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Sydney Bethel Union

The Sydney Bethel Union, being a registered charity founded in 1822, is the largest single contributor of funds to the Mission to Seafarers in the ports of New South Wales.

Trustee: Sydney Bethel Union Pty Ltd

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Sydney Bethel Union:





To provide significant and sustainable financial support to the Missions to Seafarers in the ports of Sydney, Newcastle, Port Kembla and Eden for the ongoing spiritual and physical welfare of seafarers of all nationalities and creeds visiting these ports.

SBU, Supporting Missions' to Seafarers in NSW

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Port Vists with gift packages

The  Day of the Seafarer June 2024. Ship visits

COVID vaccinations arranged by MTS Sydney

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Seafarers arrive at MTS Port Kembla

MTS Eden welcome the return of Cruise ship crews

Ship visits 

What We Do

The Sydney Bethel Union, being a registered Charity, fulfills its purpose by providing significant financial support each year to the Missions to Seafarers as they go about their very valuable work in supporting seafarers of all creeds and ethnic origins visiting the ports of NSW. Prior to the Pandemic, this involved visiting cargo vessels, having a presence on the wharf to assist the crews of cruise vessels and transporting crews to and from their Mission. At the Missions, recreation and Wi Fi facilities are provided, goods can be purchased and importantly a forum is available to address any problems a seafarer is experiencing, mentally, spiritually or practically.


The pandemic imposed severe hardship on seafarers being denied shore leave, unable to leave vessels at the end of contracts and vaccinations were hard to obtain. The Missions, with the financial assistance of the SBU provided throughout the period, provided food parcels to the bottom of gangways as well as pre-ordered goods and assisting with vaccinations where they could. They did this despite the lack of volunteers that had previously been available.


In addition, given the historical background in owning buildings occupied by the Missions to Seafarers in Sydney, the SBU has purchased a long-term lease for the Mission’s current premises and maintains them. Working closely with financial advisors, the SBU Directors ensure that ongoing financial support is sustainable for the future by effectively and prudently managing the capital base of the Foundation. Close and regular contact is maintained with the Missions in NSW.

The SBU acknowledges the Gadigal and Bidjigal people of the Eora nation who are the traditional owners of the land on which MTS Sydney is located.

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Sydney Bethel Union - History and Milestones

The Sydney Bethel Union is a public charitable organisation established in 1822, formalised in 1851 by an Act of the Parliament of NSW and known as the Sydney Bethel Union Trustees’ Act, to provide for the welfare of Seafarers of all nationalities visiting the Ports of NSW.

History of the Sydney Bethel Union

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Sydney Bethel Union Historical Milestones

SBU Bicentenary

200 years of assistance to Missions to Seafarers in NSW

In 2022, the Sydney Bethel Union reached the historic milestone of being a charity in New South Wales continually providing assistance for 200 Years. A function to celebrate was held at the Australian National Maritime Museum on 17th November, 2022. The SBU chairman read out a letter from HRH the Princess Royal, President of the worldwide Missions to Seafarers congratulating the Society and commending the service and commitment of those who managed the affairs of the SBU over 200 years, exclusively for the benefit of seafarers.

The Governor of NSW was not able to attend this function but graciously hosted a luncheon in honour of the bicentenary at Government House on 15th December, 2022.​

(Refer to the link below to view the HRH letter. The first photograph of the slideshow also links to the DCN "SBU Bicentenary" article published in November 2022.)


Guests celebrating the SBU Bicentenary at the ANMU November 2022
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State Government legislative backing for the Sydney Bethel Union



A brief description of the original State Government legislation and subsequent amendments that still govern the overall operation of the SBU can be found in the link below

The Mission to Seafarers NSW

               Active in Newcastle, Sydney, Port Kembla and Eden
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Links to other websites

The Missions to Seafarers rely on volunteers and appreciate their selfless service and also seek financial donations to support their work.

The Australian Mariners’ Welfare Society is a membership based charitable organisation that , amongst other functions, provides financial grants to MtS and Apostleship of the Seas missions around Australia upon application to assist with operating costs, scholarships for those that meet certain criteria undertaking maritime courses and limited accommodation for ex-seafarers.

Sydney Bethel Union, 2022

Prior to the Sydney Bethel Union Amendment Act, 2018, there were four Trustees responsible for managing the Trust under the terms of the relevant State legislation including the Trustees Act, 1925. The 2018 amendment replaced individual trustees with a corporate trustee, Sydney Bethel Union Pty Ltd. The four incumbent trustees became directors of the trustee company. Additional directors have subsequently been appointed and two of the former trustees have retired.  

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