ITF Seafarers' Club Wins Top Gong

The Sydney Seafarers' Centre took out the top award for seafarers' welfare at the 15th Lloyd's List DCN Shipping and Maritime Industry Awards, at the Ivy Ballroom in Sydney, this week.

The centre funded by the International Transport Workers’ Federation and managed by Mark Armstrong, took out the coveted award, one of 14 celebrating excellence and achievement in the maritime industry.

“There was intense competition from other wonderful organisations,” said Mark Armstrong. “However our Centre is unique in that three welfare providers, the ITF,  Flying Angel run by the Anglican Church, and the Apostleship of the Sea run by the Catholic Church, all work together at the grassroots level.  We present a new model of holistic welfare… caring for body and soul !!”

Mark Armstrong said that above all  the centre demonstrated respect and tolerance for the rich traditions and inspiration of everyone involved.

“And we use this inspiration to move forward together, in order to respond to seafarers needs in the best possible way,” he said.

The awards were determined by the judging panel selected by Lloyd's List DCN and sponsored by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

ITF National Coordinator for Australia Dean Summers said that the award was an appropriate recognition for the great work done by all of those at the centre and presents unique model for the delivery of welfare across the world.

“The SSC showcases the best way to provide welfare services to international seafarers visiting all of Sydney’s ports,” he said. “It is a centre which recognises all religions, nationalities and cultural diversities under one roof.”

The Centre was nominated for the award by Sister Mary. 

In his letter supporting the nomination Paddy Crumlin, MUA national Secretary and ITF President said the SSC had received more than 2000 visitors this year and been an effective conduit for the delivery of all aspects of welfare including spiritual, industrial, medical, communication and personal.

“The centre is the first in Australia to become a central hub for the provision of welfare for all cultural, class and religious denominations. Under the one roof the centre engenders an unrivalled level of collaboration between the church groups and community volunteers,” he said.

The centre is close to the Port Botany terminals with buses scheduled for regular pick ups and drop offs.

“It is difficult for us living ashore to appreciate just how important this short respite is for workers away from home for extended periods,” said Dean Summers.

In 2009/ 2010 the ITF  granted more than $550,000 for Australian initiatives which directly support seafarer’s welfare in our ports and port communities.

“In this special year of the IMO International Year of the Seafarer” there is one outstanding example of the way we believe port communities should come together to support visiting international seafarers.,” Dean Summers wrote in support of the nomination.

The other 7 nominees were Adrian Willd, Mission to Seafarers, Brisbane, Australian Mariners Welfare Society, ANL, Flying Angel Club, Fremantle, Jim Beggs ( Melbourne Port Welfare Association), Port of Townsville, Stella Maris, Melbourne.

Master of Ceremonies for the event was former Australian cricketer-turned television personality, Mike Whitney.

“It was a good night, and a first for us to be present at such an event and to be recognised as the centre of excellence the Sydney Seafarers’ Centre continues to strive for,” said Mark Armstrong.

Those present on the night were Roger Williams (Chair of the SSC Board), Mary Luce ( Treasurer), Jack Starmans (Flying Angel), Sr Mary ( Stella Maris),  Sr Marie Biddle Franc Pazmino (Assistant manager) and Mark Armstrong.