Seafarers from around the globe, including Geelong, were recognised this weekend as the Mission to Seafarers pays tribute to millions of people who spend their lives working at sea.
‘Sea Sunday’ is international recognised on July 14, as a global celebration of the enduring and vital work of the Mission to Seafarers.
The Mission is a Christian welfare charity serving merchant crews around the world. Victorian Regional Channels Authority is proud to support the Mission’s function at the ports of Geelong, Hastings and Portland.
Reverend Noah Park, the Chaplain of Geelong’s Mission to Seafarers, which dates back to the 1890s, says life on the sea is a unique experience and often seafarers are hidden and relatively forgotten.
“Life at sea brings unimaginable stresses from seasickness, injuries, loneliness and depression and even on occasions, bullying and threats on-board between sailors,” he says.
“At the Mission to Seafarers, we respond to the call to serve seafarers by visiting seafarers on their ships, welcoming them to our seafarer centre and providing them with practical assistance.”
This includes providing a safe and welcoming environment away from the ships, transport to town and nearby shops and a place they can relax and rest and contact their families back home.
The Mission’s support also includes access to recreational facilities, counselling, hospital visits, local tours and bus services, spiritual support and guidance.
Last year, more than 6500 seafarers from 41 different countries including the Philippines, China and India, visited the Geelong’s Mission centre in North Shore. Most of these seafarers arrived into port on bulk ships, staying for two or three days.
Dan Gadd from Barwon Heads, is a marine controller with VRCA and a former tanker master who has visited Missions in his travels around the world and says the work it does is invaluable.
“When you’re so far away from home, it can be a real challenge. Knowing there is a place that understands those stresses and where you can relax amongst your peers is a necessity.”
According to Reverend Park, Geelong’s Mission to Seafarers like many others around the world, relies heavily on donations and is very appreciative of the support provided by organisations like VRCA.
VRCA has recently provided funding to replace one of the Mission to Seafarers’ vehicles and part of the funding to replace its main bus.
VRCA Chief Executive Officer, Michel Harvey said the Mission to Seafarers continues to play an important role for our port city.
“Sea Sunday is a significant day where we can pay tribute to millions of seafarers around the world, the important work they do and the important support of the Mission for Seafarers,” he said.
A happy seafarer is a safer and better seafarer.”
Reverend Park says if the public would like to support the Mission to mark Sea Sunday, donations of books, magazines, woollen beanies, second-hand clothes, bibles and Christmas gifts would be most appreciated.
“Seafarers have to be on-board the ship for months at a time and not only is it often a lonely and stressful time, travelling to different countries means that there are unpredictable and ever-changing seasons. Therefore, such gifts are most appreciated by seafarers.”
The Mission to Seafarers Geelong also relies heavily on volunteers. There are currently 30 volunteers who help with a variety of jobs including driving the Mission’s bus and also giving a hand in the canteen and library.
For more information, or to donate or volunteer with the Mission to Seafarers visit www.mts.org.au/geelong.
Pictured are Captain David Shennan (Marine Manager and Harbour Master), Reverend Noah Park (Chaplain of Geelong’s Mission to Seafarers) and a group of international seafarers