A Legacy of Reading the Signs of the Time

The birth of Outreach (now called Open Support) in 1990 is intertwined with the story of St Vincent’s Clinic. In the 1980’s, a group of visionary doctors approached the Sisters of Charity with a unique request to build a multidisciplinary clinic. Sr Mary Maguire, Superior-General of Sisters of Charity Australia, argued that all their actions needed to be apostolic work, reaching out to the poor and the marginalised. This is how, with the birth of St Vincent’s Clinic, came a sine qua non condition: the creation of an organisation within the Clinic that would fulfil this mission. Sisters of Charity Outreach officially opened on 25 September 1990, and later became Open Support.

Through three decades of compassion in action, the organisation has kept on evolving, adjusting – or discontinuing – its programmes when necessary to carry out its mission: reading the signs of the time, and responding to the needs.


The story of Open Support starts when Sr Mary Maguire, the Superior-General of Sisters of Charity Australia, sends this message to her fellow Sisters

“I need my religious women to respond to new needs, to keep time to a different rhythm. I want you to leave the security of what you know, and what you have, and go once more where no one else has gone. To the people that today’s society doesn’t want to know.”

1988 – 1989

Sr Mary Maguire commissions Sr St Jude Doyle, together with Mrs Pauline Noyce and Mr Garth Doyle, to set up the format of a centre that would be a beacon in the community.


Sisters of Charity Outreach is established, with Sister St Jude as Executive Director. The organisation starts in Paddington before taking residence in St Vincent’s Clinic on September 25.

Volunteer Training program begins with 71 volunteers. Accommodation programs for young people and Child Care centre are established.

1991 – 1996

A number of programs start to flourish to support the most vulnerable in the community, such as Court Support services, Family Services and Education program.

Sr St Jude & Mrs Pauline Noyce on the road with a truck for Country Care Link


Country Care Link, one of the most valuable and extensive service to country people, is established to enhance access to healthcare services for people living in rural and regional areas in NSW. To advertise this brand new program, Sr St Jude, accompanied by Mrs Pauline Noyce and Mrs Carolyn Lyons, travel nearly 2,000kms by four-wheel drive to Gulargambone, Lightning Ridge, Engonia, Goodooga, Weilmoringle, Burke, Louth, Cobar and Nyngan. These three remarkable women, with a ‘never say die’ attitude, are affectionately known as the ‘Three Peculiar Women’.

The Country Care Link program continues to operate today.

A Liverpool policeman, a woman and children in front of crisis shelter for domestic violence


Safe Haven, a crisis shelter for victims of domestic violence, opens with the support of the Liverpool police. Twenty-five years later, Safe Haven continues to be a core part of the organisation’s domestic violence program.

Three women smiling and sharing a nice moment as part of the Visit Program


The Visit Program is introduced in Eastern Sydney to offer companionship and social connection to people who are isolated and lonely. This program is a significant step to expand the organisation’s work to reduce the impact of social isolation.

1998 – 2003

Sr Clare Nolan and Sr Deirdre are appointed Joint Executive Directors.


The Visit Program expands to South West Sydney.


Outreach teams up with Parramatta Catholic Women’s League to manage “Chisholm Cottage”, offering low-cost accommodation for country people who have to stay in Sydney for medical care.


Sisters of Charity transfer Outreach to Mary Aikenhead Ministries and hand over Outreach to lay leadership. The organisation gets a new brand and becomes Open Support.


Close to 200 volunteers enable Open Support to operate its various services.

Over 1,800 families affected by domestic violence have been supported since 1995.


This year marks two important milestones for the Domestic Violence program:

  • In January, Open Support moves its first family from crisis shelter to a transitional home, allowing them to gradually move toward recovery and independence.
  • Additionally, Open Support is awarded a $2,509,688 grant from the Australian Government, allowing the team to increase emergency accommodation for domestic violence survivors.

Throughout the pandemic, Open Support continues and extends its services to assist those in need in this difficult time, particularly addressing the surge in domestic violence and challenges tied to social isolation.