Uniting Hurstville Newpin program helps vulnerable families stay together

Uniting Newpin Hurstville staff Ellen Tudjman, Bernadette Ahern, Rea Kay and Tatiana Cherbatiuk. Picture: Chris Lane
Uniting Newpin Hurstville staff Ellen Tudjman, Bernadette Ahern, Rea Kay and Tatiana Cherbatiuk. Picture: Chris Lane

A community service that reduces the number of children living in out-of-home care is marking 20 years of supporting families this year.

Uniting’s New Parent Infant Network (Newpin) aims to keep vulnerable families together by strengthening relationship skills and implementing early intervention.

It was introduced at Bidwill in Sydney’s western suburbs in 1998 and since then it has enabled hundreds of young children to remain with their families.

Five years ago the program was funded as part of Australia’s first Social Benefit Bond. This involved a partnership between Uniting, Social Ventures Austalia and the NSW government.

This funding led to the expansion of eight centres across NSW – including at Hurstville, which opened in December 2017.

The fifth annual report issued by Social Ventures Australia recently identified that 272 children have been successfully restored to their families since the introduction of the arrangement, representing a 63.3 per cent increase over five years.

Specialised staff work with parents of children 0-5 years of age across 12-18 months.

Hurstville co-ordinator, Bernadette Ahern, says the program uses a trauma-informed and attachment-focused therapeutic approach to help establish safe and secure connections between children and their parents.

“This uses a combination of play therapy, peer support and group activity,” she said.

“Our centre has engaged with eight families since we opened late last year.

“Families come to us with a range of complex needs but with the common goal of having their children restored to their care.

“We take referrals from the Department of Family and Community Services and non-government agencies such as out-of-home care providers or other health services.”

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