By CASEY NEILL
KEEPING its policy of never turning away anyone in need is getting tougher for Wellsprings for Women.
Manager Veronica Hassett told the organisation’s annual general meeting last Thursday (12 September) that the past year had been the first time it had struggled to keep the promise, due to skyrocketing demand.
“When you see people crying at your front door… ” she said.
“Other agencies are facing this, too.
“We at Wellsprings are filling the gaps, but how long can we keep doing that?
“Everything costs money.
“We will not give up on our dream. We will not turn people away, but we will need your support.”
The Dandenong-based service seeks to empower isolated women to live their lives more fully.
It’s structured a welcoming, supportive environment to promote companionship, encourage confidence and provide access to information and opportunities for life-long learning and wellbeing.
The Presentation Sisters have worked in the Dandenong area since 1912 and in 1994 opened Wellsprings’ door to the local community.
Today the Langhorne Street centre offers outreach services, a mentor program, recreational classes and education including the Learning to Live, which provides a better understanding of Australian life and culture.
Wellsprings’ theme last year was Learning to Live.
“They want to learn. They want to live here,” Ms Hassett said.
“We are putting people first.”
She said that investing in these women would build a better society.
Pathways to New Life is the theme for the next 12 months.
Adult Multicultural Education Services (AMES) team leader Shroug Mohamed was one of two guest speakers at the AGM.
She said the AMES Humanitarian Settlement Service (HSS) was seeing more families than this time last year.
About 40 per cent of their current clients are families, up from 90 per cent of their clients being single men a year ago.
The AMES south east and Gippsland region received 1537 new referrals during 2012-13, with about 10 per cent of the national intake settled in Dandenong, Casey and Cardinia.
Between July and September this year the south east region received 213 new arrivals.
AMES connects them with support groups, education and housing.
Last year’s Victorian Senior Australian of the Year, Dr Nouria Salehi, spoke about her efforts with Afghan Australian Development Organisation and the progress being made in the war-torn country.