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Following the news that the Bathurst 1000 has been rescheduled to November 4-7, Veritas House has announced they will postpone their 40th anniversary Winter Wonderland Ball to a date yet to be determined in Winter 2022.

The Ball had originally been planned for the end of August and was rescheduled last month to November 6 due to the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions in NSW. However, the clash with the Bathurst 1000 has forced the local not-for-profit organisation to make the difficult decision to delay the celebrations until next year.

According to Veritas House CEO, Jody Pearce, the irony that this announcement is being made during Homelessness Week is not lost on staff, particularly given the event was raising funds to assist in addressing the critical shortage of affordable housing in the region.

“We are obviously disappointed that we cannot pay tribute to this milestone for our agency in our 40th year of operations, however we are confident that when we are finally able to hold the event it will be a fitting celebration of the impact our staff have made to the lives of vulnerable children, young people and families over the past four decades,” said Ms Pearce.

“We want to take this opportunity to sincerely thank Verto, Peak Connect, Bathurst RSL Club, the Western Advocate, Radio 2BS and the huge number of local businesses who had committed to sponsor or support the event. Our staff are in the process of contacting all of our sponsors and the more than 300 ticket holders to inform them of the cancellation of this year’s event, but we hope to see the same level of excitement and enthusiasm for the rescheduled event once it is announced.”

With more than 27,000 young people experiencing homelessness on any given night in Australia, Veritas House is hoping local residents will mark Homelessness Week this week by making a tax-deductible donation towards their Transitional Youth Housing Appeal at: www.veritashouse.org.au/donate.

“We may not be able to dress up and dance for a great cause as we’d planned, but there is still an opportunity for the local community to show its support for young people in the region who are experiencing homelessness, and we hope the local community will still show its commitment to Veritas and our Appeal despite the postponement of our event,” said Jody.

Given the COVID-19 restrictions in place for NSW, we have made the unfortunate and difficult decision to postpone our Winter Wonderland 40th Anniversary Ball.

We wish to mark this milestone how we always intended; with as many of our community as possible, but sadly, the current conditions prevent us from doing so.

We have set a new date for Saturday 6th November 2021. We are hopeful for the easing of restrictions by this time, so that we can bring the best possible version of the Ball to life for all our guests, but we will continue be guided by the advice of NSW Health.

Tickets purchased for the original date are now valid for the rescheduled date. However, if ticket holders are unable to attend on the 6th of November, refunds can be requested by emailing your name, Booking ID Number and the email address used to book the tickets to support@123tix.com.au.

Although it is with great disappointment that we must postpone the celebration of our 40th anniversary, our focus on supporting and caring for vulnerable children and young people has not wavered. We have the community’s well-being at the forefront of our decision-making and have a duty of care to do the right thing to protect the health and safety of our clients, carers, supporters and staff.

If you have any concerns or queries regarding sponsorship of the Ball, ticket purchases or refunds, please contact the Veritas House team on 1300 01 1973 or via contact@veritashouse.org.au.

We appreciate your understanding and your continued support during these fast-changing times.

Pictured (L – R): VERTO employment services team leader Chris Harrison, Veritas House senior practitioner Heather Johnston and CEO Jody Pearce.

Apprenticeships, training and employment services agency VERTO has come on board as platinum sponsor for the Winter Wonderland Ball, being held on 28th of August.

VERTO is a not-for-profit organisation assisting businesses and individuals with all their apprenticeship, employment and training needs.

VERTO’s expertise covers a range of areas including Aboriginal services, Australian apprenticeships services, disability services, employment services and vocational training to help businesses, individuals and local industry to thrive.

CEO Ron Maxwell said VERTO was thrilled to come on board as platinum sponsor of the Veritas House Winter Wonderland Ball to be held in Bathurst on Saturday, August 28.

“Our mission is to positively impact the lives of individuals and communities and this aligns very much with Veritas House – who provide vitally important services to children, young people, families and foster carers in Bathurst and the Central West,” he said.

“This year’s Winter Wonderland Ball is a true celebration of the outstanding work Veritas House has done in our local community for four decades.

“Not only is VERTO honoured to be platinum sponsors of the event, we’re very excited to provide $3,000 worth of prizes for the Winter Wonderland Ball auction and raffles, which we hope will help raise vitally important funds for Veritas House to help them continue to provide life-changing services in our local community.”

We are excited to announce, in celebration of our 40th anniversary, our Winter Wonderland fundraiser ball.

It’s set to be an incredible night, recognising the dedication of our staff and supporters, and celebrating the impact that together we’ve been making in the lives of children, young people and their families throughout the past 4 decades. All funds raised will go towards our Transitional Youth Housing Appeal, providing accommodation to young people transitioning from homelessness to independence so they can reach their full potential and become meaningful members of their community.

Be sure to save the date, Saturday 28th August 2021, so as not to miss out, and keep an eye out as we’ll be sharing more information and releasing tickets in the months to come.

If you would like to sponsor the ball, please contact Libby Sinclair on 0490 075 780 or libby.sinclair@veritashouse.org.au

This year marks 40 years since we first opened our doors, providing accommodation through the Bathurst youth refuge to 100 young people experiencing homelessness in our first year alone. The Emerge refuge, formerly the Orange & District Youth Refuge, then become part of Veritas House in 2014, having moved from Lucknow to its current Orange location in 2007.

Four decades on, our commitment to caring for the region’s most vulnerable continues, as we provide accommodation and support services to more than 800 vulnerable children, young people and their families across the Central West each year.

To celebrate the impact our dedicated staff have made throughout this time, two commemorative trees were recently planted – a Snow Gum in Bathurst and an Acacia Blackwood in Orange – that will live alongside residents at each Youth Refuge. We were honored to be joined in Bathurst by the Hon. Paul Toole, Minister for Regional Transport and Roads and Member for Bathurst, and Bobby Bourke, Mayor of Bathurst.

In Orange our thanks goes to Mayor Reg Kidd, for helping Geoff Hastings, Veritas House Chairperson, and Jody Pearce CEO plant the commemorative tree and for the continued support, “It’s very important that we as a community are involved, and we put our heart and soul into it – from a personal point of view and a council point of view we support it 500 percent, and we always will,” said the Mayor.

Veritas House’s CEO, Jody Pearce, acknowledged the milestone this represents for Veritas, “It’s a special time for Veritas House because there’s been many, many people that have contributed to Veritas over the years,” she said. “It’s about acknowledging their contribution and their resilience. It’s amazing that the young people that came through these houses have gone on to do some great things. It’s a privilege to work with the young people, it’s a privilege to see their courage and resilience to come through adversity. It’s a privilege to work with a team that’s really committed to child protection and ending youth homelessness.”

These trees will serve as a reminder of our foundational roots in the local community and our ongoing commitment to providing shelter for generations to come.

Watch Prime News’ coverage of the Tree Planting Ceremonies here.

Pictured (L – R): Veritas Chair, Geoff Hastings, Libby Sinclair, Narelle Stocks, Mayor Bobby Bourke, Veritas CEO, Jody Pearce, Member for Bathurst, Paul Toole and Alanna Dixon and Sharon Jones from Veritas.

We are pleased to be celebrating alongside Heather and Kate from the Veritas House team, who have both completed the Professional Diploma in Therapeutic Life Story Work,  which has given them the opportunity to gain skills in how best to gather the stories of the children and young people we work with.

Heather explains, “The Diploma has given us the tools that we need to work with young people to put together the jigsaw that is their life. The pieces of the jigsaw are made up of conversations with parents, siblings, carers, child protection workers, health workers, police and educators.”

Having both completed the diploma, Heather and Kate are now in a position to work with young people and their carers in a way that helps to establish the young person in their placement, helps the carer/s to better understand and therapeutically manage the young person and perhaps most importantly helps the young person to know who they are and to be confident and accepting of themselves.

“It is difficult to grow up as a psychologically healthy adult if one is denied access to one’s own history.” (Vera Fahlberg, 2008)

Veritas House has launched a new service improvement process focused on the quality of supports delivered to vulnerable children, young people and families.  

This will involve the organisation seeking certification of its Specialist Homelessness Services against the Australian Service Excellence Standards (ASES). Certification requires providers like Veritas House to self-assess current practices against the Standards; identify the actions it needs to take to meet the Standards and take the necessary actions; and engage with an ASES assessor who will visit Veritas offices and accommodation settings to talk with service users and staff and to assure themselves that Veritas is complying with the Standards.    

Veritas House CEO, Jody Pearce says that the process will help Veritas to highlight and celebrate the things staff already do well.  

“We’re confident that the services we provide make a real impact on helping children, young people and families in our local communities to thrive,” she said. “ASES is a tool which will help us gather the evidence to prove this.”  

Ms Pearce emphasised that the process is also an opportunity to review what can be improved and because it is a continuing process – certification needs to be renewed every three years – it will help the organisation build a culture focused on continuous improvement.   

“Just because we’re proud of what we do, doesn’t mean we want to risk becoming complacent about that quality,” she said. “ASES is a way in which we can keep testing that confidence so that we can find ways to keep delivering the highest quality services, as we have done for almost 40 years.”  

Assessment is a requirement of all Specialist Homelessness Services across NSW and Veritas’ funding partner, the NSW Department of Communities and Justice. The process will involve staff, management, the Board and other stakeholders (including service users and their families) through to the end of 2021 when the on-site assessment visit is scheduled to occur. 

For more information on Veritas’ preparation for the ASES Assessment and Certification, please contact John, our Operational Compliance Officer on 1300 01 1973. 

Local Foster Carers, Billie Henderson and Mark Mason have been announced recipients of the Deb Elsley Memorial Award as part of the Veritas House Foster Care Week celebrations.

The award acknowledges the significant contribution that Billie and Mark have made in providing a safe and supportive home environment to some 17 children and young people over the past six years, assisting them to grow and develop in a happy and healthy way.

According to Veritas Carer Support Practitioner, Bridget Tracy, in addition to being compassionate carers, Billie and Mark work hard to support other local foster carers, particularly new carers and those experiencing hardship, and have provided advice and guidance to Veritas House on policies and procedures to support the broader carer network.

“Billie has assisted Veritas in the delivery of Shared Lives training to carer applicants in the past year and her reflections on the challenges they have faced, along with the incredible rewards has both informed and inspired applicants,” said Bridget.

“While working at Veritas it has been my privilege to get to know many carers and there is no question that Billie and Mark embody the Veritas values of collaboration, authenticity and relationships, and are thoroughly deserving of this award.

Billie and Mark started their journey as foster carers while living in the Gulf of Carpentaria, when they took a child into their care from a local family that was struggling and there were no local foster or kinship carers in the area. Working in isolation and without agency support, they became authorised foster carers for the boy who remains close to them today. They have continued to be carers wherever they have moved and have come to appreciate the importance of having an honest and open relationship with a foster care agency, like Veritas House.

“As a foster carer there are always lots of tears, but there are also always huge rewards, and that’s seeing a child safe, happy and healthy because of the love that you can provide them as a foster carer,” said Billie.

The Award was presented at the Veritas House Foster Care Week Awards ceremony and also saw six Foster Carers presented with 5 and 15 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 delivered online on Thursday, 17 September commencing at 6.00pm. For more information or to register to attend, contact Lee Purcell on (02) 6332 3882.

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.

Veritas House is a not-for-profit organisation that was established in Bathurst almost 40 years ago and has grown to become one of the largest providers of foster care, youth homelessness and early intervention services in the region, supporting more than 800 children, young people and families each year.

Throughout July 2019, 10% of fees generated from any new and existing Wills, Power of Attorney or Enduring Guardian drafted at Kenny Spring Solicitors in Bathurst was donated to Veritas House.

This year the Winter Wills initiative raised $1000 for the purchase of Independent Living Packs containing cleaning products, household items, basic toiletries and non-perishable food. The packs will be provided to local young people being supported by Veritas to transition from crisis accommodation to independent living and will help reduce the financial impact associated with setting up a home for the first time. The packs become ever more important at a time such as Christmas.

Veritas assists some 150 young people who are homeless or at risk of experiencing homelessness in the Bathurst region each year. 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. To help address this in Bathurst, Veritas owns a one-bedroom flat 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 does not have access to a similar property in Orange and this is making it increasingly difficult to address the cycle of disadvantage for local young people, particularly as Orange has one of the lowest rate of rental properties available in NSW. As a result, Veritas 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. If you would like to make a tax deductible donation visit our Orange Transitional Housing Appeal page.

Christmas wishes for more than 170 local children and young people have been placed on Christmas trees at Veritas House offices in Orange and Bathurst and the local charity is calling on Orange residents to help bring some Christmas cheer to these special young people.

Veritas has set up Christmas Giving Trees again this year at their offices at 29 Sale Street, Orange, and 106 Russell Street, Bathurst, and with more Christmas wishes to fulfil than ever before, they are calling on local residents to embrace the spirit of giving and purchase a gift for a child or young person who is living in Foster Care or who is at risk or experiencing homelessness. Each tree has on display gift tags that contain the Christmas wishlist for each child, and local residents simply select a tag and bring it back over the next few weeks with their wrapped or unwrapped gift.

Veritas House CEO, Jody Pearce acknowledged that with the drought, bushfires and so many other worthy charities appealing for assistance at the current time, it may be tougher than ever to achieve their goal of providing a gift to every one of the children and young people Veritas supports.

“The number of kids Veritas is supporting to either move from the Out-of-Home Care system and into independent living, or who are living with Foster Carers, is currently at its highest level for our agency,” said, Jody. “Added to that, the Christmas period is also one of our busiest at our youth refuges in Orange and Bathurst; so we are hopeful the local community will get behind our Christmas Appeal again this year.

“Last year we also had a number of parents bring their children in to select a tag and purchase a gift, so they could learn the importance of giving gifts, not simply receiving. We also had a number of businesses in the region replace their office Kris Kringle with buying gifts for our clients, which was a huge contribution towards filling our tree and providing gifts to all of the children in our care.”

More than 90 local children and young people ranging in age from newborns to 18 will spend this Christmas in Foster Care through Veritas and the local agency is hopeful the support of the community will help bring some Christmas cheer to these special children in particular.

“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, Jody. “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 two trees, so that we can make our annual Christmas Party on December 7 a special day the children and our carers will truly remember,” she said.

In addition to the trees at Veritas, Moodie’s Pharmacy in Howick Street, Bathurst will also have tags on their Christmas tree in-store, and will provide customers with a 10% discount off the retail price for any items purchased to use as gifts for Veritas clients.