Dunlea Centre quick to welcome back young people being helped through critical stage of their lives

The Team: Kate McLaren (left), compliance mgr, Joel Hamill, lead teacher, Samantha Dennis, residential mgr, Katherine McEvoy, family engagement mgr. Picture: John Veage
The Team: Kate McLaren (left), compliance mgr, Joel Hamill, lead teacher, Samantha Dennis, residential mgr, Katherine McEvoy, family engagement mgr. Picture: John Veage

There was no staggered return for the young people being helped through a critical stage of their lives at the Dunlea Centre, Engadine.

The leadership team was keen to get things back to normal as quickly as possible after being forced to close for a month due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Dunlea Centre, Australia's original Boys Town which changed its name in 2010 to include girls, provides residential and day programs for about 50 boys and girls, aged 12 to 16, with a behavioral, emotional or mental health diagnosis.

Samantha Dennis, who has been acting as executive director in Paul Mastronardi's absence, said the team provided online education and support, along with telephone backup, after the centre closed from face to face learning on March 28.

"But, it became very apparent this was not enough and we needed to resume face to face engagement and the really consistent structure of our programs as quickly as possible," she said.

"Basically, our young people are in need of social skills education, and our unique program offers a safe, predictable environment, which at times is missing from their outside lives.

"By the time we reopened on April 28, there were a lot of thankful parents.'

Ms Dennis said an increased cleaning regime, which started prior to the shutdown, continued and there was an ongoing focus on personal hygiene and distancing measures.

Dunlea Centre is about to release its annual report. Visit: dunleacentre.org.au