When Neroli Stratti retired from her work as a counsellor at Aboriginal Catholic Care, something drew her back.
“In our ministry as human beings, we are here to share and care and help each other…and I value that’s who we are here at Aboriginal Catholic Care,” Neroli says. “So yes, I continue to do the work I was being paid for, but now as a volunteer.”
Neroli began at Aboriginal Catholic Care as a bookkeeper in 1987, and after finishing her studies in 2014, moved into a counselling role “to be able to sit with people and listen to their stories”.
“There’s such a huge need for this support because of the historical trauma,” she says. “Working with people to find housing, or to find support in helping them to work on things that are making their lives uncomfortable.”
Neroli says it is a privilege to witness the journey of clients, particularly those who were part of the Stolen Generation.
“Listening to the stories of people who really aren’t that much older than me and to learn they were from the Stolen Generation, and the journey their lives had taken them on and how they didn’t even have their own autonomy,” Neroli says.
“Life was a constant struggle, so to come to someplace where you’re respected, and you’re encouraged, and you’re helped. This place is a very helpful, happy place to be, where people have learnt how to grow and that has come about a lot of the time through the groups, sitting, yarning, sharing, feeling that this is a place you can trust.
“It’s beautiful to see the growth in people and it’s been an honour for me to be a part of and to be accepted in my roles.”
Neroli says anyone who walks through the door, regardless of culture or background, is welcomed.
“The people who work here work with everyone. They are here to support and help, no matter where you come from,” she says. “It’s part of the ministry of life to care about each other, to care about humanity. There are no agendas here. We are just here to help people.”
The Bishop’s Good Samaritan Appeal will support Aboriginal Catholic Care to continue to care for the needs of our First Nations brothers and sisters, and anyone needing support in these tough times.
“The story of the Good Samaritan is about people who would normally not have spent any time with each other or even cared about each other. But the Good Samaritan went out of his way to care for that person and make sure they were okay and had somewhere safe to be. The Good Samaritan story was about reaching out no matter who it is.”
Neroli continues to find time in her role as a volunteer for the centre’s art group to listen and hear people.
“I’m volunteering my time, just that one day a week when the art group is on,” she explains. “And if somebody feels the need to talk or wants to share, I offer to sit with them and to listen and to hear.”
Neroli says there are many ways to reach out and support someone on their journey.
“What’s most important in our journey is to be the best version of who we are meant to be and for me, that means reaching out no matter who it is or how it is.
“There are many ways to support people, whether it’s as a volunteer or financially. It’s a great blessing to be able to do that.”
Aboriginal Catholic Care provides a community drop-in centre for First Nations people in Western Sydney so they can access practical assistance and learning opportunities. In these overwhelmingly difficult times, your generosity will continue the life-changing support we provide for our First Nations sisters and brothers, and anyone in need.
Please support Aboriginal Catholic Care to help people in need, with a donation to the Bishop’s Good Samaritan Appeal by calling (02) 8838 3482 or visiting yourcatholicfoundation.org.au/bishops-samaritan-co-appeal-23