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New housing partnership


The Holy Cross Dominican Sisters in Adelaide have joined forces with Amélie Housing to provide a new model of low-cost housing for vulnerable women.

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The partnership recognises that as the congregation’s numbers decrease, the need for housing for this group of vulnerable adults is increasing at an alarming rate.

Land and 15 units located adjacent to Cabra Dominican College at Cumberland Park has been acquired by Amélie Housing, a special works of the St Vincent de Paul Society, which will progressively make the units available to women over the age of 55 who are at risk of homelessness.

Congregation leader Sr Bernadette Kiley OP said the land was always intended to be “something of an oasis” for the young women of Cabra Convent who were present in February 1886 when the college opened and now for “those who find a home here in its beautiful and peaceful surroundings”.

“Our congregation and Amélie Housing share similar values about the availability of low-cost housing for vulnerable adults, especially for women aged 55 years and over who are at risk of homelessness,” she said.

“It has given us much satisfaction to be able to make this land and these buildings available to Amélie Housing to ensure that those who need it continue to find this place the oasis it was always intended to be.”

Amélie Housing National Customer Services director Roman Kowalczyk said recent government reports found that older single women were eight times more likely to be homeless.

“For many women, being jettisoned into housing insecurity and/or homelessness is the first-time experience, with unemployment, ill health or relationship breakdown being the catalyst,” he said.

“Suitable housing for this group of women is extremely hard to find.”

Mr Kowalczyk said he hoped the project would prompt other organisations to follow in the footsteps of Sr Bernadette and the Dominican Sisters.

Member for Elder Nadia Clancy, Sr Bernadette Kiley and Roman Kowalczyk unveil the plaque.

During the blessing and dedication of the site, named Columba Place, Sr Gabrielle Kelly OP outlined the “compelling reasons” for naming the residential site after Mother Columba Boylan OP.

Mother Columba was Prioress of the community in 1886 when the Dominican Sisters at Franklin Street, city, needed more land for their boarding school and initiated their second foundation at what was then called ‘New Cabra’.

Sr Gabrielle said aside from being an “eminent educator”, Mother Columba knew the importance of “home” after being orphaned as a young child and sent to boarding school in Dublin at the age of 12. Five years after her profession as a Dominican, she was asked to go to “the other end of the earth” to lead the then-struggling Adelaide community.

She showed great compassion towards those Sisters who left their homeland to come to Adelaide and were often sent to live in other parts of the country.

“As Prioress in Adelaide she demonstrated sensitive awareness and pastoral care of the Sisters in regard to this matter of becoming ‘at home’ in alien places,” Sr Gabrielle said.

“We can pray she might keep heavenly oversight of all who come to live here, that she would see them safely settled, and continue to radiate her characteristic aura of tenderness and peace in this new Columba Place – not just a ‘collection of houses’, but a ‘community of homes’.


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