Student fundraiser fresh start for former prisoners

Our Lady's College students are helping break the cycle of recidivism, raising funds to support released prisoners re-entering society.

On Tuesday, Year 7 and 8 students presented Sr Chris Symonds of the Josephite Order with a cheque for $1035 and donated toiletry items including toothpaste and brush, deodorant, soap and shampoo. 

The toiletries will be given to people leaving prison to help aide their transition back into the community.

Sr Symonds, who works as a chaplain in Woodford Correctional Centre, said the donations would make a big difference.

“We know that many people leaving prison don't have a lot of support in place. They may not have family or a home to go to, or even basic toiletry items," she said.

“We also know that if they have this support they are less likely to re-offend and more likely to re-settle successfully into society.

“Care packages go a long way to helping people who have done their time for their crime and deserve a fresh start."

The fundraising drive was part of the Year 7 and 8 community service project.  

This year, the students decided to support the MacKillop Gate Ministry, an initiative of the Sisters of Saint Joseph. 

They organised fundraising activities including a disco, bake stall and lunchtime movies.

All money raised will go towards supporting released prisoners by providing them with a kit bag with essential items such as a Go-card, phone card and toiletries.

Students also made Christmas cards for Woodford prison inmates to decorate and give to loved ones.

Year 7 and 8 Pastoral Middle Leader Anita Macknish said she was impressed with the students' efforts.

“As a Josephite school, we strive to continue the work and values of our patron, Saint Mary MacKillop of the Cross," she said.

“Our community service project puts into action those values of compassion, service, integrity and justice.

“I am so proud of the girls and all they've achieved. As Mary MacKillop herself said: 'Never see a need without trying to do something about it'."

About MacKillop Gate Ministry

The MacKillop Gate Ministry was founded in 2014 by Josephite nun Sr Margaret Robertson, who saw a need to assist those freed from prison to start anew.

The ministry aims to assist prisoners as they exit a correctional centre by providing a blue kit bag that contains a few essentials for the first few days, for example, a Go card, phone card, food voucher and toiletries.

These items are generously donated by organisations, schools and individuals.

To find out more email MacKillop Gate Ministry coordinator


Sr Chris Symonds and students Laura-Lye Kauffman and Meron Wesedom with some of the donated items.​