December Greetings from St Bart's

Introducing St Bart's inaugural Patron

Just as we all welcomed in the new year, along with it came a huge first for St Bart’s as we appointed our inaugural Patron - former Vietnam veteran and State and Federal Parliamentarian, Graham Edwards AM.

Mr Edwards' appointment was celebrated at a small event at the beautiful Queen’s Gardens attended by John Carey MLA representing Community Services Minister Simone McGurk, Deputy Lord Mayor Sandy Anghie representing Perth Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas, St Bart’s Chair Mel Ashton and others, and began with a moving Welcome to Country by Uncle Ben Taylor and Aunty Mingli McGlade.
“Graham Edwards is deeply respected and credible and from all side of politics…so you have a Patron and an organisation that share the same values, and the value that I see they share is an incredible belief in people, regardless of the person’s circumstances,” said Mr Carey.

Councillor Anghie said: “I can’t think of a better person to be a Patron. St Bart’s is an iconic and valuable organisation for the people of Perth.” 
In his speech Graham highlighted the key role of mateship amongst fellow Australians and the simple act of people helping each other as we face significant issues in our community. 

Referring to the Aussie ballad Waltzing Matilda being about a homeless man, Graham said:
“We don’t have swagmen or people jumping into billabongs now but we do have a lot of homeless people who turn to organisations like St Bart’s. They are vulnerable people and they are not waiting for handouts, they are simply people looking for a passage through a difficult time.”
He urged governments of all levels to continue to support the sector and not react hastily to attempts by others to politicise the important issue of homelessness.

Graham also praised the staff he met during his tours of services over the past few weeks. He told Perth’s WestLive radio in his first interview as Patron that the staff he had met were deeply compassionate and committed people. 
“I want to help St Bart’s and the sector generally give the greater story to the broader community as to what is happening and the needs of the people they are servicing,” he said.

“As Patron, Graham’s proven commitment towards helping people through his various government and community roles will assist St Bart’s to continue to support people experiencing, or at risk of homelessness, by raising the profile and awareness of St Bart’s, and of homelessness generally,” said St Bart’s Chair Mel Ashton.
You can read more about Graham here, and have a listen to his recent interview with Ben O’Shea on West Live about tent city and homelessness in WA here.

Everyday hero named Community Citizen of the Year

Dedicating more than 20 hours per week to any number of volunteering activities, Mark Piggott’s face is a familiar one for many St Bart’s staff, residents and clients.

And now, we are delighted to announce that Mark’s tireless efforts were officially recognised by the City of Perth when he received the Citizen of the Year Award on January 26. 

Mark’s win is also an opportunity to showcase St Bart’s volunteer program to the community, which has delivered more than 5,000 hours (or 200 days) of volunteer time since July 2020. 

Mark’s work includes providing emotional support to elderly residents, cooking breakfast and making coffees twice weekly, supervising volunteer activities including painting, gardening and mulching, and supporting the Christmas appeal. 

Mark said he was surprised and honoured to receive the award, but doesn’t like all of the attention.
“I find helping others very rewarding and hope my actions, however small, can potentially have a long-lasting effect and impact, making the moment better for St Bart’s clients and residents.” 
St Bart’s Volunteer Coordinator Warren Nel said Mark has made a measurable impact on the lives of St Bart’s clients and residents, going above and beyond to help them on their recovery journey. 
“Mark plays an integral part in every volunteering activity undertaken at St Bart’s,” said CEO Samantha Drury. “His dedication, commitment and determination to helping our clients and residents is truly commendable.”
Mark’s efforts were also acknowledged by Premier Mark McGowan and Minister for Community Services Hon. Simone McGurk MLA when they visited St Bart’s in December.

A note from our CEO 

What a start to 2021 we’ve had. On 13 January I celebrated my first year anniversary as St Bart’s CEO. Beginning my post here just prior to the worldwide changes that COVID-19 brought about, there was certainly a feeling of déjà vu as we once again went back into lockdown recently. I was very proud of the way that all St Bart’s employees quickly adapted and showed up each day during lockdown, masks intact, to provide the support that is so vital to the people in our services.

The lockdown once again highlighted the vulnerability of those without a roof over their head and how critical it is that, as a community, we work together to ensure everyone has a safe and secure place to call home. 

Many of you will be aware of the proposed final cut to the JobSeeker payment at the end of March this year, which was put into place in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, and it is something that raises concerns for St Bart’s and others in the homelessness sector. We currently have more than 20 women waiting to secure a place at our Women’s Service, which is funded by philanthropists, and our other services are at capacity. Once the JobSeeker cut comes into effect we see these numbers being exacerbated. For more information on this, refer to the story on the JobSeeker cuts further on in this newsletter.

While we prepare for this increased need for our services, we’re also very excited for the year ahead as we collaborate with government on strategies that work towards our goals. 

We are also extremely honoured to welcome our very first Patron, Graham Edwards, into the St Bart’s family. 

Graham is an inspirational Western Australian, having endured significant trauma during the Vietnam War, only to continue living his life in a way that serves those less fortunate in our society.

Graham has visited our range of services and has already been busy supporting St Bart’s in raising awareness about what we do and how together, with government, our sector and the community, we will continue to strive towards ending homelessness.

Just before Christmas, St Bart’s Board endorsed our Strategic Plan for 2021-2025, and we are now working hard to ensure that as a business we have the plans in place to achieve the ambitious goals we have set ourselves. As we move ahead, we look forward to sharing our detailed plan with our supporters and all key stakeholders.

As the social housing shortage in Perth was again thrust into the spotlight due to the emergence of Fremantle’s tent city, I was interviewed on 25 January by Ben O’Shea on WestLive. Feel free to have a listen here

Thank you for your continued support, and we look forward to strengthening our relationship with you in 2021.

Samantha Drury
St Bart's CEO   

Fires and snakes not enough to shake Swan team’s spirit

The staff at St Bart’s Swan Community Recovery Village, which accommodates and supports people working through mental health challenges and at risk of experiencing homelessness, were on high alert recently. Not only were they dealing with the lockdown like the rest of St Bart’s staff and services, but also preparing to evacuate 25 residents as the Wooroloo fires inched closer to the area.

Residents and staff were ready move at a minute’s notice, but thankfully for all the phone call to leave never came.

Just as they settled in for the evening on Tuesday night, an alert staff member heard loud noises from a normally quiet unit and went to check. It turned out the visitor was a dangerous dugite that had curled up in the unit, probably to seek safe haven from the bushfires.

At midnight, Mick, the local snake catcher and employee with the WA Reptile Park, arrived to remove the unwelcome visitor.

The end of the week was also eventful for the service with a resident accidentally causing a fire while cooking – he is safely housed at our Bentley Community Recovery Village while repairs are undertaken on his unit.
“It was a hectic week but everyone rose to the occasion, and it was a real team effort. We all had the DFES site on our phones checking for updates and we monitored and checked in with residents throughout the day,” Swan manager Wanda Davies said.
“The fire at the end of the week was a shock but we were all in the psychological head space to deal with a fire. One team member looked after the resident, while one attended to the fire, another directed the emergency services and another stopped the fire alarm which was alerting other residents. It was a really positive model of teamwork.”
Wanda added that the fire service and ambulance arrived quickly and the resident was kept in hospital overnight and is healing well.

WACD grant sparking bright futures

Six-year-old *Timothy’s smile is one that lights up every room he enters. So it is hard to imagine that he knows what it feels like to not have a safe and secure place to sleep at night.

Timothy and his mum were unable to afford a private rental and, having very little in the way of a support network, found themselves homeless. Feeling unsafe having to sleep on the couches of people they hardly knew, they moved to St Bart’s Family Service last year and we are now supporting Timothy and his mum to find long-term housing in the community.

And, thanks to WA Charity Direct’s (WACD) generous Education, Training & Employment grant available to St Bart’s clients, Timothy’s mum could buy a brand new school uniform, helping him to settle into his new school feeling very proud. It has also enabled his mum to enrol in a TAFE course with the hope of gaining employment in the Community Services area. 

We can’t wait to see these two continue on their journey to a bright and safe future!

WACD provides valuable funding to support a range of St Bart’s services and activities:
  1. Starter Pack - to help consumers move on from St Bart’s services into independent accommodation.
  2. Café Lime – contributing to the purchasing of consumables such as coffee, tea, milk and more so that St Bart’s can offer a breakfast service to consumers twice a week.
  3. Education / Training / Employment Pack – for any consumer at St Bart’s to access for the purpose of gaining education and skills for the next stage of their life.

Services brace for JobSeeker payment cuts

A new poll of services across the Anglicare Australia Network reveals 100 per cent agreement amongst respondents that cuts will see many more people in need of help.

There is no doubt that the raised rate of JobSeeker and related payments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 provided great relief for many Australian’s at a time of such uncertainty. 
“People were lifted out of poverty overnight. Our clients told us they could finally feed their families, pay the rent, and plan for their future without making devastating trade-offs,” said Anglicare Australia Executive Director, Kasy Chambers.
However, the JobSeeker payment has already seen two cuts since the Federal Government’s Coronavirus Supplement came into effect in April 2020, from $557.85 to $357.85 per week, with a final proposed cut on March 31 2021 leaving recipients with $282.85 per week.
“With wage subsidies coming to an end, more people will be surviving on JobSeeker. A cut in March will plunge them into poverty – at a time when they should be planning their recovery,” Kasy said.
The Government is expected to make a decision about the JobSeeker payment this week.

Support that spans the decades

It’s been 60 years since prominent Perth architect Robin Arndt and St Bart’s forged a relationship in the 1960s, and there are no signs of it slowing down! 

Robin Arndt’s involvement with St Bart’s began before the organisation was officially operational. During his time with the Youth Group at St George's Cathedral, they opened up on Sunday afternoons to give those in need a sandwich and tea. Robin also gathered the homeless from under the Narrows and Causeway bridges and took them to St Bart's Parish Hall, where they were able to wash, have something to eat, and sleep on a mattress on the Hall floor. 

At the request of his GP, Dr James Watson (who was the co-founder of St Bart's), Robin then went on to volunteer his architectural services in the design of the Brown Street accommodation, which provided shelter for up to 80 homeless men at any one time, before St Bart’s relocated to its current premises at Lime Street, East Perth. Robin has also used his involvement as a Rotarian with the East Perth and Heirisson Rotary Clubs to support St Bart’s financially and at various Australia Day celebrations.

Serving over 200 people at the 2021 Australia Day BBQ breakfast in the beautiful Victoria Gardens, we were thrilled to have the opportunity to chat with a number of East Perth residents and those from surrounding areas in the City of Perth, including John Carey MLA, with proceeds from the event coming back to support the services we provide here at St Bart's.

Donate to St Bart's this Lent

Chinese New Year lunch

30 St Bart's clients beat the sweltering Perth heat just hours before the week-long lockdown in February when they attended a complimentary lunch at the renowned Han Palace restaurant.

The Chung Wah Association initiated a Chinese New Year Charity Meal to support the homeless community under the sponsorship of a member of another Chinese organisation in Perth, Australia Central China Golf Association.

Men and women  from our transitional accommodation services, Community Housing and Home Care were joined by star volunteers Clare and Mark, and were served a delicious meal as special guest, Perth Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas, spoke about the City of Perth’s vision to support the sector.

Thanks for having us!

Lockdown love

There was little positive news coming out of the lockdown until the good people of Western Power, who were flat out trying to manage power outages in fire affected areas, donated hundreds of litres of milk to the clients of St Bart’s. Because of the lockdown, milk ordered for their corporate headquarters had to be given away. 

With it a bit harder for the people we support to get out and about during the lockdown, the ready supplies of milk was a very welcome delivery.

Dining out

Nothing - not even a mask - will get in the way of these good people and their coffee!

Acting fast amid the COVID-related events of the past couple of weeks, Volunteer Coordinator Warren put in place all the measures required to be able to continue serving our residents their Monday and Friday breakfasts and much-loved cuppas. Instead of the usual sit-down service, it was a smooth takeaway operation that ensured the bellies were full and happy.

The café returned to normal operations, with not a mask in sight, on 15 February. Social distancing rules are still strictly adhered to and the details recorded for contact tracing.

Work with us

Are you on the search for a job that rewards you as much as it helps those in need? We have some great opportunities currently available, so click here and apply today!

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Address postal inquiries to:
St Bart's
7 Lime Street
East Perth WA 6004