History of Sunshine and Broadmeadows
UnitingCare Sunshine and Broadmeadows evolved from the early beginings when Orana UnitingCare, a community service agency of the Uniting Church, was founded on the 16th August 1888 as the Central Dorcas Help and Rescue Society, part of the Wesleyan Home Missions in Victoria.
Lentara UnitingCare (previously UnitingCare Sunshine and Broadmeadows) evolved from two Missions which had their roots in the former Methodist Church: Broadmeadows Parish Mission and Sunshine Parish Mission. These two Parish Missions began over forty years ago in 1969, and arose out of the worshipping congregations, in response to urgent needs at the time.
Broadmeadows Care commenced through the combined work of the Glenroy Methodist Church and the Broadmeadows Methodist Church when both were in the same ‘circuit’, as it was called in those days. Both churches had the same Minister, Rev David U’ren, who encouraged congregation members to get involved and use their gifts.
Local residents would come to the church and ask for food. When members of the congregation took food to the homes of those in need, they frequently found children at home alone while their parents were at work. So began a nursery in Broadmeadows, where children could be left at a safe place during the day.
In the early days, Broadmeadows Care was run entirely by volunteers. A management committee was formed from members of the Glenroy and Broadmeadows congregations. Rev U’ren became the first Superintendent of Broadmeadows Care. From its beginnings until 1987, the congregation minister was also Superintendent of the Mission. Superintendents included Reverends David U’ren, Kerrie Graham and Evan Jones. They managed the agency in conjunction with a Committee of Management, which was made up of church members.
In 1987, a change to the management system was introduced with the appointment of the first Executive Officer to manage the work of the agency. A separate congregational minister was also appointed to care for the congregation and as well as a Chair of the Committee of Management.
The Sunshine Parish Mission experienced a similar evolution to that of Broadmeadows Parish Mission, as it sought to meet the needs of people in the growing western part of Melbourne. The Mission took shape through the persistent founding vision that emerged from the ministry years of Rev John Blacker, during the late 60s and early 70s. This vision was characterised by a vibrant and growing church that sought to engage with the needs of the wider Sunshine community.
These years established community service supports, youth outreach, and a range of faithful Christian ministries. In the following decades, a more formalised community service Mission was consolidated, and grew to include an ever changing range of programs involving both professional staff and community volunteers.
In 1977, the Uniting Church was formed by the Congregational, Methodist and Presbyterian churches, and these two Parish Missions continued to be known as Broadmeadows Parish Mission and Sunshine Parish Mission, respectively. Community members came to know them as ‘Broadmeadows Care’ and ‘Sunshine Mission’.
With the formation of UnitingCare in 2000, Boards of Management were appointed to run the many agencies around the state. The minister of the congregation continued to be a member of the Board, however, others with the skills required to run a larger agency were increasingly asked to become Board Members.
On 26 October 2009, the two agencies joined to create a new agency – UnitingCare Sunshine and Broadmeadows. The event was held to mark this, which was attended by 150 volunteers, staff members and locals, including Uniting Church President, Alistair Macrae, and Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress National Chairperson, Vince Ross.
At this 2009 event, locals reflected on 40 years of providing care for the communities of Melbourne’s north and west. The areas served by the two agencies have continued to be characterised as lower socio-economic melting pots for immigrants and the financially disadvantaged. Unemployment in these areas remained high and a new transport corridor saw a growing demand for UnitingCare services, including financial counselling and new aid and support schemes.
In 2012 UnitingCare Sunshine and Broadmeadows and Orana UnitingCare joined to form Lentara UnitingCare. Click here to read the release about the name change.
Many people support the work of Lentara UnitingCare. A large band of people volunteer in the agency’s various programs, including emergency relief, programs for people seeking asylum, in Bargain Centres and in general support work.
Other Lentara UnitingCare supporters send or bring food for distribution through our emergency relief program, or donate second hand clothing and other household items for resale in the Bargain Centres. Lentara UnitingCare is also fortunate to have supporters who hold fundraising events and/or make regular financial donations. All this helps the agency continue to provide services, programs and support for vulnerable community members.