Non-for-profit organisations tasked with increasing social inclusion are delivering their yearly reviews at Ulumbarra Theatre on Wednesday.
Bendigo Community Health Services chief executive officer Kim Sykes said although Australia has been traditionally known as ‘the lucky country’ for some, it wasn’t always the case for others.
“The pockets of disadvantage are real in our community,” she told the audience at the Community Sector showcase.
The uptake of BCHS’ headspace service had improved significantly this year, which illustrated the success of the service – as people felt more comfortable coming forward – but also the extent of mental health issues within the community, she said.
The organisation recorded a surplus of $368,000 this year, she said.
CatholicCare Sandhurst Executive Director Peter Richardson said the organisation had worked with nearly 14,000 clients this year, holding 38,000 individual sessions with people, and 2287 counselling sessions.
Over half of the organisation’s clients were aged between 20-39.
“Our core business is about helping people with their relationships and with their job of raising children,” he said.
Annie North women's refuge chief executive Julie Oberin said the organisation’s new refuge facility is a 24-hour service, arising from recommendations made by the state government’s Royal Commission into family violence.
Loddon Campaspe Centre Against Sexual Assault says over half its clients were children, a 'worrying, growing trend' the organisation said.— Bendigo Advertiser (@BgoAddy) November 15, 2017
“It’s more than just a refuge,” she said.
“It’s about providing more safe options for local women and children – there are challenges for women to leave their area.”
She said the refuge would be an important service local for women who don’t want to leave their community but need to feel safe.
“We could not have enhanced this project without incredible support from donors and the community,” she said.
Literacy and cooking programs would also be available for individuals in the refuge, she said.
Loddon Campaspe Centre Against Sexual Assault said over half of its clients were children, which was a worrying, growing trend, the organisation said.
Arc Justice said 70 per cent of its cases have elements of family violence.
A manager told the audience a story of how it helps people through its tenancy plus program.
Dean*, a paranoid schizophrenic, was referred to the service as his house was in a state of disrepair.
He became very unwell, and was admitted to hospital, during which time Arc Justice organised to clean his house and buy two new beds for his daughters.
“The fact is that Dean will always have periods of being unwell, but its up to us as an organisation to help them along the way,” she said.
Centre for Non-Violence chief executive officer Margaret Augerinos said: “Unfortunately demand for our service is ever growing.”
“Understanding oppression in all its forms is critical to what we do.”
Part of the organisations strategic plan included challenging the dominant discourse in our society and working toward an internal culture of excellence, among others, she said.
Police referral data from July 2016-17 showed 1130 of the referrals were from police for women and 412 cases included incidents where children were present.
Since the Royal Commission, there has been a huge funding injection to the sector and associated services, Ms Augerinos said.
“This has been a much neglected sector, but the Royal Commission was very clear the system was stressed, over worked and under resourced. For the first time were starting to see an investment in responding to these issues,” she said.
That funding has helped the Centre for Non-Violence establish three regional offices in Echuca and Maryborough and strengthen their presence in the Macedon Ranges over the past 12 months, she said.
*Not his real name