Empowering women locally and abroad
By David Schout
In late March, Rev. Ann Drummond was due to be formally inducted as a Member of the Order of Australia, a prestigious honour limited to just 365 Australians each year.
Instead, the Victoria Harbour resident found herself quarantined inside her apartment after returning home from Fiji, where she had completed another period of charity work.
Of course, the ceremony - like almost all other events in Melbourne and indeed the world amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic - was cancelled.
Yet amid everything going on, Rev. Drummond said the current sense of community being displayed in the local area was commendable.
While she was being looked after with groceries and essential items from her husband, she noted that the owners’ corporation (OC) of her building had organised volunteers to buy essentials for those who didn’t have such support.
“It’s great to see,” she said, speaking on the phone with Docklands News from her apartment in Dock 5.
“The people inside our building are friendly and very open, it’s a great community.”
Rev. Drummond was first recognised on Australia Day with the AM, for “significant service to the Uniting Church in Australia, and to women”.
Her work with the YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association), of which she is a life member, has seen her travel to countries like Mongolia, China and Fiji to empower women, particularly survivors of domestic violence.
She travels to Fiji at least once a year, fostering counselling and prevention services, and training women to be frontline advocates in their local communities.
“It’s a fabulous organisation in that sense, linking women all over the world,” Rev. Drummond said.
It was during a trip to Fiji last year that volunteers within the organisation started nominating her for the award, which she admitted was a real surprise.
She said while voluntary work is never about the acknowledgement, it was nice to be honoured.
“I guess it’s a recognition of the work that I’ve done, and probably an appreciation of it. You don’t do all this work in order to be recognised - it’s a bit of a bonus I suppose. Most of the work I’ve done is work I’ve felt I could contribute to, and make some kind of change in the system or conditions for women. I guess it’s a nice thank you.”
The award also recognised her work with the Uniting Church, of which she been a minister for 40 years.
Since the early 2000s she has also been on the sexual misconduct complaints panel - which she would later chair - for complaints made by adult parishioners against the clergy.
And while the position is wrought with difficulty and sensitivity, the responsibility to be thorough in each case is one she has excelled in.
“It’s not the most popular role within the church,” she conceded.
Rev. Drummond has lived in Docklands for four years, and since moving in has never understood why the area isn’t more popular.
“I love Docklands, and I like being close to everything. In Victoria Harbour you’re close to the library, the post office, to Woolworths, the chemist, the doctors - all these things are on your doorstep. And then the city is just a free tram ride away.”
“People always say ‘oh you live in Docklands?’ like you’re a bit odd (laughs) but I think people have no idea the benefits of living here. It’s busy during the week and nice and quiet on the weekends … it’s a great place in retirement, but not even that, if you work in the city it’s a great place to be home within 20 minutes.” •