New Chair Inspired by Seafarers Lockdown Strength

The Mission to Seafarers Sydney has appointed a new chair with maritime leadership and charity experience to help it to serve more seafarers as they continue to recover from the challenges of covid lockdowns. The new chair, Robert Dunn is the former Port Authority of New South Wales Chair and also served as the CEO and a Director of charity Opportunity International Australia.

During the handover at the Mission’s Annual General Meeting this week, retiring Chair Peter Janssen OAM said Mr Dunn’s over 30 years of service at board level, industry experience and his compassion for seafarers made him an ideal choice. “I cannot think of a person in the whole country who is better placed to lead this fine organisation,” said Mr Janssen.

Mr Dunn, who first became a director of the Port Authority of New South Wales in 2014, has also held directorships at Pacific National (freight rail), Virgin Blue Holdings (airline), Jet Turbine Services (aircraft maintenance) and Sydney Ports Corporation (shipping regulation). He is continuing in his role as Chair of Baptist Care NSW & ACT. 

Mr Dunn said the strength of the existing Board, the impressive work of the Mission and his own brief experience of covid lockdown had inspired him to accept this role. “For the past three years, many seafarers worked long shifts for between 12 to 24 months without shore leave. Although they were more isolated from home, family and friends than ever before, they continued to get the work done,” he said. “That brief taste of lockdown in Sydney reminded me of how much seafarers’ sacrifice. I decided this role was a good opportunity to give something back to these people in need, especially through this organisation that really showed its skill and compassion during that difficult time.”

Seafarers were first given clearance to come ashore in Sydney after advocacy and assured supervision from the Mission’s Chaplains. Since reopening last April, the Mission’s recreation centre in Millers Point has welcomed over 1600 seafarers from over 70 countries of many faith backgrounds and returned to providing wellbeing and emergency support services seven days a week. Last year the team also visited over 235 ships including delivering over $75,000 of goods and helping to vaccinate over 1130 seafarers. 

“Seafaring is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Mission to Seafarers in Sydney has been helping seafarers to maintain their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health since 1881, but seafarers have never seen a time such as this.,” Mr Dunn said. “As the Mission and seafarers continue to recover from lockdown challenges, I look forward to helping the Mission to grow. The Mission’s support can help ensure that more seafarers can be recharged and return safely to their families, knowing they have done a tough job well,” Mr Dunn said.

See a video interview with Mr Dunn about his new role at: https://tinyurl.com/MeetMtSChair

Image attached – caption: New chair Robert Dunn visits the Mission to Seafarers Sydney Centre.

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