Giving a voice to society’s most vulnerable

A leading provider of out of home care, early childhood and family support services is emphasising this year’s Child Protection Week theme ‘Stronger Communities, Safer Children’.

Churches of Christ is reminding Queenslanders of the strength communities, who listen and value their children, can have when contributing to keeping children safe and well, not just during Child Protection Week (3 – 9 September).

Child Protection Week reminds the nation of the importance and value of connected communities for the safety and wellbeing of children and young people.

General Manager Children, Youth and Families Services Leanne Rutherford said the week is a time to commemorate and reflect.

“There have been many advances in supporting the safety of children, from the increase in early intervention services to the provision of holistic individual and family care,” Ms Rutherford said.

“Unfortunately the need for these services is only increasing, with families requiring a more proactive response from the community as a whole.”

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reported one in 33 (over 160,000 children) received child protection services in 2015-16.

Churches of Christ in Queensland supports over 3,700 children and young people in need each year, with staff and volunteers providing care and protection for them. This year’s focus on community strength encourages the recognition of support provided to the children and organisation.

With 1,000 dedicated and compassionate foster and kinship carers working alongside staff to create a strong and safe community for children and young people, often from backgrounds of abuse and neglect, Churches of Christ is able to provide supportive and protective home environments for children and young people.

Ms Rutherford said she believes new initiatives will further benefit children and youth in Queensland.

“We are constantly identifying ways to deliver enhanced supports and services for individuals, families and communities – providing voices and actions,” Ms Rutherford said.

“This year we launched the Youth CONNECT Social Benefit Bond, this world first resilience bond specifically designed to increase resilience to homelessness for young people exiting care.”

The Youth CONNECT Social Benefit Bond will be delivered in partnership with the Queensland Government to improve life chances, health and wellbeing of young people transitioning from state care into adulthood and independence in the general community.

Ms Rutherford identified the areas the Youth CONNECT Social Benefit Bond will seek to improve the lives of vulnerable youth transitioning out of state care.

“Global research clearly identifies the extreme vulnerability of these young people to homelessness, poor education, unemployment, mental illness, imprisonment and substance abuse. While this paints a grim picture, research also shows that there are significant opportunities to intervene early and turn the course of their lives around,” she said.

“These are young people whose voices have been going unheard for some time and Youth CONNECT seeks to address this.”

Churches of Christ  is working hard to enable the voices of children and youth to become stronger, appointing its first Children and Youth Advocate. The role will ensure children and youth are heard within the organisation, the government and their community.

Former General Manager of Children Youth and Families, Jane Carter was appointed as the organisation’s inaugural Children and Youth Advocate across Churches of Christ in Queensland. In this ground-breaking new role Ms Carter is responsible for ensuring that every child and young person that comes in contact with the organisation both feels safe, and is safe, from all forms of harm.

“Many of these children and their individual issues are simply not being heard, but we are working to ensure society’s most vulnerable have a voice,” Ms Rutherford said.

Churches of Christ is one of the largest non-government providers of children, youth and family services in Queensland. They provide assessment and intervention services, foster and kinship care, residential and supported independent living services to over 3,700 children, youth and families in Mount Isa, Townsville, Mackay, Bundaberg, Fraser Coast, Caboolture, Brisbane, Ipswich, Logan and the Gold Coast. Posted August 31, 2017 in News