Youth Homelessness Matters
Today, 18 April is national ‘Youth Homelessness Matters Day’ (YHMD) and local organisation, Veritas House is calling on residents to mark the occasion by recognising that youth homelessness occurs in regional communities like Orange.
More than 28,000 young Australians aged 12-25 are experiencing homelessness every night and ABS data released last month identified 42% of the national homelessness population is under 25 years of age. Significantly, the ABS data revealed youth homelessness in NSW has increased by an alarming 92% since 2011, impacting services like Veritas who assist 150-200 young people in Orange each year.
According to Veritas House CEO, Jody Pearce, in most instances, young people do not have a home because they are escaping conflict and violence.
“A common misconception is that young people leave home because they want to or because they want more freedom to live without rules and restrictions, but we know that this is simply not true for the vast majority of local young people we have supported over the past 35 years,” said Jody.
“Some 70% of young people experiencing homelessness are escaping a negative home environment, which often includes an abusive, violent or broken home and most are hidden from view through couch surfing and sleeping in cars, so it is easy to assume it doesn’t exist in a town like Orange, but that is not the case,” she explained.
In order to ensure local young people experiencing homelessness have easy access to services that can assist them to get back on their feet, Veritas House has recently relocated to the former Blockbuster site in Sale Street and is currently recruiting four staff positions to enhance the supports available locally.
“Two of our residential youth workers have moved into new roles within Veritas, our Acting Team Leader is preparing for maternity leave and we are recruiting a receptionist, so we have some exciting opportunities for local, qualified workers to join our team and help us ensure local youth can receive the assistance they need,” said Jody.
Ms Pearce believes YHMD is an opportunity to become aware of how to support a young person who is experiencing homelessness.
“Youth homelessness needs a strategic approach at a national level to ensure we can support young people at every stage, from early intervention to crisis support. However, at a local level, we’re encouraging local residents to make themselves aware of local services like Veritas, so that any young person experiencing or at risk of homelessness can be connected to the services and supports they need.”
If you or someone you know needs assistance or advice on options, contact Veritas House on 6361 8099 during business hours or 0417 657 232 after hours; or Link2Home on 1800 152 152.
Veritas House is a not-for-profit organisation that was established in the Central West more than 35 years ago and has grown to become one of the largest providers of youth homelessness and foster care services in the region, supporting more than 600 children and young people in Orange and Bathurst each year. #YHMD2018
Veritas expands youth homelessness services
Veritas House has been announced successful in its tender to deliver a new youth homelessness program funded by Family and Community Services (FACS) which will extend across Western NSW.
The Premier’s Youth Initiative (PYI) aims to prevent homelessness among young people leaving out-of-home care by providing personal advice, education and employment mentoring and transitional accommodation supports. Veritas was successful in its tender for the new program in a consortium partnership with local education and employment provider, Skillset, and with youth specialist housing provider, My Foundations Youth Housing.
“Veritas has been supporting homeless youth in our region for more than 30 years, and children and young people in out-of-home care since 2013, so we know the challenges faced by young people leaving care and how critical it is to establish independent living skills, networks and access to housing, in order to prevent youth from becoming homeless,” said Veritas House CEO, Jody Pearce.
“We are also excited about the opportunity to partner with Skillset, who has more than 35 years’ experience in achieving educational, training and employment outcomes for young people in the region; and to bring a new community housing provider to Western NSW who has experience delivering the PYI program in other areas of NSW, as is the case with My Foundations Youth Housing,” she said.
The program will be good news for the local region, with the creation of at least nine new employment opportunities in Orange, Bathurst and Dubbo, along with the establishment of a new Veritas House service site in Dubbo and expansion to a significantly larger site in the former Blockbuster site at Sale Street in Orange.
“Veritas’ growth over the past few years, combined with our success in the PYI tender is a result of the commitment of our staff towards ending the cycle of homelessness and working in the best interests of children and young people in out-of-home care,” said Jody.
“Our staff and consortium partners are excited about the opportunity to lead this pilot project in Western NSW and confident that the outcomes achieved over the next three years will demonstrate the need for this program throughout NSW, and see it continue into the future.”
Christmas Picnic in the Parade
Bathurst Regional Council has organised a Christmas Picnic in the Parade event to be held on Saturday, 2 December 2017 between 5-9pm. Local families are being encouraged to bring a picnic basket and rug to Kings Parade and enjoy an afternoon of free kids activities, including market stalls, ornament making, live entertainment and a visit from Santa at 6.30pm.
In addition, residents are being asked to embrace the spirit of giving and bring along a gift for children and young people supported by Veritas House. Gifts can be wrapped or unwrapped, however we ask that if they are wrapped, that the age and gender is labelled on the gift. More than 70 local children and young people ranging in age from newborns to 18 will spend this Christmas in Foster Care and Veritas House is hopeful that local residents and businesses will help bring some Christmas cheer to these special children.
“Children and young people enter into foster care for a myriad of reasons, but generally they have experienced a degree of trauma, neglect and abuse that required intervention and removal for their own safety and well-being,” explained Veritas House CEO, Jody Pearce. “Veritas House Foster Carers in Bathurst provide a secure, safe and supportive home environment to these children and young people, but there is no doubt that Christmas can still be a tough time.
“We are hoping Bathurst residents and businesses will assist us to bring some joy into the lives of these special children this Christmas by donating a gift at the Christmas Picnic in the Parade event, so that we can make our annual Christmas Party a special day the children and our carers will truly remember.”
Anyone unable to attend the Christmas Picnic in the Parade event can drop off donations at the Veritas House offices at 106-108 Russell Street Bathurst.
Veritas House is a not-for-profit organisation that was established in Bathurst more than 30 years ago and has grown to become one of the largest providers of foster care and youth homelessness services in the region, supporting more than 300 children and young people each year.
Veritas House Foster Carers open their homes and hearts and assist children and young people in foster care by providing homes with nurturing environments, that allows these children and young people to feel comfortable and supported so they can grow and develop in a happy and healthy way.
Coffee for a Cause - October 28
When Bathurst-based father and businessman, Ben Middleton saw a documentary on youth homelessness he knew he had to do something and so, after doing some research into local services, made the decision to make a personal donation of $5,000 towards local youth service, Veritas House.
Ben shared the decision with his brother Dr Jesse Middleton who also jumped on board, and the result was ‘Coffee for a Cause’, where Dr Jesse’s $5,000 donation will ‘pay forward’ coffees at MouBar Vintage in Ribbon Gang Lane, Bathurst on Saturday, 28 October and local residents are asked to make a donation to Veritas in return for their free coffee, with the goal of raising a further $5,000.
“Jesse and I are both parents of young children and we are passionate about the safety and wellbeing of local young people,” said Ben. “Coffee for a Cause is an opportunity to raise funds for a local, community-based organisation and to help make a difference in the lives of Bathurst youth.
“Planning for the day has also exposed us to some alarming statistics that have reinforced just how important this cause is to both Jesse and I,” explained Ben. “The number of children in out-of-home care has almost doubled in the last 10 years, meaning there is a serious need for Foster Carers in communities across NSW, including Bathurst. And 42% of the homeless population is under 25 years of age, most of whom are escaping abusive, violent or broken homes.
“Organisations like Veritas House are helping these young people to live in safety and reach their full potential and we hope local people will really get behind our Coffee for a Cause day and support our local youth service,” said Ben.
Veritas House Business Development Manager, Narelle Stocks reflected on the significance of local people supporting a local charity that assists youth in Bathurst.
“Coffee for a Cause is particularly special because it isn’t part of a national charity event; it’s the initiative of two Bathurst business people who recognise the importance of supporting local vulnerable children and young people and wanted to do something to help,” said Narelle. “We are humbled that Ben and Jesse have selected Veritas as their cause and the proceeds of the day will enable us to continue to enhance the supports we can provide to local young people experiencing homelessness or entering Foster Care.”
In addition to free coffees, a range of activities will take place between 8am-12pm as part of the Coffee for a Cause celebrations, including face painting for the kids and information displays, thanks to the support of Central Tablelands Fire and Electrical and Chiropractic Health and Wellness Centre.
MouBar Vintage is located in Ribbon Gang Lane, next to the Church Bar in Bathurst and will open from 6am. For those unable to attend the Coffee for a Cause event, donations can be made in the lead up to the day at Central Tablelands Fire and Electrical, Chiropractic Health and Wellness Centre or at Veritas House.
Local Foster Carers recognised for commitment to young people
This week is Foster Care Week and Veritas House celebrated with a Carer Awards ceremony recognising the significant contribution local foster carers make to the lives of vulnerable children and young people.
The ceremony featured the inaugural presentation of the Carer of the Year Award to Julie Everson, an exceptional carer who displays the Veritas House organisational values of compassion, innovation, inclusion, individualised care, cultural sensitivity, fairness and honesty. Julie has been a carer with Veritas House for almost 3 years and cared for five children and young people, as well as providing respite care to numerous others. A loving, warm and accepting carer, Julie makes every child that comes into her care feel included as part of her family, and incorporates anything that is special or significant to the children into her own life, including attending cultural events with Aboriginal children in her care, ensuring they continue to remain connected to their culture.
“I became a foster carer because I wanted to give the kids who don’t have a loving home the home that they deserve,” said Julie.
“I would encourage anyone considering becoming a carer to just go for it. It’s emotional, but it is so worth it, especially when you see these kids blossom and grow.”
In addition to the Carer of the Year Award, Veritas also presented 16 foster carers with awards acknowledging their dedication and contribution to children and young people over more than 10 years’ service as carers.
According to Veritas House Operations Manager – Permanency Support, Jacqueline Ashleigh, the awards acknowledged the significant contribution local foster carers make in providing a safe and supportive home environment for children in out-of-home care.
“Our foster carers play a critical role in assisting children and young people in their care to grow and develop in a happy and healthy way and our awards ceremony was an opportunity to honour and celebrate the contribution they make to our community,” said Ms Ashleigh.
“To have so many of our foster carers reach the milestone of ten years as carers is also significant and demonstrates just how rewarding the role can be,” she said.
However despite this, Veritas House remains in urgent need of new foster carers, with the number of children and young people entering Out of Home Care in NSW growing from 10,000 in 2006 to 18,000 in 2016. A wide range of carers are needed including respite – which can be as little as a weekend a month; emergency; long term; extended family or kin; guardianship and adoptive parents.
“Children and young people are taken into care because they cannot safely remain with their families and through no fault of their own,” said Ms Ashleigh. “We urgently need local families and individuals to put up their hand and say ‘I can help a little one’ because these children deserve to feel special and worthy and loved.”
Anyone considering becoming a foster carer must be over 18, an Australian citizen or permanent resident, in good health and without a criminal record. Carers can be single, married, in a de-facto or in a same sex relationship. If you would like information about becoming a foster carer, visit: bit.ly/VHFosterCare
Sleep in Your Car to support youth homelessness
Two members of the Veritas House team will have a cold, uncomfortable night sleeping in their car on Saturday, 5 August to raise funds and awareness to alleviate the plight of homeless people in the Orange district.
As part of Homelessness Week, Matt Gerrey and Jack Mckenna will join a national campaign organised by Fusion Australia, which will involve sleeping in their cars in the Fusion Community Centre and Uniting Church car park, at 217 Anson Street, Orange. All of the funds raised from the night will be distributed between Fusion’s Community centre and Veritas House.
Veritas will use funds raised to purchase essential and urgent supplies for local homeless young people such as school bags, uniforms, shoes, clothing; and to purchase basic whitegoods and furniture for young people setting up in supported rental accommodation.
Fusion works with young people, and adults who are at risk of homelessness, or who are socially isolated. Funds raised will assist with the running of the community drop-in centre, and the regular Thursday night “Come to the Table” community meal.
Please support their campaign by making a tax deductible donation at: https://sleepinyourcarorange17.gofundraise.com.au/page/MatthewGerrey or join in the activities and fun that will take place on the night, commencing from 7pm at the Fusion Community Centre.
Parenting Teenagers Positively
Veritas House will again conduct the popular Positive Parenting Program or ‘Teen Triple P’ commencing on Tuesday, 15 August and is urging Bathurst parents and carers to register now to reserve their place.
Bathurst City Centre Winter Appeal supports Veritas
Bathurst City Centre has launched its Winter Appeal and selected Veritas House as the recipient of its campaign.