Friendship Program Closure
For more than 14 years we have been blessed by the compassion and generosity of the many hundreds of volunteers who have served as Australian Friends in our Friendship Program, which matched local volunteers with people who have arrived to Adelaide as refugees and asylum seekers. These valued volunteers have extended the hand of friendship to new Australians coming to Adelaide and offered a warm, practical welcome.
Over this period more than 600 Australian Friends have shared their knowledge of community, customs and other important ‘onboarding’ necessities with close to 550 new arrivals. Some relationships have extended beyond their involvement in the program and become enduring, rewarding friendships.
In recent years, this landmark program has been coordinated by Bryan Hughes and Joanne Robjohns, with the support of Miriam Smith, Jane Horton and Marigold White.
Our investment in this program also led to Baptist Care SA’s leadership role in the state celebration of Harmony Day in 2017 and 2018 at the Migration Museum.
Whilst the Friendship program’s achievements are considerable and there is much to celebrate, a recent review of this program has revealed that there are now other organisations better positioned to meet the needs of these new Australians. In keeping with our strategic focus on vulnerable children and marginalised young people, we have decided to close the Friendship Program and refocus our efforts on supporting Unaccompanied Humanitarian Minors to make a new home in Adelaide. Baptist Care SA will be working with the Federal Department of Home Affairs and will be the sole provider of this critical settlement service for children and young people.
Baptist Care SA will work with current participants of the Friendship Program to transition them to other agencies where they can access a range of support services. We will be inviting our valued volunteers and some former participants of the Friendship Program from culturally diverse backgrounds to remain connected to our services where possible. We are hopeful that many people will continue to express their commitment to advancement of our Mission in other roles across the organisation as these become available, commensurate with their skills and experience.
Volunteers are an essential part of Baptist Care SA. They play a vital role in the delivery of services to those doing it tough in our community. Unfortunately, over the last few months, due to COVID-19 restrictions, we have been forced to wind down volunteering across the organisation in order to ensure everyone’s safety.
During this time, whilst keeping our eyes fixed on the horizon, we have taken the opportunity to review our systems and how we support our volunteers across the organisation. We are currently working to reactivate volunteering across the organisation where it is safe to do so.
If you have any questions, please direct them to