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Sanctuary Resident Shines in New Job

23rd March 2017
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One of Baptcare’s Sanctuary residents, Abdul, 20, recounts the hardships he has overcome whilst seeking asylum in Australia, culminating in a job offer with a leading employer.

Abdul fled Somalia when he was 17 years old only to be placed in detention for 14 months shortly after arriving in Australia. Since leaving detention, Abdul struggled with the challenges of supporting himself while being alone in a new country.

“When you’ve got no family, no friends and in a new country, life is very hard,” Abdul said.

Abdul fell into homelessness six weeks after being on his own and was placed in temporary homeless assistance housing for about seven months. However, he didn’t let this get in the way of making a better life for himself in Australia.

“This didn’t stop me from reaching my goal of a better life, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel and the possibilities for me are endless,” Abdul said.

Abdul never gave up trying to create a better place for himself and was diligent about entering the workforce. While trying to find permanent accommodation, he also studied at TAFE and volunteered as a receptionist at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

“After struggling to find housing I eventually got an offer from Baptcare to enter the Sanctuary program. They not only supported me in regard to housing but also supported my employment,” Abdul said.

Baptcare helped Abdul gain work experience in his field by offering him voluntary work placement at the Moonee Ponds office where he undertook data entry, filing and other administrative duties with the Family and Community Services team. Abdul was a keen worker and always attended placement days. Even when his car was stolen, it didn’t stop him from navigating his way to work on public transport.

Abdul charmed the Moonee Ponds office with his skills and cheery personality. Disability Services Program Manager, Dawn Hill-Allan said he was “a pleasure to have around the office. He was such a gentleman; nothing was too hard for him to take on as a task”.

The work experience Abdul undertook through Baptcare plus his other work allowed him to shine in a corporate environment. This hard work paid off when the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre recently referred him to a job at ANZ Bank’s inbound call centre.

“After an interview with ANZ, they offered me a job. That was one of my biggest dreams in life. I believe this job could change my life in many ways.”

Abdul attributes part of his success to the support that was provided to him by Baptcare. “I believe Baptcare plays a very important role in the community and also to people seeking asylum by supporting them with housing and employment,” he said.

Abdul has come a long way since he first arrived in Australia and Baptcare has been a big part of his journey to find a meaningful role within the community.

“Baptcare provides special support to people seeking asylum who are having financial hardship and that is something to be very proud of.”

“This is the start of my journey. The sky is the limit.”


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Kew Student Residence

21st March 2017
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Going from high school to university can be a daunting prospect, especially for those moving away from home to study. The Kew Student Residence provides fully catered accommodation to students coming to Melbourne to study. Most of them are from rural Victoria, with some from interstate or overseas. Living at the res helps them to adjust to city life and provides an enjoyable and welcoming community. 

It was inspired by Reverend Arthur Wilkins and the Kew Baptist church who aimed to provide a “Christian home for young people." It was originally known as the Kew Baptist Youth Hostel located in the Moore Potter House in Canterbury. It was moved to Kew in 1963 to be closer to the church. There are around 50 students each year, with a balance between Christians and non-Christians. Their various courses include midwifery, science, engineering and creative writing. 

The Res speaks into the next generation of Christians whilst they are in a formative and challenging time in their lives. For many, moving away from home and beginning university, it is a time when they start to question what they believe and what they are going to do with their lives. The Res provides a positive Christian environment for people to learn about Jesus and develop their faith, as well as being closely connected to the Kew Baptist church. Living at the res is also a lot of fun, with many late-night card games, movies, video game sessions or pranks (in good faith). During one of my visits I soon found myself amid a water fight, as people tried to drench each other with buckets of water! 

Andrew Spence, a former ressie, stayed at the res whilst studying science at the University of Melbourne. He described res life as “fun and really supportive.” Lots of activities happened spontaneously like soccer matches, board games, and movie nights. The downside was that he struggled to find time to study amidst all the action! He also noted that living in a Christian community and being so close to church was “invaluable for my faith.” Both the res and church were “great environments for me to work out my faith for myself and to learn how to live for God.” 

The current managers are Steve and Anouchka Chatelier. Steve noted that being a manager is “varied, challenging and rewarding and reasonably unique." Duties vary from "marketing to unclogging toilets to liaising with contractors to leading volunteers, financial things, pastoral care.” The role also involves forming deep relationships with the residents under their care. A lot of time is spent hanging out with people and talking with them, which Steve described as "a real privilege to be intimately involved in people's lives.” Steve noted that being a manager involves learning how to cater to a variety of needs and "how to provide a Christian home for an atheist, a Buddhist [and] for Christians of different persuasions.” This involves understanding "the different ways to communicate God's love in word and deed to different people.” The res students are also supported by people in the flat and in the house, located between the residence and church. They provide pastoral care and try to be a bridge of sorts between the residence and the church. Simon, one of the current house residents, said it has “been nice to get to know a big bunch of new people” and he feels it is a “privilege to help them in the journey."

Nicholas Tuohy, Senior Pastor of Kew Baptist Church, said that the Student Residence is a “vital part our ministry.” The key he noted was “being hospitable and making pathways for students to connect with others in exploring faith. We are very fortunate to have a great bunch of young adults who genuinely want to serve Jesus, several of whom are involved each year in welcoming the “Ressies” and sharing life and faith with them. By God’s grace we have seen many young people come to faith, or come to their own faith, which is wonderful.” 

Over the many decades since the Res’ establishment, it has housed over 1000 students, creating an amazing legacy. Many of the Res alumni stay around and continue attending Kew Baptist. It is known as “a place where lifelong friendships are forged.” Steve described it more as a community than mere housing, even as a big family. Some residents come in as sceptics or nominal Christians, but become committed Christians through their experience of a loving and fun Christian community. As well as benefiting the students, the res enriches the broader church community and “provides a rich and exciting rhythm to our year,” as Nicholas noted. In an age where young people are being disconnected and less interested in church, Kew has a vibrant and thriving youth demographic. That is largely thanks to the many decades of service that the Kew Student Residence has provided.   

For more information see: 

By Benjamin Cronshaw
Credit to Brendan and Simon for the photos.


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Upcoming Events

25 MAR
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Safe Church Awareness Workshop - Ashburton

Presented By: BUV

Safe Church Awareness Workshops are interactive, awareness raising workshops covering Christian foundations of safe ministry, duty of care, vulnerable people and child protection (abuse prevention), due diligence in relation to recruitment and supervision of all church leaders and the management of program risks.

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26 MAR
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Grow Give Go Sowing Sunday

Presented By: BUV

On Sunday 26th March 2017 Victorian Baptists will have the opportunity to come together to GIVE to support new initiatives

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