As the heat continues to rise and the cricket continues to continue (thank goodness) we are fast approaching Australia Day. Depending on your perspective, the idea of Australia day could trigger images of BBQ’s and backyard cricket or even issues of sovereignty or becoming a republic. It is a day that many people celebrate with mates and family alike, a moment in time to reflect… well some of us might not do much reflecting, but gee it’s good to have a day off and relax with your mates! ..
Friday 6th of September saw the launch of Top Tradies Network, an inaugural event to help local businesses on the Sunshine Coast connect with tradies and apprentices. The launch was a success with about 120 people attending and special guest NRL legend Billy Moore. The event aims to help establish relationships between local businesses, tradies and apprentices and will educate about the latest industry trends and network with industry experts. With hints and tips for running a successful business among one of the many topics for the night we will expect a huge turnout for the next Top Tradies Network. With 120 attendees at the launch, the Top 3 concerns from the survey were: ..
Father’s Day was a hit with hundreds of families on the Sunshine Coast attending the first 'My Dad's Day Out' at Palmer Coolum Resort. With family activities in abundance such as kite making, ice cream eating competitions and three legged races, there was plenty of ways to celebrate dad’s special day. A local dance troupe performed and had the crowd riveted with children as young as five strutting their stuff in amazing routines. The famous SunnyKids’ Hotdog Cart was in attendance and provided a delicious lunch for hungry attendees. The event, in support of SunnyKids, has raised enough money to keep 100 children engaged in education for a year! An amazing response from the community and we thank you for your continued support and hope to see you again next year! ..
Joanna & Connor – Mother & Son
Connor is 6 years old and he has 2 younger siblings. His mother, Joanna, had been in a violent relationship and was struggling as a parent. She could no longer expose herself or her children to the situation - so she bravely stepped out on her own. She had no support network of family or friends and no transport at this point. Connor came to the attention of the school as he was not attending school regularly. When he was there, he was playing up and spent most of his time in the office. He was always tired and was never equipped with the right clothng for the weather or a decent lunch. The school asked for SunnyKids' help to ensure that Connor stayed engaged with his education.
We got to meet Connor and then the rest of his family because of his behaviour at school. We soon learned that Joanna couldn’t walk her three children to school due to distance and this resulted in Connor’s poor attendance. On top of that they were running out of food regularly and had no money to pay household bills. We provided emergency relief so there was food on the table at every meal time. We had their electricity put back on and organised some new uniforms for Connor and clothes for the other children. We helped Joanna apply for permanent housing and a family support worker helped with parenting education around managing young children, budgeting and daily routines (such as getting Connor ready for school). Within just three months the family saw positive progress with Connor improving at school in attendance, behaviour, concentration, grades and health. Thanks to sponsorship for Connor, not only is he fully engaged at school, but the whole family is doing better. With more confidence and trust, Joanna emerged as a self-assured parent. She has enrolled in TAFE and is also looking forward to a brighter future.
Mary & Justin – Mother & Son
Justin had known family abuse his whole life. Tragically, this daily situation was his 'norm' and he knew no differently - so Justin was displaying the same agressive behaviour he was witnessing at home, when he went to school. The cycle of disadvantage was repeating itself for another generation. Justin's mother, Mary, had grown up with an abusive father, experiencing his violence first hand as a child. She left home and married the first man she fell in love with, ending up being married for 15 years to a man who physically, verbally and emotionally abused both her and the children. Justin and his siblings came to the attention of the school and as a result the family was referred to the Domestic Violence Hotline. Through diligent school teachers and the generous sponsorship of Justin, crisis accommodation was found with SunnyKids for him and his family in order to break the cycle.
Immediate assistance was required to support the entire family by providing crisis accommodation. Justin was showing aggressive behaviour at school as well as social and learning problems believed to be the result of abuse. But with the right support of ongoing emotional support through counselling, Justin started to settle down and has been gradually improving ever since. Support and guidance for Justin and his family has been ongoing for 2 years with help like transitioning to independent living arrangements, legal support, counselling, medical and paediatric appointments. We are still in touch with the family and Justin and his siblings are finally settled, doing well socially, emotionally and educationally. ..
After more than 8 years of promoting and delivering prevention and early intervention it seems that the SunnyKids' approach is finally being recognised and accepted as one of the most effective and efficient ways to support families and kids under pressure. In 2005 SunnyKids pioneered our innovative response which focusses on gathering and coordinating the whole community around families and kids who are under stress. At the time many considered the practice less important than dealing with the families and kids whom society had allowed to spiral down into crisis virtually unsupported. Since that time SunnyKids has delivered highly efficient outcomes. Year after year, 75% of cases show measurable improvement and 40% resolve or mostly resolve the issues that had them under pressure. With research showing that students with ongoing absentee problems reach an average equivalent of only a year 4 education, our ability to consistently turn 50% of absentee cases around is a critical achievement in our mission to break intergenerational cycles of poverty and disadvantage. In the past 8 years, families and kids have benefited from SunnyKids' coordination of a range of excellent government and non- government support services. I have to say that it's truly gratifying to now see children we supported back in 2005 successfully graduating high school and entering employment and further study. ..
Toby is the oldest of three children. Teachers at school were noticing he was becoming increasingly socially isolated and that his attendance at school was dropping off. As SKIS was called in to assist, it was found that his mother had a history of live-in relationships that became toxic for the family environment - one of which had recently ended badly.
The family had been left in financial difficulty which meant that bills were not being paid. Hot water and electricity at home had been turned off and there was no transport to enable Toby to get to/from school.
Our work with this family lasted 3 months. We assisted with parenting programs and in-home support for Mum around budgeting, housing, organisational skills and setting routines. Emergency relief was provided to put services back on to the home.
Transport for Toby to get to/from school was arranged as was new school uniforms and other clothing. Toby has improved in confidence and social skills at school and teachers have said his school results are continuously improving. Toby's Mum has enrolled in a Tafe course.
Matt was referred to SunnyKids by a school Chaplain who had noticed increasing frustration in the child. His attitude was becoming negative and disrespectful and school work was not being done. For 6 weeks, SunnyKids worked with Matt and his family providing access to health services when it was found Matt's father had depression. His mother was itinerant and would move in and out of the family home every few months. The family was living in a shipping container with other adults who were also dealing with mental illness. Counselling for Matt and a mentoring program helped him to understand his home environment better; and as his father recovered, stability resumed in the household. Housing assistance to move was provided and Matt's Dad can now hold down a job to provide for the family.
Isla is a mother trying to provide for her 3 & 2 year old children. Repeated incidents of domestic violence have resulted in the family being taken into Najidah, the SunnyKids crisis accommodation centre. Having experienced family violence in her own youth, Isla was determined that her own children were not going to go through the same experience. She had become homeless at 16 years of age due to her circumstances at home. Assistance for the children centred around providing safe social experiences to allow them to build confidence. Therapeutic playgroup was provided to assist with re-bonding for the children and their mother. Counselling was provided in the form of play therapy activities. Four months on, the children are re-settled and attending regular daycare. Isla has undertaken a 'young parent's support program' and feels more confident in moving forward. ..
Dads, are you just looking forward to the same old Father’s Day you get every year? Well forget it! This year SunnyKids is proud to bring to you ‘My Dad’s Day Out’, hosted at Palmer Coolum Resort on September 1st. It promises to be a fun day out for the whole family, with entertainment, food stalls, jumping castles, face painting, kite making and a 'Big Boys Toys' display just to name a few. The tickets are just $50 for a family of four with additional tickets $10 each and proceeds from the day will go to SunnyKids to further support the work we do in the community. Don’t forget to drop by our famous hotdog cart and say hello to our friendly volunteers at the info stall. Tickets can be purchased from www.mydadsdayout.eventbrite.com.au ..
As we lead in to September, our ‘Sponsor an Aussie Kid’ campaign is gearing up - but one of our most heart warming donations has come from five year old Jack Datta. Jack saved up pocket money from a range of jobs he did around the house and has donated $40 to sponsor another kid, just like himself.
It’s definitely a case of ‘monkey see, monkey do’ in this household as Jack has learned his charitable habits from his Dad, Michael who is a passionate supporter of SunnyKids.
The $40 that Jack donated will sponsor an at-risk child to stay engaged in education for an entire year which is a crucial key that allows these children to reach their full potential.
This month I can’t help but reflect on the progress we’re making at SunnyKids. We continue to deliver excellence in our services to families but we’re now doing it with a lot more support from the community and from the Government too. We have a full Calendar of fundraising events, a growing number of business and individual donors and very promising conversations and policy directions at all levels of Government. July saw the inaugural Half Time Wrap run by SunnyKids Ambassadors, Robert DiPierdomenico and Deb Battaglini with 400 guests for lunch at the Palmer Coolum Resort. Still more businesses have joined us as corporate partners and this month also saw our $40 per year child sponsorship campaign begin to grow. We also find we have unprecedented access to key stakeholders in all three tiers of Government. The past few months have seen the fine balancing act of focussing on quality services whilst also creating enough new opportunities to see a continual growth in the number of children and families we are able to support. One thing we know for sure, is that without you, and others like you – we would not be able to make the difference we make. Thank you. ..