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 forum aims to enhance practice and client outcomes by generating lively and informative conversations through expert presentations and an interactive case-study and panel discussion.

This 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), Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), and Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) in the context of a trauma history.


Friday 12 May 2017

Department of Health and Human Services
165-169 Thomas Street, Dandenong, Victoria 3175


Tymur Hussein    

To book your ticket, click here. 


9:00am -   Registrations
9:20am -   Welcome 
9:30am -   FASD Presentation; ASD Presentation; ADHD Presentation; RAD Presentation 
10:50am - Morning Tea 
11:10am -  Case Study (small group work)
11:50am -  Panel Discussion
12:30am -  Close

Speakers *** Updated Speaker List ***

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

Please note that due to unforeseen circumstances, Adela Holmes is no longer attending the forum, and has been replaced by Ms Vicky Nicholls for Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD).

The updated speaker biography can be found here, and includes Vicky's information for attendees:  Trauma and Differential Diagnosis Practice Forum Speaker Bio (UPDATED).pdf



12 May 2017

UnitingCare Pancake Day

It’s fun, easy and it’s making a big difference! Oh, and it involves PANCAKES!

Every year people come together for UnitingCare Pancake Day to flip for a good cause. The reality is that 1 in 7 Australians are living in poverty with 1 in 6 children affected, that’s 2.9 million Australians too many. By hosting your very own Pancake Day event, you will be helping Australians living in crisis including those suffering homelessness, domestic violence, addictions and financial hardship.

Join us this year at Federation Square on 28 February. Pancakes will be on from 8am – 2pm. Money raised on the day will support the UnitingCare network, assisting those experiencing marginalisation and disadvantage. 

When: Tuesday 28 February 

Where: Federation Square, Melbourne

Time: 8:00am - 2:00pm

Pancake Day


28 Feb 2017

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.

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


Prioritise investment in vulnerable people

UnitingCare Australia calls on re-elected government to prioritise investment in vulnerable people.

UnitingCare Australia has congratulated the Turnbull Government on its election victory and calls on the Prime Minister to lead renewed efforts to address key issues affecting the lives of vulnerable and disadvantaged Australians.

“We believe that the close election result has demonstrated that a focus on jobs, growth and business, while vital, is too one-dimensional for our community,” UnitingCare Australia National Committee Chair, Peter Bicknell said.

“This term is an opportunity for the Government to increase investment in people and the services needed to grow productivity and build a decent future for all.

“We particularly encourage the Government to commit to new directions in aged care funding, housing affordability and homelessness, unemployment, and early childhood education,” Mr Bicknell said.

Martin J Cowling, Acting National Director said the Government’s proposed $1.2billion cuts to aged care funding announced in the May Budget are of grave concern to UnitingCare Australia.

“We call on the Prime Minister and Treasurer to halt the cuts and to work collaboratively with the aged care sector to identify sustainable options for meeting the health care needs of older people in care,” he said.

Peter Bicknell said enabling every person, regardless of age, ability, or employment status to make a full contribution to society is the key to national prosperity.

“Jobs, growth, tax reform, and investment in essential services are all needed to ensure that everyone can participate in and contribute to their community.

“UnitingCare Australia is committed to working constructively with the Government, Opposition, Independents and minor parties over this next term of parliament,” Mr Bicknell said today.

For more information, visit

NAIDOC Week Celebrations

This year Connections is proud to be involved in the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency’s (VACCA) NAIDOC Week celebrations.

NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life. The week is a great opportunity to participate in a range of activities and to support your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee. Its origins can be traced to the emergence of Aboriginal groups in the 1920s which sought to increase awareness in the wider community of the status and treatment of Indigenous Australians.

NAIDOC Week is held in the first full week of July. It is a time to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and achievements and is an opportunity to recognise the contributions Indigenous Australians make to our country and our society.

Connections has a strong commitment to Aboriginal people and their community. We are actively working to develop culturally appropriate services that are guided by the Aboriginal community. Through the Reconciliation Action Plan sub-committee of the Connections Consultative Committee, we are forging and building partnerships to ensure we are improving our understanding, responsiveness and work with Aboriginal families. 

For more information about NAIDOC Week or to see what events are happening around the country, visit 

01 Jul 2016

Connections Blog - Findings from Royal Commission into Family Violence

As a provider of child and family services, Connections has been waiting in anticipation, for the release of the Royal Commission into Family Violence’s findings. The 2000 page report delves extensively into identifying the many gaps and limitations of our current service system.

The 227 recommendations highlight the urgent need for reform. The recommendations provide a framework to enable broad and whole of government changes covering the spectrum of primary prevention to early intervention and mainstream services, and the roles each play in identifying and responding to family violence.

The experience of our staff in delivering services to children, young people and their families, includes family violence either as a presenting issue or as an underlying theme, and so it is core to much of the work we do. The impact of family violence is devastating, leaving lifelong physical and psychological pain to those impacted; pain that often take years to recover from, if ever.

The recommendation to prioritise funding for therapeutic interventions for children and young people who are victims of family violence is desperately needed. For children to grow and develop, and meet their full potential, they require trauma informed services which support their healing and recovery. Too long children have been the silent victims of family violence, not treated as victims in their own right and so not provided with the support services they require.

The recognition in the report of the need for early intervention, therapeutic diversionary programs where adolescent violence is present is also a welcomed finding. Many young people who have lived with family violence often go on to use violence toward their parents and siblings with the cycle of violence further perpetuated. Funding to provide specialised and timely intervention to this complex issue is urgently required.

We welcome the recommendations which acknowledge that women and children escaping family violence require greater access to a range of housing options is core to supporting women to make the decision to leave a violent relationship and to keeping children safe in the care of their protective parent.

The Royal Commission recommends, as the preferred option, a new area-based, single intake into Integrated Family Services and specialist family violence services that will include perpetrator interventions. This proposed model, we believe will build on the existing Child FIRST Integrated Family Services platform of service delivery which has taken over ten years to develop and is well and truly embedded across the sector. With additional resourcing and the combining of family violence services there would be capacity to provide a more holistic response to all who require a service response. We believe this is an important step in empowering women and acknowledging and responding to the needs of children.

The Victorian Government's announcement of $572 million in funding over two years to respond to the Royal Commission's 65 most urgent recommendations into family violence, we believe will have a significant impact toward providing a more holistic response for women and children impacted by violence, and men who are the perpetrators. For this we recognise Premier Daniel Andrews for his unwavering commitment to addressing the issue.

There is a sense from other organisations in the sector that we can work together to realise the changes, keeping in mind the resulting outcomes for victims and perpetrators need to be at the forefront of everything we are doing and there needs to be a significant cultural shift individually, organisationally and systemically. This is an important time for our sector and for our community. We look forward to working with the Victorian Government and other parties to play our role.

Lee-anne Chapman
Divisional Manager, Family Services Southern


A new vision for UnitingCare

UnitingCare will create one of the largest community service organisations operating in Victoria and Tasmania under a new single governance structure aimed at strengthening its ability to support people in need throughout the two states.

It follows a decision by the Uniting Church’s Synod Standing Committee (SSC) last year to establish a single skills-based Agency Board which will govern 18 UnitingCare agencies and Wesley Mission Victoria (WMV). The Board will be supported by regional advisory committees, local support groups and clinical governance committees. Currently, the agencies and Wesley Mission Victoria are all governed by individual boards.

Alternative models of support are being considered for smaller agencies. A model of support for congregations and presbyteries currently providing local or regional community services will be developed.

At the weekend the SSC approved the appointment of former Victorian State Health Minister Bronwyn Pike to chair the single Agency Board. It also appointed a further four initial directors to the new Board.

“I am deeply honoured that the Uniting Church has asked me to chair this new organisation as I share their commitment to making Victoria and Tasmania fairer, compassionate and inclusive,’’ Ms Pike said.

UnitingCare Project Control Group (PCG) Chair Bob Hodges said the new governance structure will build on UnitingCare’s reputation as leaders of the provision of high quality community services across both states.

“It will make the work of client facing staff more effective by creating a structure that helps them to share ideas and learn from the innovative work currently being undertaken throughout the organisation.” Mr Hodges said.

UnitingCare agencies and WMV operate in 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 approximately $237 million, 3,500 staff and 4,000 volunteers, UnitingCare and WMV‘s services 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, alcohol and other drugs services and Lifeline.

Ms Pike said UnitingCare agencies have supported vulnerable Victorians and Tasmanians for decades and have been a voice for social justice in our community.

As one unified agency of the Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania this vital work will now be expanded and strengthened as we address the new challenges in caring for people in great need,’’ she said.

The new single Agency Board will assume governance when all funders have formally agreed to service contracts continuing under the proposed new structure. This is expected to occur before the end of the year.

The new Board will have up to 11 members including the Chief Executive Officer as an executive director.

Following handover of governance, it will be business as usual in the first instance for all agencies, with existing CEOs reporting into the new executive structure.

Existing boards will be encouraged to remain in place to assist with the transition to the new governance structure.

“We would like to continue to work alongside our current boards who will play an invaluable role in providing input and advice to the new Agency Board,” Mr Hodges said.

“On the day of handover, there will be no change to the work that each agency is delivering in local communities. The same people will provide the same services to the same clients at the same locations are they are today.’’

Mr Hodges said major funders had been notified of the proposed changes.

“Our largest funder is the Victorian DHHS and we are working closely in partnership with them to provide the information they require.’’

UnitingCare embodies the Church’s ethos of compassion and care for the vulnerable within our communities.


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