Moved by the plight of the needy in Ireland, in 1815 Mary Aikenhead founded the Sisters of Charity to serve those living in poverty.
A request was sent from Bishop Polding in Australia to Mary Aikenhead, asking her to send Sisters to the most neglected portion of the Catholic world. She responded by appointing five volunteer Sisters to Australia.
In 1838 these heroic and courageous women began their ministry in Australia by assisting the convict women in the female factory at Parramatta. From these humble beginnings the Sisters of Charity of Australia have continued to answer the call to ministry in hospitals, schools, prisons and social welfare activities.
A Foundation that supports the community
In order to promote in perpetuity the mission of the Sisters of Charity of Australia, specifically to the service of the poor, the Congregational Leader and Council established the Sisters of Charity Foundation in 2000.
The Sisters knew that while there were plenty of government-funded initiatives and established charity organisations that helped many in our society, countless others were overlooked. The Foundation’s first initiative, the Community Grants Program, was aimed at helping groups who already make a big difference to those in need, so they can have an even greater impact.
A scholarship that transforms lives
Only 3% of young people who grow up in out-of-home care attend university, compared to approximately 40% of other young people. Something had to be done to help close the gap.
In 2012 the Foundation launched a Tertiary Scholarship Program to empower dedicated students from out-of-home-care backgrounds to transform their lives through education.
A home for asylum seekers
More than 70% of asylum seekers in Australia receive no government support, leaving them at risk of homelessness. In 2014 the Foundation launched the Asylum Seekers Housing Program to commemorate 175 years of the Sisters of Charity in Australia.
Providence House, a residential apartment building in Sydney’s Inner West, was purchased and renovated by the Foundation, and has provided safe and welcoming accommodation to dozens of asylum seekers since then.
A new beginning for modern slavery survivors
There are an estimated 15,000 people living in slavery-like conditions in Australia today. The Anti-Slavery Housing Program was launched in February 2020 to provide housing assistance for survivors of modern slavery and human trafficking in Australia. This program is currently in its pilot stage.