Three children's search for their 'Forever Families'

Permanent homes urgently needed for three very special children aged 6-13.

We are appealing to the local community to help find loving, nurturing, and devoted homes for three children in need through our Permanent Care program.

Connections’ Permanent Care program facilitates the placement of children, who are unable to live with their family of origin, due to risk or experience of serious abuse, neglect, or harm.

Leo (8) and his sister Minnie (6) have been living in care together for over four years. They are currently with a foster family, but we are desperate to find the right 'forever family' for these two very special kids.

Both children have some trauma related behaviours due to early life experiences, but are engaged with a therapeutic service and attend weekly counselling sessions. Like so many brothers and sisters, Leo and Minnie love talking about one another, and obtain comfort from each other when it comes to new situations.

Luca (12) has been living with his grandmother for two years now, but things are now at the stage where she is unable to continue caring for him. Luca is in Grade 5 and has been assessed with a mild form of Autism Spectrum Disorder. He enjoys school and doesn't require an aide in class, and is emotionally mature.

All three of the children have specific requirements around contact with their remaining family members.

Program Leader Prue Walker believes many members of the local community are unaware of the need for permanent care families, particularly for older children and siblings.

"It is important that couples wanting to start a family realise there are other options out there that exist beyond traditional methods,” said Ms Walker.

“All of the children who come through our program are longing for loving and caring families. They each have their own unique stories but unfortunately, they have all had an unstable start to their lives.

“We are calling out to anybody who thinks they may have room in their lives to provide these special children with a home, to make contact with us today,” said Ms Walker.


For more information about Connections' Permanent Care program, visit or call us on 03 9521 5666

Trauma and Differential Diagnosis

This full-day practice forum will support and enhance the skills and knowledge required by health and community services professionals working with children, young people, and families.

It will consider and explore the at times overlapping presentations of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) in the context of a trauma history.


Friday 17 November 2017

Wurundjeri Conference Room
Department of Health and Human Services
883 Whitehorse Road, Box Hill, 3128

$220 (incl. GST)
Limited discounted student spots available.

Tymur Hussein    

To book your ticket, click here. 

This event is fully catered.  Please indicate dietary requirements via trybooking.


09:00 - Registrations Open
09:15 - Welcome Tymur Hussein
09:30 - Complex Trauma Vicky Nicholls
10:15 - ADHD Tim Doyle
11:00 - Morning Tea
11:20 - Case-Study
12:00 - Discussion
12:30 - Lunch
13:00 - FASD Prue Walker
13:45 - ASD Sonia Street
14:30 - Afternoon Tea
14:50 - Case Study 
15:30 - Discussion
16:00 - Close


  • Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) - Prue Walker
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) - Sonia Street
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – Tim Doyle
  • Complex Trauma - Vicky Nicholls

The speaker biography can be found here: Trauma and Differential Diagnosis Practice Forum Speaker Bio

*Connections UnitingCare has joined together with other community service organisations in Victoria and Tasmania to form a single organisation Uniting.

17 Nov 2017

Is Homework for Primary-Aged Children Beneficial?

Now that the school term is truly underway, parents once again face the issue of homework – assisting or coercing their children into completing their after-school tasks.

There has been much discourse recently in the media regarding the topic of homework. Educators, childhood experts and parents appear to have strong opinions on either side of the debate regarding its benefit. Proponents argue that homework assists in reinforcing classroom learning, strengthens parental involvement in their child’s learning and school curriculum and develops important life skills such as time-management and discipline. They do however emphasise for primary-aged children homework be limited to half an hour each week day, with weekends free of homework. They also encourage parents to promote a lifestyle for their children with adequate family time, rest, exercise and intellectual stimulation. One of the United States’ leading homework researchers, Harris Cooper states, "research on the effects of homework suggests that it is beneficial as long as teachers use their knowledge of developmental levels to guide policies and expectations" (Cooper, 2001).

On the other side of the fence, exponents assert that no study has ever demonstrated that homework in primary school leads to academic achievement. Alfie Kohn, an American author, lecturer and advocate for progressive education asserts that in his research, "there was no consistent linear or curvilinear relation between the amount of time spent on homework and the child's level of academic achievement" (Kohn, 2006). Exponents point to successful educational systems, such as that in Finland, where homework is minimal, and play and discovery time, considered the best form of learning for primary-aged children, is maximised. Exponents argue that often the schools’ motivation for homework can be driven by their desire to achieve higher ranking through standardised testing. Therefore, homework is set for the purpose of preparing their students for these tests through route learning, which has limited value in overall intellectual development. Advocates for a reduction in homework state that it could have the reverse effect of diminishing an interest in learning as well as a child’s sense of autonomy. Additionally, the impact that homework could have on quality family time, as well as contributing to strain on parent-child relationships, needs to be considered.

One thing both camps agree on with regards to homework, is that reading in after-school hours is highly beneficial – this can be a joyous, bonding time between parents and children, and provides both an opportunity for a child to practice their reading skills, listening and comprehension skills.

Whichever view you adopt in the homework debate, there is bound to be some measure of homework during each school week. So how can parents best assist their children in navigating the homework path? Education experts encourage parents to be a coach to their children, rather than the doers of their homework. Providing guidance rather than completing children’s homework for them, provides them the opportunity to experience both success and failure through their own efforts. This is turn builds both confidence in their abilities, as well as problem-solving skills and resilience by overcoming difficulties. Parents are also encouraged to examine the quality and significance of their children’s homework and speak up as necessary to teachers, the principal or school if they conclude that the meaningfulness or amount of homework given is questionable or unnecessary. Conversations with other parents in your child’s grade can also provide solidarity and leverage if it is necessary to addresses the issue with the school.

So whichever way the majority in this debate next swings, keep in mind that the important tasks as parents is to ensure that your children have a balanced lifestyle with adequate rest, play, exercise, learning and time with family; as well as asking the right questions regarding their homework and education and addressing concerns with their educators as necessary.

- Miriam Oh

Further reading:

• The Homework Myth (2007) by Alfie Kohn
• Rethinking Homework: Best Practices That Support Diverse Needs (2009) by Cathy Vatterott
• Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement? A Synthesis of the Research 1987–2003, the Review of Educational Research (2006) by Harris Cooper.
• The Battle over Homework: Common Ground for Administrators, Teachers, and Parents (2001) by Harris Cooper.

Dear Prime Minister

Open letter from the sector to Prime Minister Turnbull calling on him to release children and their families from detention

February 4th, 2016

The Honourable M. Turnbull MP
Prime Minister of Australia
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600


Dear Prime Minister,

We the undersigned write this letter in light of Wednesday’s High Court ruling.

As representatives of the child and family welfare sector, we are deeply concerned that the Australian Government continues to lock children up indefinitely in detention – particularly given the overwhelming expert evidence pointing to the life-long psychological harm detention inflicts on children, as well as the significant risk it poses to their physical health and safety.

We call on your Government to release all children and their families into the Australian community so they can live safely and in good health while their claims for protection are considered.

As a first step, the Government should immediately halt the transfer of Australian-born babies and their families to detention on Nauru, given the well-documented substandard conditions there that are unsuitable for adults, let alone babies and small children.

Australia is the only country in the world that mandates the indefinite detention of children seeking asylum.

This policy puts us in breach of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Australia is a signatory.

All children have the right to grow up in a safe, healthy environment and to reach their full potential.  Children locked up in detention are being denied these most basic human rights at the hands of the Australian Government.

You have the power to remove children from detention now and ensure that no child is put in detention in the future.

As a matter of urgency, we call on the Government to:

•Release all children, along with their families, into the Australian community where they can live freely, attend school, make friends and grow and develop in a safe, healthy, nurturing environment;
•Legislate to prevent children being detained ever again (seven days is the maximum amount of time a child should be kept in detention, to allow for health and safety checks); and
•Appoint an independent guardian for children seeking asylum, to ensure their best interests are upheld.

Yours Sincerely,

Deb Tsorbaris
Chief Executive Officer,
Centre for Excellence in Child & Family Welfare


On behalf of:


  • Anchor Inc.
  • Gateway Health
  • Andrew Jackomos Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People (Vic)
  • Gippsland Lakes Community Health
  • Anglicare Victoria
  • Greg Levine former Magistrate Children’s Court of Victoria
  • Australian Childhood Foundation
  • International Social Service Australia
  • Australian Childhood Trauma Group
  • Jesuit Social Services
  • Barwon Child Youth and Families
  • Jewish Care Victoria
  • Baptcare
  • Key Assets
  • Berry Street
  • Life Without Barriers
  • Bethany Community Support
  • LifeWorks Relationship Counselling and Education Services
  • Brophy Family & Youth Services
  • MacKillop Family Services
  • Brotherhood of St Laurence
  • Mallee Family Care
  • Cara Inc
  • MOIRA Disability and Youth Services
  • Caroline Chisholm Society
  • Odyssey House Victoria
  • Professor Cathy Humphreys
  • OzChild
  • CatholicCare Melbourne and Gippsland
  • Permanent Care and Adoptive Families
  • CatholicCare Sandhurst
  • Quantum Support Services Inc
  • Catholic Social Services Victoria
  • Queen Elizabeth Centre
  • Child & Family Services Ballarat Inc.
  • The Salvation Army Westcare
  • Children's Protection Society
  • UnitingCare Victoria and Tasmania
  • Cohealth
  • UnitingCare Werribee Support & Housing
  • Connections UnitingCare  
  • Upper Murray Family Care
  • Council to Homeless Persons
  • VANISH Inc.
  • Crossroads Network, The Salvation Army
  • VICSEG New Futures
  • Doncare
  • Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association
  • Early Learning Association Australia
  • Wesley Mission Victoria 
  • E.W. Tipping Foundation
  • Windermere 
  • FamilyCare
  • Foster Care Association of Victoria
  •  Youth Affairs Council of Vic


Fire innovation wins award

Connections was awarded for its innovation and initiative at the recent Fire Awareness Awards. The event, held at the RACV club in the city, was attended by representatives from a number of State Government Departments, CFA, MFB and a range of industry organisations.

The Connections UnitingCare Bushfire Season Outreach Visit Safety Program was the recipient of the Industry Awarded and was called ‘inspirational and innovative’ from the selection panel.

Connections’ staff conduct outreach visits to clients who often live in areas identified as being prone to extreme risk of bushfires. During the bushfire season and in particular on the days when the fire danger rating is deemed as a high risk day or above, our staff are provided with clear guidelines regarding the safety of conducting home visits and to ensure that they do not put themselves or their clients at risk.

A system was developed to ensure that when staff were travelling to, or through identified risk areas they are updated with the most accurate information regarding the fire danger rating for the day and are able to plan accordingly.  During the bushfire season all staff conducting outreach visits, including any back of office staff visiting other sites, are required to take a Connections bushfire kit with them in the car for easy access.  This kit contains essential items should staff find themselves inadvertently caught on the road in a bushfire.

The Connections Bushfire Outreach Visit Safety Program is the first time a clear protocol has been developed for a community service organisation and one that has gained interest from other organisations including the Metropolitan Fire Brigade.

The Fire Awareness Awards recognise a variety of projects that help to reduce the effect of fires in Victoria. Every year the Fire Awareness Awards program attracts more than 100 applications.


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