To say that this has been another challenging year for everyone is an understatement. As we faced into a second year of a global pandemic, the Irish Australian Support Association of Queensland had to rise to the challenge of the effects of the pandemic on the Irish emigrant community in Queensland. Financial insecurity, informational needs, isolation and homesickness, and mental health issues were the main challenges for Irish emigrants. Immigration insecurity was also a major challenge particularly among temporary workers here. Additional concerning challenges included health vulnerability, homelessness and domestic violence. Many Irish emigrants experienced multiple challenges simultaneously during the pandemic and were therefore in need of a variety of supports, such as immigration advice, financial support and counselling.
During the last year, we have assisted over 700 individuals. While it’s easy to list off figures, it’s also can also be a bit hollow. Every single one of the people that IASAQ have assisted this year have their own life stories, and family members either here or at home in Ireland, that at one point were extremely worried about them. The stress of not being able to travel only added to things and that’s where we stepped in to assist those people, when the people closest to them couldn’t.
If I could encapsulate the last year for IASAQ in one word, it would be ‘growth.’ Thanks to our staff, Board and the support of our community, our organisation has grown and developed, taking us to new heights. As our organization continued to grow, so did the calibre of events we presented. One of the things that I’m most proud of is that even in a pandemic, we have presented inclusive, meaningful events that have celebrated what it means to be an Irish immigrant in Australia today.
It’s the people that make IASAQ special, our staff, our Board, and most importantly the people we assist and the community that supports us. It’s about coming together as individuals, working in collaboration and upholding the values that this organisation stands for. Those being respect, compassion and a belief that all people, irrespective of their backgrounds, faith, gender or orientation should be giving support when they’re at their most vulnerable. I would like to thank all our Board members for the time, effort and expertise they bring to our organisation. A huge thank you to our outgoing Co-ordinator Paddy Farrelly for his contributions over the past six years. We are delighted to welcome our new staff members on Board, Bronagh Farrell and Hazel Malone. I’m sure many of you will meet them throughout the next few weeks. It’s an exciting time to be part of IASAQ and we look forward to a brilliant series of events during the Brisbane Irish Festival.
From my own perspective, it has been an incredibly humbling experience being President of IASAQ. I’m tremendously proud of all we’ve achieved and have so much hope and excitement for the year ahead. Hopefully we will all get home to see our loved ones this year, and until that time the Irish Australian Support Association of Queensland will be here if you need us.
Go raibh mile maith agaibh.