Rosies was founded by the late Fr. Tom Shortall O.M.I., as an Oblate mission in Australia taking its original inspiration from St. Eugene De Mazenod, the founder of “MISSIONARY OBLATES OF MARY IMMACULATE”.

St. Eugene says, “First of all, it is crucial to become fully HUMAN”. Rosies community exists for mission and its fundamental mission is the building up of human community amongst the young people and those left out by society.

On community the late Fr. Marcello Zago O.M.I., says, “Is being lived as a communion of persons rather than as a common dwelling place or a house where the members share a roof, meals and different activities”. Thus, Rosies outreach and its invitation is to all, without discrimination. The community life it strives to live is the community life it seeks to share.

By Fr. Joe Antony

Colm Lavin’s idea of street people was like many other Australians -people living underneath cardboard boxes to keep warm.

That notion was turned on its head though, when he and his wife Michelle, started volunteering for Rosies -Friends of the Street.

“There was this nice, neat row of middle-aged gentleman, quite smartly dressed and I must admit the first person I spoke to was articulate and intelligent -they didn’t fit into my idea of street people,” Colm remembers of his first Rosies outreach at Southport. “That’s something I didn’t realise. I just thought we’d help people who lived on the street and that was a real eye-opener with my perception and what they are. It’s not what you think and of course there’s different types of people and circumstances.”

Colm’s wife Michelle is the branch coordinator at Burleigh and it was through her passion for volunteering  that  he got involved. Speaking about his wife, Colm said it was her Christian values that underpin her desire to help others less fortunate than herself.

The couple, who have been together since they were teenagers, immigrated to Australia with their four children from the UK 20 years ago and have been involved with Rosies for the last 13 years. Michelle said she’s always had a calling to volunteer work and during her high-school years helped out at a soup kitchen. She said it “It wasn’t something that I had to do, I was drawn to it and it aligned with where I was heart-wise,” she said. “It wasn’t about the soup, it was about talking to them and that’s what we also do at Rosies.”

Michelle and Colm started their joint volunteer journey when it was time for their eldest child to celebrate high school graduation at the Gold Coast’s iconic Schoolies event. “We started the year before [our child’s graduation] because we didn’t know what it was going to end up being and then we were there for the next five years,” he said.

The couple enjoyed volunteering together so much that Colm joined Michelle at the Rosies outreach, which at the time was at Southport. “We’ve been married such a long time and we spend a lot of time together -it’s just an extension of our marriage,” Colm said.

Michelle said it was comforting to have her husband around so the male patrons had someone to talk “guy stuff”, like cars and bands and boy stuff, with. She said often people were lonely and just wanted a chat.“ There was one man talking to my husband, I think he was an astrophysicist and he had a breakdown that led to [substance abuse] and he lost family. He’s a really intelligent person and just wants to have a conversation with someone.”

Colm said he’d met so many interesting people over the years, but there was a particular moment after a Christmas outreach that hasn’t left him. He’d overheard one of the volunteers talking to a patron who had taken some goodies from a Christmas lunch but was back again. “They’d thought he wouldn’t need to come back for a while but he said all of the things were gone already and he rattled off what he’d done. Well, the cheese went to one of the ladies in his housing units, the toys he had gone to another lady with children, and the other cakes and stuff he’d shared with neighbours,” he said.“He’d basically given everything away. He didn’t keep anything for a rainy day.”  Colm said it was really powerful to hear that people who didn’t haven’t got anything find it easier to give to others. “It’s just what they do,” he said.

Colm and Michelle are both huge advocates for volunteer work and it’s a value they teach their own children. “They know how active we are and so do their friends and when the time is ready for them, I’m sure they will volunteer however they can.”

But it’s not just within his family that Colm is vocal about the volunteer experience -he’s given talks about it at his workplace too. “I talk about Rosies and how volunteering can make you feel -helping people always makes you feel better and gives you a better sense of accomplishment. We’re wired to be givers, not just takers.”

Colm’s advice to new volunteers was to make sure it was the right time in your life and to not overcommit yourself. He said it wasn’t always easy -there were many people with sad stories -but if you feel like it’s for you, don’t shy away from giving it a go.

Michelle said she took a lot of joy from outreach and was also inspired by other volunteers. “They’re from all walks of life -engineers, tradies, nurses, mums and retirees. They’re all different but they all give up their time and they’re drawn to it and that’s what keeps you going -it’s a part of who we are as a community.”

If you would like more information on volunteering or to join the Rosies family please click here.

By Kate Schmidt

Going to the hairdresser always leaves you feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world, but many of us take the service for granted.

For some, especially those living on the street or in other forms of accommodation, getting a haircut is right out of their price range.But, thanks to local Brisbane hairstylist Stacey Bedrick, Rosies Friends of the Street patrons are able to enjoy that salon experience for free. She heads down to meet the Rosies crew at the Churches of Christ Pantry Assist Program in Annerley every six weeks and for two hours, spends time cutting hair and speaking to the patrons. For the past two years, she’s worked with Hair Aid, which is how she became involved with Rosies.“I was drawn to (charity work) because I’ve got the time and the skill and I thought I can do this,” she said. “I love meeting all the patrons that come here and have a chat with them.”

One of Stacey’s regular guests, Andrew, said the free haircuts went a long way in his predicament.“ It’s great when you get someone who does a really good job like Stacey. I’ve been in this hardship for nine years and when you do something like get a haircut it’s emotional and psychological, it’s not just a haircut. There’s practical things I need it for like appearance -when I talk to Stacey and we discuss style, it’s about trying to land a job and that’s damn hard.”

Valma is another guest who had her hair cut by Stacey during her visit to the pantry assist. “I’ve been meaning get it done for a couple of months,” she said. “It’s very hard for me to get out and about and the way that things have been I just go to about four different places and I don’t travel around too much. (When it gets hard) one of the things you forget about is your hair.“ I used to trim mine myself, but I have arthritis and I can’t lift my arm up to cut it anymore so it’s just been left. But it will be looking good after Stacey’s done with it!”

Lenny said Stacey was the most important person he’d come to see when he arrived at outreach. “I didn’t have a haircut for a whole year last year because it’s expensive and I’ve got bills to pay,” he said.

It was the pantry assist program that initially brought Rita to the Rosies van, but she also had her hair done. “I usually cut it myself because I had a perm but I am happy with the way that Stacey cuts my hair,” she said. Rita said she also enjoyed the community feel of outreach. “I’m happy to keep coming back, the people are very friendly and the social interaction is good.”

It is through partnering with organisations like Hair Aid that we can connect our patrons with additional services that can improve their self-esteem, health, and wellbeing.


By Kate Schmidt

While some spend the summer at the beach or relaxing in front of the TV, a group of Logan teenagers embarked on something different – a holiday project to help local homeless people.

Kuraby woman Aisha Abdallah, 19, came up with an idea: along with her friends, she wanted to do something to help people in her community feel good.
While watching overseas videos on the internet, inspiration struck – providing practical gifts to homeless people locally.

‘A man was going around asking homeless people what they wanted for Christmas,’ Aisha said.

‘They wanted little things, like a Starbucks coffee, just because they hadn’t had one in a while.’

Aisha was surprised by the simplicity of some of their answers, and realised that offering small but special gifts – ‘like a really delicious coffee’ – is a way of showing people they matter.

‘Such a little thing, done sincerely, can make someone really happy.’

Pooling their own money to buy the gifts, Aisha and her friends put together 30 bags filled with easy to eat items: snacks, noodle cups, biscuits with cheese, and small ready to eat tins, along with pieces of seasonal fresh fruit – ripe mangoes, nectarines, apples, and bananas.

The teenagers had originally planned to set out into Brisbane City on their own to find rough sleepers, but after contacting Rosies – Friends on the Street, they instead decided to distribute their gifts in their local community.

Four of the girls – Aisha, her sister, and two of her cousins – handed out the gifts to patrons attending Rosies’ Woodridge outreach.

They also spent some time talking with patrons and volunteers, as well as with staff from the Street Doctors mobile medical service who offer a GP clinic to the homeless.

‘We had heard of the Street Doctors, but I think it was a real eye-opener being a part of it,’ said Aisha.

Street team leader and Logan branch coordinator Margaret Harvey said patrons who come to Rosies are just like anyone else.

‘Some of them have had bad luck and some have an illness and no one cares about them,’ she said.

‘We have some pensioners who come every week – they’re isolated, they don’t have family so they come to us.’

Margaret says it’s common for Rosies patrons to feel like they are alone, and that many have difficulty finding opportunities to be social.

‘Some of our patrons have mental illness – they have a case worker who comes every two weeks, but no one else wants to spend time with them.’

She says most people who come to the Rosies van at Woodridge are not what many would consider ‘stereotypical’ rough sleepers.

‘Out here, you’re seeing the hidden homeless,’ said Margaret.

‘They’ve got a roof over their head, but nothing else.

‘Or families in cars. The kids are going to school every day, so nobody knows they’re homeless.’

Aisha said she and her friends enjoyed the experience, and planned to put together more gift bags for Rosies patrons throughout the year – with a range of different items like sunglasses, sunscreen, shampoo and conditioner and some homemade cupcakes.

Most of all, she hopes that the gesture will help some vulnerable people know they matter.

‘It’s just about saying hi to people, letting them know you’re thinking about them.’

To see the video that inspired Aisha and her friends, click here.

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.’
Our Spring newsletter is out – to download a copy, .

Social contact with the outside world is crucial to the emotional well being of young people, but there are even more serious reasons for the existence of volunteer visitation programs. The transparency involved in opening institutions facilitates a form of community oversight which helps protect children from abuse by those charged with their care.

Fifteen years ago the Forde Inquiry examined the treatment of children in Queensland institutions including youth detention.

The Commission’s findings included a recommendation that visitors from the community be allowed regular access to correctional centres and other institutions.

Rosies first entered the Sir Leslie Wilson Youth Detention Centre in 1998. When that institution was closed – another recommendation of the Inquiry – the visitation program moved to the new Brisbane Youth Detention Centre.

Rosies volunteers currently visit boys and girls in the Centre on Tuesday evenings and Saturday afternoons, engaging them in card games, recreational sport, and friendly conversation.

The centre’s residents are overwhelmingly from disadvantaged backgrounds. Indigenous youth are also concerningly over-represented: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people comprise approximately 2% of the population, but represent around 50% of detainees.

Inquiry chair and Rosies patron Leneen Forde recently spoke of the importance of Rosies’ presence in the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre.

‘One of the key findings that the (Forde) Inquiry made was for young people in correctional centres and institutions to have access to sympathetic visitors who visited them and helped them to get their lives back on track,’ she said.

Outside prison, volunteers are restricted from acknowledging young people they have met through visitation programs. It’s not unusual though for patrons to approach a street team and self-identify as having engaged with Rosies inside prison – often they are glad of a familiar face.

Because volunteers are present both inside and outside of prison, Rosies serves as a social anchor for young people who find integration into ordinary life difficult.

To support Rosies Youth Detention Centre visitation program, click here to make a donation.

Our Spring newsletter is out – to download a copy, .