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Docklands’ volunteers

02 Apr 2019

Docklands’ volunteers Image

The Mission to Seafarers is a bit of a Docklands oasis.

With the Yarra on one side, the highway end of Flinders St on the other, and a construction boom around it, the Spanish-styled mission, with its dome, turrets, courtyard and garden can seem a bit of a hidden treasure.

But a number of Docklands locals spend time there, many of them as volunteers.

Ken Dusting and Melinda King are just two of them.

Ken, who has a seafarer background himself, has lived in Docklands for three-and-a-half-years. He began volunteering at the mission just a year into living here.

“We lived in Port Fairy before that and we work overseas about six months of the year,” he said. “We wanted a place near the sea where we could just lock up and go away.”

There was a similar draw card to volunteering at the mission. Ken wanted to fill gaps between going away, and so began driving seafarers for the mission.

Melinda lives next door to the mission – she’s had the apartment for nine years.

She said many of the residents there have lived there since it was built. It was quite the move from Tasmania.

“I went to Tasmania about 28 years ago, thought I’d spend a few years there but I spent 26,” she said. “We always wanted to retire back to Melbourne and we liked this area because it’s out of the city, but it’s right on the city doorstep.”

“Everything we love­ – sport, theatre, are right on our doorstep.”

And that includes the mission. Melinda volunteers as a host and said some of the conversations she had with seafarers are what made it so special.

“A couple of weeks ago I had a young seafarer in and he was heading home the next day, and he’d only seen his three-month-old baby over Facetime,” she said.

“He was going home to hold his baby for the first time. We bought him a koala because he was only a ship hand and they don’t get paid well, and we wanted him to have something other than a cuddle to give his baby.”

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