Wednesday, 13 March 2024

Hutt Street Centre Platinum Jubilee Reception

Rod, and I as your Patron, are honoured to welcome you to Government House to pay tribute to the work of Hutt Street Centre in its Platinum Jubilee year.

That’s a significant milestone in the evolution of the organisation - 70 years of caring; 70 years of empowering people to rebuild their lives; 70 years of restoring dignity and respect.

On such an anniversary it is worth reflecting on how far Hutt Street Centre has come; from providing a simple meal to now providing significant support and guidance; support and guidance that transforms lives.

The story is worth retelling. Hutt Street Centre was founded in 1954 by the Daughters of Charity.

They were first invited to come to Adelaide by the Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide, Archbishop Matthew Beovich. Three Sisters took up residence in St Louise’s House, where the Centre’s administration is today.

Solely dependent on “divine providence”, the sisters set about responding to one of the most basic needs of life by providing sandwiches and jars of tea to the returned war veterans who lined up down the back alley, off Gilles Street.

Since then, Hutt Street Centre has supported hundreds of vulnerable people through the provision of services including support of wellbeing, mental and physical health, and advocacy, education, employment, and housing.

Fast forward to today and 75 staff and more than 200 volunteers work to support more than 2,500 people every year who are at risk of, or are experiencing, homelessness.

The Aspire program, working alongside participants to find enduring solutions to their homelessness, is having a significant impact on people’s lives and reducing reliance on the health, justice, and human services systems.

Undoubtedly, and indeed unfortunately, the work of Hutt Street Centre has never been more critical.

Against the backdrop of cost of living and housing pressures, it has experienced a 25% increase in demand for the centre’s services in the past 12 months.

In 2023, 2,531 people were assisted with almost 40,800 meals served.

During the second week of January, demand for support reached an all-time high with 909 visits by 346 people.

On average, 20 new clients are seeking support for the first time each week, a number that may well have risen by now.

Within this challenging context, the story of Hutt Street Centre is the story of transformation.

It is the Story of Darcy who walked through the centre’s door because she had nowhere else to turn. She was couch-surfing in a strangers’ living room and felt increasingly concerned for her safety. Through the Ignite program, she found a warm and welcoming space to connect with others and find comfort.

It is the story of Jessie who was sleeping rough and had hit rock bottom. He was hoping for a healthy meal, a hot shower and some much-needed medical care. He found more – he found support to explore housing, to apply for work and to start to regain his sense of identity and belonging.

Rod and I heard similar uplifting personal experiences when we walked alongside volunteers and clients in the Walk a Mile in my Boots Challenge, and when we helped to serve food at Hutt Street centre. We could feel the sense of purpose among all participants.

Sadly, there is a long road ahead and many challenges to be overcome before we can fully tackle homelessness.

The commitment of everyone here to making significant inroads into the problem, will ensure many more vulnerable people will be on a path to “homefulness”.

I thank the board, staff, donors, and volunteers both past and present, for your commitment. You are living the values that create a strong and caring community.

I wish the Centre all the best in achieving its mission for the next 70 years and beyond.

I look forward to working closely with you as Patron in these challenging times.

Coming events