“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace”
1 Peter 4:10

The Development and Relief Agency (DARA) is an agency of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. DARA is a registered charity that supports vulnerable people in our local community. DARA is underpinned by the Catholic social teaching principles of; dignity of the human person and the common good. Our mission is to reach out, support and empower vulnerable people in local communities. DARA aims to meet the immediate needs of those who need our support, and to provide practical assistance and support to vulnerable people so they have pathways to integration through educational and vocational programs. Collaboration with parishes, CatholicCare, Catholic schools and like-minded organisations is a key to the success of DARA in our support of vulnerable people. 

DARA's food programs

According to the Australian Bureau of statistics, the number of homeless in the Hunter region during the last census totalled 1747. There are a range of factors that contribute to homelessness including domestic violence, shortages of affordable housing, unemployment, mental illness, alcohol and other drug abuse and family breakdown.

To help ease the burden of homelessness, DARA’s food programs provide a hot, nutritious meal four nights a week across the region. Working in collaboration with other agencies including Orange Sky Laundry our team of dedicated volunteers provide food, hospitality and friendship to the marginalised in our community. DARA’s food programs are a key outreach service which engage directly with people who may require support and assistance, as well as access to information and other services.

DARA’s food program supports over 150 people each week across four sites at Islington, Raymond Terrace, Maitland and Nelson’s Bay. The success of DARA’s food programs is contingent on the generous support of local businesses who provide fresh produce, meat and bakery items that our volunteers use to make nutritious meals.

DARA's settlement support programs

DARA’s settlement support program plays an integral role in the integration of new migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in the Newcastle, Hunter and Manning regions. Volunteers are integral to DARA’s programs and each brings their own unique talents to help refugees benefit from health, education, social and welfare opportunities. When working with new migrants and refugees, our focus is on closing the gap between the supports that funded settlement services offer and the ongoing needs of our participants once their funded supports end.  We aim to assist participants to develop positive relationships with people who have shared experiences so they can provide peer support for each other on their journey to independence and integration.

Latest News

One year of Dara’s Van

  • Apr 05, 2019

This year has been a year of achievements and change for the Development and Relief Agency (DARA) and its services. Read more

‘It’s a hand-up, not a handout’: DARA at Woodberry

  • Mar 26, 2019

DARA’s Van now operates a service in Woodberry service after Tracy Iles, Auxiliary Lieutenant of The Salvation Army Centre Raymond Terrace, approached the Van’s Coordinator, Baden Ellis about entering into a partnership. Read more

John Sandy shares a message of acceptance with students of Holy Family, Merewether for Harmony Week

  • Mar 18, 2019

Development and Relief Agency (DARA) Project Liaison Officer, John Sandy, visited the students of Holy Family Primary School, Merewether to share his story in time for Harmony Week 2019. Read more

Everett's Story: Why I volunteer

  • Feb 19, 2019

Everett has been volunteering with DARA’s Van along with his wife Deb for several years now. He started out at the Van’s once-per-term stint at St Francis Xavier’s College, Hamilton before getting into fortnightly volunteering at DARA Raymond Terrace and public holidays at Islington Park. Read more