August 12, 2014

Mercy Foundation North Sydney, Australia - “At the Service of Human Dignity”

The Mercy Foundation was founded in 1990 by the North Sydney Sisters of Mercy. It is a social justice organisation with a particular focus on ending homelessness, especially where it affects women.

In a nation as fortunate as Australia, no one needs to be homeless, especially not homeless for any lengthy period. Chronic homelessness can be ended by focusing on the solutions rather than servicing the problem through crisis management. Affordable housing and permanent supportive housing solves homelessness.

The Mercy Foundation makes grants, educates and advocates in pursuit of greater social equity and inclusion in the Australian community. As well as its key interest in ending homelessness, the Foundation also takes an interest in a range of social justice matters and manages a small grants program that has a broader focus.

The Mercy Foundation presents a Social Justice Award every year, recognising an individual or organisation that has a clearly notable record of work for change in social and cultural structures that impoverish or disempower people.

In 2014, the Mercy Foundation Board resolved to award the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre its 2014 Social Justice Award, to recognise the valuable work of this organisation in assisting one of the most disadvantaged groups in our community.

The Mercy Foundation recently funded a project with the ASRC to provide English as a Second Language (ESL) classes to asylum seekers, specifically buying resources for the Home English Tutoring Project. Most women attend English classes held at ASRC, but others need a tutor who can help them learn at home. This may be for family or health reasons, or they may live in outer suburbs and can’t afford the travel cost.

Home English teaching provides one-on-one tutoring that helps the women learn English, develop a close relationship with their tutor and learn about Australian customs. Many asylum seeker women who cannot leave home have feelings of helplessness, isolation and destitution. In-home tutoring helps address these problems, resulting in an increase in confidence and independence. Fifty women were assisted as a result of this project.

The work of ASRC represents the very essence of social justice, providing help in a spirit of compassion, to people who have fled untenable situations in their country of origin.

Messages to: Felicity Reynolds - CEO

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