Skip to main content

Why do we do what we do?

28 March 2024

This afternoon I spoke to a visitor to St Bart’s; someone I hadn’t met before but potentially we could work with in the future.  We had a brief tour of Lime Street and in speaking to her, I drew together a few random thoughts of things we do, projects we are progressing and the people we support.

When I came back to my desk, that previous conversation was still bouncing around in my head. I then opened an email from a lady, I’ll call her Sarah (not her real name) which contained a story about her brother.  We’d spoken earlier in the day, and she’d promised to forward it on to me. It left an impression, which I will come to.

When I drove to work on Friday morning, the significance of 8 March was focused on International Women’s Day. We rightly celebrate the incredible women of St Bart’s, our staff, our residents and our volunteers and it is a joy to see so many other organisations similarly promoting and celebrating the ethos and message of the day.  We saw and heard the story of Zan, a resident of ILP and her awe-inspiring resilience, courage and determination against a background of abuse, trauma and adversity.

As I sit here at the end of the day and reflect back, it turns out today is far more significant than I could have imagined.

On 25 May 2021, we held our first co-design workshop with the sector, looking at what we could do with our land at Brown and Kensington Street, East Perth. A lot of work has been undertaken over the almost three years subsequent. Work that has involved a lot of people across the organization in many, many ways and we couldn’t have got here without all of your input.

Just before Christmas, we submitted our ask to the Federal Government for $30m to part fund the 80-bed aged care facility so that we can support older men and women at risk of homelessness. Today, 8 March, we submitted our proposal to the State Government for funding to build 56 social housing units. The plans are drawn, construction is costed, the advocacy plan has been implemented and the submissions are made. We now await the respective Government departments’ response. We’ve put our best foot forward and we believe we’ve given ourselves the best chance we could to deliver 136 safe and secure homes for some of the most vulnerable people in our community.

If we get a positive response, there is still a lot of work to do with planning, design and approvals before we get to the construction stage. A project of this size takes a long time, and a lot more work from a lot of people and we anticipate it could be up to four years in the making from when funding is confirmed, so there will be plenty of updates to come.

That brings me back to Sarah. Sarah is the sister of one of our former residents, a resident that moved out not too long ago to live in community housing. I heard this morning he passed away a couple of weeks ago. I knew him to say ‘hello’ to and ask how things are going. He recently took part in an event held at Lime Street where Minister Carey announced $47m funding for the sector.  But our resident spoke so openly, honestly and powerfully that the media led with what he said, and the Minister happily played second fiddle.

The email I received from Sarah included a eulogy written by one of her brother’s best friends. It is a beautiful recollection of two friends growing up together and experiencing life, particularly a shared love of surfing.  Sarah’s email said, “My family are eternally grateful for the kindness shown to him by St Bart’s, and so proud of his journey with you… he will be greatly missed, but eternally in our hearts.”

St Bart’s is a wonderful organisation, we have incredible staff and we make such an impact on some of the most vulnerable people.  When I spoke to our visitor this afternoon, I said at St Bart’s we don’t see a problem to be managed when someone comes to us, we see the person, the human being and we stand by their side when the going gets tough. That’s what Sarah told me was her brothers experience, she knew that we had done everything we could do and how that was a huge comfort to her and her family.

Our fingers are well and truly crossed that we get a green light for the Brown and Kensington Street developments so that we can support more people. I read last week that the WA public housing waitlist has now reached over 19,500 applications, over 5,000 of which are priority applications. What we do so well, is desperately needed by so many people.

Help St Bart’s to help more people. A fully tax-deductible donation today will help us provide safe accommodation and support to more people just like Mere who need our help to get back on their feet and re-establish their place in the community.

Lotterywest Logo

This website has been funded by our major supporter, Lotterywest.