Uniting established as new community service agency in Victoria and Tasmania

Uniting is the new community services organisation to be formed from 21 UnitingCare agencies and Wesley Mission Victoria.

Uniting (Victoria and Tasmania) Limited was established and governance for all 22 agencies was unified under a single Board on 3 October 2016.

This is an exciting first step in moving from a network of separate agencies to a single organisation.

An experienced, skills based team will lead the design and build of the emerging organisation. The Uniting Board will be chaired by former Victorian Health Minister Bronwyn Pike. Paul Linossier, previously the CEO of Wesley Mission Victoria, is the inaugural Chief Executive Officer. Mr Linossier has more than three decades experience in leading organisational change and systems reform while maintaining a strong commitment to marginalised and vulnerable people.

The founding agencies to Uniting have a rich history of care, support and community partnerships. Mr Linossier said. “Together we can do more. We will have a stronger advocacy voice and we will have access to broader resources and skills to meet clients’ needs. This change provides the best opportunity for us to continue our important work in the community for many years to come.”

The move to the single organisation has just started. Each agency will continue the same quality services, with the same dedicated staff and commitment to care while work to shape the new organisation progresses. The merger is expected to be complete by mid-2017.

Uniting will be one of the largest community service providers operating in Victoria and Tasmania.

Uniting is all about working together to inspire people, enliven communities and confront injustice.” Mr Linossier said. “We are Uniting to have greater impact.

Released: Connections News - Spring Edition

The Connections News, Spring Edition is now available.

It is core to our philosophy that we are absolutely committed to preventing violence against women, and consequently, children.  

As a community service organisation with a strong reputation in the community, we can use our status and our influence to enter into public conversations about preventing violence against women and support a workplace where we have conversations about gender equality.

It is with this in mind, we are thrilled to be one of four organisations, and the only community organisation piloting an exciting new project with Our Watch. The Workplace Equality and Respect Project was launched on Wednesday 24 August 2016 by Fiona Richardson, Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence and Minister for Women.  

I encourage you to read more about this important initiative in our newsletter.  

I also want to extend a very warm invitation to you to attend the 30th Annual WJ Craig Lecture and the Presentation of the 2016 Anti-Poverty Awards. This year we are delighted to have Seri Renkin, CEO of the ten20 Foundation delivering what we think will be a powerful lecture.  

If you haven't already, may I also encourage you to read about the work of the talented young people and schools who have been nominated for the 2016 Anti-Poverty Awards.  

Each year, I am moved by the motivation and commitment of the young people who apply. Through their actions, whether they are working in communities in Australia or overseas, they have taken up the challenge of making a difference and are working toward the common good.

Once again, I thank you for your support and hope you continue to be inspired by our work in your local community.

If you would like to receive the newsletter each season, please register here.

Click here to read Connections News – Spring Edition.

Thank you for your continued support of our work.

With best wishes,
 
Angela Forbes
Chief Executive Officer

New Uniting Church agency announces inaugural CEO

Experienced public sector and community services professional Paul Linossier has been appointed as the inaugural Chief Executive Officer of the new Uniting Church community services organisation.

The new organisation will be formed from the merger of 20 UnitingCare agencies and Wesley Mission Victoria (WMV). It will be one of the largest community service providers operating in Victoria and Tasmania.

The network of UnitingCare agencies and WMV operate across metropolitan, regional and remote parts of Victoria and Tasmania offering a broad range of services and advocacy to support thousands of vulnerable people.

With a combined annual budget of about $237 million, over 3,500 staff and 4000 volunteers, the services of the new organisation will include emergency relief, financial counselling, housing and homelessness services, employment services, early childhood services, child, youth and family services, disability services, mental health services, non-residential aged care and alcohol and other drugs services and Lifeline.

Mr Linossier, currently the CEO of WMV, has more than three decades experience in leading organisational change and systems reform while maintaining a strong commitment to marginalised and vulnerable people.

Inaugural Board Chair Bronwyn Pike said she was delighted that Mr Linossier had agreed to lead the new organisation given his broad experience.

“Paul is highly regarded in the public and community services sectors with a significant background in Uniting Church and other community service agencies, as well as experience in state government,” she said.

“He will bring to the organisation important skills in the areas of strategic planning and organisational review, which will be important as we seek to establish the new organisation.”

Mr Linossier said he was both humbled and excited by the challenge of leading the new agency.

“UnitingCare agencies have a long history of supporting vulnerable Victorians and Tasmanians,” he said.

“As one unified agency and ministry of the Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania this vital support will now be expanded and strengthened. I am proud to be working together with our agency leaders, dedicated staff, volunteers and community partners to continue to serve and advocate alongside those most in need.”

Mr Linossier begins in the position on Monday 22nd August, 2016.

Aspiring teens dream big and aim for gold

Not letting a disability stop them from competing at the highest level, Casey residents, Alefosioi Laki (19) and Jack Howell (12) are well on their way to the Paralympics, with thanks to Connections UnitingCare and Member for Narre Warren, Judith Graley MP.

Connections’ South Eastern Chances program provides financial support to young people up to the age of 25 living in Melbourne’s south east to pursue their dreams and academic ability. The program aims to unlock the potential of motivated young people who have an obvious talent in a particular field but whose financial situation is preventing them from succeeding.

For young Hampton Park man, Alefosio, affectionately known as Sio, suffering from Cerebral Palsy, was never going to stop him from living his dream. With the support of South Eastern Chances, Sio, will get his opportunity, being selected to represent Samoa in the Discus at the upcoming Paralympics.

Like Sio, Jack (12) has also caught the eye of the Australian Paralympic team and has been touted as an athlete with potential Paralympic pathways. Jack, born with one hand, has been selected and will represent Victoria at the upcoming National School Swimming Championships in September.

Supporting both Sio and Jack’s application to the program was Member for Narre Warren, Ms Judith Graley MP, who believes it is important that programs such as this exist to give young people the best possible chance in life.  

“Both Jack and Sio are outstanding young men who are amazing leaders in our community, who I knew would undoubtedly excel if they were given the opportunities which might have been restricted because of their family’s financial situation.

“I commend Connections for offering such a wonderful program which really gives young people the chance to shine and achieve their dreams,” said Ms Graley.

Connections’ Manager, Communications, Development & Events, Kirrilee Torney, echoed Ms Graley’s thoughts and said that for many families in our community, being able to afford the basic necessities of life is a struggle, let alone being able to support opportunities which may arise for their children.

“Providing the support necessary for young people to unlock their true potential is vital in the work that we do,” said Ms Torney.

“We believe in investing in the future of young people and by doing so, we believe we are helping them to build a better future for themselves and for the local community. Through South Eastern Chances we aim to alleviate some of this pressure by giving young people the opportunity to shine without the financial burden,” said Ms Torney.

To learn more about the program visit unitingconnections.org.au/chances

 

Australian Government Must Take Lead on Addressing Homelessness and Housing Affordability

During Homelessness Week 2016, UnitingCare Australia calls on the Turnbull Government to show leadership on homelessness and housing affordability for low-income households.

UnitingCare services across Australia are reporting increasing demand for homelessness services and a critical shortage of safe, affordable accommodation to house these people,” UnitingCare Australia Chair Peter Bicknell said.

“We want the Australian Government to take leadership on this critical national issue, to work with its state and territory colleagues, and the community sector, to develop a national response strategy.

“A national strategy needs to look at early intervention and responses to the full range of issues, from family breakdown and domestic violence, to mental health, drugs and alcohol, and loss of work, which can lead to any of us finding ourselves without a home.

“Our community needs leadership from government to ensure services addressing these issues are effective and appropriately funded.
Mr Bicknell said long term planning and capital investment are also needed to ensure there is adequate affordable housing for low income families and individuals.

“Experts agree that social housing not only acts as an effective buffer for lower income groups, but timely investment in this sector can also play a role in maintaining a stable construction industry.

“Well planned and targeted policy settings for services, and where necessary, investment that delivers affordable housing, are essential elements of an economic strategy for jobs, growth and healthy communities.

“Now is the time for the Australian Government to lead in the formation of these policy directions,” Mr Bicknell said.

Figures from the 2011 census indicated 105,000 Australians or around 1 in 200 people were homeless.

“We are not optimistic that the figures will have fallen in this last census period, but we are confident that if the Australian Government commits to action now, we can see a real reduction in the number of Australians without safe and affordable accommodation come 2021,” Peter Bicknell said.

UnitingCare Australia supports Homelessness Week 1 - 7 August 2016 with its theme #Homelessnesscounts.

The UnitingCare network is one of Australia’s largest providers of social services, operating across rural, remote and urban areas, providing assistance to one in eight Australians each year, and employing 40,000 staff, supported by 30,000 volunteers across 1,600 sites.

Released: Connections News - Winter Edition

The Connections News, Winter Edition is now available.

In a time of considerable change within our sector, we believe the challenge for us, is to continue to be innovative and creative about how we can make a difference in people's lives.

On the theme of change, you will read in this newsletter that the Uniting Church have made a significant decision to merge 18 of its agencies, including Connections, to create one of the largest community service organisations operating in Victoria and Tasmania.

This decision will allow the network to work and speak as a unified voice for advocacy and share skills and knowledge, with the aim of supporting people in need.

We also share Brooke's story, who we were able to support through our South Eastern Chances scholarship program. Brooke is the face of our 2016 tax appeal, and with your help, we are hoping to raise enough money to make more young people's dreams come true. Can you help?

If you would like to receive the newsletter each season, please register here.

Click here to read Connections News – Winter Edition.

Thank you for your continued support of our work.

With best wishes,

Angela Forbes
Chief Executive Officer

Released: Connections News - Autumn Edition

The Autumn Edition of the Connections Newsletter has just been released.

It is hard to believe we are already into the third month of 2016. However, we are excited about the opportunities this year is already throwing at us and the impact these will have on the children, young people and families we work with each day.

In this edition, you can read about the great work we are doing in the area of family violence and in particular the new program we are delivering for women and children in Melbourne’s south. We also introduce you to our Regional Integrated Family Violence Coordinator who plays an important role in supporting the coordination of an integrated suite of services which respond to family violence in the Bayside Peninsula Area.

This is our last newsletter before our conference, Making Lives Better – Improving Life Outcomes for Vulnerable Children. Please visit the website and take the time to have a look at the impressive line-up of speakers we have secured. We encourage you to spread the word about this conference amongst your networks.

If you would like to receive the newsletter each season, please register here.

Click here to read Connections News – Autumn Edition.

 

Is it possible to eradicate family violence?

During the three year period between 2011/12 to 2014/5, more than 187,000 people sought help from specialist homelessness services because of domestic and family violence, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

In 2014, Victoria Police responded to 68,000 incidents of family violence which equates to one every 8 minutes. More shockingly, of those 68,000 incidents, there were nearly 44,000 children present.

How do we address family violence? What role do community organisations and statutory bodies play in dealing with family violence? Can we eradicate family violence?

The 2016 Connections UnitingCare Conference: Making Lives Better - Improving Life Outcomes for Vulnerable Children and Families will bring together a panel of experts to discuss family violence and the role their organisation plays in eradicating it. Delegates will be provided with an opportunity to address questions to members on the panel.

The panel includes: 

> Dean McWhirter - Assistant Commissioner Family Violence Command, Victoria Police
> Paul Nixon - Chief Social Worker, Child Youth and Family Services New Zealand
> Leslie Fleming - Magistrate Children's Court Victoria
> Kate Hawkins - Supervising Magistrate Family Violence Court Victoria
> Jim Allen - Program Manager, Family and Community Services, Anglicare Eastern
> Dr Lyndal Bugeja - Project Manager, Coroners Court of Victoria

When: 25 – 26 May 2016.
Where: Rydges Melbourne, 186 Exhibition Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000.
Registration: Save $100 off the standard price with our early bird rate of $595 (early bird offer ends 1 May 2016).

 

 

 

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
  • WISHIN
  • Foster Care Association of Victoria
  •  Youth Affairs Council of Vic

 

Call for abstracts close in less than 3 weeks

You are invited to submit an abstract for the Connections UnitingCare Conference: Making Lives Better.

We are keen to receive papers which explore and address innovative ideas which respond to the needs of vulnerable children and families in the community.

We encourage submissions from a range of organisations and individuals who can contribute to our knowledge of current practices and interventions which are making the lives of vulnerable children and families better. The conference will explore how we build services around clients in a changing, complex world.

Presentation styles offered:

- Oral presentations
- Interactive workshops
- Poster presentations

Abstracts can be submitted which address the following four key sub-theme areas:
•    Cultural responsiveness and awareness
•    Early intervention
•    Measuring change in the context of challenge
•    Workforce development

Abstracts will be peer reviewed by the Conference Program sub-committee. The committee reserves the right to decide the format of the presentations and in which stream they will be presented on the basis of time and space available.
Abstracts should be a maximum of 250 words.

 

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