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North Wharf News - February 2013

04 Feb 2013

Docklands is a “home away from home” for about  60,000 seafarers annually visiting the Port of Melbourne.  

Ships’ crew rely on the facility and services offered by the Mission to Seafarers. Seafarers work in isolated and often dangerous conditions and sometimes require counsel and care for distress which may arise from working at sea.  

Responding to the demand of global trade is work that few of us could otherwise imagine unless you have done the same, or spoken in depth with a seafarer. The true life of a working seaman is humble and often heroic.

As a destination, Docklands may be evolving slowly in the minds of Melburnians. However, for seafarers, the Docklands offers a variety of opportunities to ensure that their limited “shore leave”, whilst their ship is in port, is productive and pleasurable.

The Mission to Seafarers building complex is registered with the National Trust and is recognised for its historic and on-going significant contribution to the seafaring community.   

The organisation first began in 1857 and has operated from 717 Flinders Street, since 1917.  With 95 per cent of world trade relying on shipping and just 1.4 million seafarers responsible for sea transportation of goods, it seems that there is good cause for the on-going provision of services to support seafarers whilst visiting Australian shores.

Currently the MtSV is working with North Wharf precinct developers Asset 1 to ensure that the mission building is a priority in heritage planning and future developments at North Wharf.

The Mission to Seafarers is a not-for-profit organisation relying on the generosity of donors, sponsors and volunteers who support the club’s operations which are available 365 days of the year from 10am - 10pm for visiting crew.

Seafarers who do not receive shore leave are visited on their ships and are offered a welcome and whatever help they need. This can range from enabling them to contact their families at home via mobile phone or email, post mail or other support they require.

While most seafarers are treated well, some are still abandoned in ports far from their homes, or remain unpaid or forced to work in unsafe or unacceptable conditions. In such situations, the Mission plays a vital role.  

Far from the romantic adventures of the Arabian Nights’ Sinbad the Sailor, many seafarers consider depression to be their biggest storm at sea.

Sailor Rod Ivan Puno wrote: “Life at sea is like living in an ageing world, a prisoner of opportunity, convicted for survival. As the sailor embraces the sea, he counts on lonely nights, killed in forbearance, crying in silence.”

Describing the life of a seafarer as a “prisoner of the sea,” third mate Tere-sito Veano, in moving prose wrote: “We, seamen, are like prisoners. We are deprived to be with our families, friends and loved ones.”

If you are interested in finding out how you can support the work of the Mission to Seafarers - there are many ways you can help.  Volunteer just four hours of your time to work in the club as a host or driver or please consider making a tax deductable donation.  

To enjoy the variety of music, art and culinary events and activities and also historic surrounds of the mission building complex and its recreational facilities the MtSV would welcome you as a Crew 717 Social Club member.  

Until next month ...

Andrea Fleming,
CEO, Mission to Seafarers

and

Philip Hill,
strategic director, WTC Asset 1

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