Politician tours Jewish House

February 26, 2012 by J-Wire Staff
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Liberal NSW State member for Vaucluse, Gabrielle Upton, has told Parliament  about her recent visit to Jewish House.

The parliamentarian told the House:

“I visited Jewish House in my electorate of Vaucluse to help unveil a plaque to celebrate the refurbished crisis centre. Jewish House was established 26 years ago by brothers Roger and Anthony Clifford. The brothers donated a house on Flood Street in Bondi primarily for a counselling service for teenagers affected by drug and alcohol abuse. Since that time Jewish House has grown into a welcome refuge for a diverse range of people. The centre now includes crisis accommodation, a telephone counselling centre, group therapy sessions and lectures on a wide range of topics that help attendees with day-to-day living.

Gabrielle Upton talks to Jewish House staff

The services at Jewish House are interlinked with each other and can provide clients with a wide range of support services. These include a 24/7 crisis line, counseling, chaplaincy, mediation, crisis accommodation, pastoral care, financial counselling and a resource centre. Jewish House has established itself as an important outlet not just for the Jewish community but also for any member of the broader community who needs the support that Jewish House can provide. The centre is now recognised, including by the New South Wales Government, as a leader in social welfare crisis management. This is a testament to the tireless work of Rabbi Kastel, the Chief Executive Officer of Jewish House, and the board of directors, led by Gary Cohen and Roger Clifford.

The motto of Jewish House is “People helping people” and indeed that is exactly how it operates. It is not systems helping people; it is people helping people and it is the people who contribute to providing each service at Jewish House who deserve congratulations and recognition. In fact, a large number of people who help to provide the services at Jewish House are volunteers. Recently they have called for more volunteers to staff the 24-hour crisis line and were gratifyingly overwhelmed with the response. Many who have offered their voluntary services do so with personal experience of the generous assistance that Jewish House has provided to loved ones or friends. They want to give back—again it is people helping people.

As the State member for Vaucluse I have seen firsthand the commitment of Jewish House to assisting the community in any way possible. I have worked in partnership with Jewish House to assist the residents of Vaucluse in need of crisis accommodation and care. But my firsthand knowledge of Jewish House goes back further than that. Even before I became the Liberal candidate for Vaucluse I visited with Rabbi Kastel to see how it worked, and whilst I sat with Rabbi Kastel his phone rang several times with calls from people in need. His generous assistance was hands on and it was immediate.

Not only does Jewish House prove its commitment through the services it provides, it is actively engaged in holding events and fundraising very successfully to ensure the continuation of the support it delivers. Fundraising is always a challenge for not-for-profit organisations that have tight budgets. However, the unique and important work that Jewish House does resonates with so many people in the community that it has loyal and generous support. Of course, more support is always needed. Through actively seeking partnerships Jewish House has been able to forge relationships with a diverse group of organisations such as the Prince of Wales Hospital, the University of Sydney and the NSW Police Force in order to promote its services and attract clients who might be in need. Jewish House works closely with the private sector, in particular with Sydney Clinic. It is a model of partnerships that fills important gaps for those in crisis.

Jewish House must continue to be recognised and supported as an innovative leader in social welfare crisis management. I have great pride in representing the electorate of Vaucluse where such a leading organisation resides. Jewish House received a grant of $53,000 in 2009 under the New South Wales Government’s Community Building Partnership Program to ensure that the crisis accommodation facilities were upgraded. In 2010 Jewish House was awarded a grant of $66,000 to fit out the new counselling rooms at Bondi. Those grants recognise the important work that Jewish House does. It deserves the commendation of this House for providing services and filling gaps in crisis accommodation, not only for residents in the electorate of Vaucluse but also for the broader community. I commend the work of Jewish House to the House today.

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