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Our History

In 2011 Westcare celebrated its 30th Anniversary. Within those three decades many things have changed, but one thing that's remained has been the essence of Westcare: the provision of safe care, support, commitment and services to the most vulnerable - the babies, children and young in our community.

 

The 1980s: the beginning of the journey

In 1981, The Salvation Army Western Region Youth and Child Care Services commenced operation when the facilities operated by Bayswater Boys Home were closed and the funding transferred to the Western Region of Melbourne to develop small community-based programs. The network consisted of four residential units which provided medium and long-term care for children and young people who were clients of Protective Services. Network was located in Hampshire Road, Sunshine.

During 1983, Rivendell Adolescent Unit is established whilst the network is relocated to the corner of Devonshire Road and Hampshire Road, Sunshine. During the next two years, Beech Court facility is established, and the Carinya Youth Hostel becomes part of TSA Western Region Youth and Child Care.

By 1987, a number of additional services were added to the network including homelessness services.

The 1990s: 'Westcare' is born

The network name formally changes to 'Westcare' in 1990.

Three years later, Westcare branches into Home Based Care with the addition of the Adolescent Community Placement program.

In 1995 Westcare auspices Melton Foster Care, previously a service of the Melton Shire, and gains employment services.

By 1997 Westcare becomes a major service provider of residential, case management and support services for young people in care when the DHS redevelops their Placement and Support Services into the Community Services sector.

The following year, Westcare became part of the Salvation Army Crossroads, at the time one of the larger homeless persons' networks in Victoria. Within the Crossroads network Westcare operates as the specialist Child and Adolescent Services stream. An Intensive Case Management Service and a one-to-one Home Based Care program are added to further the capability to respond to the needs of the local community.

The 2000s: new era for Westcare

In the year 2000, the Kornan family kindly donates a holiday home in Portarlington to the organisation, providing the opportunity for foster or birth families to experience a holiday at the beach.

In 2001 Westcare re-emerged from the Crossroads network, which became four networks (Adult Services, Crisis Services, Crossroads and Westcare).

In the same year, the 'Going Places, Creating Memories' program is established.

During the following year, many developments occur within the organisation. Westcare establishes itself as a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) after a strategic planning decision to become a 'learning organisation' (Senge, 1980), to utilise considerable staff knowledge and expertise to deliver nationally-accredited training to the human services industry and provide planned training and development paths for existing and highly valued staff.

The RTO status thus allows Westcare to develop an Education Program for young people within Westcare's programs who have been excluded from mainstream and alternative education options. Studies are offered to the Certificate in General Education for Adults.

The Salvation Army viewed Westcare's RTO to be a best-practice model of providing nationally-accredited training within the stringent Australian Qualifications Training Framework (AQTF) standards and guidelines. Following an extensive audit and training needs-analysis, Westcare's RTO is expanded to provide nationally-accredited training to The Salvation Army Australia (Southern Territory).

Following a decade of negotiations, Westcare moved to a fully renovated building in central Sunshine that accommodates all Westcare's managerial and administrative staff, outreach programs and some Home Based Care programs.

Melton Foster Care moves to a purpose-built office in Station Road, Melton. This office was designed to create a child and family friendly environment and a positive environment to facilitate access between children and birth families. 

Following its first year of operation as a 'learning organisation', Westcare wins the Community Services and Health Industry Training Board Award for 'Employer Achievement in Creating a Learning Culture'.

The Hugh Williamson Trust commences generous support of Westcare's education and training activities. The Hugh Williamson Scholarship Fund is thus established at Westcare. 

Westcare (with support from The Salvation Army and Caulfield Grammar) successfully negotiates a lease with the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) for Bambara. A partnership is formed with Ford Australia, combining the business expertise of Ford with the passion of Westcare to ensure Bambara's long-term viability. (Sadly, during the bush fires of 'Black Saturday' in 2009, Bambara was destroyed. Plans for its rebuilding are continuing.)

In the same year, Transitional Support and Accommodation Service (TSAY) is transferred from the Crossroads network to provide positive links for young people exiting Westcare's Residential and Home Based Care programs.

The 'Creating Dreams' program is established in 2004.

During 2007, Westcare's Home Based Care Training and Recruitment Program is awarded a three-year statewide training contract for 'Shared Stories - Shared Lives' and 'Step by Step Training'. In the same year, Amaranth is redeveloped into a Residential Unit, Wairou relocates to Conrad, the Circle Therapeutic Foster Care Program is established, Western Early Leavers (WESL) program is transferred to Westcare from Juvenile Justice. Also, Creative LIteracy and Numeracy Program is transferred from Juvenile Justice to Westcare.

'With Care Training', in partnership with Berry Street Take Two, begins in 2008 as well as the establishment of the Home Based Carer Recruitment and Carer Support Teams.

During the following year, Orbital becomes a Therapeutic Residential Care Pilot, the Quality Assurance Program is established, as is the Staff Wellbeing Program.

During 2010, the Spence Residential Unit is established along with the Lead Tenant Program, Student Unit, Stean Residential Unit, and the Community Integration Program partnership.

2011: 30 years of service

Highlights of 2011

  • 30th Anniversary of Westcare in August, with celebration held at Ascot House
  • Launch of 'As Eye See it' photo exhibition with sector partners
  • Creating Dreams fundraiser held in May, and sponsored by the Comedy Lounge
  • Ongoing partnership with the Hugh Williamson Foundation to award scholarships to workers and young people to persue education
  • Participate in Debutante Ball hosted by the Victorian Office of the Child Safety Commissioner
  • Ongoing participation in the Residential Care Learning and Development Strategy, including organisation of and participation in 'Resi Rocks'
  • Hosted Kim Golding, an international child-trauma expert in a series of seminars for the sector
  • Continue ongoing partnership with Ford Australia who have provided continued support for Bambara project. Through the Ford Community Giving project, more than 100 Ford staff attended working bees over three days
  • Successfully undertook two external reviews against service standards. Westcare re-registered as a Community Service Organisation under the provisions of the Child, Youth and Family Act and met standards for QIC accreditation
  • Partnership between the Australian Childhood Foundation, The Salvation Army in Tasmania and Westcare provided residential therapeutic care in Hobart, including the provision of training and service monitoring
  • Partnership with Berry Street Take Two and Westcare to provide 48 days of 'With Care' training for residential care services in Victoria
  • Continued commitment to training and practice development, with more than 340 staff participating across more than 30 accredited and non-accredited training programs
  • Continued engagement in research in partnership with tertiary educators
  • Liaising in partnerships across the The Salvation Army services networks and the Community Services sector to improve service delivery to our most vulnerable
  • Regular team-building and planning seminars which has enabled us to enhance current practice with all staff input and involvement
  • Recruited, trained and assessed 19 carer families between 2008 and 2011, of which 11 remain active
  • Provision of regular and ongoing professional development opportunities for carers, including supporting five carers and their children to attend the National Fostercare Conference on the Gold Coast
  • Continued strong advocacy for children in care, including the negotiation of three Tailored Care Packages in order to support our carers' management of complex children. This has had very positive outcomes, including one young person having the opportunity to attend Geelong Grammar School
  • Two carers, Bob and Barb, receive OAMs in recognition of their commitment in caring for two children with significant disabilities
  • Stephanie Ferguson, a foster carer, came runner-up in the Robin Clark Award
  • Senior Home Based Care staff attended and presented at the IFCO conference in Canada. They also completed five agency visits after the conference, including Jasper Mountain
  • Implemented staff professional-development program to provide opportunities for staff to broaden their knowledge and develop their skills
  • Provision of training for Looking After Children (LAC) meetings, resulting in up-to-date LAC plans for all children in care
  • Held kids' Christmas parties at Maribyrnong, Melton and Altona in December, which were well-attended by kids and staff
  • Sixty Christmas hampers prepared and distributed by team for parents and carers.