Carer Ambassador Program launched
5 July 2018
Feedback from OzChild’s carer focus groups and a group of proactive carers have seen the establishment of a Carer Ambassador Program.
Carers Andrea Failla, Lisa Fothergill and Genevieve Meyer had been actively running events in their own community promoting the need for more foster carers. This prompted the need for more resources and support that OzChild could provide and the seed of the idea of the inaugural Carer Ambassador Program was planted.
OzChild Carer Recruitment Team Leader Maggie Morgan said the program was developed in response to the organisations passionate carers.
“Many of our carers were putting in extra effort to reach the wider public about the importance of supporting children in out of home care so we thought an ambassador program was the perfect way OzChild could support them,” Ms Morgan said.
Ms Morgan and Marketing and Recruitment Officer Andrew Duong have been planning the 12-month pilot program with staff and carers over the past six months. The program aims to provide training, structure and support to the carers who have put their hands up to become an ambassador.
Carer Ambassador Paul Magno has been excited to share his carer journey out in the wider community.
“Life is a gift and I personally feel a sense of responsibility to care and advocate for children at risk, and give them a future and a hope,” Mr Magno said.
Ms Morgan said the first group of ambassadors were extremely enthusiastic having already held several information events.
“The ambassadors have been very active since March and have many more activities planned for the remainder of the year. They have also been supported by other amazing OzChild carers at ambassador led events in the community,” Ms Morgan said.
“The goal of the ambassadors is to increase awareness about foster care and ultimately find more carers to meet the growing numbers of children in out of home care.
“They add the human face of a carer and are able to answer questions from their own experiences when they are at community events.
“The results of the Ambassador Program have been really pleasing with more than 15 foster care enquiries being connected to our Ambassador’s efforts and potentially even more.”
The initial group of Carer Ambassadors are Rose-Marie Osborn, Tracey Kelly, Joshua Osborn, Paul Magno, Anna Scerri, Kathryn Gearon, Glenda Quinn, Belinda Perrin, Genevieve Meyer and Joan Graham.
Look out for upcoming Ambassador events here.
Because of them, I can
3 July 2018
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are the focus of this year’s NAIDOC Week celebrations from 8 – 15 July.
The theme ‘Because of her, we can!’ aims to highlight the active and significant roles Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have played – and continue to play - at the community, local, state and national levels.
In the lead up to NAIDOC Week we asked OzChild’s National Director of Aboriginal Partnerships Dea Delaney-Thiele to reflect on the strong Aboriginal women who have influenced her life.
Growing up in Mt Druitt in the 1970s was so much simpler than today. That said, it still had its challenges for our Aboriginal family, including isolation, exclusion and racism.
Mt Druitt still had a regional feel with lots of farms and my brothers and sisters were free to roam the streets during daylight. A luxury that wasn’t afforded my Elders when they were young.
What else did Mt Druitt have? Strong, resilient black women who all worked together to set up vital services and initiatives to help improve access and outcomes for Aboriginal families.
With this year's NAIDOC theme being ‘Because of Her, We Can!’ I thought I'd pay tribute to all the women who defined me, guided me, who were so resilient even though they had faced very challenging, adverse times just to exist and keep their families together.
My main influences were my mum Gwendolyn Delaney (née Campbell), grandmother, Eliza Delaney (née Cain), Aunty Margret Campbell (Aunty Muughie), Aunty Christine Hinton (Aunty Peggy nee Delaney), and Gloria Lalor (née Delaney). Very inspirational women!!!! Very resilient women!! Could be very combative at times to protect their children!!
These women were the movers and shakers who started the Murawina Mt Druitt Aboriginal Child Care Centre, and my mum also had a hand in the early planning phase of the Aboriginal Health Service in Mt Druitt.
My Elders-especially the women-accomplished what we thought was unachievable, all from our backyard in Tregear Mt Druitt. Mum was the coordinator, Nan, Aunty Gloria and Aunty Peg cooked and cleaned each day for the kids. Aunty Muughie, who also worked at Murawina Redfern provided advice about their learnings and sometimes drove the bus to pick up the kids from around the community.
Aunty Muughie also continues to provide us with ongoing Cultural advice. We are so very lucky to still have her in our lives as mum and all the other Campbell siblings passed on early into the Dreaming.
Obviously, there were other Aboriginal women who helped, but I also wanted to pay special homage to Yvonne Donovan, Joyce Merritt and Christine Williams who also volunteered their efforts to help realise the dream of Murawina Mt Druitt!
Pat Delaney (nee Swan), Naomi Mayers (nee Briggs) and Dulcie Flower, extraordinary Black Women who led the many struggles in Aboriginal Health with too many contributions to list here. Thanks so much Patty, Nay and Dulce!! Without your many sacrifices our Aboriginal Health Sector would not have grown into the thriving 140+ Aboriginal Communities around Australia who are now delivering comprehensive primary health care to their communities! Your efforts were also inspirational!
Recently I was also very honoured and privileged to work with another strong resilient Aboriginal woman, Kim Davison, the CEO of Gugan Gulwan.
“Kim your commitment to our People, your tireless efforts have finally culminated in a joint contract from the ACT government, to jointly deliver FFT-CW into the ACT. From little things big things will grow!! I know your efforts will pay off to help keep Aboriginal families who come into the program stronger and together. Thankyou Kim!! You are inspiring!!”
These women are true inspirations and worked to keep our families strong and together. They set the bar high. I am very proud of my Aboriginal Elders and Kim Davison. They’ve handed me and some of my relatives the baton. Hopefully we can stay the course and leave a similar legacy. Because of them ... we can!!
By Dea Delaney-Thiele, Joanne Delaney and Charleene Mundine
New partnership with Gugan Gulwan to benefit at-risk Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families
21 June 2018
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families at risk of involvement with the ACT Child Protection System will be able to access Functional Family Therapy for the first time following the announcement of a 12-month trial today.
More than 40 Canberra families will benefit from the trial, which will run in partnership with local Aboriginal organisation Gugan Gulwan Youth Aboriginal Corporation and OzChild.
The aim of the trial is to reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people entering or remaining in out of home care through culturally specific interventions that strengthen families and communities.
Chief Executive Officer of OzChild Lisa Griffiths said OzChild was thrilled to be partnering with Gugan Gulwan and the ACT Government to deliver Functional Family Therapy in Canberra.
“It is exciting to be part of the Government’s continued commitment for better outcomes for Aboriginal Children and Families,” Ms Griffiths said.
“Functional Family Therapy has been proven to be successful internationally, and locally, we have observed significant benefits for families and their children who participate in the program.
“The results from culturally diverse populations widely support the model’s efficacy in working with children and families with multiple and complex needs, including family violence, mental health, and parental drug and alcohol abuse. Most importantly it keeps children and families together while dealing with challenging issues.”
The ACT Government, Gugan Gulwan and OzChild will jointly fund the program. Gugan Gulwan and OzChild have a background of quality service provision and innovation and have the expertise to deliver the trial.
Kim Davison, Executive Director of Gugan Gulwan Youth Aboriginal Corporation said the program, initiated by OzChild and supported by the ACT Government, will provide family-based therapy for families with children and young people aged 0-17 who are at risk of entering the out of home care system.
“The program aims to strengthen families preventing the removal of a child or young person as well as supporting re-unification of a child or young person from care and is a culturally adaptive short-term family-based program,” Ms Davison said.
“I was delighted when OzChild approached Gugan Gulwan to propose that we partner with them on a program aimed at stopping the removal of Aboriginal children from their families.”
“Working with the whole family is the only way to resolve the family issues that can lead to children being removed from their families.
“We need to adopt and support this family-based approach, because every time a child is removed from their family, that is a failure of the system to keep families together.
“We appreciate the ACT Government matching OzChild’s contribution to get the program off the ground.
“As the program progresses, we will be looking for an ongoing commitment to funding, to ensure that a family-based approach is always the first step in any process that deals with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.
“Like all Canberrians, we want to see all children thriving within their family environments.”
Functional Family Therapy complements A Step Up for Our Kids, the ACT Government’s five-year reform strategy for out-of-home care.
The trial is a demonstration of the ACT Government’s commitment to addressing the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out of home care.
The Minister for Disability, Children and Youth Rachel Stephen-Smith said she was excited about this partnership with Gugan Gulwan Youth and OzChild for the Functional Family Therapy trial.
“This flexible program assists at-risk families with children and young people aged 0-17 and supports reunification of a child or young person in care with their family,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the answers. It is up to governments to listen to them and recognise the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led solutions.
“Gugan Gulwan will bring important cultural insights to the program, as well as strong connections to Canberra’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.”
Grant success will help keep kids connected to community
12 June 2018
Staff of the Mulgrave Waverley Gardens have successfully nominated OzChild to receive a $10,000 Centenary Grant from the CommBank Foundation and the Commonwealth Bank.
Branch staff nominated OzChild in recognition of the much-needed services the organisation provides to their local community.
Branch Manager Shehani Jansz said her staff were thrilled to be able to support OzChild.
“The inspiring and far reaching impact of the work undertaken by OzChild was a crucial factor in it receiving the grant,” Ms Jansz said.
“This grant is especially meaningful since we are able to celebrate 100 years of employee giving by nominating an organisation to receive a Centenary Grant in our local community.”
OzChild Chief Executive Officer Lisa Griffiths said receiving the grant was a testament to the work the organisation did with children, young people and families in the community.
“OzChild’s foster care program supports over 160 children at any one time to have a safe, caring family home. Many of these children have suffered huge disadvantage in their lives and this money will go a long way to assist in providing them with opportunities that they otherwise would not have,” Ms Griffiths said.
“The money will allow us to continue to support the Aboriginal children in our care to remain connected to their culture and community through a range of activities including, return to country trips and engagement in community events and cultural experiences.
“It will also support children and carers to access social and educational activities that would not normal be available to them to expand their experiences and improve their development.”
Commonwealth Bank donated $10 million to the CommBank Foundation in celebration and recognition of 100 years of employee giving and this donation funded the Centenary Grants. More than 13,000 current and retired bank employees donate a portion of their income to the program.
In total, 1,000 community organisations across the country will receive a Centenary Grant from Commonwealth Bank. Each of the 1,000 community organisations has been selected by Commonwealth Bank employees from right across Australia.
Grants from trusts and foundations are an essential part of our work as they provide the opportunity for innovative new projects and programs to help more children in crisis. If you can help contact our Media and Communications Manager Glynis Smalley on 03 9695 2251 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Night of nights for carers
8 June 2018
A night for carers both old and new, the annual OzChild Carer dinner was a chance to mingle, catch up with old friends, make some new ones, and to share and trade stories of the children in their care.
Over 200 carers and staff from our foster and kinship programs along with invited friends from Southern VACCA (Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency) came together for the evening which gave OzChild the chance to pay tribute to all of the wonderful carers for the love, support and commitment they give to the children in their care.
What was most evident on the night was the strong sense of community. The sense that each and every carer belongs to a truly remarkable and unique community; a collection of people from all walks of life who are brought together by their single purpose of helping children in need.
OzChild Chief Executive Officer Lisa Griffiths thanked carers for their tireless work and dedication, we heard all about the highs and lows of raising teenagers in the twenty first century from OzChild board member Dr Angela Williams, and witnessed a heart-warming speech by carer Stephan Munyard in dedication to his late wife Jennifer.
The night also saw the Elizabeth Tudor Award presented to carers Jennie and Neale Adams for their dedication to foster care and advocacy for change in the foster care system.
Kinship carer Amanda Cormick, who cares for nine children, was presented with the J C Butler Award for her hard work and dedication.
The evening concluded with two raffle draws (of 40 prizes), a toy giveaway and some fun photo opportunities for carers and staff alike.