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Your support at Christmas can provide happy endings

We used to call it the dole but now we call it Newstart. It doesn’t matter what we call it, it is still not enough for a person to live on.


$280 per week. Could you live on that?


This Christmas we want to highlight those people, mostly older women, who are trying to live on Newstart.


Below is a story from Iris – a story similar to so many others.


You are responsible for saving people like Iris from a life not worth living through your continued donations and this year is no exception. We need whatever you can spare.


As you read about Iris you will see that very ordinary people can go from a normal happy life to great despair. It can happen in an instant.


People on Newstart or the dole are not bludgers or looking for a free ride. One client said that she had applied for so many jobs she had lost count and yet she is made to feel like “you’re a scourge on society”.


We are seeing so many people at St John’s these days that say they are constantly looking for a job but just get knocked back over and over. We are not surprised as Anglicare’s recent report stated that there are five low-skilled applicants competing for every entry-level job, making it impossible for some unemployed Australians to find work.


You may not be able to solve every unemployment problem, and neither can we but if we want to provide happy endings like Iris had then we need your support.


On behalf of all our volunteers and staff we wish you a very happy Christmas and please remember those less fortunate than yourselves.


Sarah Murdoch

Executive Officer

P.S. Not everyone looks forward to Christmas. Your wonderful donation can turn this around. Help us give the gift of happiness by making a tax deductible online donation or by ringing St John's Care today with your credit card details on 02 6248 7771.

This is my story

My name is Iris and I am 59 years old.

Five years ago I was working as a teacher’s aide in a primary school. I was married and lived in a rented house with my husband who was 12 years my senior. He was retired and on an Age Pension and I was earning a good wage and life was pretty good. We had no children.

Then my husband had a heart attack and died. I was not expecting this, and not only did I find the whole thing very traumatic, but I found out that we had very little money in the bank and I only just found enough to pay for his funeral.

I managed for a while and then I was made redundant. The school no longer needed two teacher’s aides and so I had to go. I immediately tried to find another job but there is not much out there for teacher’s aides these days and I had no experience doing anything else. I started looking for jobs. I was happy to do anything but kept getting rejected because they said I would be bored, but I guess the real reason was they thought I was too old.

The little bit of redundancy money I received slowly disappeared on rent and all the bills you get for just plain living.

Feeling very depressed one day I decided to go for a walk and as I went up some brick steps, I tripped and fell hard on my knee. It was such a stupid thing to do and basically changed my life. For days I could not walk. I was too proud to call out for help. I no longer had a car as it was unregistered. I could not afford the registration or insurance, so it just sat on the roadside. This meant getting around on public transport was very difficult as I had a fair walk to the bus stop.

So, four years after the death of my husband I found myself without a job, paying most of my Newstart allowance on rent, utility bills and painkillers for an extremely painful knee and other bills that kept coming in. Each day I would make an effort to find a job but it was a waste of time. I was so restricted by my knee.

I went to my doctor who gave me a referral to an orthopaedic surgeon but when I found out the cost of the consultation, that was the end of that. I was put on the public waiting list to see an orthopaedic surgeon, but I could be waiting years to see one.


Finally, I could no longer afford to rent. An old friend came to my rescue and invited me to live with her out on a farm. This saved me from living on the streets.

I knew this was not for ever and I would need to be receiving enough money and assistance to get myself back on my own two feet.

So, after three months I went into the Centrelink office and the person behind the desk started asking me questions; Why didn’t you apply online? It is much better. (I don’t have a computer.) Show me your identification. (I don’t have enough on me at the time. You need some supporting documents before you can claim.) Have you got your separation papers from your last employer? Have you got a MyGov account? It will be at least 21 days before you get any money.

I walked out the door and burst into tears. How did I end up like this? What have I done to deserve being in this situation? Where was I going to sleep that night? What was I going to do? I had about six dollars in my bag and not much else.

I found a seat by a shop and sat down and just wept. A woman came down and sat next to me. She asked if she could help. Was there anything she could do? She sounded so nice and so I just told her my story. She looked at me and said, “Come on, I know where to take you.” And with that walked me to her car and drove to Reid.

Now I come to the happy part of my story. I did not know there were such kind people in this world. I’ve never been religious but these people were angels to me. They gave me a cup of tea and the best soup I have ever eaten. Then the community worker sat with me and explained all the options I had to get back on my feet. They contacted Onelink for me and they helped me find a place to stay for a couple of nights while they helped sort out what I could do.

If it weren’t for St John’s Care I am not sure where I would be right now. I will never be able to say thank you enough for the kindness I was shown by these people.

If you are reading this then you know about St John’s Care. All I ask is please, please give generously to them so they can help more people like me.

I am now back on my feet. It has been a very slow process, but I have somewhere safe to live and I am moving up on the waiting list to get my knee fixed. Life is good again.

Thank you St John’s Care.

Present Room, hampers and Christmas Day Lunch

Once again at St John’s Care we will have a Christmas Present Room and will give out Christmas hampers.


This year St John's Care, Uniting Care Kippax and Canberra City Care are working together to make sure they can help as many people as possible during the Christmas season.


We will be using a booking system so that we can ensure that everyone in need of help at Christmas receives it. Bookings will commence on Tuesday 26 November and the Christmas Present Room will open from Tuesday 10 to Thursday 19 December.


People experiencing financial hardship or need assistance can receive a hamper from one of these three organisations. They need to provide a Health Care or Centrelink card that shows the members of their household to receive a hamper.


If you are donating toys it would be wonderful to receive educational toys such as Lego and outdoor toys such as footballs, skipping ropes, softball kits, etc.


We would also appreciate your help by donating items that will go towards building a hamper for someone in need.


Some suggested items are:



Please drop items off at St John's Care Monday to Friday 9.30 am to 2 pm or place them in the bin outside the St John's hall Saturday and Sunday between 10 am and 4 pm.


Christmas Day Lunch in the St John's Hall from Noon to 1.30 pm is a free lunch for anyone and everyone (just turn up!). It is a lunch to make sure that no one has to spend Christmas Day alone. Everyone is welcome.


Volunteers please contact us to put your name on the list to help on the day.



45 Constitution Ave,

Reid. ACT 2612.

Phone : 02 6248 7771

Please support St John's Care in our mission to offer practical and other support to all in need.

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