Category: Cairns

The face of Rosies in Cairns

These Rosies Cairns volunteers will receive a special mention for the 25th celebration, as the longest serving in Queensland.

How long have you been involved with Rosies?

I joined Rosies Youth Mission (as it was called back then) in 2002. My daughter has been involved from a young age and as an adult, she continues to volunteer.

What keeps you involved?

At each outreach I meet new people from different walks of life. I enjoy talking with patrons over a cup of coffee and a bit of food. As a team leader I enjoy taking new volunteers and students out on outreach and listening to their experiences and thoughts of the outreach at the end of the night. How do you deal with seeing people struggle? It is hard seeing people struggle but we are limited to what we can do. We have resources where we can guide patrons to services, but it is still hard to leave. Over the years I have listened to patrons telling me their life stories and I often wonder where they ended up.

What is the most heartwarming thing that’s happened from being involved with Rosies?

Rosies has been volunteering in Cairns for 25 years and I am always amazed at the growing support from the Cairns community, which is evident in the growing number of volunteers and organisations that donate to Rosies, so we can provide a valuable service back to the community. A lot of the patrons thank us for coming out and spending that time with them, sharing a coffee and some food.

How long have you been involved with Rosies?

This is my 16th year, you do one year as a provisional member.

What keeps you involved?

I love the Rosies philosophy of being there for those in need. It is a way of doing something rather than just talking about doing something. It is a way of being of service. We are all called to serve. In giving you receive. I love the sense of community in our team and the link between Rosies and the school communities, and the parish communities who support Rosies on an ongoing basis. Also, the wider community of Cairns is very supportive of Rosies’ good work.

How do you deal with seeing people struggle?

It is difficult but of course sometimes you can help in a practical way. Often a Rosies group will not actually know of their impact. Being there for the marginalised and treating them as dignified human beings is the most important aspect. Hence the the term Friends on The Street.

What is the most heartwarming thing that’s happened from being involved with Rosies?

I cannot think of one individual thing but often people stop and ask how can they get involved with Rosies and make donations of money on the spot. If a patron returns and has made it out of their difficulty, that is heartwarming and then you know that we have had a positive impact on that person

How long have you been involved with Rosies?

Since 2012.

What keeps you involved?
The volunteers and patrons are great company. I would not stop going. I feel like the patrons don’t have too many friends in the community, often complained about and looked down on by so many. I want them to know I value my time with them by being around. How do you deal with seeing people struggle? I cope fine these days, I’m used to seeing the hardships. If something shocks me I probably shed a tear on the drive home.

What is the most heartwarming thing that’s happened from being involved with Rosies?

I had some very appreciative patrons but one woman comes to mind for me. She had been beaten and strangled so badly she could only swallow rice. I tried really hard to find her a bed as it was her first few days on the street. She couldn’t go home. Services had been cut and all beds were full at that time but she was still incredibly grateful. She asked me if I was cold just wearing a T-shirt! It’s sometimes hard to leave the patrons, you wish you could do more.

Helping Hands

friendship with hospitality
Cairns has developed a unique way of providing friendship with hospitality

THE abandoned, the socially isolated and the lonely are given a shoulder to lean on and a warm meal four nights a week by a group of volunteers who are trying to help the homeless and the disadvantaged of Cairns. About 170 volunteers of Rosies Friends on the Street have formed a kind of family and it’s this warmth and generosity that reaches out four nights a week from 7pm on Draper St. Tonight, this “family” will gather to celebrate the service reaching 25 years of operation on Cairns streets, while paying tribute to some of its longest serving volunteers and the Cairns businesses that keep the charity running.

Among those who will be recognised at the Rosies Cairns Branch 25 Years Strong evening is Joyce Coutts, who has been involved with Rosies for 22 years. At 85 years old, the Gordonvale resident can no longer volunteer with the service, having stopped about a year ago. “I just loved doing it,” she says. “I would have kept on going a while longer but I can’t drive at night anymore.” Joyce is a humble woman. When Rosies co-ordinator Lyall Forde told her she was the only platinum volunteer being recognised on the night, she had a pretty straight response for him. “I said they don’t have to give me a party,” she says. Joyce has seven children – four girls and three boys – and is the youngest from a family of eight. Her husband died while the children were young, leaving Joyce to work and raise them. By the time the kids were older and a little more independent, she became involved with Rosies.

I’m a Catholic and I heard about it and decided I wanted to go, and went, and that’s it,” she says.

“The people that need help came to Rosies and we would give them something to take home. It was really good. I enjoyed every minute of it. We would take sandwiches and fruit, and went down with whatever we had. Now I am 85, I am just too old to really do much.”

Among those who will be recognised at the Rosies Cairns Branch 25 Years Strong evening is Joyce Coutts,

Joyce’s daughter, Gloria Hinspeter, will join her mother for the Rosies celebration tonight and says the recognition for her is well deserved. “I think her life as it was, made her the woman she is today,” Gloria says. “She was always giving as much as she can and I have the utmost respect for her and what she has achieved in her life. Quite a few times lots of the family would say, ‘You shouldn’t be going there, it’s dangerous,’ but she would not listen to anyone. “She did not think it was dangerous, she would just say ‘it’s good for me and I’ll know when it’s time to give it up’. “She is very committed to doing what she could to help others.” The tales of selflessness continue and among them is that of Cairns branch co-ordinator Lyall Forde.

Lyall was working in the medical field when he decided he should be doing more than “collect the weekly salary”. He joined Rosies 15 years ago and now co-ordinates the local operation. He has now retired from his work as a psychiatric and general nurse, which included 20 years in Papua New Guinea. Twelve of those years were spent in “the bush” where he established a clinic for people who had lived whole lives with no medicine. “This was in 1976 and they had never had anything,” he says. “I had a 12-hour walk to the village and I stayed there with other nurses,” he says. “It was a team and I managed to start a school too. There were no older people and 78 per cent of all children died before the age of two (due mostly to malaria). We reduced it to 25 per cent. It was probably some of the happiest years of my life.” With up to 170 local volunteers with the service, Lyall says they are never short of helpers. “They are a cheerful crowd. They make me proud,” he says.

One of the things about Rosies is we don’t put much demand on volunteers. We don’t have meetings and we ask them to come once a month only. That could be the reason for our success. You join and you do a night and then you go home. For the first six months you only do once a month, otherwise you burn out. We’ve got almost 170 in Cairns – that’s a lot of good people. I think people want to do something good.”

Among those volunteers are Cairns high schools, which have partnered with Rosies, so students can get involved. Lyall says students attend with a teacher or parent and get to see “another side of life”. Meanwhile, Rosies continues to operate successfully on the generosity of Cairns. The Muslim community has for years donated all the meals needed for a night, packaged and ready to go once a month. Hotels and church groups also regularly lend a hand. In fact, Double Tree Hilton, where the Rosies 25-year celebration is being held, has donated everything for the evening.

Cairns is generous. There are wonderful people in the community,” Lyall says.

All walks of life access the service, with Lyall saying they regularly feed and offer friendship to the very young right through to the very old.

I never ask where they are living,” he says. “They may tell me they’ve got a flat and pay $180 a week but they’ve got no money left or any extra money is going to cigarettes.”



Rosies featured in the Cairns Diocesan News

rosies-friends on the street Cairns branch
L-R Mitch Fitzpatrick, Rick Hauraki, Theresa Redgwell, Christine Alifraco, Three first year dental students, Bri Blackmore, Bill Matthews, Lyall Forde

Rosies Cairns branch features in this year CAIRNS DIOCESAN NEWS EASTER edition (you can read the article below). This year Rosies celebrates its 30th birthday.

Rosies was founded by an Oblate of Mary Immaculate priest (OMI) in the beachside suburb of Melbourne called Rosebud, hence the name Rosies. Throughout  Queensland, we operate in many suburbs and towns, including Brisbane, Gold Coast, Cairns, and Mareeba.

Our work is to be friends with those forced to live on the street, the homeless and poor. Here in Cairns we take hot meals and drinks out to them four nights a week. We have 160 volunteers who done night per month in 16 Teams. The volunteers come from all walks of life and this contributes to the Rosies family.

We also have nine high schools that participate as part of our School Engagement Program, these being Cairns State High School, St . Andrew’s Catholic College, Redlynch State College, St Monica’s College, Peace Lutheran College, TAS, St Augustine’s College, AFL Cape York Academy, and St Mary’s Catholic College. These Outreach schools are involved once per month and consist of four Grade 12 students plus a teacher and parents.

Along with our face-to-face outreach volunteers, we have a small army of “back room” supporters who cook hot meals for the volunteers to distribute. We also have a large group who make up sandwiches to cover the four  nights. It is also worth pointing out that for the last few years the Cairns Muslim Community has cooked 90 hot meals per month. Then in the wider community, we have many parish and community members who collect food for us and fundraise to assist our financial commitments.

All our volunteers are required to have a Blue Card and undertake the in-service (Initial Training Course) which is an introduction to our Rosies work in Cairns . The Rosies outreach room is located on the ground floor of Centacare and we are grateful to the Diocese of Cairns for making this available.

Looking forward to cooler months.

Thanks Kay Rivers and the team in Cairns who kept everything running smoothly while Lyall, the branch coordinator, took a well deserved break.  Our volunteers and patrons are looking forward to autumn as the summers are always tough in tropical Far North Queensland. Our local committee are working closely with the Cairns Regional Council to secure a long-term venue for our well-patronised service reaching out 4 nights per week.

Cairns Branch – Community synergy

Handmade items made by the employment agency Workways’ ‘Work for the Dole’ clients were handed over to our Rosies Cairns coordinator, Lyall. This is an amazing example of a great synergy between individuals and organisations. The satisfaction in giving back to the community thrilled many of those who made the items and learned new skills at the same time. Everything has been well used and distributed to our many friends on the street in Far North Queensland.

Cairns Branch – A new location

Rosies recently worked with the local council to find an alternative venue for our outreach to offer an efficient service to our friends on the street whilst being mindful of local businesses that had expressed concerns over the influx of people in the popular tourist area. All parties agreed on a new location that will satisfy everyone. As a consequence, the Rosies van has now moved to Council Park on Draper Street, Cairns.

Cairns Branch – Another reason to smile in Cairns

Cairns_rosies_friends_on_the_streetJames Cook University (JCU) dental students [pictured] recently attended one of our Rosies Cairns branch outreaches. The students fully embraced the experience, listening and sharing stories with our friends on the street, and helping put a smile on their faces. The branch also recently received goods and services donations, as well as monetary donations from local primary and high schools.
The support all of our branches receive from students and their communities is simply wonderful, and greatly supports our ability to support our many friends. Thank you, you all make a difference.

Find out how you can get involved.

Cairns Branch – Cairns Branch gets a room!

Rosies is delighted to announce the acquisition of a new outreach room thanks to the Catholic Diocese of Cairns and Centacare. The new room is significantly more spacious for our Cairns Branch team meetings and increases our capacity to store more items for our many friends on the street than the previous shed.

Rosies would also like to thank the Queensland Government’s Community Benefit Fund for providing a grant that has enabled us to refurbish our new premises.

Find out how you can get involved.

Let’s open our hearts

fr johnWe make assumptions based on our own knowledge. Yet, if we take the time to listen to people with our heart we can appreciate them for who they truly are. All of us are gifted, but our individual talents are not always obvious; most treasures are hidden. God’s creation is diverse and unique, which makes it beautiful and inspiring rather than monotone and dull. God values us for who we are and we are invited to imitate Him. We are encouraged to value each other for our uniqueness. Let us appreciate the diversity God put in His creation and go beyond our presumptions to discover who a person really is through understanding and charity.

Fr John David
Rosies’ Chaplain

Rosies updates around the state – Spring 2015


Rosies has temporarily relocated our Friday and Saturday night outreaches to the Cathedral of St Stephen.Brisbane City Council has encouraged street van services to be located in  off-street premises. The Archbishop of Brisbane has kindly agreed to trial our Outreach for eight weeks.
Look out for further updates.

The new street outreach van was blessed by the Bishop of Cairns the Most Reverend James Foley. Thanks AMA. Services have commenced Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights.

Gold Coast

The Rosies Gold Coast branch has started a new outreach in Nerang. The van is at to Bischoff Pioneer Park on Wednesdays from 7.30pm – 9.00pm.


Jon Martlew, our Toowoomba Branch Coordinator, went homeless for a week during the Homelessness Prevention Week. Our Patron, Leneen Forde, and Chair, John Scoble, took part in launching Jon’s sleepout at the Homlessness Prevention Week commencement exhibition. During the week Jon slept rough, hung out with our friends on the street, joined our outreaches and had a cuppa to raised funds for Rosies. Well done Jon!