Focal Point exists to assist the community and to bring glory to God. Starting its life in Marysville as a resource centre, operating on behalf of the Marysville United Church, now renamed the Marysville Community Church. In those days it incorporated an op-shop, a lending library, a counselling room and it operated a community bus.
The vision was driven and initially managed by Graeme Dawson on behalf of the above church.
Some years after Graeme left Marysville, Focal Point ceased operation in that area. With permission of the Marysville church leadership it found new life in the Yarra Valley when Graeme started working voluntarily with twelve churches and the community on the Warburton Highway.
The Focal Point name is used to identify a range of ministries that Graeme is and was involved in.
The first areas of involvement were Combined Church outreach dinners, followed by Combined Church Celebration afternoons and monthly dinners for the leaders of the Churches and para-church groups.
Under Graeme's leadership and with his vision for unity among the churches, a Document of Unity was developed. (See Archives - Combined Churches )
Visits to schools then commenced with John Smith, Founder of the God Squad and his team, to work within schools for children, staff, principals and parents.
The outcome of these contacts led to the establishing of Chaplaincies in many of our Primary Schools of Victoria.
Graeme also started the Valley Care Counselling Service in 2002 and managed and counselled in it for thirteen years.
At that time the Kid's Hope one-on-one mentoring program, now operated out of the World Vision office, started in primary schools. Graeme became Chaplain at the Worawa Aboriginal College in 2002 for three years and he spent three years each Sunday morning on Yarra Valley FM local valley radio, hosting the Christian Experience Show, interviewing a wide range of people about their 'Christian Experiences'.
In 2006 Graeme was on the Shire of Yarra Ranges' Reconciliation committee and then was invited to sit on the Shire's Indigenous Advisory Committee and did so for a year - during that time he was part of formulating the Shire's Indigenous Policy (See Yarra Ranges site) - as a result of his work with Indigenous people he developed the Aboriginal Issues and Advocacy section of this site - now in Archives. Also the Primary Schools Indigenous Forum - an interactive and informative part of this website - for privacy reasons it has now been deleted.
After the devastating fires of early '09, Graeme worked with the Combined Churches of the Marysville/Triangle area for two years helping to support people in their brokenness and loss.
For the last fourteen years Graeme has been running the Manhood Group - "A Few Good Men". This developed from the counselling contacts.
Recently Graeme (Smokey) has been invited and given the privilege to become the Chaplain of the Silvan Football Club (EFL).
Focal Point's Mandate for Justice
Given Graeme's personal Manifesto for ministry and the general aims and values of the role and ministry of Focal Point, 'justice' will always be a key plank in the pathway trodden.
The Christian Bible will always be the ultimate guidebook.
The following are some important excerpts that form this mandate:
"This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor'."
Zechariah 7: 9-10
"Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts."
Amos 5: 15a
"Let justice roll on like a river, rightness like an everlasting stream."
Amos 5: 24
"But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always."
Proud to be Australian (Photos are not of Graeme)
Born in East Melbourne and growing up in Kew, a suburb of Melbourne Australia, Graeme was the first son of Kenneth and Isobel Dawson and eventually brother to David, Maxwell and Clifford. Ken's father came from Durham, England as a boy and Isobel's parents came from Hamilton, Scotland.
With more life behind than in front, Graeme feels like he is a lynch pin between a pioneer past and a new electronic world. He lived out his boyhood not unfamiliar with a horse drawn world. With the past filled with family, building, farming and property sales and investment experience, God in his mysterious way called him into a new field. He now spends his days as a counsellor, chaplain, church leader’s facilitator, preacher, part time renovator, gardener, and horse rider on the Bicentennial National Trail. Graeme endeavours to help people come to a more positive way of living through discovering aspects of themselves and others previously unknown. This healing that leads to wholeness is something that he believes is the work of the Spirit of God.
However, the smells of the chaff in the stable, the daily attending to his horses, bull dust at the cattle sales and the lilac buddleja in his garden still evoke wonderful memories of times past and things of value now.
As a cathartic experience Graeme is recording some of his rich and exciting times and will attempt to write about the painful experiences too.
It is hoped that as you travel with him you too will draw on the strength and hope that he has drawn on in his life guided by and sustained by his God.
He has included some photo images and Dorothea Mackellar's poem that he thinks illustrates just some of what he appreciates as Australian.
Graeme (Smokey) Dawson on bottom left
MY COUNTRY by Dorothea Mackellar
I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges, of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons, I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror- the wide brown land for me!
The stark white ring-barked forests, all tragic to the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains, the hot gold hush of noon,
Green tangle of the brushes where lithe lianas coil,
And orchids deck the tree-tops, and ferns the warm dark soil.
Core of my heart, my country! Her pitiless blue sky,
When, sick at heart, around us we see the cattle die -
But then the grey clouds gather, and we can bless again
The drumming of an army, the steady soaking rain.
Core of my heart, my country! Land of the rainbow gold,
For flood and fire and famine she pays us back threefold.
Over the thirsty paddocks, watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness that thickens as we gaze.
An opal-hearted country, a willful, lavish land -
All you who have not loved her, you will not understand -
Though earth holds many splendours, wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country my homing thoughts will fly.