History & Future
More than 45 years in the community
Althea Projects Inc formally Wee Care Family Inc celebrated 45 years of caring for children in the Townsville community in June 2019. The organisation was born out of a need to offer increasing numbers of children 24-hour accommodation when their parents or guardians were ill, involved in an emergency, or otherwise unable to care for them.
The need for care
In the early 70’s Joan Innes Reid sometimes referred to as the “mother” of Wee Care was a social worker at the TGH. When women were admitted to hospital and there was no-one to care for her children, the social workers would have the children admitted to the hospital. If there were a number of children or if it was to be an extended stay the children would be placed in the “temporary care” of the state and admitted to a state ran institution such as Carramar.
On the 24th December 1971 Cyclone Althea hit Townsville
This highlighed the need for emergency accommodation for children as many families lost their homes. Originally, families looked after other people’s children in their own homes when through illness, accident or other circumstances the parent or guardian was unable to care for them.parents or guardians were ill, involved in an emergency, or otherwise unable to care for them.
In 1973 twelve women formed the nucleus of the program
They then cared for children in their homes until the child’s own family crisis had passed or other arrangements had been made. It became increasing difficult to cope with the number of children needing assistance living in their homes.
In March 1974 Wee Care was formally registered as an association
Dec 1974 cyclone Tracey came to Darwin and the familtvies were evacuated to Adelaide and Townsville. Wee Care provided emergency places to Children once again.
Moving Into A Central Location
After a year of operating they were unable to cope with the escalating demand and realised they needed a central location to offer emergency accommodation And after considerable discussion with the community the Sisters of Mercy offered Coolock Cottage to the organisation and the Residential centre was officially opened on June 23rd 1974.
Moved To A New Location
Wee Care remained at the cottage until 1979, when the Sisters once again required the property. Not wishing to see the organisation close, Mr Charles Arnold offered his house at 197 Kings Road, Pimlico for $1 a year rent.
Expanded To A New Home
There had been a considerable expansion of the services provided by Wee Care Residential and in April 1984 Townsville Apex Club began building the organisation a home of its own. The project was finished in October 1984 and Wee Care Residential moved into their present home in Railway Estate and continued its expansion. The Townsville Drop In Centre opened on 11th May to provide services to homeless and vulnerable people in the Townsville area.
Growing in Numbers
In February 1992 the organisation became involved in the Foster Care Program as it already had considerable expertise in this area. The Shared Family Care Fostering program started with one support worker at this time and was funded per Foster Carer Family. Shared Family Care was and still is funded by the Department of Communities – Child Safety Services. The program grew in the next year to include two Support Workers and a Part-time Administration Officer.
With an increase in funding in 2003 the program still supported the same number of Foster Carer Families but due to new reporting benchmarks the program included another two (2) Support Workers.
Continuing To Grow
The Department of Communities – Child Safety Service increased the Shared Family Care funding in 2007 which allowed for a Manager and Full-time Administration Officer. Shared Family Care during this growth was still operating from the one office at the Residential Premises in Railway Estate.
In 2009 the SFC program received additional funding and as the program had outgrown the current office space, alternate office space was sought. The program relocated to 2 Fleming Street, Aitkenvale in April 2009 and included another two (2) Support Workers, a Team Leader and a Part-time Administration Officer to the team. Shared Family Care was funded to support 165 placements with Children who have Moderate to High Behaviours, the program supported approx 90 Foster and Kinship Carers at this time.
2012 brought additional funding and a change to our Service Agreement with the Department of Communities Child Safety Services. Shared Family Care now supports 190 placements with Children who have Moderate to Complex Behaviours, and approximately 120 Foster and Kinship Carers. The Shared Family Care team now consists of a Manager, Team Leader, 8 Support Workers and 2 Administration Officers. To accommodate the extra staff the offices at 2 Fleming Street have extended to include another 3 offices upstairs.
To honour how we first started 2014 saw us changing our name to Althea Projects Incorporated. In 2015 Althea Projects Corporate Office and the Shared Family Care Program Office moved to 296 Ross River Road, Aitkenvale, Townsville. Wee Care Residential is still in the same Railway Estate Location.
Townsville Drop-In Centre
Further expansion to the organisation came in April 2017, when Althea Projects chose to pick up the service delivery of The Townsville Drop-In Centre (TDIC) and prevent the centre from closure. TDIC has been delivering services to people who are homeless since the 1980’s and Althea Projects will proudly continue these important services in to the future.
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