The Olympic Village Exodus Community has been active in the Olympic Village, Heidelberg West area since 1998, attempting to meet identified emerging needs of local residents. The Community began at the invitation of the parish priest of St Pius X, Heidelberg West and after lengthy consultation and discernment with various individuals, groups and local organizations and agencies.
The live-in members of the Exodus Community volunteer their services to the Community and its ministries. Central to the ministries of the Community is inclusion of local people in all aspects of work, including membership of the Exodus Community Management Team.
Exodus Community is currently supported by 50 volunteers.
The composition of the live-in membership has changed over the years as new members volunteer their services and as those who have lived their committed time move on.
Developing leadership models and an initiative to begin another Exodus Community in Wendouree West, has seen significant change in the nature of the community membership in Heidelberg West.
The original live-in community membership of five in 1998 included:
Fr. Frank Smith CsSR, Sr. Sally Bradley rsm, Br. Matthew Ryan cfc, and members of the Redemptorist Lay Community, Kath Carson and Sandra Marr,
At the beginning of 2015 the live-in members are Marist Brothers, Br. Harry Prout, Br Doug Walsh and Br. Barry Lamb
People wishing to join the live-in community are encouraged to contact Br Harry on 94577593.
Accommodation known as the Olympic Village was built in Heidelberg West during the early 1950’s to house the athletes and officials for the Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games. After the Games, the accommodation was used as government housing for low-income families.
The Olympic Village, Heidelberg West, in the City Council of Banyule area is home to many welfare dependent families and individuals, to many suffering the isolation of mental illness, to prescribed and to non-prescribed drug dependent individuals, to refugee families and individuals, to unemployed and to elderly shut-ins. Many youth and children in the Village are severely at risk because of violence, lack of security, poor nutrition and hygiene, lack of opportunity for safe, healthy recreational activities, poor role modelling and poverty. Public transport is relied upon heavily.
An estimated twenty per cent of the population are people who have been settled here from the Horn of Africa as refugees.
The Exodus Community is in contact with many families in the area through its various activities.
The needs of the Olympic Village community have been identified through conversations with locals during home visits, through structured opportunities and forums for reflection and discussion. Many hours of listening have enabled the Exodus Community to identify real needs.
Based on ABS information, the Olympic Village area of Heidelberg West is seen as one of the poorest in Melbourne.
Indicators of disadvantage include recorded crimes per capita, Disability Pension holders per capita, unemployment rate, Unemployment Benefit holders per capita, Emergency Admissions per capita, Child Protection notifications per capita, one parent families and mean taxable income.
A State Government initiative, Neighbourhood Renewal, operated in Heidelberg West, engaging with residents to tackle disadvantage and empower the community. The Exodus Community members worked closely with many organizations and agencies during the Neighbourhood Renewal period and continue to do so.
The Exodus Community volunteers attempt to attend to some of the identified, emerging needs through a variety of Teams and activities.