The Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project (BASP) was established in 2001. It is a Melbourne-based initiative of the Brigidine Sisters whose motto is ‘Strength and Kindness’. The Brigidine Sisters have been engaged in education and social justice in Victoria since 1886.
The co-founders of the project are Brigid Arthur and Catherine Kelly. Catherine passed away after a short illness in March 2015.
Every person, irrespective of age, race, gender or religion has the right to live safely, free from persecution. When applying to Australia for protection, people seeking asylum should be treated with dignity and respect and their claims should be processed with expediency.
Underpinning this work are the core principles of universal human rights and Australia’s responsibilities to those seeking asylum, especially the need for just and accessible procedures and structures.
The Project works with, and for, people seeking asylum both in detention and in the community. Concerned and compassionate women and men across cultures and generations contribute to the work of the Project.
The BASP community believes Australia is both richer and stronger for welcoming those seeking asylum.
The Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project (BASP) is a Melbourne-based initiative of the Brigidine Sisters which aims to:
• Provide hospitality and practical support for people seeking asylum;
• Actively network with like-minded individuals and groups who are working for justice for asylum seekers;
• Promote advocacy for the rights of people seeking asylum;
• Engage in education about asylum seekers’ issues.
Brigid, a Brigidine Sister, grew up in the Wimmera rural community of Kaniva, and was educated at St Brigid’s College, Horsham. After her profession as a Brigidine she began her long and passionate engagement as an educator, mainly with secondary students in Brigidine Colleges throughout Victoria.
A life-long learner, Brigid continued to study and expand her knowledge and skills in many fields. As Principal in a number of Colleges and later a founding member of the Brigidine Secondary Schools Council, her passion for education that encompasses and promotes the inclusion and growth of all young people was paramount.
In 2001, whilst continuing her work with education, Brigid’s hospitality extended to the increasing needs of asylum seekers and refugees in our society. In a less than welcoming climate her vision for students – ‘all are welcome’ – now began to extend to the needs of asylum seekers and refugees. Thus, with Catherine Kelly, BASP was born and continues to grow.
Libby grew up in Melbourne and trained in social work at Melbourne University. She worked as a social worker in health and disability services, before having her 2 children.
Libby returned to the workforce in 1993 to help build Silver Circle, a community care organisation, enabling people who were older and/disabled to live in the community as independently as possible. In 2006, as CEO, she oversaw Little Company of Mary Health Care’s acquisition of Silver Circle, facilitating its transition into a Catholic not-for-profit organisation and its expansion into 4 states and 2 territories.
After 20 years, it was time for a change for Libby and what is now Calvary Community Care.
Libby hoped to be able to work with and on behalf of people seeking asylum -to counter, in some way, the negative and punitive response of government policy and practice.
Libby began working with BASP in 2014 as a volunteer and took up the role of co-ordinator in 2015.
Jude, a Brigidine Sister, is the behind-the-scenes person at BASP who does the bookwork, including accounts, answers the phones when needed and generally supports the program. Jude has taken on some of the tasks formerly done by Sister Catherine Kelly, including the acknowledgements of donations.
Anne Boyd csb
Brigid Arthur csb
Helen Toohey csb
Jude Caldwell csb
Louise Cleary csb
Marg Fyfe csb
(csb = Congregation of Sisters of Brigid)