A defining moment in residential care

This is an edited version of the speech given by Chief Executive Officer Paul McDonald at the launch of the KEYS (Keep Embracing Your Success) program in Dandenong on 28 September 2017.


In partnership with Mind Australia, one of the country’s leading mental health organisations, Monash Health and their mental health unit, Child Protection (DHHS South Division) and Out of Home Care (DHHS South Division), Anglicare Victoria is very excited to be leading the implementation of a new approach to residential care for this state in the KEYS (Keep Embracing Your Success) Program.

I congratulate the Minister and her government on their vision of residential care and the pursuit of a model that will now offer some of the more challenged young people residing in residential care a comprehensive, thoughtful and interdisciplinary approach to their care and circumstances.

In the evolution of residential care over the last 20 years, I would say that the development the Minister launched last week is the most significant reform in that time.

For the first time, young people who previously would be languishing in residential care, moved from placement to placement because of their circumstance or behaviour, are being prioritised.

Our commitment to them brings together the expertise and focus of some of the state’s best operators in their fields.

For the first time, we have mental health not as a bit player but as a centrepiece for young people and their families – through the marvellous scope of services and expertise of Monash Health and MIND Australia.

We have Deakin University and the Brotherhood of St Laurence, two organisations that lead in their own right, delivering therapeutic programs such as the Certificate 1 Course in Developing Independence, the Healthy Eating Activity and Lifestyle Program (HEAL) and the psychological skills-based intervention ERIC program.

And we have the expertise of our best staff and teams from Anglicare Victoria to deliver the day-to-day program on behalf of government.

How does KEYS work?

This is not another small increment in the evolution of resi-care.

This is a new statement on what residential care could be.

Therapeutic and tailored to each individual, relevant and practical to their circumstance, and sustained and connected to both inside the residential environment and post that environment, whether in their families or in another home option.

All young people, regardless of their circumstance, can learn new and constructive behaviours and find a place of connection, participation and joy.

The KEYS Program will provide the physical and emotional ‘space’ in which the young person can grow, learn and develop a healthy concept of self, of others, and where they can belong in the community.

There are many important components to KEYS but they include:

  • A live-in program that is delivered from two single-sex houses.
  • Assertive outreach to work with young people and their families in home-based care once the young person leaves the live-in program (with four young people receiving assertive outreach support).
  • Therapeutic Programs with Deakin University and the Brotherhood of St Laurence implementing and testing:
    • Healthy Eating Activity and Lifestyle program (HEAL) an evidence-based healthy lifestyle education program designed to help young people develop skills and protect themselves against illness through healthier eating and active living.
    • Developing Independence (DI) Certificate 1 a course that engages young people in mainstream education by developing their personal vision, planning and setting goals across six life domains: education, employment, health and wellbeing, social connections, housing and living skills and civic participation.
    • Emotional Regulation and Impulse Control (ERIC)a psychological skills-based intervention.

And, of course, there is the staff team that will develop the culture and be the homemakers for these young people.

They include:

  • The case manager and their important role.
  • The house co-ordinators who will lead and support their teams and ensure that the day-to-day practices of the KEYS philosophy, practice, and support approaches are undertaken.
  • The family engagement worker who will focus on connecting the young person with their family and planning towards longer-term options.
  • The community engagement workers who will provide direct support to the young person to develop links in the community.
  • The skills coaches who will provide direct day-to-day coaching and guidance to young people working towards their agreed individual plans, and
  • The educational specialist from TEACHaR who will directly support the young person with their learning, assist them to liaise with schools and LOOKOUT, as well as directly deliver the Developing Independence Certificate 1 in partnership with the Brotherhood of St Laurence.

And the important cultural competency of the program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people will be in association with VACCA in the development of cultural planning, consultation and support for care teams.

Friends, we know that this development initiated by the Government is long-awaited and holds promise and hope for these young people.

But we also know that this trial is on its own journey where the partners will discover, fine-tune and recalibrate approaches, informed by the young people who will be moving in.

But with the commitment I have experienced from all the partners, the staff that I have met and the great support that we have experienced from the Department – I believe we will see this as a defining moment in residential care delivery.

Read the Media Release Here

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