Publisher puts name to theological papers

August 21, 2014 by Brenton Stacey

New books get independent endorsement

Bianca Reynaud
Public relations assistant
Avondale College of Higher Education
Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

One of Australia’s largest publishers of theological literature has with Avondale published two books co-edited by academics at the college of higher education.

Avondale Academic Press books

Rob McIver and Ross Cole’s new books are co-published by the Australasian Theological Forum.

Biblical and Theological Studies on the Trinity is a selection of papers presented at a theological consultation on the doctrine of the Trinity at the head office of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific in 2008. It is co-edited by Associate Professor Rob McIver from the School of Ministry and Theology.

Rob’s colleague, Dr Ross Cole, co-edited Hermeneutics, Intertextuality and the Contemporary Meaning of Scripture. This book is also a selection of papers presented at a theological consultation, this one on hermeneutics—the science of interpretation—at Avondale in January 2003.

Between both books, Rob and Ross along with Avondale president Professor Ray Roennfeldt and Ellen G White Seventh-day Adventist Research Centre director Dr John Skrzypaszek contribute seven chapters. Other contributors include honorary senior research fellows Drs Graeme Bradford and the late Arthur Patrick and Drs Jon Paulien and Richard Rice from Loma Linda University.

“The discussion about the Trinity and hermeneutics has been ongoing and shows no sign of letting up,” says Rob, executive editor of Avondale Academic Press. “The chapters deal with the crucial lines of evidence and are written by authors who know the Australian movement.”

Having ATF Theology, an imprint of the Australasian Theological Forum, as co-publisher will give these authors a wider audience, including an international one, adds Rob.

The then field secretary for the church in the South Pacific, Dr Paul Petersen, sponsored the conferences and co-edited the books. His role as the church’s biblical and theological consultant gives the books further “gravitas,” says Rob.

Biblical and Theological Studies on the Trinity and Hermeneutics, Intertextuality and the Contemporary Meaning of Scripture ($34.95) are available with free shipping in Australia from the Avondale Online Store.

Clinical missionaries

August 21, 2014 by Brenton Stacey

Avondale students model in Solomons value of nursing

Bianca Reynaud
Public relations assistant
Avondale College of Higher Education
Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

A fifth annual visit by Avondale nurses to a hospital on Malaita in the Solomon Islands demonstrates to local students the value of the profession.

Nurses at Atoifi Adventist Hospital

Avondale students present a skit as part of a medication calculation session with nurses at Atoifi Adventist Hospital. Melissa Byrne played the role of the bad nurse who tries to cover up an medication incident.

A partnership between Atoifi Adventist Hospital and Avondale College of Higher Education saw nine final-year students from the Faculty of Nursing and Health return with lecturer Kerry Miller to the island, July 12-25.

The purpose of the trip: to serve as a clinical learning experience in a developing country and as an introduction to medical-focused mission.

The students served on all wards with those from the hospital’s School of Nursing. They assisted with the care of a boy with burns to more than 80 per cent of his body, diagnosed and treated outpatients with machete injuries, malaria and ulcerated wounds from insect or snake bites and observed the birth of babies.

“We all have great memories we’ll never forget,” says Brittany Charters. “And most importantly, great friendships.” Several of these formed around classmate Melissa Byrne’s guitar. “I asked the children if they’d like to sing and they all screamed, ‘Yes,’ so I started playing ‘Jesus Loves Me.’ All the children came over and started singing. They were so beautiful.”

Kerry describes the willingness of the students to build relationships with the staff members and students and the children on the hospital campus as “heartening.” It may even be career defining.

“Many students in the Solomons choose nursing as one of the limited post-secondary avenues for education and may not see nursing as their primary occupational goal,” she says. “By showing that the Avondale students have chosen nursing despite the plethora of alternatives available to them, the Atoifi students can gain a greater sense of the value of this kind of professional service.”

Life savers

August 14, 2014 by Brenton Stacey

Academic’s bacteria paper shows patient safety improving in hospitals

Brenton Stacey
Public relations officer
Avondale College of Higher Education
Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

A major reduction in the incidence of a hospital-acquired bacteria causing morbidity and mortality has saved 500 lives over the past 12 years.

Brett Mitchell

Brett Mitchell’s paper shows a significant reduction in the number of preventable deaths in Australia. Credit: Brenton Stacey.

The finding, published online in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases August 4, is based on a longitudinal study of Staphylococcus aureus in 132 Australian hospitals.

The bacteria is acquired through the poor management of intravascular devices, such as cannulas and drips. So improvements in hand hygiene, skin preparation and surgery management, for example, have decreased its annual incidence per 10,000 patient days from 1.72 in 2002 to 0.64 in 2013.

These figures equate to a mean reduction of 9.4 per cent each year or 2500 fewer cases—about 500 lives—over the duration of the study.

Lead author of the paper, Dr Brett Mitchell, a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Nursing and Health at Avondale College of Higher Education, describes the finding as a “robust” indicator of the quality of clinical practice. Staphylococcus aureus bacteremia “is one of the most important infections because it’s easily measured, consistently measured over a long time and correlated with patient care,” he says. As the first hospital-acquired infection to be nationally defined, “it’s also a performance indicator for hospitals.”

The paper is the first longitudinal multi-state and territory study of the infection in Australia. Limited communication between the states and territories had until 2006 a negative impact on coordination and understanding of infection prevention, says Brett. “No one wanted to report data because infections were high in hospitals but low on the political and public agenda.” Things changed when health ministers created the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care. “We began looking at all infections, not just specific organisms, identifying best practice and standardising that practice.”

The result, and another first for the paper: the finding of a significant reduction in both the methicillin-resistant and methicillin-susceptible strains of Staphylococcus aureus. “Other countries have seen a decrease in one strain; we’ve seen a decrease in both.

“People have died unnecessarily from this infection,” says Brett, “but what we as a healthcare sector can now say is we are significantly reducing the number of preventable deaths in Australia.”


August 14, 2014 by Brenton Stacey

What we learned from our study of development projects in Nepal

Joshua Page
Public relations assistant
Avondale College of Higher Education
Kathmandu, Nepal

Everest. Sherpas. The world’s only non-quadrilateral flag. The country: Nepal, of course. The nine Avondale College of Higher Education students who visited June 17-July 15 learned much more about this landlocked nation, though. Rough roads, raging rapids. Patriarchy, poverty. The caste system, climate change. And a vulnerable but proud people fighting for a better life.

Emma McCrow with manual sewing machine

A small business owner teaches Emma McCrow to use a manual sewing machine in Ghanjaripipal village, Nepal. Credit: Alexandra Radovan.

The trip served as the practical component of one of our international poverty and development studies units. We’d previously completed other units in the course and prepared extensively throughout first semester for the trip. During our month in Nepal, we traversed 19 of its 75 districts to visit 15 villages, all beneficiaries of Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) projects.

The field work took a different form from most short-term mission trips: we were monitoring and evaluating completed ADRA projects. It doesn’t sound as exciting as building a church or a school, and in some ways, it wasn’t. But as senior lecturer Brad Watson says, “It’s much harder engaging in a process where someone else is feeling like they’re the ones who ‘did it,’ and those foreigners were only tangental. As a feel-good activity, it doesn’t work as well as other experiences, but it is providing an important service.”

While the projects we evaluated were funded in Australia, our feedback would join a large body of research being presented to the British government’s UK Aid. The kicker: we could influence millions of dollars of humanitarian funding. “Take it seriously, because ADRA takes it seriously,” advised Simon Lewis, the ADRA Nepal country director at the time.

Throughout our travels, we found ourselves irresistibly drawn to the people of Nepal and their stories. Our translator, for example: a career woman in a patriarchal society. Malnourished eight-year-old twins overlooked in a reasonably prosperous village, and the challenge to provide help for them that would continue after we departed. Nepal’s only all-female adventure company, with glowing hope for the future. An ambitious young man soon to become the first person in his village to hold a tertiary degree. Another man who asked us to tell our government to stop polluting, as we were causing climate change in his village. A confident women’s group who excitedly told us that as microcredit programs gave them income, their husbands gave them respect.

These people are the real Nepal—no less a part of the country than the stones and snow of Everest. We went to help and were gratefully received. But we learned, too. We learned many fail to break the cycle of poverty because they simply lack the opportunity to do so. We learned to hope and to strive for a world where we can offer these opportunities to all.

Information superhighway

June 30, 2014 by Brenton Stacey

Avondale connects to national high-speed data network

Bianca Reynaud
Public relations assistant
Avondale College of Higher Education
Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

Avondale’s new connection to a national high-speed data network will increase its online capacity tenfold, provide better services and support collaboration between researchers.

AARNet fibre-optic cable

Avondale’s connection via fibre-optic cable to the Australian Academic and Research Network will increase online capacity tenfold.

The Australian Academic and Research Network (AARNet) is a not-for-profit company that operates the country’s National Research and Education Network. Its shareholders are 38 Australian universities and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

Connecting to AARNet is another step on our journey to university college status, says Simon Short, Avondale College of Higher Education’s chief information officer. He is referring not only to the community of AARNet end users, who number more than one million and include those at cultural institutions, health and other research organisations, schools and vocational training providers. The service provided to staff members and students will also improve.

The wide area network linking the Lake Macquarie campus in Cooranbong and the Sydney campus in Wahroonga and providing access to the Internet increases from 100 megabits per second via microwave to 1 gigabit per second via fibre-optic cable. “It just opens up the world,” says vice-president (research) Professor Tony Williams. “We now have the capacity to really innovate online.”

Services offered by AARNet such as cloud storage, global wireless network access and video conferencing will help achieve this.

The connection to AARNet is the most significant improvement to Avondale’s network since 2010. It comes on top of other recent improvements, including an upgrade to the wireless and to the fibre-optic network on both campuses.

In perhaps the best news for students, the connection also comes at a reduced cost. This means Avondale will from second semester this year abolish the fee students pay to access the Internet.

Students make ministry impact

July 21, 2014 by Brenton Stacey

Benefit local Seventh-day Adventist churches

Jarrod Stackelroth
Associate editor, Adventist Record
Adventist Media Network
Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

Local Seventh-day Adventist churches are benefiting from the placement of Avondale ministry and theology students in their congregations.

Theology student pray

Ministry and theology students at Avondale are taking what they learn on campus into local churches. Credit: Colin Chuang.

The students reported more than 1800 visits to church members, almost 1800 Bible studies, 1400 sermons, 1300 Sabbath school lessons and almost 300 evangelistic meetings between 2011 and 2013. They also reported having a “major influence” in more than 350 and a “minor influence” in almost 700 overseas baptisms.

“They’re making a significant difference through their practise of classroom learning in local churches,” says senior lecturer Dr Murray House.

Student-initiated series in Erina on the Central Coast and in Port Macquarie, Melbourne and Penrith have extended Avondale’s evangelistic influence outside of Lake Macquarie. Students are trained in door-to-door evangelism and practise this regularly throughout their course. Their delivery of The Search and the Beyond the Search DVD series contributed to the formation and the growth of the Blue Haven church plant on the Central Coast.

But the impact of their ministry goes beyond numerical success. “As students do ministry, they build their ministry identity and giftedness, increase their confidence and ultimately cement their God-given skills,” says Murray. He is in regular contact with ministers and elders who are seeking to place more students in their churches. “Practical learning allows theory to come to life and better prepares students for the realities of pastoral ministry.”

Hymns becomes broadcaster’s forum

June 23, 2014 by Brenton Stacey

Journalist Geraldine Doogue returns as compere in conversation

Bianca Reynaud
Public relations assistant
Avondale College of Higher Education
Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

Journalist and broadcaster Geraldine Doogue will talk about religion in Australia during a concert at Avondale celebrating the Christian tradition of hymn and song singing.

Geraldine Doogue

Geraldine Doogue will return as compere of Hymns and Songs of Praise but will also feature in conversation talking about religion and journalism in Australia.

Geraldine returns as compere for the seventh Hymns and Songs of Praise, which Avondale College of Higher Education will host on its Lake Macquarie campus in August. The host of ABC Radio National’s Saturday Extra and ABC Television’s Compass will also answer questions about religion and journalism in Australia during an extended interview halfway through the concert.

“Geraldine brings to Hymns and Songs a personal Christian commitment, a generous ecumenical spirit and several decades of experience in exploring the spiritual heart of Australian culture,” says senior theology lecturer Dr Lyell Heise. He is producing the concert with Valmai Hill in their roles as director and assistant to the director of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific’s Institute of Worship.

Backed by the Institute of Worship Orchestra and led by Avondale vocal ensemble The Promise and soloists Albert Mataafa and Marian Moroney, Hymns and Songs of Praise will be highly participative—the audience will serve as a massed congregational choir. The “energy and quality will far exceed what is normally possible in a local congregation,” says Lyell.

The concert will open with the premiere performance of prize-winning composer and local Cooranbong resident Blake Robinson’s composition “Sky Passage,” with Blake guest conducting the orchestra. Among the hymns and songs to follow are “The Old Rugged Cross” and “Softly and Tenderly.” Young Avondale alumnus and composer Benjamin Milis will also guest conduct a performance of his song “Worthy.” The similarly named, and popular, “Worthy Is The Lamb” closes the concert.

Inspired by the BBC Television program Songs of Praise, Hymns and Songs of Praise celebrates “the timeless music and lyrics that continue to inspire Christians” and “the contemporary expressions of praise that are a tribute to the ongoing creativity of Christians in the worship community,” says Lyell. Offering praise to God in a musical form is also biblical, with Avondale Conservatorium director and The Promise artistic director Aleta King noting the Bible’s use of psalms and songs. “Understanding and celebrating our spiritual roots strengthens us in our identity and purpose for the future,” she says.

The Institute of Worship first presented Hymns and Songs of Praise in 2005. Lyell and his colleagues have since taken the concert, and the orchestra, to every mainland state in Australia and, this year, to Auckland and Papatoetoe in New Zealand.

Hymns and Songs of Praise with Geraldine Doogue, Avondale College Seventh-day Adventist Church, Saturday, August 23, 2014, 7-9 pm. $20 (single), $15 (concession/student), $40 (family—two adults and two or more school-age children).

Lady Elle’s homecoming

May 28, 2014 by Brenton Stacey

Concert to welcome back musical icon

Alexandra Radovan
Public relations intern
Avondale College of Higher Education
Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

A concert to welcome home a long serving and refurbished musical icon will celebrate the return of a piano Avondale was never supposed to have.

Claire Howard Race and Lady Elle

Claire Howard Race will perform Beethoven’s Choral Fantasia with Avondale Singers and Avondale Chamber Orchestra at the welcome home concert for Lady Elle. Credit: Colin Chuang.

Lady Elle will be officially named during Avondale Conservatorium’s Welcome Home! concert in Avondale College Seventh-day Adventist Church this Saturday (May 31). The Yamaha 9-ft concert grand piano returned from a refurbishment this past summer that included a restring, a paint, a polish and the replacement of all wearable action parts—including keys.

The name, Lady Elle, is a subtle reference to American pianist and vocalist Liberace, who used the piano during his last Australian tour in 1973. But how did she end up at a college of higher education in Cooranbong?

Dr Lynden Rogers, a senior lecturer in physics, remembers the story. Shipping issues had delayed delivery of a much smaller piano for Avondale College’s annual choir concert in 1974. A piano had been promised, though, so a piano—Lady Elle—was delivered. Apparently, no one could deny her beauty and the Avondale community rallied to raise the further $3000 to buy the piano. Lynden says he will forever wonder if the story was just a cunning ploy by distributors to make a bigger sale.

Lady Elle has now been a part of college life for 40 years. “She’s invaluable and irreplaceable,” says Avondale Conservatorium director Aleta King. To ensure Lady Elle’s longevity, plans are now to implement an access management system beginning in second semester.

Welcome Home! will feature a performance of Beethoven’s Choral Fantasia by pianist Claire Howard Race, Avondale Singers and Avondale Chamber Orchestra. Avondale Conservatorium’s other ensembles will also perform as will five of its high distinction students.

Concert: Welcome Home!, Saturday, May 31, 2014, Avondale College Seventh-day Adventist Church, 7.30 pm.

BaRK a child’s best friend

May 28, 2014 by Brenton Stacey

Lecturer’s research gives bite to canine assisted literacy program

Brenton Stacey
Public relations officer
Avondale College of Higher Education
Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

The story behind an Avondale lecturer’s first-of-its-kind paper about a canine-assisted literacy program is published today in an inspirational book.

Child reading to dog

Barbara Fisher hopes her study, which features in a new book, will raise awareness of the educational benefits of canine assisted literacy programs. Credit: Lake Mac Libraries.

A study by Barbara Fisher investigated the effectiveness of BaRK (Building Reading Confidence for Kids), which sees a child read one-on-one to a trained therapy dog. The subject of the study: a disengaged nine-year-old called Zack.

Zack would read four stories to a labradoodle called Flash at the Toronto branch of Lake Macquarie City Council’s Lake Mac Libraries each week. After eight weeks, Zack’s reading accuracy improved by 11 months and his reading comprehension by 12 months. “I thought, That’s got to be a one-off,” says Barbara, a senior lecturer in the School of Education. She re-tested Zack 12 months later. “He’d retained all his gains.”

Barbara asked Zack why he found it easier to read to a dog. His response: “I don’t feel intimidated because it’s harder to speak to someone who actually talks back when you make a mistake.”

The location of the program, which is away from home and school, also helps remove peer pressure and stress, says Lac Mac Libraries’ lifelong learning officer Julie Dunn. “The dogs love to listen and provide attention and acceptance without judgement, and their calming nature provides an environment of emotional support.”

Zack and Flash now feature in the book, Dogs that Make a Difference: Inspiring stories of dogs that bring hope, help and healing to people’s lives, which is published today by Penguin Books Australia. Barbara re-tells Zack’s story in a chapter called “A BaRKing good idea.” All royalties from the sale of the book support Delta Society Australia, a not-for-profit organisation providing animal-assisted therapy.

Barbara’s paper, which she wrote with honorary senior research fellow Dr Merle Cozens, is published in the most recent issue of the journal, Literacy Learning: the Middle Years. It is the first in Australia to study from an educational perspective the effectiveness of a canine assisted literacy program.

“Parents and teachers had been telling us that children participating in the program demonstrated improvement in reading fluency, phonics and comprehension,” says Julie. “With Barbara’s research, we now have quantified evidence to show BaRK works on multiple levels.”

Barbara hopes her research will raise awareness of the programs in general. “BaRK gives children who struggle with reading and have become disengaged another alternative to improving their reading skills.”

Launch: Dogs that Make a Difference, Lake Mac Libraries, Toronto branch, Tuesday, August 12, 2014, 10.30 am.

Contact Julie Dunn, lifelong learning officer, Lake Mac Libraries, for more information.

PhD shows health benefits of CHIP

May 22, 2014 by Brenton Stacey

And will give Avondale its second doctoral graduate

Brenton Stacey
Public relations officer
Avondale College of Higher Education
Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

A 30-day lifestyle intervention delivered by volunteer facilitators in their communities significantly improves the health of participants, research by an Avondale PhD student shows.

Paul Rankin

Paul Rankin will become Avondale’s second PhD graduate.

Dr Paul Rankin examined the low-fat, plant-based Coronary Health Improvement Program (CHIP). He based his thesis on a study of 5070 people who participated in one of 178 CHIP interventions delivered by volunteers in Canada and the United States between 2006 and 2009.

He found two things.

The first: CHIP can be effectively presented by “appropriately resourced” volunteers in a community setting rather than by professionals in a clinical setting. “If you’ve got a personal connection with someone, you’ll have a bigger impact on their life,” says Paul.

The second: Regardless of age, body weight, family history, gender, marital status or religious affiliation, participants lowered their risk of metabolic syndrome (MetS)—a cluster of factors that lead to chronic diseases. Paul: “I can now stand up when I train CHIP facilitators and say, ‘We know that by running this program, you will be making a difference to people’s lives.’”

Paul experienced this personally before beginning his research—he has lost 35 kilograms since making CHIP lifestyle changes in 2005. “Adopting a much healthier diet and getting more exercise made a dramatic difference—my quality of life and my risk factors for MetS improved,” he says.

The PhD will leave another legacy, too. It has helped establish credibility for CHIP in the medical community—Paul is co-author of six journal articles, with the American College of Lifestyle Medicine describing one in the American Journal of Cardiology as “some of the most impressive recorded clinical changes ever.”

Paul is the second student to graduate with a PhD from Avondale—René Gehring became the first in 2011—but the first to begin and end the degree at the college of higher education. He has become “great mates” with his supervisor, Dr Darren Morton, a senior lecturer in health and exercise science in the School of Education. Darren’s even encouraged Paul to take up hang-gliding.

While conferred, Paul will receive his testamur at graduation this year.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific has relaunched CHIP, developed in the United States by Dr Hans Diehl’s Lifestyle Medicine Institute. The Complete Health Improvement Program is now under the leadership and management of Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing in Australia.