Australian Inland Mission
In 1912 John Flynn compiled a detailed report on the spiritual condition of the people, both Indigenous and European, of the Northern Territory and Central Australia. The General Assembly of Australia responded by establishing the Australian Inland Mission, with Flynn as Superintendent.
John Flynn (1880-1951) was born at Moliagul, Victoria, and was educated at government primary schools and the University High School in Melbourne. He became a pupil-teacher in the Education Department and developed a strong interest in photography. In 1903 he became a home missionary of the Presbyterian Church and served at Beech Forest in the Otway Ranges and Buchan in Gippsland. In 1907 he began studies at the Presbyterian Theological Hall in Melbourne and he was ordained as a minister in Adelaide in 1911. In the same year he joined the Smith of Dunesk Mission in the Flinders Ranges in South Australia. In 1912 he compiled a detailed report on the spiritual condition of the people, both Indigenous and European, of the Northern Territory and Central Australia. The General Assembly of Australia responded by establishing the Australian Inland Mission, with Flynn as Superintendent.
The Australian Inland Mission, which was responsible for the Northern Territory and the remote parts of South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland, began with one padre (Bruce Plowman), a nursing sister and a nursing hostel at Oodnadatta. In 1913 Flynn launched the illustrated magazine The Inlander. By 1918 he had established patrols at Oodnadatta, Port Hedland, Broome, Pine Creek and Cloncurry and nursing sisters at Oodnadatta, Port Hedland, Halls Creek, Maranboy and Alice Springs. In 1926 he persuaded Alfred Traeger to come to Alice Springs and develop the pedal radio. A radio station was installed at the Presbyterian Church at Cloncurry and pedal sets placed at homesteads and missions. In 1929 the Aerial Medical Service was established, operating from Cloncurry, and it was an instant success. It was transferred to the Australian Aerial Medical Service (later the Flying Doctor Service) in 1933.
In 1933 Flynn was made an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) and he was Moderator-General of the Presbyterian Church in 1939-42. He remained Superintendent of the AIM and in his last years he established a retirement home in Alice Springs and a holiday camp for Outback children in Adelaide. Following Flynn’s death in 1951, Fred McKay, who had been a patrol padre in the 1930s, was appointed Superintendent. Under his leadership, the AIM became a very large organisation, its influence extending to the new mining regions in the far north and west and even to Papua New Guinea. The John Flynn Memorial Church was opened in Alice Springs in 1956. McKay retired in 1974 and was succeeded by Max Griffiths.
Reverend John Flynn and the Australian Inland Mission
John Flynn’s associates
Frontier Services – The Australian Inland Mission today is known as Frontier Services : http://www.frontierservices.org/about-us/our-history
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