THOUSANDS of South Australians were supported by regional agency ac.care last financial year as country people faced extra pressure due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, rising cost of living and lack of affordable housing.
Innovative approaches to supporting country South Australians, including the rising number of young people in state care, were recently highlighted at ac.care’s annual general meeting.
The organisation’s annual report, released to coincide with the meeting, also highlighted the agency’s achievements across the Limestone Coast, Murraylands, Riverland, Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu Peninsula over 2021/22.
Early intervention support helped 403 people avoid homelessness across the regions, with 704 people moved from homelessness to stable accommodation.
Meanwhile, safe homes were provided for 350 vulnerable children thanks to 171 families opening their homes and hearts as foster carers with ac.care.
“Whether it is supporting children in care, people at risk of or experiencing homelessness or country South Australians living in vulnerable circumstances, our staff have been steadfast in doing what they can to improve the quality of life for people in need of our support and implementing innovative approaches to increase our impact,” chief executive officer Shane Maddocks said.
“Cost of living pressures and the worsening housing crisis continue to significantly impact on country people, many of whom have already faced adversity throughout the ongoing pandemic.
“Our mission to ensure all country people have a safe home, enough money to live on and strong, positive relationships could not be any more important than right now.”
A major achievement during the 2021/22 period was the launched of ac.care’s Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan, setting a bold agenda for the agency over three years to make a difference in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“The launch of our Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan in May 2022 continues our commitment to learning from Aboriginal people and to accept the responsibility we have as an organisation to work towards reconciliation by addressing the impacts of colonisation and ongoing racism and discrimination,” Mr Maddocks said.
Another key milestone was the official opening of the Riverland’s first residential care home operated by ac.care for young people unable to live with their birth families.
The Berri property, which can house up to four young people, provides a home-based setting that is overseen by trained ac.care staff on a 24/7 roster.
ac.care made the financial decision to purchase the property, the first time the agency has taken the approach, and one that has been repeated in alignment with a planned expansion of Mount Gambier residential care services in late 2022.
In his annual address, ac.care board convenor Rick Fisher indicated high level discussions were taking place regarding the agency’s future service delivery to ensure they align with community needs.
“Our current strategic plan is in the last year of its life and the board has taken the opportunity to completely review our planning process into the future,” Mr Fisher said.
Mr Fisher said the board and broader ac.care team was working to redefine ac.care’s strategic plan and long-term vision with a focus on actively engaging and building community, measuring impact and generating long-term change to break cycles of disadvantage.
The full annual report is available here.
Key agency-wide ac.care statistics for 2021/22
403 people avoided homelessness with early intervention support
1237 people accessed ac.care’s homelessness service
866 people moved from homelessness into stable accommodation
171 families opened their homes and hearts as foster carers with ac.care
350 children found homes with local foster carers
38 children were supported in our 24/7 residential care homes
192 people were supported by our Aboriginal support services
1888 people were supported in a crisis with financial help and food assistance
419 people managed a difficult financial situation with the support of financial counselling