The House of Welcome’s vision is for a society in which there is full recognition of the dignity, equality, human rights and humanity of all people living in the community no matter their age, gender, sexuality, nationality or religious affiliation, and no matter how they came to be in Australia.
To welcome, shelter, and empower asylum seekers and refugees regardless of their age, gender, sexuality, nationality or religion. We aspire to provide client-centred holistic supports that nurture hope, advocate for justice and promote self-reliance, while acknowledging the dignity and championing rights of each individual.
The House Of Welcome seeks to:
- Provide a place of welcome, trust and friendship for asylum seekers and refugees;
- Assist them in their transition to life in the Australian community;
- Develop their capacity to engage confidently with the various aspects of life in Australia and our culture;
- Promote their legal and human rights as they seek to have their status recognised;
- Enable them to become full and independent members of Australia as citizens
Our Values & Principles
Our guiding principles define the way that we as a centre relate to clients, the community, and to each other as staff and colleagues.
Welcome – We strive to provide a welcoming, friendly, empathetic, and safe environment that enables people to feel a sense of home, to access the support required and to grow in confidence and self-esteem.
Respect – We acknowledge the dignity of every person that comes through our door, showing respect for them, their age, gender, sexuality, ethnic origins, culture, religious and political associations.
Trust – Open, genuine and effective relationships are fostered in an atmosphere where confidentiality is protected and honesty and trust is esteemed.
Client-centred & Holistic– Through a collaborative approach, drawing on the understandings of the client, we seek to tailor our services to their unique life situation with responsive and flexible practices.
Empowerment – We are committed to independence, self-reliance and self-determination, accessing and nurturing the individuals’ own strengths and resilience.
Community Focused – We are committed to educating, engaging and working with the local community, raising awareness of the rights and humanity of refugees and asylum seekers in order to effect tangible social change. Moreover, we seek to create meaningful connections between our clients and the local pathways to inclusion.
Accountability – The House of Welcome is committed to being ethical, accountable and professional in all that we do and with all stakeholders.
In 2001 with the support of churches and community organisations and volunteers, the House of Welcome (HoW) was established to assist refugees on Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs). TPVs were issued to unauthorised arrivals to Australia who were recognised refugees. Initially a TPV was given for three years and during that time TPV holders were denied access to a range of settlement services into the community and restrictions were placed on family reunion and travel outside of Australia. Between 2001 and 2006 HoW had over 200 volunteers, ensuring that the volunteers are more than just “the heart of our project”; they have been the driving force behind the growth and development of HoW since its inception.
A new federal Government abolished TPVs in 2007 which meant that all recognized refugees had access to permanent visas, government services and family reunion. In the years following these changes HoW saw an increasing demand for its services for those asylum seekers who were on bridging visas and living in the community whilst their application was being processed – mainly plane arrivals. The high rate of destitution and lack of access to mainstream housing services amongst this group led the organisation to focus on the development of our ‘Safe Place’ transitional housing program. Since that time the growth of HoW has enabled its focus to move beyond housing to a more holistic support system through casework and community programs. We work with asylum seekers regardless of age, gender, religion or nationality and aim to serve the whole person.
Due to their temporary status, traumas and cultural & language barriers asylum seekers are in a vulnerable position with an insecure future.
Judy Berlak, a former Coordinator of Volunteers, offered the following historical and ethical reflections in her farewell address..
This photo was taken at the opening (June 2003) of the new premises provided by the Franciscan Friars. From left to right: Sr Lorraine Phelan, the then refugee Field worker for NSW Ecumenical Council; Sr Aileen Crowe former Peace and Justice Commission for Sydney Archdiocese; Sr Libby Rogerson Justice and Peace Commission for Parramatta diocese; Rev Ray Williamson the then Secretary General of the NSW Ecumenical Council; Ms Jenny Toisuta Balmain Uniting Church for Refugees; and Fr Kevin Goode, Franciscan.