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Katie Hall MP, our local MP for our Braybrook site, with our seven Working for Victoria staff members.

On 31 March we were delighted to welcome Katie Hall, MP for Footscray, and special guests to our Braybrook site for a milestone event that covered a lot of exciting territory, looking back on where we have come from, and stepping into the future.

Our strong partnership with the Victorian Government

Katie Hall joined us to help us celebrate our long and thriving relationship with the Victorian Government that allows us to provide so much support to at-risk and disadvantaged young people. This partnership includes contributions from a range of Government departments to our Inside Out, Hand Brake Turn, and Chaplaincy programs.

Most recently the Working for Victoria initiative created seven crucial jobs across Concern Australia that are strengthening the support we provide to children and young people, and we will soon appoint two new Job Advocates also supported by Working for Victoria.

The impact of the pandemic on our community has been immense, and young people have taken the brunt of it. In Victoria, 88,000 young people are out of work, and 90% of jobs lost are for people under 25. The end of the Federal Jobkeeper initiative will have a further impact. And the scaling back of JobSeeker means that unemployment benefits are now back below both key measurements of poverty.

The jobs created by the Working for Victoria initiative at Concern Australia will directly contribute to supporting young people impacted by the pandemic, helping them to develop life and vocational skills, and supporting them to transition into employment. It will make a direct difference, and we are very grateful.

These are young people such as Kacey, who courageously shared some of her story with us at the event.

Kacey grew up in the Child Protection system, living in residential care for much of her life. When she was 16, she got the opportunity to live in one of our Inside Out homes with a volunteer live-in mentor, and supported by our case workers and youth workers. Last year Kacey fell pregnant. Our team rallied around her, and were able to secure State Government funding to get Kacey her own place before her beautiful son was born in December.

Kacey is now living independently, studying, and working towards a future in which she can work part-time from home while being a mum.

“If it wasn’t for Concern Australia, I wouldn’t have a home to raise my son in,” she said.

Kacey made a point of thanking Concern Australia team members Andrew Johnstone, Luti Tapeli, Rebecca Taggart and Emmah Williams for their ongoing support.

We also heard from one of our new staff members, Thanh Nguyen, who has joined the Inside Out team. You can find out more about Thanh’s story, what motivates his passion for supporting young people, and why he is so grateful for Working for Victoria in this story.

Michelle Crawford and her mum

Along with being our wonderful local MP, Katie was also representing Jaala Pulford MP, the Minister for Employment, who oversees Jobs Victoria and the Working for Victoria initiative.

Our new look

We unveiled our dynamic new look, designed by the fabulous Mik and Joe Creative. This new visual identity that includes our new logo, pillar and program icons, and our new colours speaks to the work we do supporting young people and children and provides a more human and contemporary feel.

The new logo is an outstretched hand symbolising hope, approachability and providing a helping hand.

It’s a softer, more human depiction of our work, and reflects the young people and children whom we support. The hand motif carries through to the hand that is holding each program icon, replicated across the entire suite.

Our new core brand colour of purple is ideal for representing our work with young people. It symbolises creativity, wisdom, dignity, peace, pride, mystery, independence and magic. Purple is a bold hue that embodies strength, prestige and ability – ideal for us as an organisation. Purple also resonates with the Christian liturgical calendar, particularly poignant as we head into Easter.

Michelle Crawford and her mum

Strategic Plan launched

As if that wasn’t enough, we also managed to fit in the launch of our new Strategic Plan that will guide us in our work to support vulnerable children and young people over the next three years.

The Chair of our Board, Jon Ma, reflected on the tough year it has been for everyone in our community, and how the impacts on young people and children mean that Concern Australia’s work will be more important than ever.

“We need to adapt to this context,” he said. “Our new Strategic Plan is an important re-setting of the compass to guide us into the future.”

Some of the key points in the new plan include extending our age focus to young people up to the age of 25, and changing our Education pillar, or area of work, to Living, Learning and Earning. You can find out more by downloading the Strategic Plan. Don’t worry, it’s a small document, and easy to read.   

But some things won’t change. As the Board have outlined in the final section of the Strategic Plan:

“We continue to believe in hope and a future for young people who are vulnerable and at risk of being left behind.

“We continue to believe in the potential in all young people to live full and meaningful lives.

“And we continue to believe that, through living our values in our work with them, we can be a positive part of their journey.”

We hope you will continue to walk that journey with us.

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