African Enterprise’s Support Office in Australia has been active since 1975 but only became a legal entity from 14 March 1978. In April and May of that year Festo Kivengere and Michael Cassidy led the first major Australian ministry tour (“Bridgehead ‘78”) to Blakehurst and Miranda (southern suburbs of Sydney).
Warwick Olson effectively held the role of Executive Director of the Australian Office on a part-time basis from 1978 to 1989. Mike Woodall then took over from him in a fulltime capacity in May 1989 and served as the Executive Director until July 2008. During this time he also held the role of Chief Operating Officer for the whole of the African Enterprise Partnership (February 2005 to July 2008), and from August 2008 till February 2013 he took on this role solely. At this time (August 2008) Peter Cheel was invited to serve as Executive Officer of the Australian Office, which he did until March 2015.
Richard Eggington (April 2015 – Dec 2015); and Jeff Collett and Mike Woodall (Jan 2016 – July 2016) served as Interim Directors until Ben Campbell was appointed as Executive Director in August 2016, a position he still holds.
Michael Cassidy recalls some highlight memories from his many trips to Australia:
“A highlight memory which comes to mind was when we did a week-long mission to the people and parishioners of The Old Cathedral in Melbourne with Alan and Denise Nicholls and Maurice Lee. We were invited by the Governor, Sir Somebody Something (!), to Government House for a special luncheon. He had been in one of our mission meetings. And he showed us the table in their grand dining room which had been built at the time of Queen Victoria. When the Queen found out that this table was six inches longer than the one she had in Buckingham Palace, she insisted and ordered that some seven inches be cut off the end of the table so that hers was still the longest in the whole Commonwealth! The then Governor wrote back assuring her that this would be expeditiously done but then ensured that it was never done! So the Ozzie spirit was very active even back then!”
“So many memories of different sorts formed in our minds out of the many visits made to Australia, almost one a year at one stage in my life. What was particularly wonderful was the way so many Australian believers of all denominational backgrounds came on board to pray for and financially support our African Enterprise ministry. Under the wonderful leadership of Board Chairs such as the ever-energetic Warwick Olsen, Jungle Doctor Paul White, the theologically nimble David Hewetson, and the dedicated labours of Jonathan and Joan Addison, plus the indefatigable efforts of Mike and Jane Woodall, the Ozzie office rose to being the most effective and generous of all the Support Boards in our African Enterprise Partnership. The faithfulness of those Board members and the office team which also for years included that splendid Christian gentleman, Barry Berryman, stood out as a shining example of what an African Enterprise Support Board should be and could achieve.
“Something else was pretty special and that was the way the Australian government very generously for years on end supported our Aid and Development projects, particularly in East Africa. That meant a lot to us. The Australian Office now has a new set of Board and staff members, who continue to excel as a leading light in the African Enterprise ministry. We appreciate their ministry enormously, and we are very thankful for the very skilled leadership being given by Ben Campbell at this time.”