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Healing Broken Hearts from Broken Homes: response to Four Corners report

In response to the Four Corners Broken Homes report into residential care, Lighthouse Foundation is calling for a paradigm shift in the nature of services provided to young people, children and babies in the Out-of-Home-Care sector in Australia.

Lighthouse Foundation is not the type of commercially focused private organisation that was portrayed on the Four Corners program. As a small, independent, not-for-profit organisation, almost entirely funded by private donors, we are appalled by the revelations regarding what appeared to be rip-offs of the state care system highlighted in NSW and Tasmania. What was shown in the program is exactly what we have fought to change. Our children deserve better and we have demonstrated that there is another way with true therapeutic care operating effectively within our ten homes and Resource Centre in Victoria.

For over 25 years, Lighthouse Foundation has provided therapeutic care to more than 800 young people from backgrounds of trauma, abuse and neglect. Lighthouse is over 90% privately funded and is the only agency to provide long term care allowing each of the residents to stay until they are ready. Like a home should be. More than half of our young people have experienced out of home care prior to coming to Lighthouse.

We agree with Bernie Geary’s comment that “we need to raise these kids into communities and families where they feel special.” Our experience is that a home environment, surrounded by a positive supported community, trained carers and individualised therapy for young people, enables them to have positive experiences that contribute to their healing.

The Four Corners Broken Homes report highlighted the lack of support experienced by carers in the Out-of-Home-Care sector. By providing our carers with on-going training and intensive support they are more equipped to support our young people. If you look after the carers, the carers can look after the children.

In last night’s Four Corners report, one of the young people, Renee, said “you can’t make a connection, because they [the carers] just come and go.” At Lighthouse, our young people have two carers who live-in, allowing for meaningful attachments to be made with the young people. Young people need someone to bond with to help them navigate through the difficulties they have experienced.

Our compassionate, trained clinicians also help to match young people into the right home, with the right carers. This ensures their needs can be properly met.

Since 2010, Lighthouse has been operating a Young Parents and Babies program that is especially designed to provide holistic support to young people and their babies. We employ specialists to help break the cycle of cross generational trauma.

There is a reform underway in Victoria and our CEO, Simon Benjamin, is part of the Out-of-Home-Care working group which is redesigning a new system as part of the Road Map to Reform.

“The number of young people in residential care is reducing in Victoria. However, there are still young people in residential care and there will be for some time. We desperately want to help improve their circumstances. I’m encouraged to be a part of the Out-of-Home-Care working group where I am able to share Lighthouse’s 25 years experience to influence reform across the sector” said Simon.

We are pleased that new thinking has been brought into the design process and hope that elements of the proven Lighthouse Foundation model are deployed into the new care system.

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Simon Benjamin, Lighthouse CEO, is available for comment.
For more information regarding Lighthouse Foundation’s program or model of care, please contact Marketing and Communications Manager, Karli Jacobsson 0402 947 179, karlij@lighthousefoundation.org.au.

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