Gethsemane works with appropriate State and Community agencies, in a form of practical partnership, when issues arise in regard to mental wellbeing.

Core Community: Outreach

Gethsemane Community live in a 6 bedroom property owned by Land and Housing Corporation (NSW Housing) and managed by Amélie Housing Ltd. There are two regular employees and there are three casual employees. All other assistance is voluntary. A Committee of Management meets regularly and accounts are audited. Gethsemane Community Inc is both a registered charity with permission to fund-raise and a Public Benevolent Institution. Donations are tax deductible.

There are separate tenancies, as each resident has a tenancy agreement with Amélie Housing. All residents pay rent to OCH through Amélie and each contribute a small amount weekly for all services. Obviously, this does not pay the bills, but it allows people to save so they can become independent. Residents have mental illness, usually schizophrenia and have case managers and GPs and are on medication.

The focus is on developing living skills, so that residents have a choice of living independently. Everyone is expected to look after his/her own room and laundry and to help with cooking, keeping the place clean and caring for the pets: currently a dog and four cats. The group lives as a community sharing the evening meal, celebrating birthdays and special events.

About 50 people have been through the community since 1990. Six have died and Gethsemane buried four of them. There is little family contact, as a general rule, and even if there is, most don’t cover funeral expenses. About 25 former residents have moved out to live independently. Some are now in aged care. A few have gone back to boarding houses or hostels. Those who want to do so stay in touch with the community and are welcome back for meals and celebrations. In crisis, they can always call on the community for assistance.

The community provides outreach to residents of licensed boarding houses for people with disabilities. During the year, used clothing, blankets and excess food are shared with anyone in need.

Gethsemane Community Inc is often described as a lighthouse and model, for what could be done to promote human dignity and independence among those who have lived in or been associated with the community. Its outreach to people with disabilities in boarding houses has spread its influence throughout the State.