Refugees offered a safe haven at Melbourne aged care home

St. Vincent’s Health Australia and CatholicCare have teamed up for a project that will allow up to 120 Syrian and Iraqi refugees to be temporarily housed at St Vincent’s Care Services’ Eltham village and aged care homes (nursing homes) in northeast Melbourne.

The plan, which was approved by the State Government’s Planning Minister Richard Wynne last week, will see the refugees move into rented accommodation in sixty vacant units at the site for between six months to two years.

Australia has promised to resettle 12,000 people fleeing the conflict in Syria, with 4,000 expected to find a new home in Victoria.

The two providers have fully funded the scheme themselves, with the tenants to be single women, single mothers with children and couples with one child.  The units themselves are stand-alone and sit separately to the village and nursing homes on the 17-acre site. They will then be converted back into over-55s housing in 2018.

“This project reflects our mission to serve the most vulnerable members of our community,” St Vincent’s Health Australia Group CEO, Toby Hall said. “We have received great support from local community groups who also want to welcome refugees to Eltham.”

CatholicCare has also received help from others who have donated funds, furniture and other household items and volunteered their time to help.

As part of the partnership, CatholicCare will also provide tenancy and settlement services to help the families to make the move to more permanent housing.

“People who have fled the conflict in Syria are among the world’s most vulnerable people,” CatholicCare CEO Fr Joe Caddy said. “We are committed to providing safe haven for these families, and to support them to build a new life in Australia.”

Since it purchased the village in 2015, St. Vincent’s has spent six million dollars refurbishing the vacant units and its two nursing homes Eltham Lodge and Willandra and built another 56 independent living units for affordable seniors housing.

St. Vincent’s has promised no Eltham residents will be moved or left waiting for residential care when the refugees move in during the coming months – with over a million people around the world still waiting for resettlement, they are the fortunate ones to be given a new start.

To register interest in volunteering or supporting the project, please email [email protected]

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A special thanks to our contributors

Caroline Egan

DCM Media, agedcare101

Caroline has a wealth of experience writing within the retirement and aged care sector and is a contributing journalist for the and agedcare101 blog and accompanying newsletters.

Ian Horswill


Ian is a journalist, writer and sub-editor for the aged care sector, working at The DCM Group. He writes for The Weekly Source, agedcare101, and the DCM Institute fortnightly newsletter Friday. Ian is in daily contact with CEOs of retirement living, land lease and the aged care operations and makes a new contact every week. He investigates media releases, LinkedIn and Facebook for a good source for ideas for stories.

Lauren Broomham

Retirement and Aged Care Journalist

Lauren is a journalist for, agedcare101 and The Donaldson Sisters. Growing up in a big family in small town communities, she has always had a love for the written word, joining her local library at the age of six months. With over eight years' experience in writing and editing, she is a keen follower of news and current affairs with a nose for a good story.

Jill Donaldson


Jill has been practicing as a clinical physiotherapist for 30 years. For the last 13 years she has worked solely in the Aged Care sector in more than 50 metropolitan and regional facilities. Jill has also toured care facilities in the US and Africa and is a passionate advocate for both the residents in aged care and the staff who care for them. She researches and writes for DCM Media.

Chris Baynes

DCM Media, agedcare101

Chris has been a journalist and publisher in the retirement village and aged care sectors for 11 years. He has visited over 250 retirement villages and 50 aged care facilities both within Australia and internationally. Chris is a regular speaker at industry conferences plus is a frequent radio commentator.

Annie Donaldson

Nurse and Carer

Annie has a long career in both nursing and the media. She has planned and co-ordinated the medical support from both international TV productions and major stadium events. In recent years she has been a primary family carer plus involved in structured carer support.