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Help break the cycle of disadvantage to help keep families together
Having a child doesn’t mean you know how to be a good parent. Parenting skills, like any other skill, are difficult to learn without a few simple tools, emotional support, role model guidance and firsthand experience of what it feels like to be a part of a loving, nurturing family.
Julie and Paul raised their daughters as they had been raised. So when a Family and Community Services (FACS) worker told them they were unfit to be parents and had their two daughters aged three years and three months removed from their care, they were shocked.
Their caseworker told them the way Paul smacked their eldest daughter was not okay. Paul had been smacked as a child so thought this was how you implemented discipline. He was also told he would have to stop using illegal drugs. Drug use had been the norm in Paul’s life.
Julie felt lost without her children. She experienced a rollercoaster of emotions from feeling overwhelmed to angry to the depths of absolute despair. She didn’t know what to do but was committed to having her daughters home with her again.
Julie and Paul took action with a determination that amazed everyone around them. Julie had heard about UnitingCare Newpin (New Parent Infant Network) and referred herself to the program. Paul also linked in with the Newpin Father’s centre. Newpin is an evidence-based, intensive, long term program for families whose children may be undergoing statutory child protection intervention. Newpin aims to break the cycle of intergenerational abuse and neglect by empowering parents to make long term changes which are in the best interests of parents, their children and the broader community. UnitingCare NSW.ACT has been operating the Newpin model in Western Sydney for over a decade. In the past two years, Newpin restored 72 children to 32 families and 96 families completed the program.
Relationship counselling at Newpin helped Julie and Paul find insight into their own behaviour and the impact it had on their children. They could see harmful patterns of behaviour and parenting that had been part of their own childhood. These behavioural patterns had affected them both when they were children and were now affecting their own daughters.
But patterns can be changed. And Julie and Paul were determined to make those changes.
Over many months, both Julie and Paul completed intensive parenting and personal development courses at Newpin several days each week. They also attended weekly therapeutic support groups to meet their emotional needs and build parenting confidence. They both learnt new ways to bond with their girls and discovered how to have fun playing with them, simply enjoying their company.
After some time, the girls were allowed to spend extra time at home with their parents and these visits were eventually extended to overnight stays. Julie and Paul had done all the hard work and it paid off. Their daughters returned home just in time to be greeted with the best gift of all - a baby brother!
Julie continues to attend Newpin, still learning to be a more confident and loving parent and someone who can speak up for herself and her children. The girls now enjoy dancing and swimming lessons and their little brother is a smiling, thriving and energetic baby.
Julie and Paul are incredibly thankful for all the support they have received from UnitingCare NSW.ACT. Julie says...“At one point, we didn’t know if we would ever get the girls back, but now, thanks to Newpin, we are looking forward to a happier future with all of our children.”
Help ‘kit’ kindy kids and allow them to achieve their educational dreams
Each January, tentative but excited 5 year old boys and girls head off to start the new and fascinating world of ‘big school’. They wear brand new crisp white shirts, school shorts or skirts, shiny black leather ‘Clarks’ shoes and carry new back packs filled with personalised pencil cases, pencils, textas, lunch box, drink bottle and school hat…
Well... most of them do anyway... Vulnerable or disadvantaged families often struggle to feed their household, so when it comes to ‘kitting’ kindy kids, unfortunately, it’s down the list of priorities for their funds. The worst part about this is that these ‘un-kitted’ kids are at a disadvantage at school from the start. Their ‘difference’ can mean they won’t ‘fit in’ as easily and may have trouble forming friendships. Without friends, they may slink into silence or they may ‘act up’ for attention, alienating themselves even further from both teachers and peers. Their learning potential can be affected and the cumulative effect of that slowly and surely begins...
Education is powerful for everyone. It’s impact in the lives of disadvantaged children and young people, however, can be crucial. It can be a pathway out of poverty and into a world of choices and opportunities. Children living without the benefit of a supportive family can find getting an education to be really challenging. It’s not because parents don’t want to be supportive, they are just too busy juggling other family demands and an extremely limited household budget. For many, the payment of fees associated with education is impossible.
UnitingCare NSW.ACT helps children and young people re-engage with education through both practical and emotional support. You can make a real difference in young people’s lives by reducing the financial strain of starting and continuing education through the UnitingCare NSW.ACT Burnside’s Youth Education Support and Scholarship Scheme (YESSS). This scheme helps with the cost of books, extra circular activities, electives, accommodation and living expenses, travel and other associated costs.