ISA Annual General Meeting 2017

Thank you to our members who attended the Irish Support Agency 2017 AGM on 31 October. What an action packed and successful year it was with numerous new projects and events running alongside our busy Outreach Service for those in need.

Our thanks to Kathleen Donohoe, who stepped down from her Treasurer position, for her efforts and guidance over the last few years.

We are excited to welcome three new committee members and look forward to using their skills and experience to continue to build the ISA over the coming year.

Our committee members are volunteers who give up their free time to manage and steer the ISA, without them there would be no organisation, and no NGO support for the Irish in NSW who need assistance.

Our 2017 committee are as follows:

Harvey James - President
Donna McKiernan -Vice President
Eoin Scannel - Treasurer
Marian Schaffer - Secretary
Liz Kenny, Terence McCaughan, Elaine O'Brien, David Stewart and Roisin Trainor as Committee Members.

President Higgins visits ISA's Cara Club

The Committee and Staff of the Irish Support Agency were honoured to welcome President of Ireland / Uachtarán na hÉireann Michael D. Higgins along with his wife Sabina, The Tánaiste France Fitzgerald to our Cara Club seniors group on Saturday while on their State Visit to Australia.

President Higgins, Sabina Higgins, The Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald and former Irish Ambassador to Australia Noel White with Irish Support Agency Committee & Staff members.

President Higgins, Sabina Higgins, The Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald and former Irish Ambassador to Australia Noel White with Irish Support Agency Committee & Staff members.

This was a truly historic day for our organisation and, more importantly, a day our senior Cara Club members will never forget. The excitement among our seniors has been huge over the weeks leading up to the visit and we are thrilled to have been able to make this possible for them.

Addressing our guests, President Higgins paid tribute to the work of our Agency for the help we provide to members of the Irish community who find themselves in difficulty and thanked the agency for protecting Irish individuals on their own or helping people who are grieving a long way from home.

President Higgins spoke positively of our engagement with younger members of the Irish Community in Sydney, which is something we have been placing huge efforts into over the past few years through the development of new projects and events.

PRES HIGGINS IR SUP VIS BONDI  MX-14.jpg

To mark the special occasion, ISA President Harvey James presented President Higgins with an ornate pocket watch inscribed with our logo and the date of the visit, and Sabina with a scarf featuring a print of the Great Barrier Reef. President Higgins presented Harvey with a Newbridge Silverware Quill Pen, Holder and Inkwell Set.

You can read more about the visit in the Irish Times article here

Go raibh maith agat

Our deepest thanks to Consul General Jane Connolly and staff from Irish Consulate Sydney for facilitating the visit and for their ongoing support.

Thanks also to the fantastic chefs Brendan & Adam from 34Bia for generously donating a delicious lunch spread of soda bread, black pudding and scones and jam.

Lastly, thanks to loyal ISA volunteer and supporter Ciara Rafferty who took the fantastic photographs that our Cara Club Seniors will cherish forever.

ISA attends 11th annual LINK Conference

Last week five representatives of the Irish Support Agency joined delegates from Australia, New Zealand and Ireland at the annual LINK Conference. Melbourne's Irish Australian Support & Resource Bureau were this year's hosts. 

Delegates at the close of the 2017 LINK Conference

Delegates at the close of the 2017 LINK Conference

The conference is an opportunity for Irish support organisations working in different states in Australia and New Zealand to get together and share information and experiences on the assistance we provide for our clients. We discuss the common issues facing Irish people living in Australia and ways in which we can work together, and with organisations based in Ireland, to address these issues through the development of new projects and programs.

Among this years line-up of speakers were Cabhru - Helplink Support Services,  Crosscare Migrant Project, Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas and Commission for Children & Young People. We covered issues including Returning to Ireland, Mental Health, Child Protection, Death Care and Personal Injury Law among may others. 

Thanks to IASRB for hosting, and to the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, The Irish Embassy in Canberra and the Irish Consulate in Sydney for supporting this important event. 

The Irish Support Agency are delighted to host the 2018 Conference in Sydney next year. We look forward to developing the agenda over the coming months. 

Pictured above is the new ceremonial LINK Australia embroidery that the very talented Ann Marie from IASRB made especially for the conference. On the close of the conference IASRB President Owen Fitzsimons handed over the embroidery to ISA President, Harvey James, as 2018 hosts. 

Free Mental Health First Aid training available

Thanks to funding from Penrith Gaels Cultural and Sporting Association we are pleased to facilitate our second Mental Health First Aid Training Course for the Irish Community in NSW.

Mental health first aid is the help given to someone developing a mental problem or in a mental health crisis. Regular first aid courses are widespread, however most of these courses do not address helping with mental health problems. Mental Health First Aid training aims to fill this gap. 

Details
Mental Health First Aid 12 hour course
Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th June 2017.
9.30am to 4.30pm
Mill Hill Community Centre, Bondi Junction.
Lunch provided.

Eligible participants
Irish people, or those with Irish heritage, living in NSW. 

Spaces are strictly limited.

Contact Roisin on 02 9300 8019 or admin@irishsupportagency.org.au for an application form. 

Please note that the purpose of this training is to equip members of the Irish Community in NSW with the necessary knowledge and skills to assist someone in a mental health crisis. This training will not be offered to individuals for professional development purposes. 

Penrith Gaels St Patrick's Day Charity Golf Day

On March 10th, our friends at Penrith Gaels Cultural and Sporting Association held their annual St Patrick's Day Charity Golf Day. This year they selected the Irish Support Agency as their charity partner. 

Golfers enjoyed a competitive round of golf at Dunheved Golf Course in St Mary's, followed by a delicious dinner served at the Shamrock Bistro at the Penrith Gaels Club. 

A cheque for $4,300 was presented to the Irish Support Agency following the event.  A huge thanks to all the golfers and sponsors who made the day a success. Thanks especially to Penrith Gaels Club for their continued support of our charity. The money raised will enable us to support those in the Irish Australian community who are in need or distress. 

Minister of State for Tourism & Sport visits ISA

We were delighted to welcome visiting Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Mr Patrick O'Donovan T.D. to our St Patrick's Day Morning Tea last week. He was joined by HE Ambassador Breandán Ó Caollaí, Consul General Ms Jane Connolly and Vice Consul Mr Rory Conaty.

We thank the Irish Government for their continued support and ESP funding which enables us to help those in need of assistance in NSW.

St Patrick's Day Celebrations in Sydney

St Patrick's Day is just around the corner and there are lots of activities planned over the weekend. 

Friday 17th March

Bishop Terry Brady will celebrate St Patrick's Feast Day Mass in St Mary's Cathedral at 10am. The committee have planned a beautiful service featuring the Irish Community Choir and Irish dancers. This year the Psalm will be read as Gaeilge. 

Sunday 19th March

The Green Gathering

Sydney St Patrick’s Day Organisation is proud to present The Green Gathering on 19 March 2017. Join in at Prince Alfred Park in the CBD (next to central station) for live bands, a Children's Parade and fun day, stalls, Irish dancers, marching bands and much more. The Green Gathering is a day for all the family to enjoy and this year there is a special focus on children’s activities with free entertainment including music, bouncing castles, face painting, storytelling and children’s workshops.

Be sure to pop in to the Irish Support Agency's Tea Tent for a free cup of tea and slice of brown bread!

Minister for Mental Health and Older People

We were delighted to meet Minister Helen McEntee, Minister for Mental Health and Older people at Irish Consulate Sydney this week.

The Minister was interested to hear about our new health and wellbeing program and engagement with other Irish groups including NSW GAA who participated in the Mental Health First Aid training that we facilitated last year.

The Minister stated that she has a responsibility for the mental health of all Irish people, not only those in Ireland, but also for those living across the world. 

Minister McEntee and Consul General, Jane Connolly, with representatives of the Irish Support Agency and NSW GAA.

Minister McEntee and Consul General, Jane Connolly, with representatives of the Irish Support Agency and NSW GAA.

MIND Your Step

We are pleased to announce that our new weekly walking group "MIND Your Step" launches on Saturday 25 February at Centennial Park. 

It is a simple way to meet other Irish people in Sydney while boosting your physical and mental health. All ages and fitness levels are welcome!

The Centennial Park loop is 3.6 km of flat, easily accessible paths meandering through one of Sydney’s most beautiful parks. Along the way you can spot dogs, horses, ducks and playgrounds.

Meet at the Model Boat Pond beside the York Road Gates at 9am (look out for the Irish Support Agency Flags). Bring walking shoes, water, sunscreen - and a friend if you like!

Following the 3.6km walk we will be hosting a FREE Sausage Sizzle to celebrate the launch of MIND Your Step!

Contact admin@irishsupportagency.org.au or 02 9300 8019 for further details. 
 
The MIND Your Step lunch marks the first of many upcoming projects within the ISA's new Health & Wellbeing Program. Stay tuned to the website and facebook page for details on upcoming events. 

ISA Facilitates Mental Health First Aid Training

the first group of students complete Mental Health First Aid Training in November.

Students with their Mental Health First Aid certificates, along with certified trainer Elaine O'Brien

Students with their Mental Health First Aid certificates, along with certified trainer Elaine O'Brien

Over the last twelve months the Irish Support Agency, together with The Irish Consulate, identified the need for mental health supports specific to the Irish population in Sydney. We plan to develop a comprehensive Health & Well-being project over the next year, but kicked things off last month with Mental Health First Aid training for Irish Community groups thanks to funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs' Emigrant Support Program.

Mental health first aid is the help given to someone developing a mental problem or in a mental health crisis. Regular first aid courses are widespread, however most of these courses do not address helping with mental health problems. Mental Health First Aid training aims to fill this gap. 

Representatives from Irish Community groups including GAA clubs, Sydney Rose of Tralee, Darkness into Light, Irish National Association, Sydney Queer Irish and Irish Brekkie Club undertook a two day certified training program delivered by trainer Elaine O'Brien. By including representatives of these active groups the impact of training will be widespread in the Irish Community in Sydney. 

Elaine, originally from Co.Cork, is a mental health professional with vast experience in both Ireland and Australia. She delivers this training regularly but this was the first time she delivered it specifically to a group of Irish people living in Sydney.

Speaking after the training Elaine said;

"I believe it is really important to run Mental Health First Aid Training for Irish communities in Sydney, not only to educate people on what is mental illness, but to give people the confidence and skills in providing support. The more we educate people the more likely we are to reduce the stigma around mental illness.
We are all a long way from home and often unsure of services available. This course gives us information and ideas on where to go to access mental health support in Sydney. Having groups specific to the Irish community coming along helps people form networks and adds to their support systems. Mental illness affects 1 in 5 people in any given year, and the more we educate people the more likely people are going to be, in seeking help, and this will help provide better outcomes for the person experiencing mental illness."

Our thanks to the students who gave up their weekends to undertake the training, Elaine for being a fantastic source of information and to the Irish Consulate and Irish Abroad Unit for making the training possible.

We look forward to expanding our services in 2017 and hope to deliver the training again. If you would like to be involved in the Irish Support Agency's Health & Well-being Working Group please contact Roisin at admin@irishsupportagency.org.au.

ISA delivers first Returning to Ireland Information Session

The Irish Support Agency was pleased to welcome members of the Irish Community in Sydney to our first Returning to Ireland information evening this month. 

Roisin, ISA Cordinator, kicked the evening off with an overview of life in Ireland in 2016, providing an update on employment, accommodation, cost of living and education situations. Our Outreach Worker, Ashley, provided information on health care and social welfare entitlements for returning migrants before outlining the process for returning with non-EEA partners. 

The Irish Chamber of Commerce's resident Tax Expert, Rae Ni Corraidh, provided an excellent (and humorous) overview of tax issues relating to departing Australia and options on accessing superannuation funds for those on temporary visas.  John Mc Quaid, Registered Migration Agent at Arrive Australia Migration Services, provided an important outline on options for those who decide to return to Australia in the future. 

The evening concluded with a Q & A session with our panel consisting of John, Rae, Jane Connolly (General Consul of Ireland), Jessica Waller (Financial Adviser at CABEL Financial) and Claire who has first hand experience of returning to Ireland with an Australian partner. Returning to Ireland experts, Crosscare Migrant Project, joined us via Skype. Guests in the audience had the opportunity to ask questions to the panel who gave them relevant information and referrals to appropriate services. 

Our thanks to all those who attended the session and to our expert speakers and panel members for their invaluable contribution to the evening. Thanks especially to Crosscare Migrant Project for their guidance throughout the development of this session. 

If you are considering a Return to Ireland but were not able to join us on the night you can contact us on 02 9300 8019 for information. Also check out these useful websites:

www.citizensinformation.ie    www.migrantproject.ie   www.dfa.ie/global-irish/coming-home/


Go raibh maith agat

Over the past few weeks our website and social media pages have been busy covering all the promo and pictures of our fundraising activities; the highly successful Golf Day and our upcoming Irish Fight Night. Now as we reflect on all the support we have been given over recent weeks, we think it is important to remind everyone of the true side of our work that we don't often share.

While we shared fun pictures of our boxers, sponsors and golfers supporting our fundraising activities, our Outreach Worker and volunteers were busy in our office and in the community assisting people who needed our help.

Between Monday and Friday last week we assisted 14 clients and their families through distressing times. We ran our regular social drop-in in Bondi, Wollongong and Penrith for Irish seniors and our Be-friending volunteers visited nursing homes to have a cup of tea and a chat with those who may otherwise become isolated in the community. We began preparations for upcoming Mental Health First Aid training for community groups and information sessions for individuals and families returning to Ireland.

All this is only possible through the support given to us by our members, donors and sponsors. So, to all our golfers, boxers, volunteers, sponsors and supporters we say, THANK YOU.

New Free Online Counselling Service for the Irish Abroad

This Saturday 10 September is World Suicide Prevention Day and on this day Helplink Support Services (Helplink.ie) is joining forces with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the GAA to launch Cabhrú , an new type of support service for the Irish abroad. 

Cabhrú (meaning ‘help’ or ‘support’ in Irish) is a free online counselling service which will be available 7 days a week. Initially, the service will be available for Irish citizens in Australia during their evening times and each client can avail of up to six free appointments.

The Cabhrú team is working with local Irish support services in Australia, as well as the Department of Foreign Affairs Irish Abroad Unit, the GAA and the Crosscare Migrant Project to promote the service and encourage clients to avail of these free counselling appointments.

Lochlann Scott, Founder and CEO of Helplink Support Services, stated that “the idea for providing counselling to Irish citizens abroad originally came from Helplink’s counsellors and members of its board. Some of our clients who had been availing of counselling while in Ireland were able to continue their regular appointments when they went abroad for work because of Helplink’s online counselling service”. Mr Scott continued “When we, as an organisation, analysed current and previous research in the area of mental health and emigrants we found that they are very unlikely to make use of counselling services in their adopted country of residence. The research also illustrated that some of those who did attempt to engage in mental health services abroad reported many barriers, including encounters with culturally unaware counsellors, which made the counselling process more difficult”. Links to this research can be found at http://www.helplink.ie/cabhru/.

The organisation has plans to expand the Cabhrú service to other countries such as Canada, the U.S.A. and the U.A.E in the future. More information about Cabhrú can be found at www.helplink.ie .

LINK Conference 2016

10th Annual LINK conference 29 - 30 April 2016, Perth

April saw the return of the annual LINK Conference for Irish support organisations in Australia. The Claddagh Association in Perth were this year's hosts. 

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The conference is an opportunity for Irish support organisations working in different states in Australia to get together and share information and experiences on the assistance we provide for our clients. We also discuss the common issues facing Irish people living in Australia and ways in which we can work together, and with organisations based in Ireland, to address these issues. Common themes this year included Mental Health, FIFO work and Immigration/visa issues. 

Among this years line-up of speakers were the Australian Dept. of Immigration and Border Protection, The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, Crosscare Migrant Project, Irish Council for Prisoners overseas and The Irish Times - Generation Emigration.

We also enjoyed presentations on dealing with the media, family law, fundraising and the economics and emotions of Irish in Australia.

Thanks to all those who took part, and to the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, The Irish Embassy in Canberra and the Irish Consulate in Sydney for supporting this important event. 

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The Australian Irish support organisations present Eithne and Colin Bell from the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust with a custom made sculpture called "Flying Home" which was designed to reflect the important work they do by alleviating the financial hardship of bereaved families repatriating the bodies of loved ones who have died abroad back to Ireland.

Welcome to the new IAWB

Welcome to the new IAWB

2015 was a BIG year for the Irish Australian Welfare Bureau. We reached a milestone 20th year and celebrated this achievement in style at Parliament House. It was also a year of change; we welcomed some new faces on to the Committee and grew our team with the appointment of a new Coordinator and part-time Outreach Worker.