Dutton Park based Romero Centre supports over one thousand individual asylum seekers and their family members in Brisbane.

Mengistu Hailu, Manager at Romero, said many of the men supported by the Centre have temporary visas, cannot access social security benefits, and often have no income. Some men need better English skills to find suitable work, and those with a car may need help paying for registration or petrol.

Romero connects asylum seekers with practical support such as legal services, English classes, medical care, trauma counselling, and community events. Romero can also provide accommodation assistance in the community, and their pantry makes food available for clients.

This Christmas, Romero planned to provide hostel accommodation for people living in cars and other temporary arrangements, but there will only be sufficient resources for a few nights’ accommodation.

 “Finding accommodation is a real challenge for us,” Mengistu told me. 


Romero Centre does not receive government funding and depends on people in the community for donations and other forms of assistance.

Community Pantry

While some fresh fruit and vegetables comes from OZ Harvest, Romero relies on donations to stock their community pantry.

“Many of our people rely on our Emergency Pantry because of no income or financial support. It provides culturally appropriate food and toiletry items. The items running low change each month so we try to update the needed items regularly.”

See the images below for the Centre’s current hamper and pantry needs.


Mengistu said Romero would prefer financial donations rather than food in kind, as cash enables them to purchase vouchers, allowing families to make their own choices for food and other needs. Mengistu said vouchers are essential because there are many items the Centre can’t provide from its small pantry.

“A good example of this, is the petrol,” Mengistu said.

Christmas Hampers

Christmas is a special time for many and a time of giving. In previous years, Romero distributed one hundred to one hundred and fifty hampers at Christmas, and over one hundred school backpacks. This year the Centre is still providing Christmas Hampers for families and individuals but has fewer available compared with previous years. 

So far, fifty school backpacks are distributed and thirty waiting for the families to come and pick them up. The Centre still needs more hampers and at least twenty backpacks to give out. People preferred vouchers but hampers and backpacks are welcome too. See the list of items below,” Mengistu said.

Volunteering Opportunities

Mengistu says the Centre is managing with their current staff and volunteers, but they do need volunteers with specialist skills such as social media and grant writing. He said the team will assess other volunteers needs in the new year.

“We will be looking for some support in the area of some projects, social media, and English teaching, but details will be available after the team assessment”.

Contact Mengistu in the new year if you have the skills and time to help. You can email via Romero.admin@mercycs.org.au or phone the Centre on 07 3013 0100.

For their latest news, follow  Romero Centre on Facebook 

Related Story

Romero Centre – community support for refugees.