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Open Support’s Country Care Link transport service celebrates it’s 25 Year Anniversary this year – an extraordinary achievement for a service which has relied totally on the goodwill of volunteer drivers throughout its history.
The service, which provides no-cost transport for country people who need to come to Sydney for medical appointments and treatment, officially began on August 3, 1994 (when Open Support was known as Sisters of Charity Outreach). It evolved out of an earlier initiative called Country Care, which began at the invitation of then-NSW Premier John Fahey in 1992, with hay deliveries to drought-stricken farmers by a team of intrepid Sisters!
Sr Enid O’Doherty ran the early Country Care service, which included the TelePal call-in and chat service for isolated country people, before taking the reins of Country Care Link from 1994 through until 2005. She was followed by Sr Colleen Noonan, then Sr Adele Cottrell-Dormer, before current coordinator, Sr Jan O’Grady, was appointed in 2010 and is still here today.
While early records don’t show exactly how many regional people Country Care Link has helped during its 25 years, the service has conducted over 9,000 trips in the past five years; the number of indigenous clients has tripled; the number of over-65’s has nearly doubled; and, the number of children has risen by a quarter. Sr Jan is enormously proud that, 25 years on, Country Care Link continues to provide people form regional communities with access to health care. “We’re still going strong because there’s a real need out there by country folk, who must come to the city for medical services which are simply not available where they live. Our no-cost service reduces their stress financially and emotionally, by ensuring they can get to their treatment,” she says. “We’re also still here because we have such kind people who are happy to be volunteers and give back to the community,” she adds. “I feel so privileged to be part of it. Open Support and our transport program CCL is very much the work of Mary Aikenhead and the work of the Sisters of Charity. Here, we’re reaching out to people in need; people who are in difficult circumstances, where they need support and a friendly hand to reach out and help them”
If you need assistance with transport and wish to access this service (or wish to support this service to help others in need contact Open Support on 8382 6430 or visit https://opensupport.org.au/