Welfare agency Berry Street opens Horsham office
BY SARAH SCULLY
Victoria’s largest independent child and family welfare organisation hopes opening an office in the Wimmera will allow it to help more of the region’s children lead safe and happy lives.
Berry Street opened an office in McLachlan Street, Horsham, on Friday.
Grampians region director Steve Johnson said the organisation, established in 1877, had been operating in the region since 2012.
“Berry Street provides a lot of support in the out-of-home care space – or child protection – where children are removed from their homes for safety,” he said.
Mr Johnson said the organisation provided residential care, foster care, case management, mental health services and domestic violence support.
“We work with young people and their families to determine what we need to do to hopefully get them back home or into a much safer place,” he said.
Mr Johnson said the service dealt with complex young people.
“They are multi-faceted in terms of their issues, including drug and alcohol, and mental health problems,” he said.
“They are really hard to engage with adults, and they often have significant abuse histories. Because of that, they need a more intensive response.”
Mr Johnson said Berry Street had a particular way of understanding young people.
He said case workers took time to get to know children and their families, building a rapport and cultivating safe relationships.
“They are good at engaging with kids, who are typically angry,” he said.
“We also have a foster care family here, who are fantastic carers and work with the hardest kids in the area, very successfully.”
Mr Johnson said Berry Street aimed to grow the number of foster carers in the region.
“There is a big need,” he said.
“We’d love to have people say, ‘here is an opportunity for me to open up my house to these children, to look after them’.
“Maybe one day they’ll go home, or maybe they will be there for a while.
“Sometimes it’s short term, sometimes it’s long term.”
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Posted on Nov 11 2015