Women and children in need will continue to be able to access secure housing and case-managed support to help them towards independence thanks to a new agreement struck between the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, Good Samaritan Housing, Vinnies Housing, and the St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland.
Under the agreement, the primary work of Good Samaritan Housing is now being administered by St Vincent de Paul Queensland but will be financially supported by the Sisters of the Good Samaritan for three years.
Chair of Members of Good Samaritan Housing, Sister Catherine McCahill SGS, said the transition of ownership would help secure the future of both the services to women and children and the employment of Good Samaritan Housing caseworkers.
“It’s a really good outcome, which honours what we’re trying to do in helping to support women and children,” Catherine said. “Good Samaritan Housing was already collaborating with Vinnies Housing on providing programs for clients in their housing, so there was a good foundation.
“The Board was able to look around at various other likeminded charities and ultimately put forward to the Sisters that St Vincent de Paul was the most likely candidate. Because of the goodwill and the existing working relationship between the Board of Good Samaritan Housing and St Vincent de Paul, we were able to work together to achieve a very good transition.”
Good Samaritan Housing (GSH) commenced in 2014 with four units on Brisbane’s northside, leased from Brisbane City Council at a peppercorn rent. This provided low-rental accommodation to mothers with young children who were homeless or at risk of homelessness.
In recent years, GSH acquired a further 10 households through St Vincent de Paul. While these new properties were managed by St Vincent de Paul, the women were supported by the GSH caseworkers. The ministry is funded by donations from the Good Samaritan Foundation, the Good Samaritan Sisters and numerous individuals and organisations.
The mothers assessed for GSH are single, with children mostly under school age. They must be willing to participate in intensive case management and make positive changes to help them transition into independent living within 12 months.
It is this case management support which the Sisters will continue to provide for three years under the agreement with Vinnies Housing and St Vincent de Paul Queensland.
Good Samaritan Housing board member Sister Veronica McCluskie SGS said the agreement with Vinnies came after a period of discernment about the future of the ministry.
“It really comes down to how we as Good Samaritan Sisters use our resources to the best possible advantage for women and children,” she said. “We were a relatively small provider in this area of housing and you really have to be a big provider to attract all the necessary government grants.
“Vinnies were doing something pretty similar to what we were doing but they are a bigger organisation and it became clear that this transition was the best outcome for both the women and children and the staff. Vinnies also hold similar values to us and that was important to us.
“The whole purpose of transferring it is to enable the Sisters of the Good Samaritan to care for women and children, which has been our priority since foundation, in the most effective way in today’s environment.”
Veronica said while there was always some sense of loss in passing a ministry into the care of others, the fact that Good Samaritan Sisters would still be supporting this work for three years, before being wound up, meant it would be a smooth handover.
“We see it as an evolution of the service more than anything and we’re delighted that through our relationship with Vinnies we’ve been able to secure a positive future for it and for the women and children it serves.”
This article was published in The Good Oil, March 2021.