UnitingSA CEO Libby Craft reflects on 100 years of service in South Australia.

We are proud to be commemorating a significant milestone in the story of UnitingSA.

On April 8, we celebrate 100 years of supporting South Australians.

Our Chief Executive Officer Libby Craft says it is a time to reflect on the past, acknowledge the present and set a vision for our future.

“Our organisation started from humble beginnings in Port Adelaide in 1919, amid the aftermath of the First World War – a very difficult time in our state’s history,” Ms Craft said.

“We came to life to respond to the material and spiritual needs of the people in a community faced with soaring unemployment, chronic illness and poverty.

“We supported local families with food, clothing and firewood, provided counselling to those in need of comfort, accommodation for people facing homelessness and formed youth and women’s groups to lift community spirit.

“While our roots in Port Adelaide remain strong, community need has led us to expand and we now operate from more than 35 locations across regional and metropolitan South Australia.”

Today, UnitingSA’s team of over 1,000 staff and volunteers support more than 16,000 people each year through the delivery of aged care, housing, community welfare, mental health and employment programs.

Ms Craft said although much had changed over the years, responding to the basic need for food and shelter remained just as critical as when the organisation began.

“While there is certainly much to celebrate, we acknowledge our work is not done,” she said.

“We are proud to have made a positive impact on the lives of countless South Australians, however there are still families struggling to put food on the table and find a safe place to rest at night.

The original Wesleyan Methodist Church on Dale St, Port Adelaide.

“We will continue to adapt our service profile to address unmet need, provide a voice to marginalised communities and pursue our vision for a compassionate, respectful and just community in which all people participate and flourish.

“This is the reason we exist 100 years on.”

Ms Craft said increasing the state’s supply of affordable housing and delivering community-based support for people experiencing mental illness were among the organisation’s top priorities going forward.

To find out about centenary celebrations happening in your area, or to view UnitingSA’s interactive historic timeline, visit UnitingSA for 100 years.