Uniting Annual Report 2020-2021

Glowing report card for CP3

This year our Connect Promote Protect Program, known as CP3, blossomed at Uniting Outside School Hours Care Engadine. It’s a research-based initiative that builds resilience, emotional wellbeing and community connections for primary-aged children.

Why does wellbeing in middle childhood matter?

1 in 7 primary school children has a mental illness.

Experiences from early to middle childhood shape brain development and have the potential to lay foundations for future social, emotional, cognitive and physical wellbeing.

By the time they reach adolescence,
the rate will be 1 in 41.

Fostering personal resilience, positive mental health and community connections will help prepare Australian children for life.

1Australian Institute of Health and Wellbeing, 2019

Developed in in partnership with the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre, CP3 is the first comprehensive wellbeing-focused program of its kind to be co-designed, developed and piloted in Australia. We train people to lead activities with children in their primary school years (aged 5-12), while monitoring for emerging mental health issues such as poor mindset or compromised wellbeing. 

 

Uniting self-funded the pilot program at our own Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) services, with children, educators, families and communities discussing, agreeing and then co-designing their chosen activities. At Uniting OSHC Engadine, the children constructed their very own chicken coop over consecutive Tuesday afternoons. 

While CP3 has proven benefits for children’s wellbeing, families’ community connection and educators’ fulfilment, it also makes good financial ‘cents’. Every $1 spent can return a social value of $1.20 for children, educators, families and communities.

What educators, parents and volunteers are saying about CP3:
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Offering CP3 is as much of an investment in the Educators as it is in the children and families.”

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Knowing that my child is trying something new, while being engaged and having fun, balances out the feeling of them missing out on extracurricular activities.”

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CP3 feels special. It makes the  children feel like they belong. They’re heard and they’re valuable  contributors at their OHSC.”

Throughout FY21, our Advocacy team assisted in promoting CP3 benefits to policy makers, highlighting the roll-out potential to regional areas affected by flood, bushfire, drought and COVID-19. As an early intervention tool, CP3 could effectively build resilience in children facing significant external events like these, create social cohesion, and provide opportunities to identify emerging mental health concerns for children, their families and communities.

Dubbo needs a rehab

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In August 2020, the Uniting CYF team in Western NSW got behind the ‘Dubbo Needs a Rehab’ campaign as the next phase of our advocacy push for a long-needed drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre in this region. The local community was loud and clear, and the Federal Government was listening.”

The seeds of ‘Dubbo Needs a Rehab’ were planted in 2018, when Uniting made a poignant documentary, Half a Million Steps, drawing attention to the long distances people in remote and regional NSW need to travel to receive drug treatment. The 500,000 steps between the centre of Dubbo and the NSW Parliament House in Sydney, named the ‘Long Walk to Treatment’, were travelled by community and church members to raise awareness of the need for better access and funding, especially for women and children.

 

In September 2020, we met with then Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Epping Uniting congregation members to discuss Fair Treatment and the need for funding for the treatment service in Dubbo. We worked closely with Dubbo Council to organise local events, including 3 live-streamed panel sessions highlighting addiction and recovery stories of people with lived experience, and street stalls at farmers markets and sporting events.

 

In November 2020, the Federal Government finally announced funding of $7.5 million for an Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) facility in the Dubbo region. The Treasurer specifically acknowledged Uniting’s role and the Epping meeting in influencing his decision to fund the service.

 

You can watch the announcement in Parliament here.

My Life at War podcast

In line with our purpose, our values and our mission, Uniting is always looking for special ways to respect and celebrate the older people we serve. In FY21, documenting the wartime testimonies of some of our veteran aged care residents, was one way of honouring their significant contribution to Australian society.

 

On Remembrance Day, 11 November 2020, and to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, Uniting launched a podcast series featuring the previously untold stories, insights and reflections of everyday Australians who served our nation. We were privileged to document first-hand experiences from some of the last-surviving veterans, as most of them were living in Uniting residential aged care.

 

Called My Life at War, the podcast is a story of mateship, courage and sacrifice, and follows personal and emotional journeys from the time the war was declared, through conflicts abroad and on our shores, and life after the guns fell silent.

 

Stories include the signals operator who first heard Japanese midget submarines off Sydney, the 15-year-old who falsified his age to get into the Air Force, Australia’s first Indigenous Air Force pilot, and the female veterans who faced discrimination on the ANZAC Day immediately after the war.

 

Uniting’s Executive Director, Tracey Burton, remarked that the podcast is a timely reminder of the important contribution older Australians have made, and continue to make:

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In a time when our elders are enduring a pandemic, it’s more important than ever to remember how incredibly valuable they are to our community. We need to listen to these stories and remind ourselves about the sacrifices they have made and how they helped build and enrich our country.”

The veterans recall how their initial training was often short and inadequate, and then how they dealt with constant danger and death in combat operations. They also reveal surprising details, such as the initial consternation caused by Prime Minister Robert Menzies’ famous 1939 speech, when he declared that Australia was now involved in a war on the other side of the globe.

 

There are enduring memories of first wearing their military uniforms. “What also stuck out in the memories of men who served in the Air Force, for instance, was that they believed the blue uniform made them especially attractive to women,” said military historian David Wilson.

 

“The other thing to emphasise here is the role of women.  As the war progressed, more and more women stepped up to take the places of men serving overseas. They served in all branches of the military, in civilian organisations, industry and agriculture, such as in the Women’s Land Army. Women kept the nation ticking over during these years,” David added.

Listen to the trailer here.

 

Start listening to episodes here.

 

Meet the veterans here.