip”?

Why do we see the need to equip our state regional and student leadership teams? To answer this we look to the role of the national board as the servant leadership of CMDFA.

“The stronger the fellowship bonds are between individuals, the better and more God-glorifying our organisational bonds will be.”

The national board obviously exists to fulfill legal and other obligations that allow CMDFA to exist as an organisation. Our primary role, however, is to lead by casting a high and wide vision nationally for CMDFA. Having done that, our secondary role is to provide resources, support and back up for all of our leadership teams so that they can better run local groups, each in unique ways that suits their groups.

So we equip CMDFA leaders and provide resources to fulfill a common vision.

The 2019 programme

“E and C” has been running for over 10 years now but over recent years attendance has dropped, due to work and life pressures. A huge effort was put into the 2019 training day to bolster attendance. This was imperative as over 50% of the national board and state leadership were new to their office. Thus, a large “connect” component was organised to meet and build bridges between various national and state members.

The “equip” element includes:

• Governance and legal implications, eg. legal guidelines for medicos in sharing their faith

• Finances, eg. the financial position of CMDFA, relations between national and state funds, and the new pledge system

• Discussing a recently signed Memorandum of Understanding with the Nurses Christian Fellowship Australia (NCFA), and how to implement it at a local level

• Planning for Luke’s Journal to change format from print to online. This was discussed in the broader context of upgrading the CMDFA website, planning and integrating IT platforms and including the various Facebook groups.

• An open forum to discuss state-specific issues, where each state was asked to prepare a report that was shared beforehand.

• Discussing the new CMDFA ethics group, its structures and functions

This was a huge day with a lot of ground covered. It was only possible as all attendees did a lot of work before and after the training day. While the efforts resulted in a very successful day, I still have concerns for the long-term viability of this model. It is essential that we have structures and programmes to help the leadership “Equip and Connect” but we may need to look at new ways to achieve the outcomes for which the training day was set up.

To the future

One suggestion has been to combine the event with the CMDFA Vision Conference for student leaders. As Vision Conference is basically about equipping and connecting student leaders, it would not be difficult to combine the two events. This could be an efficient and effective way of providing equipping and connecting to the whole spectrum of the CMDFA family, from students, to graduates and beyond.

As our CMDFA family breadth continues to grow (including our fellowship alongside nurses and a whole range of allied health personnel), achieving “E and C” within these diverse groups needs further consideration. Other ways of achieving the desired outcomes include using reliable technology to facilitate effective fellowship “connections” across Australia. Work is also occurring to consider how “equipping” can be achieved using IT platforms, such as podcasts and webinars.

In conclusion

For the past 10 years “E and C” training day has played a core role in CMDFA leadership activities. It is part of a wider range of strategies that the national board engages in, in order to fulfill the dual roles of leading and serving its members. The aim to equip and train is still core to CMDFA, as is the goal to remain a connected and relational Christian healthcare family. The methods used will need to be reviewed from time to time to ensure that efficiency, effectiveness and relevance are also achieved in a changing landscape.

Finally, I would like to thank those who saw the need for “E and C” more than 10 years ago. In their wisdom, they saw that across our vast continent, CMDFA needed to remain connected as one national family, and not simply a whole lot of disconnected splinter groups.

Dr Ross Dunn AM is a General Dentist who has recently retired from the CMDFA board (8 years) and as national chair (3.5 years). The national board plans and runs Equip and Connect Training annually.

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