In the early 1980s, when discussions first began about building a private clinic to expand on-campus services at St Vincent’s Hospital campus in Darlinghurst, Sydney, Sr Mary wasn’t keen on the idea. She felt the sisters should be working for the poor.
In 1988, when giving her approval for the construction of the St Vincent’s Clinic, she insisted that something had to be done to reach out to the poor. Her words at the time were: “No Outreach. No Clinic”.
Commissioned with the task of setting up the format of the then-named Sisters of Charity Outreach Centre for Women, the organisation’s inaugural Executive Director, Sister St Jude Doyle presented its first position paper in June 1989.
Her recommendations were that the organisation be: “a) a women’s resource Centre; b) a centre for women in violence; c) establish child-care centres in areas where needed; and, d) have a strong volunteer-based component”.
The former Sisters of Charity Outreach’s first program was an accommodation program for young people coming to Sydney for work or to find work, which began in January 1990. It was followed in March 1990, by an ‘occasional’ child care centre at Cranebrook near Penrith, in Sydney’s west. Soon after, a telephone support and information service began. This was expanded to include telephone counselling that same year – all from a temporary office base in Paddington.
On September 25, 1990, the organisation officially moved into its current offices in the then newly-built St Vincent’s Clinic Darlinghurst, Sydney. This date is recognised as its official establishment.
As part of the handover of all ministries under the auspices of the Sisters of Charity congregation to Mary Aikenhead Ministries, the organisation officially changed its name from Sisters of Charity Outreach to Open Support on Wednesday March 21, 2018.
Open Support is a special ‘social services’ ministry of Mary Aikenhead Ministries, which is named after the founder of the Sisters of Charity, Mother Mary Frances Aikenhead.
Throughout its 28-year history-to-date, Open Support has provided responsible, flexible professional services that have responded to and met unmet need in the community as particular needs have arisen. It continues to do so.