R&P – OUR STORY BEGINS – 2015
‘Refugees and Partners’ – Our Story began in Newcastle, NSW, Australia, in August 2015.
A group of friends proposed the formation of a special new organisation when Sisters Betty and Diana were removed from management of Penola House, Mayfield in April, 2015.
EARLIER HISTORY – 2007
The Sisters and a band of volunteers established Penola House in Hamilton in 2007 under the auspices of the Sisters of St Joseph, Lochinvar.
Sister Betty was the coordinator of the volunteers who provided a range of services to refugees seeking help at Penola House.
PENOLA HOUSE MOVES TO MAYFIELD – 2014
When the lease on the Hamilton property expired late 2013, Penola House moved to a property in Mayfield which was set up and maintained by the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.
The new Penola House at Mayfield was a fun place of welcome and safety for refugees, volunteers, visitors, university and TAFE students and members of the local aged care community needing a change of scenery or a chat.
CHANGE OF ADMINISTRATION – 2015
However, in April 2015, the Diocesan Authorities announced that The Administration and Services of Penola House would be given over to CatholicCare Hunter-Manning Social Services.
It became known as CatholicCare Refugee Service.
The subsequent change in direction of that organization – its vision, structure and goals, meant that many projects planned to meet emerging needs of refugees were delayed or abandoned.
EFFECT ON REFUGEE COMMUNITY
The changes caused much anxt for the sisters and great disappointment to local refugees who were not consulted about the issues which affected their lives.
It was for them another experience of injustice and insecurity.
They felt angry and disempowered.
They suggested the formation of an organisation that was more inclusive of refugees and other members of the community, less structured and controlled than required by institutional formalities.
REFUGEES AND PARTNERS – OUR STORY – 2015
Emeka Onua MBA. UoN, contacted local refugee communities, friends and service providers to refugees.
All were invited to a meeting in the Jesmond Neighbourhood Centre on Sat 12 September 2015.
About 70 people attended.
Emeka proposed the formation of a new organisation, asked for the advice of the people and invited their support and involvement.
After unanimous agreement to the proposal, twelve people accepted nomination for an interim management committee.
This enabled the group to apply for registration as a legal entity.
It became known as Refugees and Partners Inc.
ABN: 92 680 274 721.
REFUGEES AND PARTNERS – OUR STORY 2016 – MOVING FORWARD
After registering Refugees and Partners, the executive met several times to establish management, finance and communication procedures, find a suitable office and space for implementing programs.
They formed subcommittees to apply for grants and set up storage and care of donations.
The new office known as Zara’s House was opened on Tuesday, June 21, 2016 at 3.30 pm.