Month: September 2014

(L-R) Rosies chairman John Scoble, chaplain Fr John Sherman OMI, and outgoing minute secretary Kay Voltz.

KAY VOLTZ RETIRES FROM ROSIES BOARD

Rosies – Friends on the Street today held a morning tea to acknowledge the significant contribution of Mrs Kay Voltz, who recently retired as minute secretary of the Rosies Board.

Mrs Voltz has had a long involvement with Rosies and with Iona College, having spent over 30 years with Iona College before assuming the role of minute secretary at Rosies in 2009.

‘Kay has been a quiet and unassuming presence at Rosies for many years,’ said Rosies Chair John Scoble.

‘We are thankful for her service to Rosies and to Iona College, especially through her last five years as Minute Secretary.

‘Personally, I was impressed by her dedication, her humble demeanour, and her calm conversation.’

Mrs Voltz worked with many Rosies stalwarts during her tenure, including former manager Bob Boardman, Chair Ron Bird, and chaplain Fr Pat Dwyer OMI.

Rosies – Friends on the Street would like to thank Mrs Voltz for her significant contribution, and wish her all the best in the future.

St Ursula's students, Toowoomba Homeless Expo

THANK YOU: ST ANDREW’S REDLYNCH AND ST URSULA’S TOOWOOMBA

St Andrew’s Catholic College, Redlynch, and St Ursula’s College, Toowoomba are schools on a mission!

Recently, each school raised an incredible amount – in excess of $4,000 each – to support Rosies outreach services in their local areas, with Cairns, Toowoomba, and Ipswich branches receiving funds.

On Friday August 1, over 50 St Ursula’s students from years 10, 11 and 12 were sponsored to brave the cold for a 12 hour sleepout in Merici Courtyard. Now in its third year, the event has been enthusiastically supported by the girls – and they have become muhc more appreciative of the comfort and warmth of their own beds and homes as a result!

St Ursula's Sleepout St Ursula's Sleepout St Ursula's Sleepout

St Andrew’s Year 12 students held their own sleepout during Catholic Education Week on August 1, while Year 11 students ran a blanket drive. The younger students got in on the act too by putting together hygiene packs!

Both schools are participants in the Rosies Student Engagement Program, with students volunteering year round with people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in their local areas. Students also provide material support to Rosies patrons in the form of emergency relief: food and hygiene packs.

Rosies would like to thank St Andrew’s and St Ursula’s for their continued generous support.

UPDATE: AMAQ FOUNDATION FUND NEW VAN

Local Cairns GP Dr Sharmila Biswas and Australian Medical Association Queensland Foundation have raised an incredible $57,000 through their annual tax appeal to help secure the future of Rosies’ Cairns branch.
The current Cairns vehicle is the oldest in the Rosies fleet and no longer serviceable.
Funds raised will provide a brand new van with a custom designed and fitted servery tailored to the needs of the Cairns branch.
Homelessness rates in Queensland’s far North are double of the rest of the State, and in response increasing demand the Cairns branch last year expanded to a third night of street outreach each week.
A new van will ensure the branch will be in a position to expand services further if needed.
Rosies CEO Troy Bailey said the generosity of Queensland’s medical community is overwhelming.
‘The members of the AMA – they’re already working to help some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people out there,’ he said.
‘Then to donate they way they have to support our work here at Rosies – I can only say thank you. It’s really incredible.’
Our Spring newsletter is out – to download a copy, click here.

YOUTH DETENTION: CHILDREN BEHIND BARS

Social contact with the outside world is crucial to the emotional well being of young people, but there are even more serious reasons for the existence of volunteer visitation programs. The transparency involved in opening institutions facilitates a form of community oversight which helps protect children from abuse by those charged with their care.

Fifteen years ago the Forde Inquiry examined the treatment of children in Queensland institutions including youth detention.

The Commission’s findings included a recommendation that visitors from the community be allowed regular access to correctional centres and other institutions.

Rosies first entered the Sir Leslie Wilson Youth Detention Centre in 1998. When that institution was closed – another recommendation of the Inquiry – the visitation program moved to the new Brisbane Youth Detention Centre.

Rosies volunteers currently visit boys and girls in the Centre on Tuesday evenings and Saturday afternoons, engaging them in card games, recreational sport, and friendly conversation.

The centre’s residents are overwhelmingly from disadvantaged backgrounds. Indigenous youth are also concerningly over-represented: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people comprise approximately 2% of the population, but represent around 50% of detainees.

Inquiry chair and Rosies patron Leneen Forde recently spoke of the importance of Rosies’ presence in the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre.

‘One of the key findings that the (Forde) Inquiry made was for young people in correctional centres and institutions to have access to sympathetic visitors who visited them and helped them to get their lives back on track,’ she said.

Outside prison, volunteers are restricted from acknowledging young people they have met through visitation programs. It’s not unusual though for patrons to approach a street team and self-identify as having engaged with Rosies inside prison – often they are glad of a familiar face.

Because volunteers are present both inside and outside of prison, Rosies serves as a social anchor for young people who find integration into ordinary life difficult.

To support Rosies Youth Detention Centre visitation program, click here to make a donation.

Our Spring newsletter is out – to download a copy, click here.

SCHOOLIES WEEK: WHAT’S IT WORTH?

Schoolies Week is a time for celebration, a time when young people come together to celebrate the closing of a chapter – but these celebrations also carry with them specific risks.

More than 30,000 school leavers register for the event on the Gold Coast, with a majority coming from Queensland. Unlike school leavers from most other States, the majority of Queensland schoolies are under the age of 18.

Many of these young people are away from home for the very first time, trusted to behave as adults in what can be a highly stressful environment.

Seventeen year olds occupy a difficult legal grey area. On the one hand they are not legally permitted to enter a licensed premises; but they can be tried and sentenced as adults. Choices made at Schoolies Week can have lifelong consequences.

To help mitigate these risks, Rosies volunteers collaborate with several other community groups as part of the Queensland Government’s Gold Coast Schoolies Community Safety Response – a massive undertaking involving 19 government and non-government agencies.

The Response aims to support young people to make responsible decisions while they celebrate. A safe space is cordoned off for young people to enjoy themselves without recourse to alcohol or drugs, and young people can access vital support services as required. Schoolies are encouraged to think about their behaviour and how their choices affect themselves, their friends, and the wider community.

Preliminary data suggests that the Response works: rates of drug and alcohol use by school leavers seem to be decreasing. The culture of school leavers is gradually changing for the better.

Despite these positives, there are still specific risks for young people at Schoolies Week. Although young people may feel excited and relieved at finishing school, they may also feel a sense of loss, anxiety or uncertainty – without the nearby support of their parents and family.

Rosies actively recruits volunteers with relevant skills to assist clients with complex or high-risk needs – especially youth workers, counsellors, and volunteers with suicide intervention or first aid training.

Shannon Pettigrew first volunteered with Rosies in 2010 as a psychology student. Having since completed her degree, she’s also an experienced front line drug and alcohol worker and crisis counselor.

‘School leavers are at a crossroads – there’s so much potential ahead,’ Shannon said.

‘I think it’s important to help them through that, so they get to the other side of it ready for the next phase of their lives.’

Shannon was on the ground in 2012 when Rosies volunteers were called to respond to a critical incident.

Staff and volunteers from several organisations worked through the night to identify affected young people, offer counseling, and ensure their safety until they reconnected with their families and support networks.

‘The thing that struck me about being a part of the critical incident response was that it really wasn’t about me,’ said Shannon.

‘We managed the welfare centre and were there to meet the needs of those young people and help them decide what to do next, but it was more about facilitating a community coming together to support the affected young people.

‘Our role was really to keep young people safe until they could go home, and we did that.’

Mark Reaburn, Independent Chair of the Gold Coast Schoolies Advisory Board, said the work that community organisations like Rosies undertake at Schoolies Week is vital to the success of the Response.

‘Rosies have been an imperative part of the delivery of the Gold Coast Schoolies Community Safety Response by providing practical support services and advice to young people during the official schoolies period,’ he said.

‘We appreciate the ongoing commitment and contribution made by Rosies and their volunteer network to enhance the safety of school leavers and the local community.’

Despite this, services face increasing funding pressure. Government cuts threaten resources across the not for profit sector, and there is intense competition for grant funding.

‘There needs to be someone there for schoolies,’ said Shannon.

‘I’m fortunate enough to have the skills to be equipped to keep coming back.’

To help fund Rosies’ Schoolies Week project, click here to make a donation.

Our Spring newsletter is out – to download a copy, click here.