The mission’s heritage is restored
By Meg Hill
The cherished heritage-listed Mission to Seafarers Victoria (MtSV) has re-emerged from a long period of renovations and renewal.
Since the end of 2019, the 1916 Spanish mission style MtSV building has undergone long awaited renovations. Scaffolding has covered the building’s iconic frontage and rooms were sealed off.
The work was sped up during lockdown and the Mission is now ready for reopening.
“We used the time wisely ensuring that things were painted, tidy and updated and [we] reconsidered several areas within the Mission,” MtSV chief manager Sue Dight said.
“Through a grant from the Vera Moore Trust we have repurposed the baggage room to be the new archive space. New floors, storage equipment including compactus, art storage and blinds for the space have been purchased. New locks and computers will keep the information and items safe.”
The Mission also received a grant from the City of Melbourne that provided the opportunity to replace well-worn stage-curtains. The windows of the Chapel and others that were cracked or mismatched have been repaired and had glazing replaced.
“The most noticeable is the scaffolding is down and the whole front of the building was re-rendered,” Ms Dight said.
“It looks spectacular, and there is an anti-graffiti coating on it so hopefully we will not see the damage of the past.”
“We are working on grants to have the memorial plaques on the front repaired and in one case replaced. Our volunteer Maureen is replanting the garden where we had to remove plants and the chaplain Inni turned his hand to repointing the courtyard paving.”
The team at the Mission has been employed during the past couple of months through the Mission supporters and the Job Keeper program. Ms Dight said without both sources of support not everyone would have remained employed.
As for the seafarers, Ms Dight said the Mission had kept up its job of supporting essential workers on the sea – who she said had experienced “inhumane” conditions during the pandemic.
“Rev’d Inny has been kept very busy with social media and direct contact with hundreds of seafarers all over the world and the team has been busy shopping for everything from toothbrushes to chess sets to PlayStation games,” Ms Dight said.
“More than 300,000 seafarers are working beyond their contracts. Travel bans and quarantines mean there is no way of leaving their ships or replacement crews taking over.”
“Many crews have been on board their vessels for longer than the 11 months legally stipulated by Maritime Labour Convention, of which Australia is a signatory. Some for as long as 15 months.”
“The ongoing isolation so far from home, to which they are being subjected, is inhumane. They need surety of when they can return home to loved ones.”
The Mission has made sure those coming into Melbourne received a warm welcome.
“The crew of the Stolz Hagi were over a week delayed getting into Melbourne due to bad weather up the coast. So, we arranged for them to be in fine spirits with Hungry Jacks in their bellies, new books and beanies.”
As of late the team has been looking forward to reopening to visitors and volunteer •