NEW DIRECTION: General manager Jessica Mulhall outside the Gladstone Mission to Seafarers.
NEW DIRECTION: General manager Jessica Mulhall outside the Gladstone Mission to Seafarers.

Seafarers’ ‘challenging decision’ to close its doors

THE Gladstone Seafarers Centre will close its doors by the end of today as it looks to continue offering support from a distance.

General manager Jess Mulhall said it was a difficult decision that felt like it went against the grain of the organisation's role.

"Our number one purpose is to support the seafarers in their physical, emotional and spiritual needs but in the current climate their physical needs come first," Ms Mulhall said.

The closure means less face-to-face interactions.

Ms Mulhall said seafarers would be better protected with less exposure to the general public.

A Maritime Safety Queensland direction announced on March 18 means ships must not enter a Queensland pilotage area until 14 days have passed since it, or any person onboard, left a foreign country.

Ms Mulhall said the measure meant seafarers were essentially in a state of quarantine between when they departed their last port and arrived in Gladstone.

"All we need to do now is make sure we don't make them sick while they are here," she said.

The centre will now move to a virtual model of service delivery.

Seafarers will be offered online counselling, video links to church services and options to send postcards to their families.

Care packages including books, DVDs and games donated by the public as well as SIM cards and phone credit to phone home while docked in Gladstone will also be provided free.

"Now more than ever it's so important that we continue to support the crews in any way we can," Ms Mulhall said.

"They are such an essential part of our daily lives in Australia and Gladstone specifically that we cannot forget about them now."

When suspected COVID-19 symptoms are reported on a ship, arrangements are made through the Joint Rescue co-ordination Centre in Canberra for a remote health assessment to be carried out by a telehealth doctor.

Any businesses that have stock they wish to donate to the Seafarers can do so by contacting 4972 8610.