Our Foundation

In 1815 the Sisters of Charity were founded in Ireland by Mary Aikenhead, then on the last day of December 1838, five Religious Sisters from Dublin stepped ashore at Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour) after a long, difficult journey across the seas lasting 4½ months on the Francis Spaight. The Sisters of Charity were the first women religious in Australia.

Francis Spaight

With gusto, strength and dedication they set to work immediately, ministering to female convicts, teaching children, caring for the orphans, visiting the sick in their homes, giving religious instructions and visiting women and men in prison.

Over the past 182 years the Sisters of Charity of Australia have been serving the people of Australia and at times we minister overseas in response to particular needs.

Today we are in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.

Within the mission of the Catholic Church, we are committed especially to service of the poor and disadvantaged and have a commitment to social justice and to the environment.

When a new need is perceived, we endeavour to respond, making ourselves useful and constantly seeking creative ways to help those in need, hence the development of Downs & West Community Support. To many people the Sisters of Charity provide a beacon of hope in times of uncertainty.

Our mission in today’s world draws strength from a spirituality based on the Christian scriptures and an Ignatian tradition and that of our Congregation, dating back to our founder, Mary Aikenhead.

Our Congregational charism is “to bring to each person the love, the tenderness and concern of Christ for the poor, seeing Christ in everyone we serve”. (Constitutions: Religious Sisters of Charity of Australia.)

Read More: www.sistersofcharity.org.au.

The Sisters of Charity today

Sisters of Charity today

Incorporation with Sisters of Charity Community Care Limited (SCCC)

In July 2014 DWCS became one of the works of the Sisters of Charity Community Care Ltd, an Australian Public Company Limited by Guarantee, and as such accountable to the Australian Charities and Not–for-profits Commission for its governance in general and use of funds. As DWCS relies entirely on donations, this move offered donors the opportunity for their financial support to be eligible to be claimed as a tax deduction. Being under the umbrella of the Sisters of Charity Community Care Ltd also meant that volunteers who donated their time to DWCS would be covered by the company’s insurance.

Read More: www.sistersofcharity.org.au.

Advisory Committee of Downs & West Community Support (DWCS)

An Advisory Committee for DWDA (predecessor of DWCS) was established in December 2007 when it became clear the project would continue past the initial six months. The first meeting was held on January 16, 2008 with Mrs Cate Mapstone AM as Chair, Mr Craig Doyle, Mr Denis McMahon, Ms Joy Mendel, and Sr Mathilde Harnischfeger as Secretary. Also present was Sr Christine, Coordinator and Mr Rod Saal, Consultant and Drought Co-ordinator for AgForce.

In 2022, the members of the DWCS Advisory Committee include (left to right): Mr Chris Muir as Chair, Mr Chris Garnier, Treasurer, Mrs Kathrine Howlett, Mrs Chris Jackson, Clare Ryan, Mr Rod Saal OAM is the rural consultant.