Over many years the Queensland Commandery of the Order of St Lazarus has been a significant supporter of the work of the Mission for Seafarers at the Port of Brisbane. This support by Commandery Members, through hands-on volunteering there on Sundays plus ongoing financial support, has been a feature of Commandery activity.

With the onset of the world-wide Covid-19 pandemic this work has taken on a new and more urgent importance. The seafarers' plight has worsened over the first months of 2020 as their strict onboard isolation, poor communication opportunities and inability to travel home has exacerbated already strained working arrangements. There have been significant international efforts to address deficiencies in the seafarers working and travel conditions and the Commandery is glad to be associated with recent opportunities for relief and hope for those in need.

First, the Brisbane Mission for Seafarers re-opened its doors late in June and those seafarers, who comply with strict COVID rules can disembark their ships and visit the Seafarers Centre located within the port to receive our support. 

Secondly, and of great importance to seafarers, following collaboration between Queensland Health authorities, plus local and federal government agencies, Brisbane has become a transit hub for seafarers to proceed home after many lonely months.   Some have had their contracts extended for 6 months and their only hope of getting home from the Asia-Pacific Region is via the Brisbane Port. 

Thirdly, St Lazarus has been there to help them through the supply of Care Packs containing shampoo, soap, toothpaste, entertainment items such as games, puzzles, cards and very importantly internet credit & phone cards.

Until 2019 the Mission was led by Board Chair - Captain David Ellis OAM MNSC CLJ, who is also the Commandery Herald. Even after stepping down as Chair, David has continued to work tirelessly through the Covid-19 pandemic. With his advice, the Commandery has dug deeper to help the terrible plight of the seafarers stuck on their ships in foreign waters a long way from their home ports and families. The mental and financial strain on seafarers has been enormous and their need for assistance and advocacy great.

The Commandery is proud of member, David Ellis and to be associated with the Mission for Seafarers. The Mission in the Port of Brisbane was the winner of the 2018 International Mission for Seafarers prize in Geneva. The attached photo shows our Herald, Captain David Ellis (at left) receiving congratulations from HRH Princess Anne, the Princess Royal for that prestigious award.  The Princess Royal, who is the Patron for Seafarers, met Dave at the boardroom of the Baltic Exchange in London. 

This year in the Queen’s Australian Birthday Honours Awards Dave was recognised for his dedication by his country to the welfare of Seafarers with the Order of Australia (OAM) “for service to seafarers through charitable initiatives and to the community”. Dave Ellis represents the unceasing charitable work of the Queensland Commandery for Mission for Seafarers. 

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