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Connections News





Continuing important family links Thanks to the Uniting Church’s Board of Mission and Resourcing (BOMAR), Connections has been successful in obtaining funding to establish a Family Links program. The Family Links program is specifically for the children and families of imprisoned parents and aims to reduce the social and emotional impact of parental imprisonment on children. At its core, the Family Links program is designed to prioritise the best interests of the child and support them to grow to be healthy and well-adjusted adults who are able to meet their full potential and contribute effectively in the community. Children of imprisoned parents are often described as ‘the unintended victims of crime’. With considerable growth in the prison population across Australia, more children are being impacted by parental imprisonment, psychologically, economically and socially. To ensure the distinctive needs of children are prioritised and responded to adequately when they have a parent who is their primary carer imprisoned, Family Links aims to: ›› Reduce the social and emotional impact of parental imprisonment on children. ›› Support the maintenance of the child and parent relationship (when in the best interest of the child). ›› Improve outcomes for children who have a parent who is imprisoned. Our current criminal justice system is very much focused on adults,

with the best interests of children and other family members rarely considered during the journey, despite the significant impact it has on these vulnerable cohorts. A 2013 survey by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, indicated that approximately 28% of prisoners have at least one child. Parental imprisonment is an adverse childhood experience that can have a lasting impact on children. Currently, there are no specific services in Southern Metropolitan Melbourne which provide a coordinated response to children if they have a parent arrested and taken into custody. Support to access services is vitally important for the emotional and practical wellbeing and development of children and to support the ongoing parental relationship.

Connections has commenced discussion with the Dandenong Magistrates' Court and has also met with Victorian Association for the Care & Resettlement of Offenders (VACRO) who have been running the program successfully at the Geelong Magistrate Court for a number of years.

The Family Links program is designed to prioritise the best interests of the child and support them to grow to be healthy and well-adjusted adults.


On behalf of everyone at Connections UnitingCare, we would like to say a big THANK YOU to those who supported our 2016 Christmas Food & Gift Appeal. Together, we were able to provide a much brighter Christmas for over 450 families. With the generosity of the many schools, churches, individuals and organisations including Target stores, and their customers who support our appeal through Target and UnitingCare's Christmas Appeal, we exceeded our expectations and received in excess of $106,000 in donations.


With the support of our case workers, our clients were able to access the appeal and receive essential items right up to Friday 23 December.

“Our Appeal is the most effective way the community can help disadvantaged families, individuals and young people,” said Kirrilee Torney, Manager, Communications, Development & Events. “Each year we ask the local community to show their support of our work and this year the community has gone above and beyond. We cannot thank everyone who donated enough."



Find out more About your donations to our Christmas Appeal go, visit youtube.com/connectionsuc

Supporting tomorrow’s leaders Do you know the next Albert Einstein or Moana Hope? Applications are now open for the first round of funding for Connections' South Eastern Chances Scholarship program.

the potential of motivated young people who have a talent in a particular field, but whose financial situation is preventing them from following their dreams.

South Eastern Chances is an innovative scholarship program that provides financial support to young people living in south east Melbourne to pursue their dreams and academic ability.

South Eastern Chances gives young people the opportunity to focus on their area of interest without the financial burden attached.

Connections believes everyone should have the opportunity to reach their full potential regardless of their financial situation. The program aims to unlock

Scholarships up to $1,500 in value are available. If you know a motivated young person who needs a helping hand, apply now. Applications close 31 March.

Pancake Day Every year people across Australia come together for UnitingCare Pancake Day to flip for a good cause. The reality is that 1 in 7 Australians are living in poverty with 1 in 6 children affected. That’s 2.9 million Australians too many. Connections joined in the festivities by hosting morning teas at a number of our offices on Tuesday 28 February. Staff enjoyed a feast of pancakes with all the toppings, while competing against each other in a number of pancake-inspired games.

There’s still time to host your own Pancake Day event in your workplace! By hosting your own Pancake Day event, you will be helping to support the UnitingCare network's work in assisting those experiencing marginalisation and disadvantage.

Find out more About Pancake Day visit connections.org.au/pancakeday

Find out more To apply for a scholarship visit connections.org.au/chances To donate to this program, please call 03 8792 8972

Weaving a better future

Get involved To find out how you can participate visit onemillionstars.net

In the Summer Connections News we shared with you the One Million Stars to End Violence movement. This movement was created by Maryann Talia Pau and aims to shine a light on violence during next year’s Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. Maryann picked stars as the symbol for her project as they represent light, courage and solidarity. Maryann’s aim is to end all forms of violence, including violence against women, bullying and racism. Our staff, their family and friends were eager to participate and late last month we were proud to send our contribution of 2548 stars to this great initiative (see picture). One of our star making champions was eight year old Olivia who heard about the project from her mum who works at our Doveton office. Each night (after her homework) and in the morning before school, Olivia weaved a total of 70 stars to add to our collection. She even took her stars to school and shared the project and her reasons for making them with her class.

It’s great to see our children being involved with this initiative and being made aware violence needs to stop.

Keeping the South safe SouthSafe is an online resource for Family Violence workers and general workers. Developed by Connections, on behalf of Southern Metro Region Integrated Family Violence Executive, SouthSafe is an online resource for workers in the Southern Metropolitan region of Melbourne who support women, children or men impacted by family violence. The purpose of the website is to provide a tool to enhance communication and integration of services. The website contains resources for workers including information to link them with networks, events, professional

development, referral pathways and the latest information about the Royal Commission into Family Violence and current government reform work. Connections is well positioned within the family violence sector to deliver such a service. Our suite of services consist of providing family violence counselling including a children’s counsellor and an enhanced family violence family services worker, and the role of Family Violence Regional Integration Coordinator. We are proud to be a leading agency in this space and are dedicated to supporting women and children to live a secure and fulfilled life, free of violence.

Find out more Visit southsafe.com.au

We need you… ›› Have parenting experience? ›› Have two hours spare each week? ›› Want to give back to the community?

Home-Start Volunteers offer their time freely; most are parents or grandparents themselves. Volunteers are linked to families on a one-to-one basis and receive training, ongoing support and supervision from the Home-Start Coordinator.

Connections' Home-Start program reaches out and supports parents who are struggling in their parenting role due to a variety of different reasons by matching them with a volunteer who will offer a family friendship and practical help for a period of 12 months. It aims to connect families to support networks and help parents build stronger relationships with their children.

Find out more To register your interest in becoming a Home-Start volunteer visit connections.org.au/ home-start

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Edited by Kirrilee Torney, Manager, Communications, Development & Events. Designed by Studio Binocular. Photos by Shane Bell.

Connections aims to reduce our impact on the environment. This Connections publication is printed carbon neutral on recycled paper using vegetable based inks, no isopropyl alcohol and world’s best practice Environmental and Quality Management Systems.

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