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About us

It all starts with a welcome, a meal, a relationship.
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Every day of the year, we welcome adults of all ages and backgrounds who are experiencing homelessness, disadvantage and social exclusion to a free meal, care and support.

Since opening our doors in 1982, we have evolved into an independent non-profit organisation renowned for effectively helping thousands of people experiencing homelessness to rebuild their lives.

At the heart of everything we do, we recognise everybody is unique. No matter where people are in their journey, we are here to support them and we do not give up. Everyone is welcome at our table.

Through our wide-ranging homelessness services, research and innovation we strongly advocate for an inclusive, fair and compassionate community where people can overcome disadvantage and have a contributing life.

A Sacred Heart Mission, we see new personal strengths, achievements and optimism unfold for people every day.

With someone in their corner, people who have faced extraordinary disadvantage and trauma can find the courage to face the challenges in their life. We are in this for the long haul – we are committed to making a sustainable difference in people’s lives.

Our History

The Mission’s story began in St Kilda in 1982, when a local Parish Priest shared a meal with a man who was hungry and experiencing homelessness.

It was this first act of generosity which led to the formation of Sacred Heart Mission to provide the necessities of life – food, clothing, emergency relief, accommodation and companionship to people experiencing homelessness and disadvantage in the Port Phillip area in Melbourne.

A small team of committed staff and parishioners from St Kilda West helped prepare simple meals out of the presbytery’s kitchen. Within a year, more than 70 people were arriving each day for lunch. This led to the use of the Sacred Heart Parish Hall as the Dining Hall.

Today, the Dining Hall continues to be the heart of the Mission, providing breakfast and lunch every day of the year for hundreds of people. Much more than just a meals service, the Dining Hall opens a doorway for people to access a variety of services and support mechanisms offered at Sacred Heart Mission to those who come to us at a time when they are most in need.

Since then, the Mission has evolved into an innovative not-for-profit organisation providing individualised support and care services to people who are experiencing homelessness and disadvantage. We are now a well-recognised community service organisation, with Incorporated Association status, a board of governance and a range of complementary, innovative services all focused on addressing the issues of homelessness, social isolation and disadvantage.

Learn more about Sacred Heart Mission

View video transcript

We talked to our staff and clients about what makes Sacred Heart Mission unique and how it supports people to live the life they want to live.

Hear from our clients Asma, Cheryl and Graham, and from our team members Stephen (Executive Director), Kirsty (Meals Program Coordinator), Elizabeth (former Manager Women’s Services), Santi (Life Matters Coordinator) and Hala (Case Manager):
Stephen: Homelessness is an absence of home. It’s an absence of safety and security, privacy. It’s also that absence of connection.

Kirsty: Everything starts here in the Dining Hall at Sacred Heart Mission. For a lot of people it’s their first point of contact with our service. It’s a really important place to begin.

Elizabeth: Sacred Heart Mission is a not-for-profit organisation that’s been in existence for over 35 years now.

Stephen: We form a community that cares for community issues to make sure that people can make sustainable change in their lives.

Cheryl: Sacred Heart is part of my life. When I first experienced homelessness, I didn’t know anywhere that could help me in those days.

Graham: I had someone say, ‘I’ve got just the place for you’, and they brought me to Sacred Heart.

Asma: The people here are really good people. Very nice people. They helped me for everything here.

Kirsty: We open at seven o’clock every morning, 365 days a year.

Stephen: There’s no requirement. There’s nothing that you have to do other than just turn up. Easy engagement into the support. We will then wrap services around people, community engagement type services, clinical services, housing support.

Santi: Most of the residents here always say that the number one quality they feel here is safe.

Graham: I think a lot of people who get the opportunity to move in here, are going to feel a million dollars. This is really special.

Asma: I have very, very, very good experience with Sacred Heart. They helped me to find a permanent house.

Elizabeth: All staff are trained to provide a trauma informed approach, a flexible and individualised response.

Hala: We work on five different goal areas. The main one is housing, but we also work in health and wellbeing, social participation, economic participation, and independence.

Elizabeth: Building a relationship that’s based on trust, respect and kindness.

Stephen: Creating connection, creating relationship, and then passing that over to the community.

Graham: We like to think of ourselves as a family

Cheryl: The friendships I’ve made, made me feel loved.

Stephen: With that, people will be able to sustain their housing.

Cheryl: I’m in a block of flats that’s all women living in them. I feel safe, secure; cooking my own meals again.

Asma: It’s my home.

Elizabeth: It’s amazing to watch their belief in themselves and their self-esteem just grow.

Cheryl: A big thanks to the people that have donated.

Asma: They helped me and they helped many people.

Graham: It gives you an opportunity to live life again.

Stephen: We are asking everyone to be part of the solution, not just for those experiencing homelessness, but the reward that we all get when we connect.

Our Accreditations

  • Quality Improvement Council Health and Community Services Standards
  • Human Services Standards
  • National Standards for Mental Health Services
  • Aged Care Quality Standards
  • Registered provider of services for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

Sacred Heart Mission is fully committed to continuous quality improvement in all aspects of the organisation, from our business and operations to our service delivery areas, from our Board and volunteers through to our service delivery staff. This focus ensures that we regularly review and assess what we do and how we do it in order to continually refine and improve our services. It is important to ensure that we are not only delivering on our strategic plan but most importantly that we are meeting the needs and supporting change and positive outcomes for the people accessing our services.

Sacred Heart Mission is a Child Safe Organisation. Please read our Child Safe Statement here.

Our strategic plan

We know the future is challenging, but we will rise to the challenge and be proactive and evolutionary, in order to support people to make lasting changes in their lives. We have outlined our strategic priorities over a ten year period, from 2014 to 2024.

Our impact is measured and reported, we know what happens to clients, carers and families as a result of our services and the difference we make. We are accountable for our social value and measure our social return on investment.

Diversity Statement

Diversity and inclusion is at the heart of Sacred Heart Mission. We consider the diversity among our staff and volunteers to be an asset offering strengths and capabilities which greatly support the delivery of our services. Based on our vision of an inclusive, fair and compassionate community, we aim to provide welcoming and non-discriminatory spaces for everyone. We will continue to work in partnership with the community and organisations to develop innovative actions to improve the responsiveness and inclusiveness of our spaces and services.

Our guidelines, policies, procedures, and practice aim to ensure equality and participation, regardless of gender identity, age, ethnicity, cultural background, disability, religion, and/or sexual orientation. Read our pledge to provide LGBTIQA+ inclusive services and workplaces.

Sacred Heart Mission engages a diverse range of people, staff and volunteers, to work across a wide range of services and in our opportunity shops.

We are committed to ensuring that our spaces and workplaces are safe and welcoming for all people.
– Cathy Humphrey, CEO Sacred Heart Mission

RAP Statement of Commitment

Sacred Heart Mission acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which we operate. We pay our respects to them, their culture and their Elders past and present. We acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded.

With Indigenous Australians making up more than 10 percent of the people who come to us for support, Sacred Heart Mission commits to providing accessible and culturally appropriate services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

We also have, and continue to promote, Aboriginal staffing, business suppliers and connections with Aboriginal workers in our areas of operation. We have committed to reconciliation since 2012, striving to walk together with Aboriginal people and community to bring two worlds together and make it a fair, safe and welcoming place for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Read our Reconciliation Action Plan to see how we are achieving this.

Affiliation with the Catholic Church

Sacred Heart Mission is an example of the Catholic Church in action and the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching on confronting poverty, enhancing human dignity and advocating for a more just society.

Statement on the Religious Discrimination Bill

Our organisation, services and shops are places of welcome. We are committed to ensuring that our services and workplaces are safe and welcoming for all people, regardless of their sexuality, gender orientation, marital status, ability or beliefs. We join with other community service organisations with a faith background to speak out on the Religious Discrimination Bill, to urge the Government not to implement the Religious Discrimination Bill as proposed.