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Volunteer Family Connect Launches in Taree

2020-11-26

Karitane in partnership with Western Sydney University launched the Volunteer Family Connect Program (VFC) connecting and offering support to the Indigenous community of Taree. VFC is an Australian, evidence-based home-visiting program that mobilises trained volunteers to provide support for parents of young children who are feeling isolated and/or overwhelmed by their parenting role. VFC has proven benefits for volunteers and families with a strong return on investment, $5.42 for every $1 invested for families with vulnerabilities.

Karitane is working in collaboration with First Steps Count, Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre and Manning Support Services (MSS) to respond to the local needs of the community and ensure that every child gets the best start in life. VFC Taree has been made possible thanks to a Perpetual Impact Funding Grant.

For generations Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have looked for significant and lasting change and Karitane is proud to be improving accessibility for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families seeking

(L) Rebekah Grace, Melissa Foster, Anique Morris, Sue Martin, Clare Brennan, Garinne O'Loughlin and Sharlene Vlahos

parenting support. Karitane works closely with the Aboriginal community and in the last year has provided support to over 356 clients that identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

“Following community consultations, it was identified by local elders that there was a need for VFC to complement the stepped care approach to integrated services provided in the Taree community. VFC is an evidence based program that has been shown to improve parenting confidence, build stronger connections, and increase emotional closeness and belonging. We are excited to be part of a greater collaboration with Biripi, First Steps Count and Manning Support Services and have felt incredibly welcomed by the community. Karitane CEO Grainne O’Loughlin says.

Clare Brennan Transition Manager First Steps Count, “First Steps Count is excited to be collaborating with Karitane on this project. We know that there are a number of incredible professional services in our region providing services to Aboriginal children and their families. Volunteer Family Connect will offer a lovely adjunct to these services and programs, providing supports that are culturally appropriate and flexible, while at the same time, building volunteering skills within the community. The partnership forged between Karitane, MSS and Biripi in this project is a clear example of the intended purpose of the future First Steps Count Child and Community Centre.

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