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Docklander - August 2012

01 Aug 2012

Docklander - August 2012 Image

Seafarers’ welfare is what it’s all about

They are out at sea away from their homes and families. They have  little with them but one thing they do have is certainty that a Docklands organisation is caring for their welfare and mental well-being.

Andrea Fleming heads this organisation, the Mission to Seafarers. The mission has been a ministry of the Anglican Church since 1857. It looks after seafarers when they are on Melbourne’s shores.

Before taking over as CEO of Mission to Seafarers in April 2007, Andrea had been in the not-for-profit sector for 15 years. She started out as a marketing officer at a racing club in the late 1990s.

When asked the reason why she chose to be part of Mission to Seafarers, she said she had always had a natural empathy towards seafarers.

“These seafarers are so generous with what they have even though it is often very little,” Andrea said.

The work Andrea does at the mission is to look after the welfare and well-being of the seafarers who come through our ports. Melbourne’s waters see seafarers from the Philippines, China, India and Ukraine (among others). They are thousands of kilometres from home and the mission helps them stay in contact with their families.

At the complex on 717 Flinders St, other than food, rest, and entertainment, there are telecommunications facilities made available to the seafarers. Skype is readily available on the many computers on site. Telephone cards, telephone booths – anything to help the seafarers stay close to their loved ones.

The mission is also with the seafarers in bad times. It offers comfort to the bereaved and assists the seafarers in cases of injustice and distress.

In 2010, the mission launched a program with Beyondblue Australia to help seafarers cope with depression.

The mission is fully funded by the community. According to Andrea, the mission relies on the empathy and kindness qualities in the volunteers.

Andrea said the Mission’s goal for the next five years is focused on advocacy work to provide more onshore facilities to the seafarers.

“What we are trying to do here is to provide a sustainable future to seafarers,” she said.

The mission recognises the efforts of the Maritme Union which looks after the Australian seafarers.

Andrea feels that Docklands is very important to the maritime precinct with the wharfs and the presence of the Polly Woodside.

In addition, the location of the Mission on Docklands allows easy access to visiting seafarers.

“It is really great to be by the water,” Andrea said.

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