The Claddagh Association Inc, known as Claddagh, is a voluntary not‐for‐profit charity that has been supporting Irish people in crisis throughout Western Australia since 1997. The Claddagh Association Inc. provides a helping hand to Irish immigrants in crisis.
Migration can be at the least hugely overwhelming, being an immigrant in a new country and facing crisis can seem the cruellest blow of all. In response to the many issues that people immigrating face The Claddagh Association Inc, launched a new booklet called “Information on Moving to Western Australia” on Tuesday 9th April at The Irish Club, Subiaco, Perth. The booklet has been developed to equip Irish people immigrating with the necessary information to prepare them for their new life in Western Australia.
Historically a consistent flow of Irish immigrants have arrived and settled in Western Australia. Since the 1950’s this flow increased and resulted in the establishment of a strong Irish community in Perth. In 1997 a group of concerned members of that Irish community formed a support group to assist the Irish community in times of crisis. Four of these original founding members still serve on the committee today.
Fundraising events throughout the year ensure continuity of available funds together with donations from individuals; Irish associations/groups and businesses whose generosity have kept the association with sufficient funds to carry out their mission.
With the collapse of the Irish economy and the mining boom in Western Australia, in the past three years the organisation has experienced a significant increase in the number of referrals from the Embassy of Ireland in Canberra and from the Irish community on the ground. These referrals range from assisting the Embassy with the repatriation of bodies back to Ireland, liaising with the family members to advise of progress with the repatriation of their loved ones, to visiting people in hospital, nursing homes or prison.
Over the past 18 months Claddagh has assisted the Embassy with the repatriation of 10 young Irish adults and one elderly Irish man and has seen an increase for requests of assistance rise by 35%.
During the St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Perth Claddagh had the opportunity to meet Bob Geldof who was in Perth to promote his up and coming tour in Australia with the Boomtown Rats and Mental as Anything in May 2013.
Another visitor was the Government Chief Whip & Minister of State to the Taoiseach, Mr Paul Kehoe who was accompanied by the Irish Ambassador, Mr Noel White; he listened with interest to the issues Claddagh raised.
Claddagh receives funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Emigrant Support Grant. This grant from the Irish Government provides Claddagh with funding for administration purposes.
Claddagh has recently submitted a grant application to the Department of Foreign Affairs for the development of Claddagh including funding for a part time administration officer and office space to continue the vital work they carry out.
Over the last couple of years there has been an influx of Irish people immigrating to Western Australia. Throughout this period Claddagh has also experienced a steep increase in calls for assistance, particularly from people in financial hardship. Claddagh president Joan Ross said: “Generally these people come unprepared and with an unrealistic expectation of life in Perth, with the result they find themselves homeless and without food. That’s when the Claddagh responds to their plight. When help arrives they are very grateful for the assistance provided and in most cases the provision of accommodation and food vouchers is enough to set them back on the right track.”
Through the frequency and nature of cases Claddagh dealt with last year, the voluntary management committee identified some people who were coming to Perth without the fundamental basics ‐ travel insurance, sufficient funds to support themselves and a return ticket.
Furthermore, there are numerous Facebook pages for the Irish community in Perth that continuously have people seeking information on subjects such as employment, tax, accommodation as well as many others. “Many people arriving in Perth are very shocked at the high cost of living. Food, accommodation and a night out are all very expensive compared to Ireland” explains Joan Ross.
The committee recognised there was a real need for relevant, practicable and accessible information for people immigrating and therefore decided to develop the information booklet. A team of nine volunteers have researched and collated information on a wide range of topics and issues.
“Information on Moving to Western Australia” is available to download from the Claddagh website