About The Mission to Seafarers Victoria (MtSV)

Caring for Seafarers Around the World

Attending to seafarers’ welfare is crucial to ensuring the world’s oceans and coastlines are in safe hands.

The Mission to Seafarers is an international mission of the Anglican Church which cares for the practical and spiritual welfare of seafarers of all nationalities and faiths. There are 230 Mission sites around the world. In Victoria, at our four centres, work is carried out by chaplains, other staff and volunteers who give freely of their time 365 days of the year. Seafarers are visited on their ships and offered a welcome and whatever help they need. This can range from enabling them to telephone or email home, to offering comfort to the bereaved and assisting in cases of injustice and distress.

While most seafarers are well treated, some are still abandoned in ports far from their homes, or remain unpaid or forced to work in unsafe or unacceptable conditions. In such situations, the Mission plays a vital role in providing practical care and moral support.

In an article written regarding the effects of depression on the seafaring community, titled ‘Dogs Under the Table’, author Ruth G. Mercado wrote “Death can take the agonizing process of healing for those left behind, but then depression is equally excruciating for seafarers.

Far from the romantic adventures of the Arabian Nights’ “Sinbad the Sailor,” many seafarers consider depression to be their biggest storm at sea. Sailor Rod Ivan Puno wrote “Life at sea is like living in an aging world, a prisoner of opportunity, convicted for survival. As the sailor embraces the sea, he counts on lonely nights, killed in forbearance, crying in silence.

Describing the life of a seafarer as a “prisoner of the sea”, third mate Tere-sito Veano, in moving prose wrote, “We, seamen, are like prisoners. We are deprived to be with our families, friends and loved ones.

In Summary

  • The national and international communication between the network of MtS port agencies provides continuity in service to seafarers and a community of care in over 230 ports worldwide.
  • The Mission to Seafarers Victoria (MtSV) dates back to 1857, when it was established in the Port of Melbourne, and now operates as one of 29 port agencies nationally and over 230 port agencies worldwide.
  • The Mission to Seafarers Victoria operates daily from 10am – 10pm, on call for seafarers visiting the Port of Melbourne.
  • The MtSV has operated from the now heritage-listed building at 717 Flinders Street since 1917. The building is iconic to the City of Melbourne and regarded for its perpetual service of responding to the unique circumstances of those who live and work at sea.
  • The St Peter the Mariner Chapel, Flying Angel Club (as it is known to seafarers) and the Norla Dome make up the building complex which houses an archival collection of maritime and social history of State and National significance.
  • The on-going work of seafarers’ welfare and the custodial obligations to the heritage collection has seen the Board of Management invest considerable resources to ensure the preservation, management and maintenance of the building and its heritage assets.
  • The MtSV has been active in raising awareness of the spiritual and mental wellbeing of seafarers and this year has been no exception in the advocacy for seafarers during times of injustice or distress. As an island nation, Australia relies on seafarers, seafarers rely on the services of the MtSV and the Mission to Seafarers worldwide relies historically and today on the generosity of donors and volunteers who are recognised with great appreciation in our hearts and on this website.

The Flying Angel Club

The Mission to Seafarers’ centres are known worldwide as “Flying Angel Clubs”. The original logo of the Mission to Seafarers depicts the angel of the Book of  Revelation 14:6-7 bringing the word to humankind. The logo has since been modified to highlight the open-handed caring of the Mission’s work to seafarers of all nations.

Here in Victoria,  staff and volunteers man Flying Angel Clubs in Melbourne, Portland, Geelong and Hastings/Melways offering a safe and secure place where seafarers can relax away from the busy-ness of their working environment, contact their families by telephone or email, and receive counselling and support. Since our work began we have cared for well over 2 million seafarers from around the globe.

Padre Frank Oliver in the Annual Report for the 1956 (centenary) said ‘Not having access to the records of the old Victorian Seamen’s Mission, it is nevertheless conservatively estimated that throughout the century well over 3,000,000 attendances of seafaring men and women can be recorded for the period.

Annually, over 30,000 seafarers visit Mission to Seafarers centres in Victoria. This involves more than 15,000 hours of volunteer time.

We rely on donations and community support. Any support is greatly needed and appreciated.

The Flying Angels help all around the world. The following video from Dubai has a great explanation of the activities and services they deliver: