Billie Henderson & Mark Mason announced Carers of the Year
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.
Kenny Spring bring a touch of Winter to Xmas at Veritas
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.
Local residents urged to support local kids in need this Christmas
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.
Local Golfers encouraged to Tee Off for Kids
A charity golf day to raise funds for local charity Veritas House will be held at Ex Services Golf Club on Friday, 22 November from 1.30pm and organisers are encouraging local golfers to get involved.
Organised by local business AWCON, the afternoon features an impressive line-up of prizes, including a brand new Mazda 3 from John Davis Motors as a hole-in-one prize. According to AWCON CEO, Paul Montagliani, the day is designed to be a lot of fun, while supporting local children and young people in our community.
“We have had a really positive response to the day through our business networks, so hadn’t opened registrations up to the public up to now as we were worried the day would be over-subscribed,” explained Paul. “Unfortunately, we’ve had some people who were really keen now advise they are unable to play, which is disappointing for them, but creates a great opportunity for local golfers to get involved.”
A two-ball ambrose event, the day will tee off with a shot gun start at 1.30pm and will also feature a BBQ, auctions at the clubhouse at the end of the day and plenty of prizes, in addition to the car. Numbers on the course however are limited, so anyone interested in registering a team should register and pay their $40 per player as soon as possible, by visiting the Veritas House website: https://veritashouse.org.au/golf/ or by emailing email@example.com.
“AWCON has always been passionate about supporting our local community, and decided earlier in the year that we were keen to team up with Veritas to conduct a range of fundraising activities to support them once we heard about the great work they do to assist homeless young people and children in foster care in the Orange community,” said Paul.
“With the drought and the bushfires and so much negativity going on of late, we also think it is a positive way for locals – regardless of their golfing abilities, to take some time out to get some exercise, socialise with a fun group of people and raise much needed funds for a great cause.”
In addition to donations of prizes and the commitment of AWCON, the day has been generously supported by a large number of sponsors, including Endacom, M2P Engineering, PHE, Cadia, UCA, SRG, Fentarian, CJD and John Davis Motors.
All of the funds raised from the day will support the services delivered by Veritas to children and young people in the Orange community.
Di Fenner announced Carer of the Year
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.
Lions Club challenges services clubs to support youth
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.
Western Homeless Connect event to kick off National Homelessness Week
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 ‘Winter Wills’ in Support of Veritas House
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.