‘Welfare’ means forethought, concern, care and encompasses two strands of action – to prevent and to deal with the needs of the community.
The Greek Welfare Centre NSW (GWC) is the welfare and community services arm of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in Australia. It was established in 1975 in response to the immense welfare needs of Greek immigrants. This was one of the first attempts by Greek immigrants in Australia to establish a specific service to meet the needs of the community. Prior to this, the Church, through its network of local Parishes and benevolent or charitable groups, provided direct welfare assistance to those in need.
The Sydney Office was set up with a grant from the then Department of Immigration. In 1975, GWC was staffed by one part time social worker (funded by the Department of Immigration’s Migrant Settlement Services), and volunteers. In 2016, GWC employs more than 110 staff (full time, part time, casual), and has an active volunteer base of 180 volunteers. More than two thirds of the GWC funding is related to service provision for the frail aged, and their families/carers.
The principal funding sources are the Australian Government Departments of Health and Social Services. Other funding is sourced from time to time from various New South Wales Government departments and agencies, and local government authorities. GWC operates within the broad programme areas of:
- Social and Community Services: Information, Referral and Counselling Services (mental health, family relationships, problem gambling, drug/alcohol); and Children’s Services
- Community Education and Community Development projects, including volunteers
- Aged Care Services: Home Care Packages; Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP), including Social Support and Centre Based Respite; Seniors’ Groups; and Community Visitors Scheme
- Regional and Sessional Services, and
- Organisational Improvement and Development.
GWC also contributes to the development of general policies in reference to access to services, culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) services, community welfare and health services at all levels of government. GWC works in partnership with generalist / mainstream service providers to represent community needs, to facilitate access to services, and to link the community to relevant service providers.
Over the past 40 years, the GWC service provision has expanded to target not only the Greek-speaking community, but other CALD language groups and the community at large.