HIPPY program graduates celebrate

Our children and families celebrate a love of lifelong learning through HIPPY

This month saw a group of very proud five year olds and their families graduate at the end of their two year pre-school HIPPY program.

HIPPY (Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters) is an Australia-wide play-based curriculum supporting development, community, connection and confidence for children’s transition to school. HIPPY assists children to become curious learners and to achieve important developmental milestones.

Children and their families have worked so hard over the last two years with the support of their HIPPY tutors to complete the HIPPY program. To celebrate this, we held a graduation ceremonies across our centres with certificates, presents, music and of course, cake! What a fabulous way to end the year and a great honour celebrating with parents and carers.

HIPPY is a home-based early childhood learning and parenting program that empowers parents and carers to be the children’s first teachers. Not only does this program provide structured, education-focused resources and support through organised playgroups and home-visits by HIPPY tutors, it also enables parents to spend more time with their children in activities that enhance cognitive development and social/emotional development. It stimulates positive parent/child interactions and empowers parents to view themselves as primary educators of their children.

Spokesperson Ciemara Williams, Barnardos HIPPY Co-ordinator in Warrawong says “95% of children’s brain development happens before the age of five, so the earlier children become engaged with education the better their outcomes will be.”

Barnardos offers the HIPPY program free of charge to local families in Maroubra via the Sydney Metro Children’s Family Centre, Wellington via the Western NSW Children’s Family Centre and ​​​​​​​Warrawong, Berkeley, Cringila, Port Kembla, Kemblawarra and Unanderra via the South Coast Children’s Family Centre

HIPPY is now enrolling children who turn 3 before the 31st July 2023 who still have 2 years left before starting kindergarten.

We wish our graduates all the best as they move on to big school next year, ready to take on the world!

Gifts for Kids Christmas Campaign

Share the joy of giving!

Barnardos latest campaign, the Gifts for Kids Christmas appeal will give the thousands of children and young people in our care, some of whom have experienced abuse, neglect, poverty and homelessness, a chance to receive a gift on Christmas Day.

Gifts for Kids is an annual appeal run by Barnardos Australia, with the aim to deliver at least one Christmas gift to over 10,000 children and young people who are recipients of our services and care. This initiative invites organisations, schools, community groups, volunteers, and individuals to donate Christmas gifts online in the form of presents, cash or gift cards. All Christmas donations help Barnardos Australia provide critical and practical support for some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children, young people and families during the holiday period to give them a brighter future.

Help us play Santa and bring joy to children those who would otherwise go without.


Barnardos Annual Review 21-22 Out Now

Keeping connected

This year’s Annual Review is all about “connection” and the importance of keeping children and their families connected to their community and culture, to fully recover and thrive.

Through the pages of our 2021-2022 Annual Review, we share highlights across our centres and services, groundbreaking research into open adoption outcomes, pilot programs that address youth homelessness, vital partnerships formed with like-minded people and organisations, and many other inspiring stories of champions for children who share in our vision of helping each child achieve their brightest future.


Spotlight on Cherie McCormack

Hi, my name is Cherie McCormack and I have been with Barnardos for two and a half years. I am the Program Manager for the Adoptions program in the Hunter and Central Coast office. Prior to coming to Barnardos, I worked as a Caseworker and then a Case Manager at the Department of Communities and Justice. As a child, I always wanted to be a veterinarian when I grew up.

What I find most rewarding about my role is being able to achieve positive permanency outcomes by finding loving families for children that need safe homes. The children in our program build such a strong attachment and trusting relationship with their potential adoptive parents and seeing them flourish in their care is always rewarding.

Open adoption is important as it maintains a connection between children and their birth family. The essence of open adoption is that the child knows they’ve been adopted and maintains a connection with their birth family through regular visits. Ideally, the birth and adoptive families build a stronger connection and embrace each other as extended family. This openness allows the child to grow and develop with the confidence of knowing where they came from.

Barnardos helps build the relationships between birth families and adoptive parents or temporary carers. From the very beginning upon entering the adoption program, the birth parents and the carers meet each other and work towards forming a connection. The carers and potential adoptive parents will start to attend all birth family visits and eventually move on to scheduling and supervising these visits independently of Case Managers. The birth parents will have an email address and a telephone number to contact the carers on and the carers will send updates of the children to the birth parents. At review meetings, the carers will be encouraged to give the parents updates about the child themselves and the parents are encouraged to ask the carers any questions that they have.

With my time at Barnardos, I would like to continue to work focused on the best interests of children and achieve whatever permanency goal is in their best interests.

Another successful Peter Pan Committee Literary Lunch!

Once again, The Peter Pan Committee volunteered its time and energy to raise vital funds for Barnardos thanks to their well-known annual Literary Lunch.

This year, the Literary Lunch focused on our Beyond Barbed Wire program to support incarcerated mothers and their children. The lunch was hosted by one of Australia’s most respected investigative journalists, Kate McClymont, AM and guests had the opportunity to hear first-hand about our clients thanks to insightful Barnardos staff Jodie Morrison and Shiree Talbot. Guests also had the opportunity to listen to talented author Diana Reid and many left with a signed copy of her latest novel, Seeing Other People. The event was an absolute hit and the committee is still receiving donations! A heart-felt thank you to the Peter Pan Committee: so much goes into the organisation of such an event! We are so grateful to have Champions for Children like you.

Barnardos South Coast foster carer nominated as kindest Australian of the year featured in Illawarra Mercury

A Barnardos South Coast Corrimal foster carer, Diana (78), has been nominated as Australia’s kindest person of the year after she spent the last two decades caring for over 50 foster children. She first started in 2001 said the experience for her has been nothing but rewarding. Her story was published in Illawarra Mercury along with several other media outlets.

Diana quotes:

“I used to pick my grandson up from school and he’d bring the newsletter home which I’d read and one day I saw an ad from Barnardo’s, they were looking for foster carers and I thought to myself that’s something I’d like to do.”

“He was just a ball of life that little mischief and I loved spending time with him.”

“He’s 27 now and we still catch up.”

“It breaks my heart to see people only wanting babies, not older children. I’ve always loved everyone equally.”

Diana has cared for all age groups, from newborns to teenagers and enjoyed all of the different experiences. She is currently caring for a newborn baby, having taken him in when he was only 3 days old.

“I was having morning tea with my friends and my phone rang. It was Barnardo’s asking if I wanted to take a three-day-old bub home.”

“My friends always ask me, is this the last one? Are you finished yet? and I just say I don’t think so.”

Diana is urging everyone to consider foster caring if they have the capacity, to help make a difference to the children’s lives.

Read the full story on Illawarra Mercury.

Respecting Copyright

NSW Government commitment locks in most significant child welfare reform in a generation

A landmark commitment by the Perrottet Government in New South Wales to extend state care (foster care) from the age of 18 to 21 means the most significant child welfare reform in a generation is now supported in every Australian state or territory.

National Home Stretch Chair Paul McDonald congratulated Premier Dominic Perrottet and Families and Communities Minister Natasha McLaren-Jones for embracing a change that will mean the world to vulnerable teens in the care of the state who are unable to live with their parents.

“It’s fantastic that the NSW Government has decided to get behind this important reform. Extending state care to 21 will be life-changing for young people who have been nervously wondering what will happen when their state care arrangements are terminated on their 18th birthdays,” Mr McDonald said.

“As the responsible parent for the largest number of children and young people in care nationally, extending care is the simplest and most effective reform the NSW Government can make to transform the lives of around 1200 young people in foster, kinship and residential care. It’s an exciting moment to be able to look ahead and think about how much difference this simple reform will make to so many young lives in the years to come.”

Mr McDonald said most 18-year-olds still live at home with their parents because they’re not ready to strike out on their own. The same is true of those living in foster care and other state care arrangements, he said.

The success of the Home Stretch campaign has only been possible because of the support of hundreds of organisations and individuals. Several key supporters in NSW threw their support behind the announcement today.

Jason Juretic, CEO Stepping Stone House and NSW Home Stretch Chair said it had been wonderful to see the Minister Natasha Maclaren-Jones listen to the young people and campaigners and take action to rectify this situation.

Lin Hatfield-Dodds, CEO of the Benevolent Society congratulated the NSW Government in taking this important step forward which will provide stability for our young people at a critical point in their transition to adulthood.

“The evidence from overseas and interstate is that extending care to 21 has long lasting positive effects for care leaver’s education, career and well-being. This reform is also important recognition of the sacrifices that our foster carers make in welcoming a young person into their home,” Ms Hatfield-Dodds said.

Steve Kinmond, Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies, said his organisation was very pleased that the NSW Government has listened to the voices of young people in care who have asked for guaranteed support after they turn 18.

“This announcement by the Government lets these young people know that during their transition to adulthood, they will have the support they rightly deserve,” he said.


Copyright © 2022 TheHomeStretch, All rights reserved

Meet Yousif Tamim – Barnardos Streetwork Youth Worker

I’m Yousif Tamim and I have been part of the Streetwork team as a youth worker in the Barnardos Sydney Metro Youth Centre for 3 months. At Streetwork, we connect with vulnerable and homeless young people at risk of drug and alcohol abuse and help them overcome different challenges they’re facing.

I’m originally from South Sudan but moved to Egypt and then eventually to Australia to escape war. Life was very hard in Sudan and my parents were scared that we would be made to fight in the war so they sold what they could to get us passports as quickly as possible. I’m very grateful to be living in a wonderful place that’s safe and free. Now, I want to give back to the country that we now call home.

I remember coming to Australia without knowing a word of English so we would learn by catching the train so we could listen to people talk. As a child growing up, I was always drawn to helping people. I helped in a church, volunteered as a bilingual worker because I speak multiple languages (Arabic, Denka, Farsi, Swahili etc.) and worked as a youth worker for 13 years organising camps and workshops for migrant kids to help them settle in the community.

When I joined Barnardos, I immediately felt like I was amongst family. The first people I met were Zoe, Chantelle and Vik, who were so warm and welcoming. I feel so fortunate to work in a supportive and collaborative environment, while being able to do something I have so much passion for. The kids we work with struggle with serious issues like joblessness, homelessness, family problems, trauma, and anxiety at such a young age with no one to turn to for help. People assume that they can’t be helped because they’re violent or always in trouble. Because of this, they lose all hope for the future, and turn to drugs, alcohol, and violence to cope.

We know that these young people don’t usually look for help so we would have to go to places where they normally hang out to just try to start a conversation – be it shopping malls, alleyways, parks, and even graveyards. The common phrases we hear from these young people are: ‘I feel trapped’, ‘I have no one’, ‘no one cares’ and ‘life’s too hard so what’s the point’.

What inspires me to get up every day is being able to see big and positive changes in the young people that we support. We will help them with whatever they need with no judgement. If they’re homeless, we’ll help them find a place to stay. If they’re falling behind in school, we’ll provide counselling and educational support. We’ll even teach them the safe and right way to use syringes. They know they can call us anytime and we’ll be there for them. Since Barnardos has a very good reputation, we are also called by schools, parents, and the police to help young people that need support.

Young people are our future and I’m very proud to be part of a respected organisation that does the vital work of guiding young people towards the right path. I see all of us in Barnardos as fingers that make up a hand. Each finger has a different shape and length – they can’t do much alone but when we (the fingers) work together as a hand, we can do anything.

NAIDOC Day at Whalan with Penrith FCS and Youth teams

A little rain didn’t dampen the spirits of the Whalan community as they came together on Darug land last Friday to celebrate the rich history and culture of our local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in this year’s NAIDOC festivities. This year’s theme of ‘Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!’ encourages us to champion positive change in a cooperative way.
Everyone was in high spirits as families were treated to various activities like laser tag, petting zoo, canvas painting, airbrush tattoo, and Dodgem cars. It was a delight to watch kids learning to play the Didgeridoo and witness a traditional smoking ceremony, followed by Aboriginal dance with music performances from local youngsters. What a beautiful way to celebrate through music, food, art and dance!

Barnardos Program Manager Christie Di Mattina shines at International Foster Care Conference

The International Foster Care Conference (IFCO2022) organised by the International Foster Care Organisation was held in Darwin on 23-25 September 2022.

Christie Di Mattina, Barnardos Temporary Family Care Program Manager and Sandra Dutton, foster carer of 18 years, presented on Recruitment, Support and Retention.

Both spoke about the importance of foster care retention, recruitment, support and their importance to the recovery of children and young people experiencing trauma and abuse. Sandy captivated the audience as she shared her foster care journey and the amazing support she received from Barnardos.
This was a momentous day to celebrate all foster carers that open their homes and hearts to help each child reach their brightest future.