With up to a third of supported accommodation seekers women fleeing domestic violence, the link between homelessness and domestic violence is clear – and the need for assistance is pressing.

Rosies Gold Coast branch has been forging links with local DV services, including Assist A Sista, to help women to rebuild their lives and move back into the wider community.

While food parcels are a regular offering for Rosies on the Gold Coast, for women who are leaving a refuge and trying to establish themselves in a new home, Rosies offers something a little different.

Along with regular food parcels, volunteers put together ‘Pantry Boxes’ to help establish a woman in her new kitchen.

The boxes are intended to help defray the initial costs of setting up a pantry, containing larger items that are used frequently but replaced only occasionally.

Gold Coast Branch Coordinator Wendy Coe says the boxes are made up of pantry staples rather than fresh fruit or vegetables.

‘They’re more items like flour, sauces, coffee, sugar, spices, cake mixes, or even washing powder,’ she said.

‘Not just something to get you through the next few days – these are items which help to set up a home.

‘If you have to go out and buy them all at once, it’s quite expensive – and for someone who’s starting out again with very few resources, just being able to go to the cupboard and add a few dried herbs to a meal or whip up a batch of pikelets is a big thing.

‘Part of feeling like you’re really home is being able to do those small things without thinking.’

 

A partnership with Rosies intended to promote and maintain unity between the Muslim and non-Muslim communities has grown into a community-wide effort to feed Cairns’ homeless.

When Rosies Cairns branch coordinator Lyall Forde mentioned to Alma Mohammed he was looking for some volunteers to cook food for outreach, she thought she knew some women in the community who could help.

The biggest challenge ahead of her would be to raise money for ingredients.

Alma enlisted the help of her friend Renee Walker to come up with a solution – and from that partnership the Muslim Women’s Association of Far North Queensland was born.

‘Renee and I came up with the idea to create a market stall, which we have at the Gordonvale Markets once a month,’ Alma said.

‘It’s been great, and all of the food is homemade and cooked by women in the local community.

‘In fact, my mum has been doing most of the cooking!’

The pair sell home made sweets and pastries, with the proceeds used to buy ingredients to cook into meals for the homeless.

Those ingredients are then turned into meals which are distributed to Rosies patrons in Munro Martin Park once a month.

The Association’s stall has become a fixture at the markets, with the wider local community rallying around to support the fundraiser.

‘We have regulars, we take orders – we have people who come to Gordonvale from Cairns.

‘When we do miss a market, people send messages – “Where are you? Can I just give you the $10 instead?”

The women were scheduled to provide meals to Rosies patrons on New Years Day, but there were no markets in December so no funds had been raised for ingredients.

The first of January was coincidentally also Alma’s daughter’s fourth birthday and she thought it would serve as the inspiration for a wonderful gesture of community spirit.

‘When I spoke to my 4 year old daughter, and said, “What would you like to do for your birthday?” she said, “We have to feed the homeless!”’
With that decided, the Association put out an appeal for food through their local mosque and then to the wider community.

The donations came flooding in, and a New Years Day banquet was assembled: roast chicken, crumbed Spanish mackerel, potato bake, and vegetable stew.

Festive fruit mince pies and quintessentially Australian lamingtons finished the meal, which was served to some of the local community’s most socially isolated individuals and families.

Most importantly, each person was provided with the opportunity to eat a hot meal from a plate in a communal environment of acceptance and friendship.
‘At the end of the night, everyone took away one or two meals with them – families with younger children took more,’ Alma said.

 

St Andrew’s Catholic College, Redlynch, and St Ursula’s College, Toowoomba are schools on a mission!

Recently, each school raised an incredible amount – in excess of $4,000 each – to support Rosies outreach services in their local areas, with Cairns, Toowoomba, and Ipswich branches receiving funds.

On Friday August 1, over 50 St Ursula’s students from years 10, 11 and 12 were sponsored to brave the cold for a 12 hour sleepout in Merici Courtyard. Now in its third year, the event has been enthusiastically supported by the girls – and they have become muhc more appreciative of the comfort and warmth of their own beds and homes as a result!

St Ursula's Sleepout St Ursula's Sleepout St Ursula's Sleepout

St Andrew’s Year 12 students held their own sleepout during Catholic Education Week on August 1, while Year 11 students ran a blanket drive. The younger students got in on the act too by putting together hygiene packs!

Both schools are participants in the Rosies Student Engagement Program, with students volunteering year round with people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in their local areas. Students also provide material support to Rosies patrons in the form of emergency relief: food and hygiene packs.

Rosies would like to thank St Andrew’s and St Ursula’s for their continued generous support.

Local Cairns GP Dr Sharmila Biswas and Australian Medical Association Queensland Foundation have raised an incredible $57,000 through their annual tax appeal to help secure the future of Rosies’ Cairns branch.
The current Cairns vehicle is the oldest in the Rosies fleet and no longer serviceable.
Funds raised will provide a brand new van with a custom designed and fitted servery tailored to the needs of the Cairns branch.
Homelessness rates in Queensland’s far North are double of the rest of the State, and in response increasing demand the Cairns branch last year expanded to a third night of street outreach each week.
A new van will ensure the branch will be in a position to expand services further if needed.
Rosies CEO Troy Bailey said the generosity of Queensland’s medical community is overwhelming.
‘The members of the AMA – they’re already working to help some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people out there,’ he said.
‘Then to donate they way they have to support our work here at Rosies – I can only say thank you. It’s really incredible.’
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