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

Today

Gethsemane Community Inc is a community house for a small number of men and women with mental illness and/or intellectual disability, who have been homeless or in insecure housing. Residents have tenancy rights. Their leases are with Ecclesia Housing which manages these with the Community Housing Division. The house at Oxford St was bought in 1998 under a partnership proposal brokered by the then Churches Community Housing. Under this agreement, Gethsemane provides the support for its residents.

Since 2006, it has become clear that Gethsemane Community is seen as a model for what a Group Home could be. There are six Ageing, Disability and Home Care Group Homes in the area, which look after people with very high level need who have come from licensed boarding houses. Mental Health team members and members of the Mobile Assertive Treatment Team comment regularly that Gethsemane seems more like a home. Gethsemane helps residents develop living skills and promotes independence, responsibility and care for each other. Individuals are encouraged to contribute to the well being of the group and not just have their lives managed by others. Where appropriate they have access to social workers and health care assistance.

Residents who develop living skills can choose to move out and live independently if and when they are ready. Of the former residents, about 20 have moved out to successful independent living. They maintain contact in whatever way and frequency they wish. Gethsemane always helps out with food when needed and can assist with crises. Some come back for Christmas lunch or just drop in to share in a meal or simply to catch up or assist others.

Celebrations are an important part of life at Gethsemane and birthdays offer an opportunity for the individual to choose the form of meal as well as provide for others to join the community for the meal. Sunday night is often a special time with one of the members of the Committee of management preparing a special meal. Individuals help on different nights in meal preparation on their own or with a volunteer and each have their own specialty.

Pets are another dimension that change a house into a home and Gethsemane has its share of these. A dog and three cats are likely to be competing for space if you are visiting at any time and the dog will certainly announce your arrival and check you out before you go too far into the house. The cats are more circumspect and align themselves more closely to their respective owners but once again their importance to the residents speak volumes about the nature of Gethsemane and its lifestyle.

Gethsemane has been responsible for funeral services and burial or cremation for 7 people who have been members of the community or connected to Gethsemane and have assisted in the costs for two more. When dealing with people who are truly homeless their needs do not end with death and in many cases their link with Gethsemane is the only permanent link they have. The only name some can put on their papers as a person to contact in time of need is Sr Myree. Gethsemane community tries to honour this relationship in death, as well as in life, and when donations allow, purchases appropriate funeral plots so that they are available when needed. Gethsemane has been given a burial plot at Kemp’s Creek and has bought two plots at Macquarie Park so that it is able to give the dignity of a funeral and grave site to residents who die without family support.

 
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