Sisters of Charity Foundation and Salvation Army alliance against modern slaveryPrint
The Sisters of Charity Foundation’s patron, Governor-General David Hurley, in February launched a joint program between the Foundation and the Salvation Army to provide transitional housing for survivors of modern slavery in Australia. The event took place at the Sisters of Charity Heritage Centre, Potts Point.
The move complements anti-slavery measures being implemented within the Sydney Archdiocese.
Sr Margaret Beirne rsc, Vicar of the Sisters of Charity, spoke at the opening. “Today’s launch of this anti-slavery program begins a joint ecumenical venture of our Christian traditions in continuation of the work of Mother Mary Aikenhead. The Salvation Army’s predilection for the poor fits well with the Sisters of Charity,” she said.
The Memorandum of Understanding for the program between the Salvation Army and the Sisters of Charity Foundation was signed in November 2019.
Among the guests were the Governor-General’s wife, Mrs Linda Hurley, Salvation Army Australia Commissioners Robert and Janine Donaldson, interim anti-slavery commissioner for the NSW Government, Professor Jennifer Burn, and John McCarthy QC of the Sydney Catholic Archdiocese Anti-Slavery Taskforce.
Here is Sr Margaret Beirne’s Welcome to the Governor General and guests, Thursday February 20
We acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of this land, and pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging.
- Your Excellencies the Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia the Honourable David Hurley and Mrs Hurley
- Commissioners Robert and Janine Donaldson, of the Salvation Army of Australia
- Professor Jennifer Burn, NSW Anti-Slavery Commissioner
- John McCarthy, Chair, Anti-Slavery Taskforce, Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, and other members of the Taskforce
- Ella Sutton, National Program Manager, Support for Trafficked People Program, Australian Red Cross
- Sisters representing Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans
- Sisters of Charity Foundation Directors and supporters
- Sisters of Charity
- Ladies and gentlemen.
On behalf of our congregational leader Sr Clare Nolan, and all Sisters of Charity, it is my privilege to welcome you to our Heritage Centre this afternoon.
Today’s launch of this anti-slavery program begins a joint ecumenical venture of our Christian traditions, a way of proceeding dear to the heart of Mary Aikenhead and symbolised in practical reality in so many of her founding ministries. The Salvation Army’s predilection for the poor fits very well alongside her vision! Founded in the east end of London just seven years after Mary’s death, it seems to me that she and William and Catherine Booth would have made a fine team – and today you as their descendants are doing just that.
In 1838, and just a few hundred metres from where we are now seated, five sisters were greeted at the Woolloomooloo steps by the then Bishop of Sydney, John Bede Polding, the Attorney General, the Honourable John Plunkett, pupils from St Mary’s Cathedral school, and a large crowd of people.
Your Excellency, your predecessor from your recent term as Governor of NSW (2014-19), Sir George Gipps (1838-1846), is on record, along with his wife, as being particularly respectful and generous to the sisters. Soon after beginning their ministry with the women convicts at the Female Factory at Parramatta, the sisters asked the Governor if he would arrange for a proper laundry and sewing rooms for the women; his immediate positive response ensured that their situation improved dramatically, as did their spirits.
He also insisted the Sisters be allowed to give religious instruction and spiritual comfort to the women convicts at the female factory at Parramatta. While these women were not victims of the vicious crime of trafficking as such, they were certainly victims of a cruel convict system and may well have been abused in various ways by their prison warders. Their ministry of caring and advocacy for such women was the earliest work carried out by the Sisters.
This afternoon, we renew our commitment to such an important ministry, and acknowledge the vision of our Foundation and the Salvation Army in launching this joint Anti-Trafficking program.
Your Excellency, we publicly acknowledge your constant support as Patron of our Foundation and its work during your time as Governor of NSW. We also deeply appreciate your agreeing to continue your role as Patron, in spite of your even heavier responsibilities as Governor-General. Thank you.
So, to each and every one of you who have blessed us with your presence today, may I wish you the warmest of welcomes to our Heritage Centre, and to this celebration of all that has gone before, the fresh possibilities of this new joint program, and our shared hopes and dreams of working together to bring it to life.