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Stella Maris Australia, a Catholic agency that provides spiritual and practical support to those working at sea, has joined an international coalition calling for better treatment of seafarers during the pandemic.

Stella Maris is one of hundreds of organisations that have signed up to the Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change.

The Neptune Declaration calls for seafarers to be considered essential workers, and therefore have earlier access to COVID-19 vaccines, as well as for better practices to facilitate changes of crew.

It also seeks greater collaboration between maritime and aviation industries, in partnership with governments, to manage the transportation and deployment of seafarers to ports where they are needed.

Stella Maris has, on several occasions, raised concerns about the welfare of seafarers during the pandemic. They have included the expiration of contracts for some workers, the inability for seafarers to disembark at ports and the mental and physical health challenges seafarers face.

Those issues are among the ones the Neptune Declaration raises. Despite efforts from unions, governments, industry groups, employers and non-governmental organisations and a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, key issues remain unresolved.

“This is not an acceptable way to treat seafarers, who are the frontline workers of the maritime industry carrying 90 per cent of global trade,” the Neptune Declaration states.

“Fatigue after extended periods at sea has significant consequences on the physical and mental wellbeing of seafarers.”

Stella Maris Australia national director Roslyn Rajasingam said in addition to international advocacy, the organisation is also supporting local efforts to approach the Australian Government. In particular, the Government will be asked to help solve the global crisis by designating seafarers as key workers.

“Almost 70 countries have taken that step, recognising what critical work seafarers are already undertaking and the important role they will play during and beyond the pandemic,” Mrs Rajasingam said.

“Australia’s location makes our reliance on the delivery of goods by sea greater than many countries, which underlines the need for this long overdue step to be taken by the Commonwealth Government.”

Click here to access the Neptune Declaration.

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The current pandemic has severely affected our Stella Maris services to the seafarers that arrive on our shores. Our Chaplains and Managers have not been allowed to visit ships. They also have not been allowed to pick up seafarers on our buses so they can be transported to our centres where they can relax, play games, play music or use our internet and computers.

It is even more challenging for all seafarers around the world who are not allowed to disembark ships to enjoy shore leave nor to travel home at the end of their contracts.

However, our Chaplains and Managers have found creative ways and means to reach out to the seafarers to assist them during this time of Covid-19. They have been ready and willing to procure supplies for seafarers and other necessary resources and services to ease the difficulty they are experiencing while sailing for long periods.

Among other things, the crew of cargo ships and cruise ships have been provided with care packs in most of our ports to let them know that we are still here to assist them, pray for them and care for them while they are on our shores, albeit, unable to physically visit our centres.

Here are some Media Releases of Diocesan newspapers and ACBC Media Blog that describe the work of our Stella Maris Centres and Chaplaincies during this time of the pandemic:

3 July 2020: (Stella Maris Adelaide)


3 July 2020: (Stella Maris Mackay)

26 June 2020: (Stella Maris Sydney)

26 June 2020: (Stella Maris Brisbane)

11 June 2020: (Stella Maris Fremantle)

12 May 2020: (Donations Drive)

4 May 2020: (Mass for AoS Chaplains, Volunteers, Managers)

27 April 2020: (A Nun)

24 April 2020: (Ruby Princess)

INTERNATIONAL Apostleship of the Sea – Stella Maris:

27 April 2020: (Cruise Industry and On Ruby Princess)

https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/feat/archives/2020/04/27/2003735361

15 April 2020: (Stella Maris supports seafarers on the Covid-19 front line)

https://www.apostleshipofthesea.org.uk/stella-maris-supports-seafarers-covid-19-front-line

8 April 2020: (Pope Francis + Pandemic + Conversion)

https://www.thetablet.co.uk/features/2/17845/Pope-francis-says-pandemic-can-be-a-place-of-conversion-

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Pope Francis has been busy this year hosting Bishops from many Bishops Conferences around the world. He also travelled to half a dozen countries including the United Arab Emirates, which made him the first Pope to visit an area in the Arabian Peninsula. He also had many meetings, audiences and visits within the Vatican, around Rome and within Italy. And this is only the middle of the year!

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When I visited our seafarers’ centres and chaplaincies in the eastern seaboard of the country, it was obvious that most of our ship visitors, Chaplains, managers and volunteers were in their senior years. It was impressive to watch their generosity and deep concern for seafarers from all over the world. They were real signs of God’s presence in our ports.

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