This is what we do:
The Social Advocates of the Sapphire Coast was formed in 2011, initially as a Christmas initiative to raise money for Somalian refugees. Recycled household goods were collected and sold through a shop that became known as the Samaritan Op Shop, which over nine years raised $350,000.
Since 2011, our role in the community has been three fold: to provide financial assistance where needed, to offer practical help where possible, and to advocate for causes we believe need attention.
Following the 2019 bushfires we formed a number of strategic community partnerships, most notably with the Bega Valley Shire Council ( BVSC ), to administer a Disaster Relief Fund. We worked with the Pambula Rotary club to deliver and install 75 caravans, 58 water tanks and numerous sheds and septic tanks.
We worked with the Minderoo Foundation and the Bendigo Bank to acquire a mobile music stage which we donated to the Rotary Club of Pambula, for fund raising events. We have also developed strategic partnerships with local churches of all denominations, the Country Womens’ Association and local Lions groups.
Cooperating with such significant community organisations has been an effective way of addressing local crises. For instance, we have an on-going commitment to address issues of homelessness and have joined forces with the Anglican parish of St Clements in Merimbula, Mission Australia, and SEWACS Youth. We have gathered, and where necessary restored, eighty caravans for emergency accommodation. With funds raised from the community our It’s Up To Us! campaign enabled us to purchase and install the first six of nine planned demountable crisis units .
This massive campaign to supply caravans and demountables for the homeless means that every night, sixty homeless people in the Bega Valley, mostly women and children, have a roof over their head and basic comforts.
Our advocacy has centred substantially on issues related to homelessness. We have lobbied BVSC directly for seven years and met regularly with both State and Federal members for more recognition of the housing crisis in our shire. However, we have also recognised the need to give refugees a voice. Wherever and whenever possible, we advocate for their needs, most notably for those who have fled Rwanda and Somalia. Our great concern is to draw attention to the inadequacy of government response to such a pressing nationwide problem.
More recently, our concern has been directed towards The Voice. We have submitted two petitions to the Federal Parliament in support of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and advocated when and wherever possible for improvement in the treatment of First Nations’ peoples.
We hope that by applying our efforts, and where available our ingenuity, to the above mentioned concerns we can faithfully represent the intentions of those who continue to support us so generously. We thank you for placing your trust in us.
The SJA has been able to support a variety of overseas causes. This has included:
– support for mothers ostracised by their own communities after being raped during the then Somalian famine and war
– repairing a Somalian school for disabled children
– building toilet blocks in settlements around Port Moresby
– school trips to the Philippines, Timor Leste, Cambodia and Vietnam for pupils of Bega High School and Lumen Christi. These trips have centred on serving local community needs, specifically housing, education and the provision of fresh water.
We continue to raise funds to support education in Natabora in Timor Leste in conjunction with the Bega Valley Advocates of Timor Leste. With the help of a grant of $100,000 from Bega Cheese we have developed the Youthland Camp at Jigamy Farm. Eden Marine High School and Lumen Christi Catholic College both had students working on this project as part of their construction courses .
That is what we do. We work hard for those in our community who need a hand. It all takes money. So your donations, via our website, are very much appreciated by us and all those who are less well off than we are.