26 Nov 2015

Neil Mitchell delivers heartfelt plea at CPS AGM

The marquee at CPS's Heidelberg site was overflowing with guests as we gathered to reflect on another year of growth, change and hard work as we continue building resilient families for thriving children. Auntie Diane Kerr kicked off proceedings with a Welcome to Country and a whole lot more.  The truly selfless and remarkable Auntie Diane, along with CPS CEO Aileen Ashford’s speech praising staff on the way they embody CPS’s values, set the scene for a visibly moved CPS Patron Neil Mitchell to take the lectern.  Mitchell demonstrated why he has dominated Melbourne’s radio ratings for over 20 years by pulling no punches in a highly entertaining, informative and empathetic presentation. Whilst he described the work that CPS does for vulnerable children and families as 'magical', Mitchell feared that federal budget cuts could impact on smaller agencies delivering such support. 'Governments need to make sure services for children are prioritised.  Decency demands it', said Mitchell. 'If you can't find money to fund the kids then you're destroying your future'. The AGM concluded with long service presentations to staff, in addition to an award for Jim Cross.  A wonderful contributor to CPS for many years, Jim was on hand to accept our thanks with great humility and humour.       CPS CEO Aileen Ashford; Jim Cross; Aunty Diane Kerr opens the meeting; CPS President Professor Jane Munro    

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25 Nov 2015

CPS walks against family violence

It was hot, windy and overcast last Wednesday but Melbourne’s fickle weather didn’t deter a strong showing in support of White Ribbon Day. A team of CPS staff manned its own marquee in Federation Square where Walk Against Family Violence marchers gathered.  On stage Fiona Richardson MP launched the beginning of Victoria Against Violence, a 16 day education and prevention awareness campaign that coincides with the United Nations’ 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign. As an organisation that not only deals with the aftermath of family violence but the early intervention and prevention, it was great to see CPS represented among a number of community agencies as the colourful gathering took to Swanston Street.  

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21 Oct 2015

Boys to adolescence and beyond

“Adolescence represents an inner emotional upheaval, a struggle between the eternal human wish to cling to the past and the equally powerful wish to get on with the future.” Louise J. Kaplan A boy’s transition to adolescence is one commonly fraught with conflict – both internal and with those around them.  For some the transition is harder than others, especially for those  experiencing  an unsettled family life, difficulties at school, peer group issues, identity issues and where they see their future. Notwithstanding, even the most well-adjusted boy will probably experience degrees of confusion and powerful feelings as hormones kick in. Unfortunately, those who love them most often bear the brunt of strong emotions that translate to outbursts of anger and frustration. Whilst it’s commonly ‘just a phase’, without any guidance or support a difficult phase can manifest into deeper, serious problems well into adulthood. Recently CPS workers Thomas Gould and Bec Christie facilitated an innovative new CPS group work program called B2A (Boys to Adolescence). “B2A is a primary to secondary school transition program working with young boys in a small group setting over an 8 week school term”, explains Thomas. The range of topics covered includes identity, gender roles, conflict resolution, healthy/unhealthy relationships, impact of social media, feelings and team building.   By planting a seed around the importance of healthy, respectful relationships and how to address issues that might arise for them as they grow older, B2A hopes to give young boys the tools to work through troubles which they may face in their day to day life. “He appears to have a better understanding of what triggers his anger" Parent An extensive review of current programs in the community was undertaken prior to B2A’s establishment. Local councils, youth services and other family service organisations were all contacted.  Although programs with similarities currently exist, a small group approach targeting young boys in school addressing the same B2A program topics was not currently available. “We could see a service gap for young boys around years 5-7.  Within this area we also acknowledged some of the key issues that these young boys faced developmentally”, says Thomas. “He talks a bit more about his feelings …he shows girls a bit more respect" Parent In order to make the program accessible to boys a partnership for the first pilot program was struck with Hazel Glen College. The nine year 7 boys who participated were identified by the school welfare coordinator as those who would benefit most. Whilst B2A was initially intended to be a year wide part of curriculum, time limitations required the program be modified.  Thomas and Bec found the small group space advantageous though, for it afforded a safe, honest and secure space for the boys.  As a side benefit new friendships were formed and existing ones strengthened. Ultimately, B2A’s main purpose is around early intervention and equipping young people with the skills to healthily manage their relationships, whether that be through conflict resolution, understanding and acknowledgement of their own feelings and what constitutes a healthy or unhealthy relationship. “I am rapt to see my son so much happier, thank you for all of your help and support” Parent Activities embraced by the boys included making stress balls and breathing exercises involving blowing bubbles with bubble-gum and with detergent and water. And from the boys’ feedback the most beneficial content centred on feelings and identifying them both in themselves and others. “Feelings and how to handle things, how to be in a respectful relationship, how to keep my cool and make the best of things”, reiterated one of the boys. “To keep my temper over things that don’t really matter, to be safe on social media and how our identity shapes us as humans”, said another. “The boys openness and feedback which was given at the end ceremony was very touching”, reflected Bec.   “Speeches written by two of the boys provided insight into the positive impact the program had on their own understanding of themselves and how to better manage themselves.” Following a comprehensive review of the first pilot program and data analysis, B2A will investigate the possibility of an ongoing partnership between B2A and Hazel Glen College, in addition to other schools which have also expressed an interest in the program. “They discussed some really challenging topics but in a creative and safe way” School representative                 CPS workers Tom and Bec won a staff award for innovation for their B2A program

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Case Study

Three children, family violence, a marriage breakdown and an abusive and controlling ex-husband…

This is a first hand account of how CPS helped a mum navigate a turbulent time in her life to the point where she is now excited about what the future holds for her family.