Respite for families

Suzanne Robson


ONE weekend each month, Coburg’s Jane O’Brien opens her home and heart so a young child can enjoy a ‘‘little holiday’’.

She’s not a member of the child’s family or a foster carer, but her role is just as important.

The public servant is a respite carer with child and welfare organisation Berry Street, which means she gives families and carers a chance to manage, cope and continue to provide a supportive environment for vulnerable children.

‘‘As a child, I used to holiday with relatives who did respite care for a young wheelchair- bound child,’’ Ms O’Brien said. ‘‘I was a bit intimidated by the person in the wheelchair at first … (but) when I got to know him, I liked him. And then as I grew older, I had more of an understanding of the significance of respite care . . . and the practical support it provided his family.’’

The organisation has launched a campaign for more State Government funding to expand its number of respite carers in northwest Melbourne.

Berry Street northwest regional director Craig Cowie said it was the Department of Human Services’ most populated region and over the past three years had experienced increasing demand for family support services, out- of-home care placements and family violence responses.

Mr Cowie said limited fixed funding for respite care prevented them from recruiting additional carers but extra funds would mean they could employ one additional full-time position and recruit another 30 respite carers.

To support the campaign, phone Brunswick state Labor MP Jane Garrett on 9384 1241 or Community Services Minister Mary Wooldridge on 9841 5166.

Moreland Leader, 5th November 2012