Strengthening Families and Communities

Healthy families are the heart of strong, dynamic communities.

Unfortunately, some people in disadvantaged areas often face challenges that tear families apart rather than build them up. We aim to be part of the solution by delivering services that tackle grass-root issues affecting our community.

Who we help

Using prevention and early intervention based individual and targeted community activities, we focus on those who are socially disengaged, isolated, and/or may be lacking in confidence due to challenges with language, transport and limited personal networks.

We aim to give children the best start in life by working towards:

  • improved health and wellbeing of families and the development of young children from before birth through to 12 years of age
  • creating strong, child-friendly communities that understand the importance of children and apply this to maximising the health, wellbeing and early development of young children.

We offer free physical and other activities for children and families encouraging families to do more physical activity, eat healthier, connect with their children’s education and build connections with community services.

This year, achievements included:

  • 4,251 contacts from vulnerable children and families with outreach learning and literacy activities and events
  • 25 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents/carers, along with their children, were supported to build connections with community activities and services
  • 40 free physical activities were offered to children and families
  • 1,600 connections were made with children and families through parent-focused activities
  • 25 local community practitioners were trained and delivered three evidence-based parenting programs

CfC is funded by the Federal Government.

Communities for Children Under 5’s Family Fun Day at Deception Bay

Family and Domestic Violence Refuge

yourtown’s Family and Domestic Violence Refuge accommodates up to seven mothers and 28 children (including sons aged up to 18 years).

Many women and children at the refuge live with unresolved and complex trauma, compounded and reinforced over time by domestic and family violence.

“The first three months after leaving a violent relationship are the most unsafe for women, which makes our refuge a critical service for women and children in this situation.”

Families in our refuge participate in an individually tailored program within a strengths-based and trauma informed framework. We work one-on-one with women to deal with the issues that prevent families moving forward. Issues can include:

  • complex legal matters
  • mental ill health
  • substance abuse
  • financial stresses
  • parenting concerns
  • need for post-refuge housing
  • fear of physical attack by the perpetrator of violence.

The refuge is funded by yourtown.

This year, 138 children and 88 families participated in 713 individual and 316 group sessions.

San Miguel Family Centre

San Miguel offers short-term and transitional accommodation to help families experiencing homelessness.

Social housing is under intense pressure. Even families with the most complex, numerous and persistent barriers can wait two years or more for a permanent roof over their heads. Vulnerable families can become chronically homeless – living in cars, staying with friends or family for temporary periods, or sleeping rough. Children in these families may miss out on school, dental appointments and vaccinations. Older children often become default carers.

The San Miguel Family Centre in North Richmond, New South Wales is one of a handful of specialist accommodation services available to assist families experiencing homelessness. Our team utilises individual case management, child and youth development work and outreach support to assist families to achieve sustainable, independent accommodation. San Miguel can accommodate 15 families in separate residences (including larger families with six or more family members).

The New South Wales Government through Mission Australia funds approximately 15% of the service. yourtown funds the remaining 85%.

This year, 27 homeless families received shelter and support on site at San Miguel, and seven families were assisted via outreach.

Sixty-six (66) children participated in our Child and Youth Development Program while on site.

More than 90% of the families that exited San Miguel transitioned to an independent tenancy.

 

Who we help

In 2015, yourtown won the opportunity to deliver ParentsNext in the city of Playford, South Australia.

We assist parents to set short and long-term goals to build their confidence to re-engage in education activities that lead to employment. Our trainers offer a range of programs to build work readiness and help young people explore accredited educational pathways.

Our new ParentsNext site will offer young people a training and study space with a fully equipped play room for children.

We are keen to give young people a voice in their community. Our ParentsNext Advisory Committee gives parents this opportunity and helps involve them in local community projects.

The program is funded by the Federal Government.

This year, 284 parents were part of the program.

ParentsNext staff and clients in Adelaide

Who we help

The Young Parents Program offers practical parenting support for parents and carers aged 14-25 years and their children.

Set in a friendly home like environment, our child and family development specialists help young families with life skills, health and wellbeing support, as well as encourage positive relationships by creating child development activities that respond to the needs of each child and parent.

This program operates in Deception Bay, Queensland and Port Pirie, South Australia.

In Port Pirie we also offer the Care Plus Program for parents with children up to the age of 18. We provide families with strategies to:

  • strengthen connections between home and the school community, including school participation
  • Improve social and emotional wellbeing
  • strengthen family relationships.

The Young Parents program is funded by yourtown. Care Plus is funded by the Federal Government.

This year, 158 parents and children took part in the program.

National recognition for child protection

In 2015, the Young Parents Program in Port Pirie was honoured to receive the National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN) ‘Play Your Part’ South Australia State award for its focus on early intervention and the safety and wellbeing of children and young people.

Education and Child Development Minister, Susan Close presented yourtown's Elisabeth Kobierski and Jo Vanstone with the award

Jo Ann Vanstone

Young Parents program Team Leader

Working at yourtown – “It’s not about ‘me’ – it’s about us.”

Jo’s keen interest in behavioural science and contact with yourtown via a school program saw her undergo a sea change and get a job at yourtown.

After six years as a nurse and with a keen interest in ‘how and why people tick’, Jo decided to study behavioural science. Her work at John Pirie Secondary School, Port Pirie supporting the Flexible Learning Program also meant she had frequent contact with yourtown and the work the organisation did with young people at the school. Really liking what she saw, in 2011, she became the Team Leader for yourtown’s Young Parents program. We asked her about her work with yourtown.

What does a Team Leader do?  

“I coordinate services for young people and children as well as expectant parents through to families with kids as old as 18 years. I lead a team that includes two Child Development Workers and a Family Worker with our Care Plus program. Together, we case manage families on an individual or family basis.”

Why do you work for yourtown?

“Because I’m a people person and I want to help anyone who needs support to get it. I like helping people, like to see them succeed and love interacting with young families.

I believe our program works because it’s not about ‘me’ - it’s about us. We work with like-minded people who share the same passion for doing what we do. It’s doing the best we can do for those who need us.”

How many clients do you believe you've helped over the years?

“Forty to 50 families over the last five years. These range from single parent families to parents with four kids.”

What do you believe is the most challenging part of your job?

“Child protection is never easy – having to report issues related to signs of abuse and neglect and when kids are at risk. Thankfully, this is not often.

It’s also hard sometimes to build relationships with families when they have been experiencing hardships and feel they’ve nowhere to go. We say we can help but they’ve heard this story a million times and feel ‘nothing is going to happen for me – why bother?’ We need to build that level of trust and that doesn’t happen overnight.”

What is the best thing about your job?

“Seeing families succeed. It’s fantastic to see their growth – their interactions with their children develop.

I love having the freedom to support them [families and children] the best way that will work for them.

I really believe that half of the success of the program is due to being in a casual home like environment. They don’t feel the pressure of being in a clinical setting and are more relaxed. We work hard to make it a place they want to be, to know we’re on their side. Give them a second, third, fourth chance and go above and beyond to help them.

The other day I received the greatest compliment when someone who at first did not think we could help at all told me ‘You’re brilliant!’ They had asked us for help and we’d done what we said we would.”

 

Working at yourtown – “It’s not about ‘me’ – it’s about us.”

Jo’s keen interest in behavioural science and contact with yourtown via a school program saw her undergo a sea change and get a job at yourtown.

After six years as a nurse and with a keen interest in ‘how and why people tick’, Jo decided to study behavioural science. Her work at John Pirie Secondary School, Port Pirie supporting the Flexible Learning Program also meant she had frequent contact with yourtown and the work the organisation did with young people at the school. Really liking what she saw, in 2011, she became the Team Leader for yourtown’s Young Parents program. We asked her about her work with yourtown.

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03 What we do