Gethsemane Community is a community house for a small number of men and women with mental illness and/or intellectual disability who have been homeless or living in insecure Housing, e.g. without tenancy rights.
The house at 5 Oxford St Petersham was bought for the community by NSW Housing in 1998 under a partnership brokered by what was then Churches Community Housing. Under this agreement, Gethsemane’s lease is managed now by Amelie Housing (a Community Housing provider) and Gethsemane provides support for the residents.
A Home rather than a Group Home
Gethsemane Community has been commended by members of Community Mental Health and the Assertive Community Treatment team at Camperdown as providing an excellent model of care. They commented that it is more like a home than a group home.
Each evening, residents share the evening meal. Gradually, residents learn to cook and help prepare meals. A long-time friend and supporter, Mary Anne, cooks a meal each Wednesday. A casual employee, Leela, cooks each Monday and when Myree is away. Birthdays are a major celebration, with the resident choosing the meal that night. Pizza is a favourite and birthday cakes of various types are chosen.
Developing Living skills
Residents are assisted to develop living skills, take responsibility for their rooms and the shared community areas as well as the pets, and to plan their leisure activities. NDIS carers now assist with this. Residents learn to cook, look after personal hygiene and wash their own clothes and linen.
Moving out to live Independently
Over 50 men and women have lived at Gethsemane since the community began in 1990. Most of which have moved out to live independently. Approximately five returned to boarding houses or homeless shelters, and six went on to aged care. Two former residents – assisted by their families – now own their own homes, and five former residents remain in regular contact with us.
At least twelve, that we know of, have passed away. Gethsemane organised funerals for six of them, as well as three residents of boarding houses and a long-time supporter.
Pets help create a home. Currently, Gethsemane has two cats: Misty and Tommy.
Providing a dignified final resting place
Gethsemane has been responsible for the funerals, burials and cremations of nine people who were former residents or connected to Gethsemane.
When dealing with people who are truly homeless, their needs do not end with death and often the link with Gethsemane is all they have. Sr Myree’s name is on their papers as next-of-kin. When funds allow, burial plots are purchased. At present, Gethsemane owns one double plot at Macquarie Park and another at Kemps Creek.