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About Us

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Celebrating 30 Years of Service

The Salvation Army Westcare provides a continuum of specialised services to babies, children, young people and their families in the northern and western region of Melbourne (as defined by the Department of Human Services). Westcare also aims to contribute to the sector through the provision of nationally-accredited training, drawing upon the extensive practice, wisdom and theoretical knowledge of our dedicated and experienced staff.

The Salvation Army Westcare offers programs for babies, children and young people who are not currently able to reside with their families, and young people considered to be at the highest risk in the community. The services provided include alternative living arrangements for those no longer able to live with their families (Home Based Care and Residential Care), support through case management, education programs for those excluded from the mainstream education system and transitional housing support.


We Care to Dream and Dream to Care

Seeking to provide the best possible services to babies, children and young people and their families, Westcare works in close partnership with many other agencies. Formal, ongoing partnerships involving co-location of services with the Royal Children's Hospital, Department of Human Services (DHS), DASWest Alcohol and Other Drug Services, Berry Street Take Two, Anglicare, Mackillop Family Services, Office of the Child Safety Commissioner, Residential Care Learning & Development Strategy (RCLDS), RMIT University, Swinburne University, Tasmanian Salvation Army, Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) and the Australian Childhood Foundation.

Westcare's General Manager and four Senior Managers who each oversee a section of the service delivery system provide leadership to staff, relievers and volunteers. Westcare's annual budget is in excess of $12 million and funding comes from the Victorian State Government Department of Education and the DHS, the Commonwealth Governement, The Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal, Hugh Williamson Foundation, other trusts, an employee contribution scheme, and targeted fundraising. Westcare is part of The Salvation Army Melbourne Central District and is supported by the resources of The Salvation Army.

Access to many Westcare programs is via DHS referral only. Young people (aged between 16 to 25) may self-refer or be referred by another agency to Westcare's Transitional Supported Accommodation for Youth (TSAY) program. Please contact Westcare on (03) 9312 3544 for further details.


Westcare Model and Strategic Goals

Westcare has developed a holistic agency model underpinned equally by Peter Senge's ideas of learning organisations as outlined in his book,The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organisation,and a commitment to staff and client health and well-being summed up by the axiom: 'what we do for children, young people and their families we do for each other'. This model, is embedded in our established practice and has received significant interest both in Australia and overseas. It has been presented throughout Australia, Europe and North America.

Westcare embraces Senge's (1990) philosophy by continually building a learning organisation where:

'people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspirations are set free, and where people are continuously learning how to learn together'

Peter M. Senge (1990) The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organisation

Westcare has very effectively integrated Senge's (1990) five disciplines: systems thinking, building shared vision, mental models, team learning and personal mastery into its collaborative philosophy, practice and operation. Whilst attachment theory has always underpinned Westcare's holistic model, we are currently working towards becoming a more trauma-informed organisation and ensuring that this is reflected in our day-to-day practice, policy and organisational culture.


Westcare's Strategic Goals

  • Westcare will provide services to children, youth and their families, which promote their social, emotional, physical, spiritual and developmental well-being.
  • Westcare is equally committed to supporting staff and carers: 'what we do for children, youth and their families we do for each other'.
  • Westcare will provide a workplace that is committed to the ongoing learning and knowledge for individuals, programs, the whole organisation and the broader community sector. 
  • Westcare will ensure that staff, carers and programs have the adequate level of resourcing to work with children, youth, their families and each other effectively.
  • Westcare will work with communities to promote social justice and well-being for all children, youth, and families.


Westcare: A QIC-accredited CSO

Westcare is a QIC-accredited Community Service Organisation. Quality Improvement and Community Services Accreditation (QICSA) is one of Australia's leading quality improvement service providers for the health and community sectors. For more information about QICSA, please visit www.qicsa.org.au

From the General Manager

The Salvation Army Westcare operates 31 programs across 16 different sites in the Western Suburbs of Melbourne. Employing 139 staff and with the assistance of 95 volunteers (mainly Foster Carers), Westcare provides accommodation and support to over 200 clients on any given night.

This year was the first time in 16 years that there was substantial change in leadership within Westcare. Our General Manager, John Avent, took a well-deserved break and embarked on a trip around Australia with his wife Cheryl.As Acting General Manager, my first year in the job has seen numerous initiatives take place within Westcare, across the sector and certainly within the Department of Human Services.

We finally implemented a two-year Enterprise Bargaining Agreement after more than three years of negotiations. Our Education Program was co-located with MacKillop Family Services’ Western Educational Support Team at the Maidstone Hub, providing a joint response to the educational issues and needs that children and young people in care face. We hosted our World Premiere of the ‘Going Places - Creating Memories’ Kimberley Trip that took place in 2012.

We received a further three-year commitment from the Hugh Williamson Foundation, sponsoring scholarships for both young people, volunteers and staff undertaking study or training; the establishment of a regular Homework Club supported by fully-trained tutors; and, the establishment of our youth participation framework. We worked in partnership with Triangle Consultancy and were the Australian trial agency in testing out the newly developed Outcomes Star for children and young people – ‘My Star’.

We congratulated both Kym Phillips and Vincent Attard on being awarded the Highly Commended (Carer of the Year) Award at the Robin Clark Memorial Awards for their dedication towards being foster parents. Staff at our Kerrison Unit were the winners of the Residential Care Learning and Development Strategy (RCLDS) Award for excellence and innovative teamwork in the provision of Residential Care in Victoria.

Personally, I am honoured to have been elected onto the Board of the Centre For Excellence in Child and Family Welfare (CFECFW) and look forward to working with the Centre on addressing issues like the inadequacy of current reimbursements for voluntary Foster Carers, as well as other topics such as Leaving Care issues to mention a couple.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of Westcare’s wonderful staff and volunteers for their commitment and contribution to the work undertaken at Westcare on a daily basis. I thank each and every one of you for the people that you are and look forward to working with you into the future to ensure Westcare maintains our commitment to providing the best standard of care and support to our clients and their families.

I am humbled by the opportunity provided to me to lead such a vibrant network within The Salvation Army and look forward to the challenges that lie ahead for us as an organisation.

Peter Mulholland
General Manager