Making A Difference On Our Streets

Jane Armstrong (Class of 1988) from Homelessness We Care

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, a person is homeless when they do not have suitable accommodation alternatives, and their current living arrangement is in an inadequate dwelling, has no tenure (or if their initial tenure is short and not extendable) or does not allow them to have control of, and access to space for social relations. 

In May last year, it was reported that there had been a 58 per cent increase in homelessness in Western Australia due to the tightest rental marketing in 40 years. Rental availability is not the only reason for homelessness.

Other reasons can include: 

  • Relationship breakdown
  • Financial difficulties
  • Unemployment, underemployment, and insecure employment
  • Family and domestic violence
  • Poor mental or physical health
  • Substance abuse
  • Cultural disadvantage 

Jane Armstrong (Class of 1988) and Simone Gjergjevica work tirelessly to make a difference in our community for homeless people throughout Perth. They have been doing this remarkable work through Homelessness We Care Perth (HWCP) since 2015, when they took over from Jan McCool and Judy, aka Truck.

Santa Maria College has been developing and fostering a relationship with HWCP since 2017; a relationship teacher Rosa Speranza created, nurtured and recruited support for, from within the College community over the years. 

The College has and continues to provide support to HWEP in the area of

  • donations of food,
  • cooking,
  • transport of meals, and
  • serving the food in the City.

This was and is still supported by more than 35 staff and alumni from Santa Maria College.

Rosa Speranza was acknowledged last week for her service to HWCP by being awarded the Faith In Action Award. She was recognised not only for her work but how she has, since their inception in 2015, epitomised authentic compassion, empathy and selflessness in the way she has worked with them.

There are many other remarkable advocates at the College, too many to name them all. They have also been instrumental in encouraging and rallying departments to support this cause. These staff are amazing and generous with their time and donations. It is wonderful to be associated with such selfless, compassionate, and generous people.

Over the last few years, the Santa Maria community has also undertaken the mammoth task of preparing a three-course sit-down Christmas dinner for the homeless in our school commercial kitchen.

In 2022, Santa Maria staff, alumni and our Young Mercy students continue to support HWCP. Our Young Mercy students, under the leadership of Abby Young and Niamh Smithies (2022 leaders), and through the co-curricular groups Making a Difference and Cook Ups, will sew bags for care packs and prepare and package meals delivered by staff to HWCP on our rostered Tuesdays. On each occasion throughout the year, 300 meals will be prepared and delivered. 

As Catherine McAuley would say, “we should be shining lamps, giving light to all around us”. I think you would agree the Santa Maria College community is a shining lamp.

What A Term! So Many Opportunities – Jennifer Oaten

As I look back on the past nine weeks, I am so grateful for who we are as a community and what we have achieved. Through the dedication of our staff and the enthusiasm of our students, we have established new connections, immersed ourselves in opportunities and worked through challenges.

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