Our History

The Haven Foundation was formed in 2006 with a mission to raise funds and provide housing for people with enduring mental ill-health. The founders recognised that permanent, affordable housing, integrated with support services is fundamental to the recovery of people living with mental ill-health. A stable, supported living environment provides the right conditions for people to grow and reach their potential.

The Haven Foundation grew from a group of passionate and focused individuals who met in 2005 and established the Interdependent Homes for People Needing Assistance (IHPNA) Committee in 2005 (Now known as the HavenHub Committee). As carers and family members, their lived experience provided them with a deep understanding of the impact of mental illness on the individual, family and broader community.

IHPNA’s stated aims were to provide: 

  1. socially and financially disadvantaged individuals living with mental illness the opportunity to access housing which provides normality and stability
  2. a sense of permanency in housing and daily living support which is not provisional upon involvement with any support programs.

After a number of years of discussion and planning, the committee was successful in negotiating a 40 year lease of a former convent from St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in South Yarra, Melbourne, Victoria.

The Committee (renamed in 2009) identified the need to establish a Trust to raise funds, and so The Haven Foundation was established with the express purpose to: 

“Provide accommodation and daily living support for socially and financially disadvantaged individuals living with mental illness.”

The Haven Foundation raises funds to be placed in The Haven Foundation Trust, to be used for housing and support. It seeks assistance from benevolent funds, private donors, sponsors, government and the corporate sector. The Haven Foundation continues to develop long term accommodation options for those living with mental ill-health.

Group photo of Dawn Kay, Christine Smedley, Rosalie Cotter, Isabel Cid, Elizabeth Byrne, Carmel Thomas
L to R: Dawn Kay, Christine Smedley, Rosalie Cotter, Isabel Cid, Elizabeth Byrne, Carmel Thomas

HSY Family Hub 

In 2005, Carmel Thomas, Elizabeth Byrne and Isabel Cid came together in a shared commitment to address the need for long-term housing for people with enduring mental ill-health. They were soon joined by Rosalie Cotter, Christine Smedley and Dawn Kay. The key objective was to find suitable property in Melbourne to establish accommodation. The pursuit of a property came to the notice of St Joseph’s Catholic Parish of South Yarra, which indicated its willingness to allow the site of a former convent of considerable value to be converted into self-contained units. Thus, the Haven project was initiated.

Together the women formed a committee called Interdependent Homes for People Needing Assistance, known as The HavenHub Committee. What has ensued is a journey of passion and commitment that has seen six women prepared to take on the mantle of providing support and assistance to tenants, in partnership with a designated service provider of the Haven units.

In late 2016, the Committee, recognising the need for all families to be involved in the onsite activities and decision-making of Haven South Yarra, merged with the local family group and became the HSY Family Hub.

From left: Elizabeth Byrne, OAM, Christine Smedley, Dawn Kay, Isabel Cid, Rosalie Cotter
From left: Elizabeth Byrne, OAM, Christine Smedley, Dawn Kay, Isabel Cid, Rosalie Cotter