Our Strategy – Progress Update

Bethany’s 2020-2025 Strategy – our progress

In 2020, we launched Bethany’s 2020-25 Strategy with a purpose to work together to meet the changing needs and aspirations of people in their communities.  Here’s an update on how we are tracking against our three strategic aims below.

Children have a good start in life

We are committed to ensuring children get a good start in life.

Across our Practice Development and Family Connections programs, and through our 22 kindergartens, we have consistently ensured safe and effective services for children and families.

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Bethany kindergartens continue to provide quality early childhood education, supporting 1,494 children to play, learn and grow in 2021.  Whilst continuing compliance with COVID safe principles, in 2021 we implemented a new online registration portal, focused on developing our anti-bias curriculum, prepared for the introduction of two years of subsidised early childhood education and prepared for the expansion of the School Readiness program in 2022.

“We do feel very lucky to be part of BKS Group and have the much needed support of managing COVID and Assessment and Rating, but also to challenge us with new ways of doing things and focusing on the Anti-Bias Curriculum and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.” BKS Staff member

School Readiness Funding is a Victorian Government needs-based initiative to address educational disadvantage and supports children’s development. The funding has allowed us to expand our service offering to kindergartens to ensure families are connected to their child’s education and wellbeing. 

In 2021, 22 School Readiness Plans were developed and implemented through our kindergartens including Bethany’s Connect Up Family Support and Social Work support and Parenting (working with vulnerable families) programs.

Bethany’s integrated services, including our Connect Up and NEWPIN services aim to increase parenting confidence and capacity which leads to better opportunities and outcomes for children.

In 2021, we delivered more than 10,000 hours of service towards providing these services through local communities as well as through the School Readiness program. 

“When I’m having a bad day I feel like it’s important for me to come to Newpin.  When I come to group I feel so light and like I don’t have a care in the world, and when we finish our session and we head home I am always feeling in a better place and this carries on into my day. Newpin fills my cup.” Newpin service user

In July, we also received Access to Early Learning (AEL) funding to help identify and support three year old children from families with complex needs to sustain full participation in kindergartens and support parents to strengthen the home learning environment.

Families are safe, loving and connected

We are committed to increasing the opportunity for individuals and families to experience safe, loving and supportive relationships.

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In 2020/21 we saw demand for our specialist family violence services increase by at least 10% on the previous year.

The Orange Door services experienced a strong surge when the State went back into lockdown, resulting in additional funding to these services.

We also received funding to address the complexities of changed service delivery as a direct result of COVID-19 and to meet the increasing demand across our family violence programs.

We experienced a significant increase in the number of individuals and families seeking financial counselling, with many of these being first time users of Bethany services.

Family breakdown and relationship tension, anxiety, isolation, bereavement, fear, stress, and depression resulting from job losses, as well as an increase in the number of children dealing with anxiety and social isolation as a result of pandemic restrictions remains a rising concern.

“Blended family, communication, substance abuse and childhood trauma. It’s been great to have an unbiased outlet. Have a sounding board to get thoughts out of my head when times have been tough. My counsellor is flexible and anytime I have needed to talk to someone they always get back to me but I have the ability to trust myself and get by easier because of the wonderful support that is offered!”  (Service User Telehealth Survey December 2021)

In 2021, we were successful in our application to extend funding for the Family Preservation and Reunification Response (FPRR) for a further three years up to June 2024.

A key feature of our FPRR model has been the strong partnerships with key agencies in both the Barwon and South-West regions. Across the partnership there has been an active and effective governance structure implemented to oversee the development of the program across partners.

This program has been highly successful in its first year of operation and achieved positive results in the outcomes for families. We have great confidence that this new approach better supports highly vulnerable families and creates stronger relationships to achieve sustainable change.

Bethany was also successful in its application for funding to provide new roles at both the Orange Door and Family Services.

Opportunity for everyone 

We work to address barriers that create disadvantage and to support people to participate in the community in ways they choose.

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In 2021, Bethany’s reception and Directions team received more than 20,493 calls, from people in our community requiring advice or support.  Almost 30% of these calls would be immediately sent to one of our case workers to provide guidance and consultation.

Housing affordability for women and children escaping family violence in our region has been a rising concern. Through the Give Where You Live Foundation, we were successful in receiving funding to develop a new Skill2Build model aimed at building capacity within the current real estate market as we maintain our focus on finding long-term housing support within the private rental market.

One of the largest increases in demand for  services is for financial counselling. Financial stress creates significant barriers to participation and is correlated with family violence, substance abuse and poor life outcomes.

We continued to provide Financial Counselling and the Gambler’s Help Program across Barwon and the South-West and refined new models of support for those affected by gambling harm.

During the pandemic our work with gaming venues, the school education program, financial and therapeutic counselling services continued with virtual facilitation. Working online has strengthened our provision of services with flexible options to accommodate our stakeholders.

To demonstrate our commitment to providing an accessible and inclusive space for our service users and staff, we developed an Inclusion and Diversity Action Plan which will implemented across the organisation over the next two years.

Every child, family and individual deserves opportunities to live their best life.