On March 15-16, I was fortunate to attend the Elsie Conference, celebrating 50 years of helping women and children escaping domestic violence. The conference was named after the first women’s refuge ‘Elsie House’ that was established in Glebe NSW in March 1974. This was a wonderful way to learn from our colleagues working in the sector and see how far we have come since a group of Sydney feminists broke into two adjoining vacant houses, ‘Elsie’ and ’Minnie’, changed the locks and established residency and claimed squatter’s rights. What was quite evident as the conference progressed, was how specialised our team at Open Support is in their service delivery, focusing on women and children from culturally and linguistically diverse background and specifically with precarious visa status. We are also unique in the way in which we transition our clients into private rather than public housing, ensuring that we continue to support them throughout their journey to independence. 

In May we will be celebrating National Volunteer Week and all that our volunteers have done and continue to do at Open Support to assist our clients in getting the support they need to be active participants in their future. Thank you to our gift shop, raffle, driver and phone support volunteers, without who we couldn’t provide all of the services that we do today. You are very much valued members of our Open Support Community, and we look forward to celebrating with you. 

I hope that you enjoy reading about the recent work of Open Support. As supporters, these stories are also yours. We do not work in isolation and would like to extend our sincere thanks for the part that you have played and continue to play in sustaining the work of the Sisters of Charity and walking alongside the most vulnerable in our community.