The mission of refuge continues
Article by Sr. Noelene White,
Province of Australia/Aotearoa-New Zealand.
Recently Sr. Monica Walsh, Province Leader, and Sr. Noelene White were privileged to attend the launch of a new government-funded refuge that opened in Victoria, Australia. The purpose-built facility is managed and staffed by qualified Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand (GSANZ) personnel and accommodates women and children from family violence situations.
Due to privacy and security requirements, the launch was a very low-key and informal occasion. During the opening address, Sr. Monica emphasized the link between this facility and the tradition of St. John Eudes and St. Mary Euphrasia to offer refuge. Chief Executive Officer of GSANZ, Ms. Stella Avramopoulos, spoke to remind staff that their presence was the result of the work of the Good Shepherd Sisters and that they – as staff – continue this mission to support women and children. In turn, the staff spoke about how very excited they are to have the opportunity to welcome women and children to a place of healing and new beginnings in the Good Shepherd spirit and tradition.
The image of Saint Mary Euphrasia’s shoes was used to remind the staff of the mission they continue to walk today.
The site consists of six independent apartments, one of which has been designed to have full disabled access. All the apartments have excellent natural light, soft colored painted walls, bright furnishings, and a sense of warmth and peace throughout. The women and children, who began to arrive from the middle of July, have a refuge where they can feel safe, secure, and supported with high-level security across the property. Staff and caseworkers are on hand 24-hours a day to assist and support the residents to work through trauma and plan for the future. There is also a lovely playground for the children.
The launch day concluded with a workshop facilitated by Sr. Noelene (left) and Ms. Gendrie Klein-Breteler (right), Director of Mission of GSANZ. In addition to this workshop, staff had previously completed an orientation session with Gendrie. This time together focused on the staff as ‘founders’ of this new program. They reflected on what it means to live Good Shepherd values and on how to build a Good Shepherd culture that future residents and staff will inherit.
All involved in the new refuge invite you to hold this ministry, the staff, and the residents in your hearts and prayers.