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Asia Pacific Augistinian Conference

Augustinian Volunteers Australia

A Volunteer (left) at the end of a class.

Since 2008, Augustinian Volunteers Australia (AVA) has provided supervised placements for those who complete the three-week course in Justice and Peace at the Augustinian Province Centre in Brookvale, Sydney each February. The source of direction of AVA from the Commission for Justice and Peace of the Australian Province of the Order of St Augustine.

To become an Augustinian Volunteer, persons must be active in their Catholic Faith, complete the three-week full-time preparatory course in February, and then be able to serve in a AVA-supervised placement in their hometown; there is no accommodation provision in AVA, hence most Volunteers continue with the ordinary living arrangements, usually in the parental home. They undertake to volunteer the equivalent of one day per week in their supervised activity (although some actually do more).

Five persons completed the preparatory course in February 2008, five in 2009, six in 2010, ten in 2011 and six in 2012. Almost all of the participants then became a Volunteer for the rest of that particular year, and a few also subsequently remained for a second year in the program. Most Volunteers are tertiary (college) students at the time they become an AVA.

Augustinian Volunteers work in ministries to the marginalized that have some degree of proximity to Augustinian parishes. In Sydney this has meant service occurs at Redfern in the inner city, supported from the Augustinians at Brookvale and at Western Sydney supported from the Augustinians at St Clair Parish and at the Augustinian Spirituality Centre at Greystanes. In Brisbane, Volunteer sites are spread across the city, with the Augustinians at Coorparoo being the focus of Volunteer community and support.

A Volunteers’ public information session.

A new Augustinian Volunteers Australia (AVA) outreach began at Redfern in inner-city Sydney, New South Wales in mid-March 2012. The Volunteers assist Aboriginal high school students with classes in literacy and numeracy. In this program, Augustinian Volunteers Australia participates with the Tribal Warrior Association, which has a mentoring and maritime training program with the indigenous young people of Redfern.

There are three classes in Redfern conducted by Augustinian Volunteers per week, following an early morning physical exercise session from 6.00 am to 7.30 am that is provided by the Tribal Warrior Association. Three of the 2012 group of Augustinian Volunteers are involved in the classes on an ongoing basis.

Moving into 2014

AVA completed its seventh annual two-week full-time formation course with a closing liturgy on Friday, 21st February 2014. As usual the course presenters were Mr Paul Wilson, the full-time Justice and Peace Officer of the Australian Province, and Fr Paul Maloney O.S.A. There were ten participants in the course, some of whom accepted extra assignment-writing in order to receive credit for the course from the Broken Bay Institute, which is affiliated with the University of Newcastle. The course featured two main elements: firstly, the Church’s teaching on social justice and its practical implications for Augustinian Volunteers and, secondly, the spirituality of St Augustine of Hippo, which supports and underpins the social justice tasks that lay ahead for the Volunteers.

The course utilised two Sydney venues: the Broken Bay Institute at Pennant Hills and at the Augustinian formation centre in Brookvale, and there were immersion experiences at a number of other locations in the greater Sydney metropolitan area. Most of the course participants will now join the Augustinian Volunteer program for 2014.  

Mr Paul Wilson, the full-time Augustinian Justice and Peace officer and the director of Augustinian Volunteers Australia, welcomes enquiries about the structure and funding of this new Volunteer ministry and its ongoing development. He can be contacted by writing to him at the Order of St Augustine, P.O. Box 7278 Warringah Mall, Brookvale, NSW 2100, Australia, or by e-mailing him at osaadmin<at>bigpond.com 

Moving into 2017

AVA completed its tenth annual two-week full-time formation course in February 2017. On 18 May 2017 AVA was granted Vice-Regal Patronage by the present Governor of NSW, His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (R’td). The Governor has visited the Redfern centre where AVA Volunteers help to provide Aboriginal language preparation for local youth. 

 

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