As part of the Veritas House #FosterCareWeek celebrations, Di Fenner from Orange has been announced the recipient of the Deb Elsley Memorial Award. The award acknowledges the significant contribution that Di has made in providing a safe and supportive home environment to children and young people in care, and assisting them to grow and develop in a happy and healthy way.

The Award recognises one exceptional Carer who displays the Veritas House organisational values of compassion, innovation, inclusion, individualised care, cultural sensitivity, fairness and honesty. While Di does not believe in awards singling out carers because of her strong belief that every Foster Carer is special, Di was selected for the award in recognition of her role not only as an exceptional carer, but for her role in mentoring and supporting other carers and in encouraging people from across Western NSW to consider becoming a carer for the first time. Di said that she accepted the award on behalf of all Foster Carers who love and care for children and young people every day.

According to Veritas House CEO, Jody Pearce, the awards are designed to acknowledge 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 we believe it is important to honour and celebrate the contribution they make to our region,” said Ms Pearce.

Di has been a carer for many years, including the past 4 years with Veritas House; and the award acknowledges the understanding, compassion and commitment to nurture and support every child and young person that has come into her care that Di has demonstrated throughout this time.

Veritas House remains in urgent need of new Foster Carers, with 2,100 children and young people entering Out of Home Care in NSW in 2017-18. The Foster Care Week activities follow a host of community awareness activities undertaken by Veritas in the last 6 months to increase awareness of the need for carers, including information sessions in Bathurst, Orange, Lithgow, Blayney and Cowra; an advertising campaign featuring the winner of the 2018 Deb Elsley Memorial Award and local staff; and information displays at the Bathurst and Orange Shows and local community events.

“We urgently need local families and individuals to put up their hand because children and young people taken into care deserve to feel special and worthy and loved,” said Ms Pearce. “We hope our Foster Care Week activities celebrate the contribution our Carers make to the lives of children and young people in our community and are also the first step towards becoming a Carer for other people in our community.”

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.  To become an authorised Foster Carer, Carers must be over 18, an Australian citizen or permanent resident, in good health and meet probity requirements including a Working with Children Check. Carers can be single, married, in a de-facto or in a same sex relationship.

(L-R): Lions Club of Cudal Treasurer, Graham Eslick and President, Darcy Callan present their $3,000 donation to Veritas House CEO, Jody Pearce.

The Lions Club of Cudal Cargo and District has donated $3,000 to Veritas House and has challenged other local service clubs to match or exceed their commitment to supporting local young people experiencing homelessness.

Veritas recently announced a fundraising appeal to raise $250,000 to purchase a Transitional Youth Housing property in Orange to assist young people who are exiting crisis accommodation to transition into independent living. After seeing the Appeal in the Central Western Daily, the local service club made the decision to donate and to encourage other local service organisations to follow their lead.

The donation was gratefully accepted by Veritas House CEO, Jody Pearce who was pleasantly surprised by the size of the donation.

“When the President of the Lions Club of Cudal Cargo and District, Darcy Callan contacted us to arrange the cheque presentation, we never anticipated their contribution would be so significant,” said Jody. “For a service club with just 14 members, $3,000 is an impressive donation and we are delighted that the members felt that our appeal is worthy of their support.”

For many local young people experiencing homelessness that stay at Veritas’ youth refuge and who cannot return safely to their homes, it can be difficult to secure a lease in the private rental market with no prior rental history and limited finances. To help address, Veritas hopes to raise enough funds to purchase a one or two-bedroom flat which it will operate as a transitional youth housing property, to assist young people who are transitioning from homelessness to independence.

Veritas House 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 Bathurst and Orange regions.

Tax deductible donations to the Veritas House Transitional Housing Appeal can be made using PayPal from the Veritas House website or by contacting Narelle Stocks on 1300 01 1973 for direct deposit bank details.

Veritas House has announced the first ever Homeless Connect event to be staged in Western NSW will be held at the Orange Function Centre on Friday 2nd August.

Made possible through the support of Family and Community Services (FACS), Western Homeless Connect will be a free event attracting individuals from across the Western region who are either homeless or at risk of being homeless, and will showcase available support services in an inclusive and respectful environment.

The event will be based on Homeless Connect events held annually in the Sydney and Hunter region over the past decade and is timed to take place on the eve of National Homelessness Week, which commences on August 4.

“We believe the inaugural Western Homeless Connect will be an exciting event for the region,” said Veritas House CEO, Jody Pearce. “By having more than 30 support services easily accessible in the same location, we hope to strengthen the support network available for people who are experiencing homelessness or just doing it tough.

“We also hope that this event will help break down the stigma about homelessness in the region and encourage enhanced community support in the future,” said Jody.

Services registered to attend include education and employment providers, legal and financial aid, specialist homelessness services, health, mental health and disability providers. Event attendees will also be provided with morning tea and lunch by local services St Vincent’s De Paul, TAFE NSW and Ashcroft’s IGA’s Let’s Make Better.

“Western Homeless Connect is an event for anyone who is having trouble paying the bills, finding a job, or a place to stay and we hope to attract people from across the region by providing free community transport from Bathurst, Cowra, Dubbo and Parkes so that anyone who needs support can access it,” explained Ms Pearce.

“However, we have limited transport places available, so anyone interested in booking a free return ticket should call us today on 1300 01 1973 or visit our website for more information: www.veritashouse.org.au/whc.”

Kenny Spring Solicitors in Bathurst and Oberon has again announced that for the month of July, 10% of fees generated from any new and existing Wills, Power of Attorney or Enduring Guardian drafted by Kenny Spring will be donated to Veritas House. This is the second year that Kenny Spring Solicitors has supported Veritas through the campaign.

Each year Veritas supports a number of local young people to transition from homelessness to independent housing through the Youth Transitional Housing Program. The proceeds from the Winter Wills program will enable Veritas to purchase Independent Living Packs containing cleaning products, household items, basic toiletries and non-perishable food. The packs will be provided to local young people transitioning from crisis accommodation to independent living and will help reduce the financial impact associated with setting up a home for the first time.

If you are like around half of all people who don’t have a Will and need one drafted, or need an existing Will updated, or you just need advice, speak to the Wills and Estates Team at Kenny Spring during the month of July – and in the process you will be supporting a wonderful cause.

For more information about our Wills and Estates packages please visit www.kennyspring.com.au or call Peter McManus or Alice Cheek on 02 6331 2911.

Veritas has opened an office at 58 Bultje Street, Dubbo in response to an increasing demand for Veritas’ services in the region.

Veritas is funded by Family and Community Services (FACS) to deliver the Premier’s Youth Initiative (PYI) across Western NSW, a program which aims to prevent homelessness among young people leaving out-of-home care by providing personal advice, education and employment mentoring and transitional accommodation supports. PYI Personal Advisors currently have clients located at Bourke, Lightning Ridge, Coonamble and Warren, and the Dubbo office is the ideal hub location from which staff can outreach to provide services.

“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 Veritas House CEO, Jody Pearce. “We are excited about opening a new office in the community of Dubbo and hope that in the future we can deliver the broad range of services from the centre that we offer in Bathurst and Orange, such as Non Placement Support Services and Permanency Support Services (Foster Care).”

Veritas is currently recruiting for at least one Personal Advisor position to be located at the Dubbo office and it is hoped the staffing will grow over the next 12 months.

The Agrestic Grocer's Lucas Martin (L) and Beau Baddock (R) present a $9,000 donation to Veritas' Michele Zarnow and Narelle Stocks

Veritas House has launched a fundraising appeal to raise $250,000 to purchase a Transitional Youth Housing property in Orange to assist young people who are exiting crisis accommodation to transition into independent living.

“For many young people experiencing homelessness that stay at our crisis accommodation and who cannot return safely to their homes, it can be difficult to secure a lease in the private rental market with no prior rental history, low incomes and with Orange having one of the lowest rates of rental properties available in NSW,” explained Veritas House CEO, Jody Pearce.

“Purchasing a transitional youth housing property will enable Veritas to help break the cycle of homelessness and disadvantage for these deserving young people and we believe will benefit the Orange community for generations to come,” she said.

Veritas owns a one-bedroom flat in Bathurst which it operates as a transitional youth housing property, leasing the property at below market rent to young people who are transitioning from homelessness to independence; and Veritas case workers support them over a 3-6 month period to obtain furnishings, secure ongoing income, learn budgeting and tenancy management skills and develop a rental history. At the end of their lease, Veritas provides a reference and assists the young person to secure long-term private rental accommodation through advocacy and support.

Veritas has launched its fundraising appeal with a generous donation of $9,000 from The Agrestic Grocer who raised the funds at their ‘Mixed Tape’ event held in December 2018. Support has also been received from local business Macquarie Medi Spa, and from the McCormack Barber Community Chest.

“Our transitional young housing property in Bathurst has made a huge impact for the young people we work with and we urgently need access to a similar facility in Orange to support the local young people we work with every day,” said Jody. “We hope the local community, businesses and past supporters of Veritas will follow the lead of The Agrestic Grocer and really get behind our Appeal to help us raise our target of $250,000.”

Tax deductible donations can be made towards the Veritas Orange Transitional Housing Appeal through PayPal on the Veritas website donation page. Alternatively, businesses who would like to donate goods or services towards a raffle, or who would be interested in hosting a fundraising event to support the Appeal, can contact Narelle or Danielle on (02) 6332 3882 or email Narelle.Stocks@veritashouse.org.au.

Veritas House has received $1,500 from the Findex Community Fund, the charitable organisation of Crowe Horwath Bathurst’s parent company, Findex.

Veritas has earmarked the $1,500 donation, combined with additional support received from businesses and the community, to establish a Veritas House Education and Employment Fund. Veritas will invest the funds, with the income earned annually used to support young people in the local region to pursue their vocational ambitions.

“Ensuring that young people have the resources to start school or an apprenticeship can be a financially challenging time for any young person, but this is particularly difficult for young people who are experiencing homelessness or have transitioned into independent living,” said Veritas House CEO, Jody Pearce.

“Many of the young people we work with are overcoming some major obstacles and at the same time trying to continue their education or enter the workforce. These funds will help them purchase a laptop, textbooks or work boots for an apprenticeship and will hopefully ensure that costs such as these are not a barrier to them continuing their educational and employment aspirations,” she said.

Commenting on the donation, Findex Community Fund Director, Danielle Maxwell stated: “Veritas is one of the great support networks within Bathurst and we’re proud to be able to support their work with at-risk members of the community. The FCF will continue to support great organisations like Veritas to provide a genuine positive impact on local regional communities.”

With a goal to create equal access to opportunity for people isolated by location or circumstance, the Findex Community Fund focuses on funding programs which are regionally relevant, nationally impactful and globally scalable across Health, Education and Entrepreneurship. Findex, owner of Crowe Horwath in Australia and New Zealand, is Australia’s largest privately-owned financial advisory firm, with more than 110 offices across the network.

If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation towards the Veritas Education and Employment Fund, visit: https://veritashouse.org.au/support/donate/

The Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation has announced a $50,000 grant to Veritas House to renovate a one-bedroom Transitional Youth Housing flat in Bathurst which supports young people transitioning from homelessness to independent living.

The grant is the biggest single grant, outside of government funding, that Veritas has ever received, and according to Veritas House CEO, Jody Pearce will make a significant difference to the lives of local young people for years to come.

“For many young people experiencing homelessness that stay at the youth refuge and who cannot return safely to their homes, it can be difficult to secure a lease in the private rental market with no prior rental history and limited finances. Veritas owns a one-bedroom flat which we operate as a transitional youth housing property, leasing the property at below market rent to young people who are transitioning from homelessness to independence; and our case workers support them over a 3-6 month period to obtain furnishings, secure ongoing income, learn budgeting and tenancy management skills and develop a rental history. At the end of their lease we provide a reference and advocate and support them to secure long-term private rental accommodation,” explained Jody.

“Unfortunately, the rent generated does not always cover costs and, as a result, we have no funds to undertake long-overdue improvements, including replacing the kitchen and bathroom, painting and new carpet. The grant from Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation will allow us to undertake these works and ensure young people can take pride in and maintain the property well into the future,” she said.

The grant was part of more than $230,000 in funding announced last week by Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation for community projects, initiatives and programs in the Central West region.

“The Charitable Foundation provides financial support to enable the critical work of community organisations that have initiatives and projects which may fall outside other funding avenues, but are still exceptionally important as they will improve the lives of marginalised members of our regional communities,” said Charitable Foundation Chair, Phil Neat.

The renovations are set to commence at the Veritas Transitional Youth Housing property in January and it is hoped will be completed in time for a new tenant to move into the revamped flat by the end of February.

The Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation distributes more than $1.5 million in grants each year to facilitate charitable projects that address disadvantage in local communities throughout the Hunter, Central West, Central Coast, New England, Mid North Coast and Northern Rivers regions of NSW. Since its establishment in 2003, the Foundation has provided more than $19.1 million to 448 community initiatives.

Around 100 local children and young people will spend this Christmas in Foster Care and at youth refuges and Veritas House is calling on local residents and business to help bring some Christmas cheer to these special young people.

Veritas has set up Christmas Giving Trees at their offices at 106 Russell Street, Bathurst; 29 Sale Street, Orange; and at the Chiropractic Health and Wellness Centre at 184 William Street, Bathurst; and is calling on local residents to embrace the spirit of giving and purchase a gift for a child or young person supported by Veritas. Each tree has on display gift tags that contain the Christmas wishlist for each child, a pseudonym name and their age, and local residents simply select a tag and bring it back with their wrapped or unwrapped gift.

More than 80 local children and young people ranging in age from newborns to 18 will spend this Christmas in Foster Care and Veritas is hopeful 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 and Orange 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 local residents and businesses will assist us to bring some joy into the lives of these special children this Christmas by placing a gift under one of our three local trees, so that we can make our annual Christmas Party on December 20 a special day the children and our carers will truly remember,” she said.

Veritas is also hoping local residents and businesses who are unable to provide a gift will consider contributing goods or providing a donation.

“We are hoping to make Christmas special for local young people who are experiencing homelessness by preparing a special Christmas lunch and dinner for the young people and staff staying at our youth refuges in Orange and Bathurst; and we also hope to fund ‘excursions’ to the beach, the Zoo or the Bathurst water park at Ben Chifley Dam, so that a time that can be pretty tough can be made happy and memorable,” said Jody.

Tax deductible donations over $2 can be made through PayPal by clicking here: www.veritashouse.org.au or by contacting Narelle Stocks on 1300 01 1973.

2018 Deb Elsley Award for Foster Carer of the Year

Local Foster Carers, Deb and Gerry Green were today announced recipients of the Deb Elsley Memorial Award by Veritas House as part of their Foster Care Week celebrations.

The award acknowledges the significant contribution that Deb and Gerry have made in providing a safe and supportive home environment to more than 13 children and young people over the past five years, and assisting them to grow and develop in a happy and healthy way.

Loving, warm and accepting carers, Deb and Gerry ensure that every child that comes into their care feels included as part of their family. As described by a young person who was placed in their care, “They make you feel part of the family and make you feel welcome.”

According to Veritas Case Worker, Kate Miller, Deb and Gerry work hard to understand the circumstances that lead to children coming into their care, have nurtured positive relationships with birth families, and enhance and nurture each child’s sense of belonging and identity.

“Deb and Gerry understand the uniqueness of every child that has been welcomed through their door. They understand the need to provide Therapeutic Care and are thoroughly deserving of this award,” said Kate.

Deb and Gerry started their caring role as emergency respite carers and say they never went into the role for the long term.

“We didn’t foster to have another family, we just wanted to help,” explained Deb. “We never went into it for the longer term, but we could see the change we were making in their lives and that’s how it evolved.

“It is such a rewarding, life changing experience and you get to work with a great team. Our whole family it is devoted to being carers, and with the support of our daughters we have the mentality that it takes a village to raise a child and I would encourage other people to consider becoming carers and experience how special it is for themselves.”

The Award was presented at the Veritas House Foster Care Week Awards ceremony and also saw five Foster Carers presented with 10 and 20 year service awards acknowledging their dedication and contribution to children and young people. The final event for the week will be a Foster Care information session at the Veritas offices at 106-108 Russell Street office on Thursday, 13 September commencing at 5.30pm.

The number of children and young people entering Out of Home Care in NSW has grown from 10,000 in 2006 to 18,000 in 2016 and Veritas is hopeful that local residents will attend the information session and consider becoming carers to help address the growing need. A wide range of Carers are required including respite – which can be as little as a weekend a month; emergency; long term; extended family or kin; guardianship and adoptive parents.

For more information or to register to attend the Foster Care information session, contact Bridget Tracy on (02) 6332 3882.