Rapid growth from small beginnings
Anglicare is the largest statewide community service organisation in Tasmania, serving thousands of people every year.
It all began when a small committee was formed in 1977 by the Anglican Church to "investigate and coordinate the social welfare of the diocese". This ultimately led to the creation of the Anglican Family Care Service, which would later change its name to Anglicare Tasmania.
The first service opened in 1983 to assist people struggling with debt and low income. The financial counselling service in Hobart was the first of its kind in Tasmania, extending over the next four years to Launceston, Devonport and Burnie.
Another focus was to provide services for young people, especially those at risk of homelessness. In 1984 the Youthcare crisis shelter was opened in southern Tasmania and youth outreach services began in Devonport in 1987.
25 years of Anglicare
To mark Anglicare’s 25th anniversary in 2008, the Tasmanian historian Dr James Boyce has written a short history of the organisation. Working for a just Tasmania: 25 years of Anglicare looks back on Anglicare's origins, celebrates its achievements and discusses some of the issues and challenges faced over the years.
A short excerpt from Working for a just Tasmania by Dr James Boyce:
This history is dedicated to the clients, staff, Board, members, and friends of Anglicare, past and present. Keep on dreaming!
Anglicare is a hard place to pin down! Its capacity for continual renewal and rapid growth means that trying to provide a snapshot of its history is no easy task. When the work is meant be read in an hour or two – my goal has been to try and make it accessible even to a tired social worker at the end of another non-stop day – the project becomes inevitably incomplete.
There are today many Anglicares, each deserving of their own story, and there have been almost as many in the past. I ask your understanding if you are part of this story and yet you find it hard to recognise your Anglicare – it is no reflection of its value. In one sense a general history inevitably hides the real stories – the relationships between people – which is what Anglicare is ultimately about. I hope that understanding the wider organisational context will help in building and honouring the space in which such life-enhancing encounters occur.
…[As of the writing] Anglicare is the largest statewide community services organisation in Tasmania – with offices in Burnie, Devonport, Launceston, St Helens, Glenorchy and even Hobart! Its outreach programmes reach even further; places as far apart as King Island and Risdon Prison regularly receive visits by a worker from Anglicare. The range of services is almost as impressive as the reach. They now include (although not all are state-wide) emergency relief, accommodation, counselling, employment, mental health, disability, children’s, youth, family, aged, acquired injury support, and alcohol and other drug services.
Tasmanians with a diverse range of needs are assisted by about 60 different programmes which employ over 350 full time, and 300 part-time staff. When casual employees are included, over 700 Tasmanians now work for Anglicare on a regular basis, making it one of the largest employers in the state. Annual income is over $30 million.
Anglicare was the first, and is still the only, non government organisation in Tasmania to commit significant resources to social research and activism. Even at a national level, agencies that have been prepared to internally fund research and policy work not tied to service development remain noteworthy, but in a state where the peak bodies are too small to do much social research, and that on almost every indice remains the most disadvantaged state in the nation, Anglicare’s Social Action and Research Centre is not only unique but indispensable.
The combination of services and research provides a powerful base to Anglicare’s engagement with Government, church and community on behalf of disadvantaged Tasmanians. Some people understandably remain concerned at the pace and implications of growth, but the overall view of the organisation in the broader community has probably never been more positive. Anglicare’s commitment to collaboration, professionalism, innovation and most especially, social justice is now rarely questioned. Its actions, and words, have seen to that.
Few Tasmanians would dispute that Tasmania would be a much diminished place without Anglicare. Indeed so established is its presence that most would probably be very surprised to learn that just over 25 years ago it did not even exist! It surely is a remarkable (would the Church allow ‘miraculous’?) fact that an organisation of this size, distinctiveness and influence was only incorporated in 1983. Not many organisations need to have their history documented so soon after being founded. Anglicare is surely one that does!
Historian and social worker Dr James Boyce is the author of Van Diemen’s Land and God’s own country? The Anglican church and Tasmanian Aborigines. James is also the former manager of Anglicare’s Social Action and Research Centre.