On the eve of Refugee Week, The Good Shepherd Parish, Plumpton, invites you to a night of hope-filled entertainment with local Catholic musicians to raise funds for asylum seeker families with young children needing childcare.
For families seeking asylum, finding childcare is often unaffordable as they are ineligible for state and federal childcare subsidies.
But with the support of Jesuit Refugee Service Australia (JRS) and the social justice team at Good Shepherd Parish, Plumpton, local families have a chance to become self-supported.
In working with councillors from Blacktown City Council, both JRS, the parish and the Sydney Alliance have secured clients heavily reduced subsidies for access to childcare which equates to $25 a day.
But these families need your help to afford this.
Enter the ‘Sing in Solidarity’ Parish Concert.
On Saturday 18 June from 7pm to 9pm, Good Shepherd Parish will be hosting local musicians Van Sereno, the Bautista Sisters and Ian Epondulan and Michelle Flores, who will perform to raise funds for these local asylum seeker families.
Parishioner and Parish Council member Anthony Matthews, who is also a Religious Education Coordinator at St John XXIII Catholic College, Stanhope Gardens, explained to Catholic Outlook that the idea to hold a concert fundraiser came from a Diocesan-wide conversation on walking with refugees and people seeking asylum.
“Whilst at this event, Pat Drummond stood up and offered his services for a concert,” he said.
“During this time, I had been working alongside Jesuit Refugee Service and Blacktown Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) on supporting asylum seeker children access early education.
“This saw the fruition of holding a concert to help raise funds to support these families access this service.”
The event fundraising website says that there are a range of benefits of asylum seeker families accessing childcare.
“Access to childcare provides parents with opportunities to secure employment and/or to study and, therefore, to become self-sufficient,” it reads.
“Childcare also has important impacts on children as it gives them the opportunity to develop social skills, learn new cognitive skills and give the whole family a new community to connect with.”
The headline act will be singer-songwriter Pat Drummond, a parishioner of the Blue Mountains, and a social justice advocate. Pat told Catholic Outlook that he has been involved in various initiatives in support of refugees and asylum seekers for decades, describing a time when he would visit people in detention centres.
Hearing the story of one gentleman from Iraq who had been imprisoned for seven years, Pat received “divine inspiration” to write a song – Who Is That refugee?
“It occurred to me that the very first refugee family in our time was that of Jesus, Mary and Joseph – the Holy Family – who fled to Egypt to escape Herod,” he said.
The song, which received mixed reaction when it was first released, made its way to Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, who requested that it be played in parishes across the Diocese.
When the pandemic struck and performance venues closed their doors, Pat offered his services as a musician for free to parishes wishing to fundraise for local refugee families, an offer that Good Shepherd has taken up.
“It’s not just about the money,” Pat said of the concert. “The local families we are raising funds for have been invited to attend, so that those who come along can make the connection that refugees and asylum seekers are real people with real stories.
“It’s that human connection that is really important.
“I hope that people during Refugee Week are reminded of the Holy Family and the fact that they were in exactly the same position. I hope that realisation reaches the hearts of people in our parishes and that they realise there are real people with real stories behind the political debate that surrounds allowing refugees into Australia.”
Parishioners across the Diocese are invited to attend the ‘Sing in Solidarity’ fundraising concert on Saturday 18 June at Good Shepherd Parish Bingo Hall, 130 Hyatts Rd, Plumpton, from 7pm to 9pm. Entry is free, but groups can reserve tables of 10 for $100.
Donations will be accepted at the door, or on the fundraiser’s Eventbrite page – https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/sing-in-solidarity-tickets-341005435437?fbclid=IwAR2iv8YBpGoKEOrwZ1XS_NaRFw2mobSmwJPBtIAXMy6q4FB5azS1PY2CIfo
Parishioners can also connect with the parish office to donate by calling (02) 9832 4461 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pat Drummond has offered to perform at fundraisers that parishes in the Diocese of Parramatta may wish to hold to support refugee action. You can contact Pat through his website patdrummond.net for details.