House will be a safe haven for siblings
OzChild has joined forces with leading Australian builder, Boutique Homes, to build a 32 square home in Melbourne’s South East to allow siblings to stay together.
As part of OzChild’s Let’s Stay Together program, the house will become home for siblings who might otherwise be separated and their carer.
Chief Executive Officer of OzChild Lisa j. Griffiths says she is thrilled to be partnering with Boutique Homes in this project which will enable OzChild to support a sibling group who would otherwise have to be split up.
“Often when siblings are put into the care of a foster family they are unable to stay together. OzChild works extremely hard to keep families together and this purpose-built house will allow us to just that,” Lisa said.
“It is a wonderful commitment by Boutique Homes to make this house as beautiful as a display home and it will really give the children and young people in our care hope, dignity and the chance to shine.”
Located in Cranbourne North, the five bedroom, three bathroom home currently under construction will allow the siblings to enjoy plenty of green open spaces, parks and walking and bike trails.
It is also close to a number of state schools, and is only a short drive from Berwick Village and shopping precincts. Leisure facilities nearby include the Cranbourne Botanic Gardens, Cranbourne Golf Course, Sweeney Reserve and Casey Fields for bike rides or a kick of the football.
Aidan Hooper, Managing Director of ABN Group Victoria said the company was excited to be working with OzChild on this project.
“We are extremely proud Boutique Homes has committed to building a foster home to provide care for children and young people who are experiencing a difficult time in their lives,” Aidan said.
“As a business, we recognise the importance of siblings staying together and supporting OzChild in this way will help brothers and sisters stay safe, and stay together. By giving these young children a safe home, we can give back to the community and we’re excited to be able to do so.
“We have encouraged our staff to be part of this initiative, with the team holding fundraising activities to help raise a portion of the funds towards this important project.
“We have also had generous contributions and support from our valued supplier partners and trades, who we look forward to working with to deliver a quality new home to our friends at OzChild.”
The house is expected to be ready for its new family in late September.
The partnership with OzChild is part of a significant charity program run by the ABN Group, of which Boutique Homes is part; the ABN Foundation has raised over $8.1million for worthwhile causes in Australia since it was established in 2006.
If you are a corporate wanting to support the work of OzChild please contact Glynis Smalley, Media and Sponsorship on 03 9695 2251 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Celebrating OzChild’s volunteers
Volunteers from OzChild’s Family Volunteer program recently met at gorgeous The Rocks café in Mornington to celebrate National Volunteers Week and hear from guest speaker Jeanette Horsley, Manager of the YMCA and the Southern Peninsula Youth Service.
Jeanette spoke about the pleasure of working with volunteers in her programs, saying that kids often needed support when life became chaotic - especially if they don’t have family - but they know they can connect with volunteers.
The OzChild volunteers support families struggling with problems like social isolation, mental and physical illness, managing a single parent family and disengaged young people. Just by having a chat or getting out of the house to hang out at the park, these volunteers have empowered their families and young people to be resilient, self-sustainable and confident.
The volunteer team also assist with connecting the families and young people with appropriate community services.
OzChild volunteer coordinator Moira praised the volunteers, saying they had empathy, they instilled in young people that there are great things, and that people care. She said the volunteers gave young people confidence and self-esteem just because they wanted to meet them.
Thank you volunteers! Keep up the good work.
OzChild’s Family Volunteer program is funded by the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council.
Action speaks louder than words
OzChild is encouraging all Australians to support Family Matters Week of Action.
Family Matters, led by the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) aims to eliminate the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care by 2040.
The national campaign aims to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people grow up safe and cared for in family, community and culture.
Chief Executive Officer of OzChild Lisa Griffiths said there was a clear and urgent need for change with far too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children living away from their homes in out-of-home-care, too many separated from their families and culture.
“All children and young people should be safe, respected, nurtured and be able to reach their full potential,” Lisa said.
“We are proud to be a signatory to The Family Matters Statement of Commitment and are committed to ensuring our policies and practices are culturally safe and responsive to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.”
OzChild is currently in the final stages of the approval process by Reconciliation Australia of their Reconciliation Action Plan.
“In our journey to cultural competence through our Reconciliation Action Plan, OzChild is working with our Aboriginal colleagues and alongside them in seeking to learn all we can to support self-determination,” Lisa said.
“We want to ensure that we develop our practices in line with this learning to support and reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care.”
Lisa urged all Australians to take the Family Matters pledge.
“It is important that every Australian ensures ALL Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children grow up safe, well and cared for in their families, communities and culture,” Lisa said.
“By pushing for change we will help to create stronger Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities. And a more united Australia.”
Kicking goals for kids and families: Carolyn the volunteer
You’d think that Mornington Peninsula business manager, writer and mother Carolyn Nicholson might not have time to volunteer for three different programs, but she says otherwise. “None of these things I do take a huge amount of time, but it makes such a significant impact on the lives of others,” Carolyn says.
The Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority where Carolyn works offers professional development plans every year. While Carolyn was struggling to identify an opportunity, her boss asked, “why don’t you think a bit outside the square? What would keep you motivated?”
“I had a think about it,” Carolyn says, “and I said, “I really love volunteering”. So he said, “why don’t you do use that professional development time for volunteering?””
Carolyn is a family volunteer with OzChild, a Pyjama Angel for foster kids with The Pyjama Foundation and runs a breakfast club at a local school with her 11-year-old son.
Carolyn came across OzChild via her Pyjama Angel buddy’s caseworker who works for OzChild, and a recommendation through Impact Volunteering.
Coincidentally, she realised that her office was in the same building as OzChild’s Frankston office. “It was all falling into place,” laughs Carolyn.
Carolyn signed up and went along to OzChild’s volunteer training course. “The process to become a volunteer is quite detailed and it was quite intensive, but I felt comfortable that OzChild were looking for the right people,” Carolyn says.
OzChild matched Carolyn up to a family and “the lovely Moira”, OzChild’s volunteer coordinator. “She’s been fabulous,” Carolyn says. “I worked with her to figure out what would be a good match for me and she was never rushed. She was always happy to sit and talk through whatever I wanted to talk through. She took me to my first meet and greet with my client. It was great and she gave me a debrief session afterwards.”
Carolyn’s first client was a family in crisis who were struggling to care for their young children.
Carolyn set to work building a relationship with the family by visiting their home and getting to know them. Then she was able to help them set goals. “We talked about what success would look like, and what they want to get out of the volunteering relationship,” Carolyn says. “We spent time breaking down the situation and identifying where they needed help. We’d talk about the realities of day-to-day. We’d find ways that they could be able to spend time with their children. Then I could go to Moira, who would search for available for the family.”
Carolyn has seen positive changes in the family over the last seven months that she’s known them. “They’ve got a lot of support in place now,” Carolyn says. “They’re more comfortable talking to me and we have a strong relationships. We’re building up their resilience and ability to be a more active and involved parents.”
Carolyn volunteers specifically with kids and families. “I was looking for ways to be able to use my energy to help kids in need. I also wanted to feel more connected with my community and to better understand some of the challenges that families face.”
Carolyn is also a Pyjama Angel for a girl in foster care. Pyjama Angels visit a family once a week to help foster kids with their reading and homework, and Carolyn says it’s been a rewarding experience. “The first time she came home with a gold star on her homework, we both cried,” Carolyn says. “She used to not read a word – now she sits and reads a whole book with me.”
Carolyn has even gotten her son involved with volunteering at a school. “I wanted to teach my son the same. We’re not rich but we’re not doing it tough, and I wanted him to understand that the world is complicated. Some families have challenges and not all kids have the same upbringing.”
Even though we’ve all got busy lives, Carolyn hopes she can encourage everyone to try volunteering. “If you do that instead of watching telly, you can find an hour a week,” Carolyn says. “There’s so many families and schools that need the support.”