Strength to Survive

When lives are being slaughtered around you and you know you are next in line, how do you build up a resilience so strong that gives you a strength of body and soul to survive?

‘Strength to Survive’, the 3rd in the ‘Rising From The Ashes’ series, recounts the stories of Holocaust survivors who did whatever they could to escape the atrocities surrounding them.

Some say they survived because of a miracle, while others performed unbelievable acts of bravery, daring and determination. Whatever their reasons may be, their stories are true examples of the strength of the human spirit that must be recorded and shared for generations to come.

This video was launched on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, 27 January 2017. We hope that you all help us in sharing the message around the world to show that we will #neverforget and the #weremember.


Lack of Affordable Housing in the Jewish Community

By Hugh Cattermole & Melinda Kidgell  


Addressed in Pro Bono Australia’s article on 18 January, ‘NFPs Warn Moving On the Homeless Does Not Make Them Disappear’, the open letter signed by 36 funded Victorian homelessness, housing and social services organisations is a powerful commentary on the root causes and stigma surrounding homelessness.

Jewish Care is an unfunded provider of housing services to our community. Jewish Care addresses the root causes of homelessness, and provides transitional housing support to those experiencing homelessness, or those at risk of homelessness.

Each issue raised in the letter parallels the experience of being on the front line of the current affordable housing crisis in the Victorian Jewish community. We also urgently need more housing – the numbers just don’t add up. There have always been long waiting times for public and community housing, however what we have seen escalate in the previous 12 months is the numbers of people in the Victorian Jewish community being squeezed out of the private rental market. This has had a significant impact on the poor and those on a fixed or low income.

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It’s Our Duty to Tackle Family Violence

By Bill Appleby, CEO Jewish Care


Aged care is one of Australia’s largest service industries, employing over 350,000 staff who deliver services to over one million people.

As an industry, not only are we well positioned but we have a social responsibility to take a lead role in tackling the hidden scourge of family violence in Australian society to create a better society for future generations.

We, as employers, should challenge ourselves to take a broader perspective regarding the role our organisations play in the communities that we support.

At the end of the day, our organisations are not just workplaces; they are communities of people – staff, volunteers, residents, clients and families who derive a sense of purpose and belonging from their involvement.

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Changing Perceptions – Showtime

We are pleased to release the 8th video in our series ‘Changing Perceptions’.

This video is titled ‘Showtime’ because we get to hear what the clients of Jewish Care’s Disability Service enjoy from the world of entertainment and sport. If this video teaches us anything, it’s that no matter our background or ability, we all have something in common, whether it be the same sporting team we support or who we love as our favourite actors.

Take 2 minutes to watch this video and see how many things in common you share with them.

Not Violent. Not Silent.

dsc_2237exThe below excerpt is part of a presentation by Hugh Cattermole, Chief Operating Officer of Jewish Care Victoria, in support of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (November 25).

My name is Hugh and I am the Chief Operating Officer here at Jewish Care. I am also a member of Jewish Care’s recently-formed men’s committee: a group of men who have come together to act as “gender champions” of the organisation, in order to help create awareness of family violence and promote gender equity. I’m also father to two young children.

I’m here today to talk about violence against women, and in particular, men’s responsibility.

Violence against women occurs with frightening frequency, both in Australia and around the world.

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Dov’s Story – Living with Bipolar Disorder


The below excerpt is part of a presentation by Dr Dov Degen at the launch of Jewish Care’s Reach Out, Speak Out campaign.

My name is Dov and I am a medical doctor. Outside the hospital, I enjoy socialising, exercising, travelling and spending time with my fiancé and our pet dog. I also happen to have bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression.

When I first tell people about my diagnosis, they are generally surprised because I am so high functioning. I have lived with bipolar disorder for nearly 15 years and although I have been affected by episodes of both soaring heights and soul-destroying lows, I have, for the most part, led a productive and relatively balanced life.

I was first hospitalised during medical school but despite this setback, I successfully completed my medical degree with honours and am currently completing my specialist training. When I am well, I am a high functioning and successful individual. I acknowledge my illness, but it is not who I am. Bipolar disorder does not define me anymore than an individual diagnosed with high blood pressure or diabetes.

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A Spotlight on Responding to Homelessness


By Marilyn Kraner, Manager Individual & Family Services

As today is the start of National Homelessness Week 2016 (Aug 1-7), The Jewish Care Individual and Family Services team have had cause to think deeply about what it means to be homeless and what we can do about it. This is a tricky process for all of us; client, worker, supervisor and organisation, as what meaning we make from how we define ‘the problem’ necessarily dictates or points to what we think ‘the solution’ is.

For example, if you think a person is homeless because of a lack of money, you might approach this by providing a monetary solution. Whereas if you think a person is homeless because they are mentally unwell you might approach ending their homelessness through pursuing hospital or psychiatric services in the first instance.

The reality for the I&FS team recently is that we have been supporting 6 people experiencing primary homelessness, some have been moving from night to night through various low cost accommodations. Some are sleeping in their cars and others are more visible, sleeping on the street.

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From Little Things Big Things Grow

Ben learnt independent living skills at our Adult Respite Centre and bec ame more confident

Ben* is a 20-year-old man living with disability in our community. He has been diagnosed with autism and leukodystrophy – a complex condition affecting the white matter of the brain, the spinal cord and vision.

At the time of the diagnosis, Ben was reliant on his mother and refused to eat a variety of foods. So too, Ben often broke his glasses and his mother eventually gave up on replacing them.

In 2013, Ben started to attend our Adult Respite Centre. As a result, he developed his independent living skills and has learnt to cook breakfast and lunch as well as cleaning up after himself.

Ben has also learnt how to do his own laundry. He vacuums his room and mops his bathroom, leaving the Centre neat for the next person.

Last year, Ben brought a bag of small potatoes into the Centre. He proudly said that he had grown those on his own. Following this experience, the respite staff decided to set up two veggie patches to allow Ben to explore his new interest further. Ben was very thankful and since then has made sure to water the veggie patches throughout his stay.

Thanks to gardening and cooking activities, Ben has expanded his nutritional choices and often comes up with new meal suggestions.

Due to Ben’s deteriorating eye sight, our respite staff encouraged him to wear glasses. This has had a profound impact on Ben’s life, helping him to attend the veggie garden and become even more independent.

* Name and image were changed to protect client privacy

To find out more about our Disability Services, please visit, email or call (03) 8517 5999


Reflections of NAIDOC Week and Beyond


By Marilyn Kraner and Sheila Ross

Generational experiences of alienation, dislocation and persecution are dominant discourses of both the Jewish community and the Indigenous people of Australia. Whilst there has been mixed opinion about the type of parallels that can be drawn between events and experiences of the two communities, there is no doubt that each has been impacted by formal and informal policies of governments that have sought to reduce their influence and eradicate their existence.

Over the years, leaders from each of these communities have spoken up against the persecution experienced by the other.

In 1938, Aboriginal political activist and community leader, William Cooper stood up against German oppression. Shortly after the events of Kristallnacht, Cooper led a delegation of the Australian Aboriginal League to the German consulate with a petition condemning the Nazi Government’s persecution of Jewish people. This protest occurred at a time when Aboriginal people themselves were been denied basic human rights, subject to horrendous physical, social and economic abuse. Whilst the petition was disregarded, Israel has since honoured William Cooper, marking the significance of this display of support through ceremonial events in both Australia and Israel.

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Shelly’s Story

Close Up Portrait Of Smiling Brunette Woman Outdoors

Shelly* always thought she was in control. She was a super mum — working full time, raising four children, cooking and cleaning and partaking in home renovations. Her husband also worked very hard and together they earned a decent living.

Soon after moving to Australia from New Zealand, they bought their first house. It was quite small and required work but luckily, they had experience in renovations and everything seemed fine.

One day, Shelly fearlessly climbed a ladder to plaster the ceiling, only to fall on the tiled floor seconds later. She was rushed into the emergency room with a broken shoulder, rib and teeth.

Shelly couldn’t return to work for 3 months and had to undergo expensive treatments and occupational therapy in order to drive, run her home and return to work.

Meanwhile, the bills were piling up. She was becoming more and more anxious. With the loss of her income, she had no idea how they were going to cope.

Then Shelly approached Jewish Care following a friend’s advice. Jewish Care’s social worker and financial counsellor Josh* patiently sat with Shelly to work through her challenges, bills and extensive paperwork. Josh also negotiated with external organisations on her behalf to alleviate urgent debts. In addition, Shelly received an interest free loan to consolidate her debts.

Shelly was truly grateful for the help she received from Jewish Care at the time of need and registered as Jewish Care’s volunteer to help others.

* Names and image were changed to protect client privacy

To find out more about Jewish Care’s Community Services, please visit, email or call (03) 8517 5999