Labor commits to gifting land to not-for-profit refugee women and asylum seeker centre

City of Newcastle Labor Councillors are set to support the gifting of a parcel of land to Zara’s House Refugee Women and Children’s Centre at Jesmond allowing for the ongoing operation of this important community service aimed at assisting refugee women and children to settle into multicultural Newcastle.

Lord Mayor Cr Nuatali Nelmes, Deputy Lord Mayor Cr Declan Clausen and Cr Peta Winney-Baartz pictured with Zara’s House Founder and Director, Sister Di Santleben and the Zara’s House Executive

Lord Mayor Cr Nuatali Nelmes, Deputy Lord Mayor Cr Declan Clausen and Cr Peta Winney-Baartz pictured with Zara’s House Founder and Director, Sister Di Santleben and the Zara’s House Executive

City of Newcastle Lord Mayor Cr Nuatali Nelmes and Deputy Lord Mayor Cr Declan Clausen today joined Newcastle’s 2017 Citizen of the Year and Zara’s House founder and director Sister Diana Santleben to announce the City’s commitment to supporting this important service.  

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said that Zara’s House embodied Newcastle’s values as a progressive, inclusive and welcoming City.

“Zara’s House does an incredible job of welcoming refugee and asylum seeker women and children into our community by providing them with a safe place to meet, make friends and share skills and stories”, said Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes.

“City of Newcastle’s Labor Councillors are so proud to support the ongoing operation of this wonderful service and will be voting to waive the payment of $35,000 in land transfer fees and charges and gifting an important land parcel to Zara’s House for just $1”.

Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen said that Zara’s House was a valuable and unique service that deserved strong support from the City of Newcastle.

“As Novocastrians, we are proud to be a culturally diverse and inclusive community, committed to ensuring all residents enjoy equal rights and are treated with equal respect.”

“The service Zara’s House provides demonstrates that Novocastrians care deeply for the wellbeing of refugee and asylum seeker women and children, something strongly supported by my Labor colleagues and I at Council,” said Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen. 

Sister Di Santleben from Zara’s House warmly welcomed the commitment made by the Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor as an opportunity to continue to improve the lives of refugee and asylum seeker women who have chosen to make Newcastle their new home.

“Zara’s House is a place of welcome where we aim to alleviate social exclusion where refugee women can meet Australian women, share hospitality, ideas, culture, learning and local opportunities.”

“I would like to thank both the Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor, who have backed Zara’s House from day one, for supporting the gifting of this land to our wonderful centre.”

“We can now use those funds to provide additional resources to our literacy programs, assistance in preparing for the Australian Citizenship test and driver’s licence testing and much, much more.”

Council will consider the proposal next Tuesday to waive the land compensation payment and reduce fees and charges from $35,000 to $1 to support Zara’s House and the valuable community service they provide. 

Zara’s House officially opened in March 2019 in a decommissioned Anglican Church at Jesmond following significant fundraising efforts by Sister Di Santleben and members of Hunter Refugees and Partners Inc.


Matt Murray