Established in 1852, the Hobart City Mission (HCM) was the first City Mission in Australia and is the third oldest Mission in the world. At the time, poverty and vice were prevalent in Hobart Town, with the rise of the whale and gold industry. The London City Mission had been operating for seventeen years and a number of concerned citizens saw the need for similar work in Hobart.
On November, 23rd, 1852, a public meeting was held at the Mechanics' Hall, on Melville St, with the objective of forming a city mission, not associated with any particular denomination of church, and based on the London City Mission model. A committee was formed with sixteen members of the Hobart community.1852
Hobart City Mission appointed its first missionary, Mr H.B. Giles, formally from London City Mission, followed by Mr R G Gray and, Mr W Goggin.
The Mission played an important role in the early education system, establishing a 'Ragged School' in 1853, which provided education, clothing and assistance for neglected and destitute children and helping to keep them from poverty and crime.
“We are happy to learn that a school upon the same plan as the Ragged Schools in London was opened for the first time last Sunday (5/6/1853) in Watchorn Street under the superintendency of Mr. Giles of the City Mission” – Hobart Town Advertiser, 7th June 18531853
From the start, the Mission held worship services at the Mechanics' Institute, in chapels and school rooms. Its missionaries visited homes, befriending those in need, providing groceries and clothing and assisting the poor in any way required. Many sailors attended services as it was ideally situated on the New Wharf, Salamanca Market.
Hobart City Mission Annual Report 1859 - “28 friendless children admitted into the orphan School or otherwise provided for … 380 cases of temporal distress relieved … 93 sick persons admitted into Hospitals through the Missionaries” all this in addition to the spiritual work of the Mission. Apart from this the Mission Ragged Schools provided education and often clothing and food for poor children.”1859
A £10 donation was able to be divided between 25 families at Christmas by the Missionaries.1886
Hobart was dealing with years of severe unemployment and hardship. Hobart City Mission did its best to help where they could. However, even the Mission itself was not exempt from these hardships, with the committee requiring assistance from the community to help pay the Missionaries a salary so that they could continue their great work.
“all who can assist them in carrying this good and Christ-like work” – Mission Committee1890
After a generous donation of £400 by a gentleman in Sydney and the guidance of one of the longest serving Missionaries, Mr William Lake, the Mission was set to house its own building.
At a foundation stone-laying ceremony on October 25th, 1910, the Governor, Sir Harry Barron commended the work of Hobart City Mission, saying, "It tries to help all - not only morally, but socially...not only for religious purposes, but for assisting the poor in any direction in which assistance may be required".
He hoped that the new hall would soon become too small for the work required of it and would need to be enlarged.Oct 25, 1910
The Mission finally opened its own brick Federation Romanesque hall on Sunday February 19th, 1911 at 50 Barrack Street, which still houses Hobart City Mission's headquarters.
“all who can assist them in carrying this good and Christ-like work” – Mission CommitteeFeb 19, 1911
HCM established a ‘Girls Club’, and a few months later a ‘Boys Club’ for teenagers. The clubs met once a fortnight, and provided opportunities for the teenagers to do activities that were an extension on the day-to-day activities of HCM, such as providing assistance to children in a remote mission cottage in Darwin.
“all who can assist them in carrying this good and Christ-like work” – Mission Committee1963
In May 1965, HCM officially opened the Glenorchy City Mission on the Glenorchy Main Road to extend the relief work and Sunday School activities to the recent ‘shift in population’ in the northern suburbs. The first Missioner of the Glenorchy branch was Mr Noel Harris.1965
HCM played an integral part of the relief to the devastating 1967 fires in Tasmania, known as Black Tuesday. In support of other local community organisations, HCM provided emergency relief to the community. This included support to the fire fighters with HCM’s Superintendent, Les Batchelor fighting fires around the city.
The people of Hobart provided an overwhelming support for those affected by the fire with donations of clothing, furniture and household items, as well as their physical assistance.
As a result of this overwhelming support, HCM established its first Op Shop with the remaining donated items. This first store was on the corner of Liverpool and Barrack St. Since then, HCM has expanded City Mission Op Shops around greater Hobart.1967
HCM was affected greatly by the Tasman Bridge disaster in January 1975, when a ship struck Hobart’s major thoroughfare bridge, disconnecting the Western and Eastern shores of the Derwent River. The affect felt by HCM was not only an increase in relief requests, but also the ability for the organisation to provide their vital services on both sides of the river. HCM was granted a ‘Priority Pass’ by the Tasmanian Police, assisting the Missioners to travel across the temporary Risdon Ferry Bridge to provide emergency assistance to the community and continue the chaplaincy program at Risdon Prison.1975
To help provide services and cheap second-hand clothing to the northern suburbs, HCM converted an old M.T.T bus into a Mobile Opportunity Shop. The bus visited Bridgewater and Gagebrook.1981
HCM bought the small cottage that neighboured the Chapel, with the plan demolish and build a new building. The new building was officially opened on November 30, 1984 and was used as a store front and sorting room for the Op Shops. It has since been utilised for many purposes, including HCM’s PerMission to Eat Café.1984
HCM opened the ‘Dog & Partridge “The Good” News Agency’ on the corner of Barrack and Goulburn. This corner store provided much more than the staple food items to the surrounding community. It helped to provide fresh produce for those who were doing it tough, as well as work experience for those who were unemployed.1990
In 2012, HCM celebrated 160 years of caring for the people of Southern Tasmania.2012
In an effort to provide employment training and nutritional food for those in need, HCM opened PerMission to Eat in 2015. The social enterprise café was opened next door to the Hobart Office and provided a ‘pay it forward’ system where customers could purchase a meal for someone in need. After two great years of the explorative venture, PerMission to closed its doors on Thursday 13th of April 2017.2015
Safe Night Space was launched in late 2019, as a response to the increasing housing crisis and a need to provide immediate shelter and safety for people sleeping rough in Hobart.
Safe Space was launched after a massive community fundraising effort, where $300,000 was raised to fund a 6 month pilot program.
The program initially ran out of the YouthARC space on Collins St, and provided beds for up to 20 people every night.
In 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Safe Space moved to a 24 hour model, and expanded to locations in Launceston and Burnie (run by Launceston City Mission & The Salvation Army respectively) which was funded by the state government.Dec 17, 2019
When the COVID-19 lockdowns began in Southern Tasmania, HCM Board & Management were adamant that we would do everything in our power to continue to serve our clients.
Emergency Relief services expanded to new areas, enabling clients to receive help while staying close to home. The community rallied around Hobart City Mission and donated food items when the bans on bulk food orders put the provision of emergency food packs at risk. Many office staff worked from home and the City Mission Op Shops closed for six weeks to keep customers, volunteers and staff safe.Mar, 2020
In October 2020 HCM announced the purchase of the former Balmoral Motor Inn in Glenorchy. The property was renamed Mountain View and now provides supported housing for people experiencing homelessness, people with a disability and people coming out of hospital with no place to go.
The thirty-one rooms at Mountain View provide accommodation and support to people who had previously been on the Housing Tasmania priority list.Oct 15, 2020
After receiving a huge number of donations during the COVID-19 lockdowns, City Mission Op Shops moved their Moonah Clothing store to a new location - just next door to the old store.
The new site was a former cricket centre, with over 2000 square metres of space. This huge store includes over 20,000 hanging clothes items. A huge community effort was made to launch the store just four weeks after receiving the keys to the building.
Recent News from Hobart City Mission...
The University of Tasmania and Tasmanian Institute of Law Enforcement Studies (TILES) “Evaluation of Safe Spaces” final report has been