Open Support opens appeal to support its mission at St Vincent’s Clinic, SydneyPrint
Open Support was originally established as Sisters of Charity Outreach in 1990. Outreach was commissioned to reach out with compassionate support and address the unmet needs of the most vulnerable members of the community.
Sr Mary Maguire was the Congregational Leader at the time Outreach was established, at the same time St Vincent’s Clinic on the campus of St Vincent’s Hospital and St Vincent’s Private Hospital in Sydney’s Darlinghurst was proposed. She linked the two plans and is now often remembered saying: “No Outreach, no Clinic.”
Both went ahead. Reading from Outreach’s annual reviews, it is possible to see that it wasn’t always plain sailing for this ambitious service.
In the year 2001-2002 Outreach had its own story of trust in Divine Providence. The works of Outreach were flourishing but by June it became evident that even with efforts to avoid it, there was a budget overrun and some of the services provided became threatened. How to increase income?
Outreach is God’s work and God would provide, it was decided. Trust in Divine Providence as Mary Aikenhead did!
On June 28, 2002 Outreach was notified of a cheque for $390.000 from the Owen and Nancye Traynor Foundation. Its purpose “…to assist in your corporal works of mercy.”
It was on such trust and generosity as this that Outreach is built. By 2001, there were 200 volunteers assisting the Outreach staff.
In 2015, Sisters of Charity Outreach celebrated “15 years Together,” and Sr Mary Maguire, who was the Leader of the Congregation when the proposal to build the Clinic was initiated, was guest speaker.
Sr Mary spoke openly about the struggle and pain that resulted not only in the building of the Clinic but the birth of Outreach.
Sisters M. St Jude Doyle, Clare Nolan, and Deirdre Hickey, who followed as Executive Directors, were also present to celebrate the anniversary. St Vincent’s Clinic also celebrated its 15 years at the same time with a special Thanksgiving Mass.
The Sisters of Charity of Australia subsequently devolved Outreach to Mary Aikenhead Ministries, where it was eventually renamed Open Support. Open Support continues to provide services to improve rural access to healthcare, reduce the impact of social isolation through community connection, and empowers women and children to move beyond domestic and family violence by providing accommodation, case management, and outreach support to achieve safety and independence.
But to the present day, and a present need. Open Support has recently received DA approval to construct a new DFV crisis accommodation facility, due for completion in 2023. The state-of-the-art facility will consist of eight apartments which will provide dignity and safety for an additional 110 women and children each year, facilitating independent living and aiding in their recovery from trauma.
In addition to accommodation services, Open Support also provides comprehensive and specialised case management support to women and children experiencing DFV, which spans from the point of crisis and into recovery. Open Support’s transitional support pathway is also available to eligible women and children who have no access to income or government support and face additional barriers to safety.
The vision for this new facility is to help meet the demand for accommodation, and structured support in a safe space, and allow the women and children across Sydney escaping violence the time required to transition toward a safe and independent life.
Open Support has received a grant to fund the safe house construction but due to the great increases in building costs since the pandemic, an extra $500,000 is required to complete the build.
You can donate via the website https://opensupport.org.au/how-you-can-help/donate/ or speak to Development Manager Alexandra Power (firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss how you can help.