St Finbar's Glenbrook Parish

A place for asylum seekers in Parramatta’s heart


Catholic Outlook March 2015: Arrupe Place
Helping to support asylum seekers through Arrupe Place are (from left): Sr Angela Burke RSC, Sr Margaret Guy RSC and Maeve Brown, Shelter Project Coordinator with Jesuit Refugee Services. Photo: Elizabeth Scully.

Originally published in Catholic Outlook March 2015

By Elizabeth Scully

Arrupe Place is Jesuit Refugee Services’ new drop-centre for asylum seekers in the heart of Parramatta. The service has been overwhelmed with support from the local community, including responses to the call for volunteers featured in Catholic Outlook’s February edition.

Sr Margaret Guy RSC serves as Volunteer Coordinator at Arrupe Place. Two weeks into her new role she is thrilled with the level of interest from local supporters. “Since I’ve come back to work here … I would have had at least 20, probably 25 volunteer inquiries,” Sr Margaret said.

Parramatta hosts the second-largest group of asylum seekers who have arrived by boat and are living on bridging visas in NSW. “A lot of people I’ve spoken to in the community are quite empathetic with asylum seekers,” Sr Margaret said.

She has previously worked in outreach with disadvantaged members of the community, particularly in the Liverpool area. However, concern for the welfare of asylum seekers in our midst led Margaret, a Sister of Charity, to this new role and to Parramatta.

The Sisters of Charity have a long association with the Parramatta area. The order first arrived in Australia in 1838 and the sisters were working locally by 1839.

Sr Margaret is particularly proud of the work of the early Sisters of Charity in advocating for the women at the historic Female Factory in North Parramatta.

The Arrupe Place project is also supported by the Sisters of Mercy Parramatta, Holy Spirit Sisters and Sisters of the Good Samaritan.

Arrupe Place’s premises, heritage-listed Coolock Cottage at 4 Victoria Road, has been loaned to Jesuit Refugee Services by the Sisters of Mercy Parramatta.

A key reason Jesuit Refugee Services identified the need for a Parramatta drop-in centre was the cost of travel to their Kings Cross headquarters.

Arrupe Place will provide a more convenient location for asylum seekers living across the Greater Western Sydney region to find help.

"With many asylum seekers unable to work due to visa conditions or unable to find paid employment, finding funds for the most basic needs is a struggle,” Sr Margaret said.

Though Arrupe Place is currently well supplied with volunteer labour, supporters may like to consider donating either food vouchers or public transport tickets as a practical way to assist the service.

To make a donation or for more information about Arrupe Place, please contact Jesuit Refugee Services tel (02) 9098 9336.

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