Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Christmas meals and hampers to people in need

Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, today visited St Mary’s House of Welcome in Fitzroy to serve lunch to clients and distribute around 100 Christmas hampers to people in need.

“Christmas is a wonderful time of year for family and friends to spend time together and celebrate. But we shouldn’t lose sight of the caring spirit of Christmas.

“It’s important to remember that many people are struggling at this time of year,” Ms Macklin said.

“Many Australians are doing it tough and will find it hard to cope over the Christmas period especially in the context of the global financial crisis.

“The staff and volunteers at St Mary’s are doing a fantastic job helping people in need, during what can be a difficult time of year.

“I congratulate them and the many Australians who will spend some time over the Christmas period in the service of the wider community.”

The Australian Government is providing an extra $1.2 billion to tackle homelessness with a goal of halving homelessness in Australia by 2020, and providing accommodation to all rough sleepers.

St Mary’s House of Welcome is a day centre, which helps people suffering from a personal crisis generally caused through poverty, mental illness or relationship breakdown.

The Centre provides low cost and free meals, recreational activities, emergency relief, psychiatric disability support, social work services and a sense of community for homeless people and people with mental health issues.

St Mary’s receives over $11,000 through the Australian Government’s Emergency Relief Program to deliver emergency assistance such as food, rent/accommodation and clothing to individuals and families in immediate financial crisis.

The Australian Government has also provided $2.5 million to rebuild and update St Mary’s facilities. The new St Mary’s building will have a health clinic, a designated space for women in need, education and training facilities, consulting rooms and a safe refuge for the homeless.