Pathfinders is Strongly Connected to Families, Schools and Community Agencies

Pathfinders Family Referral Service (FRS) is a key initiative under the Government’s Keep Them Safe Action Plan. These new services are implemented by NSW Health.

FRS assists children and young people who do not meet the statutory threshold for child protection intervention but would benefit from accessing support to address current problems and prevent future escalations. FRS provides information and links vulnerable children, young people and their families to a range of support services in their local areas.

Pathfinders FRS is a home visiting and outreach service with an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander focus. Whilst not exclusively catering for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients, the service aims to engage and link Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families with relevant services that best meet their needs in a manner that is culturally appropriate.

FRS connects families with appropriate services that best meet their needs, including:

  • Domestic family violence (DFV) counselling/support
  • Drug/Alcohol Programs
  • Family Support
  • Mental Health Services
  • Parenting Programs
  • Education and Employment
  • Housing
  • Counselling
  • Youth Support Groups
  • Centrelink

In delivery of FRS Pathfinders has a broad range of partnership and referral arrangements with other community and government agencies.

We have formal relationships (through Memorandum of Understanding) with the Bila Muuji Aboriginal Health Service and the Northern Region Aboriginal Alliance, which represents 14 Aboriginal Lands Councils. We have a range of agreements in place that support our FRS school and visiting services presence.

In Mid North Coast we have the following interagency relationships and meetings. Taree: Mental Health Interagency; Child Health Interagency, Port Macquarie: Hastings Interagency. Coffs Harbour: Youth Action Meeting; Safety Action Meeting; Coffs Harbour Child and Family Interagency; Coffs Committee Against Domestic Violence. Coffs Harbour Aboriginal Interagency; Family Law Pathway Network; Y-Net at Groundworks; Coffs Harbour Area Disability Employment and Education Network; Coffs Harbour Area Disability Employment and Education Network; Child Protection Week Planning Interagency; Community of Support. Kempsey: Child and family interagency Kempsey and Nambucca meetings.

In New England our FRS service is heavily integrated into the local school communities: Currently working in 15 school and community locations, including, The converted Royal Hotel in in Glen Innes (a community service and activity hub developed by Pathfinders that also provides Special Homelessness Services , FRS Outreach and Links to Learning ,Ashford Central School, Bun Bun Aboriginal Playgroup- Ashford, Women’s and Children’s Refuge, Gunnedah/Narrabri- AEY, Gunnedah High, Gunnedah Public School, Gunnedah South School, Tamworth- Oxley Vale School, Hillvue School,  Armidale – Homes North, and Youth Refuge.

Aboriginal Early Years Program

Pathfinders Aboriginal Early Years (AEY) Program is a service to provide Aboriginal children between the ages of 2 and 6 years with access to quality pre-school and school education. Our goal is to make the transition to school as successful as possible for the child and their family.

The role of our AEY facilitators is to support the child and their family on their educational journey and to ensure that their education experience is a positive one. The facilitator will be available in an ongoing capacity after the child has entered pre-school or school to respond to any concerns or issues.

Our emphasis is to get the children in to a formal structured Early Childhood setting, with emphasis on children attending either Pre-school or Long Day Care. If needed our facilitators can work on a one-on-one basis with the child and their family to make the transition in to the Early Childhood system fun with minimal issues.

There are three Facilitators who are geographically responsible for the following areas

Inverell – Inverell, Ashford and Tingha

Armidale – Armidale, Walcha and Uralla

Western – Gunnedah, Quirindi, Narrabri, Wee Waa and Moree

The Aboriginal Early Years program also offers the following:

  • Finds pre-school and school placements.
  • Assists with filling in the enrolment paperwork.
  • Supports child and family with transition from pre-school to school.
  • Increases number of days per week the child attends pre-school.
  • Improves school readiness for Aboriginal children emotionally, socially and academically.

Assists with referrals and linking to other services as needed. These may include services both within the Pathfinders organisation and other External Agencies.

Aboriginal Early Years Program –  Examples of Positive Outcomes in Working with Families

Woolbrook is a small rural community located 25km from Walcha with a number of Aboriginal families residing there. Merle our Armidale worker attended a Playgroup at Woolbrook and spoke to a number of parents of the children. There are usually 6 children attend the playgroup, and 5 of those identify as Aboriginal. Merle has engaged with those Aboriginal families over a period of several months and has supported them in their attendance at Walcha Pre-School. Merle continues to attend the Playgroup frequently to continue to support those families, with some of the children transitioning into Woolbrook Public School next year.

‘Wayne’ is a 4 year old boy at Narrabri who has been diagnosed with a number of learning and behavioural disorders. ‘Wayne’ has to attend school next year, however due to those disorders needs ongoing intensive support to be school ready. Rhiannon, the Narrabri AEYP worker has organised the family to be supported in regards to NDIS application for Early Intervention as well as some Family Support. Rhiannon is also attending a Narrabri Pre-School with the child and his mother on a weekly basis conducting intensive tuition to ‘Wayne’ and his mother, with particular attention to having ‘Wayne’ socialise with other children his own age. The mother of ‘Wayne’ was initially very difficult to engage with, however now engages openly and without hesitation with Rhiannon.

‘Sally’ is a 3 year-old whose mother approached Bernice, our worker at Inverell, to get some assistance with childcare options as she was commencing a TAFE course 2 days per week. Bernice supplied the mother with all the information of the appropriate centres and the child commenced attending pre-school for that period of time. After a while the mother wished to have the child go to another location, so Bernice has assisted with making arrangements for the child to attend a long-day care centre with longer hours due to the mother being offered some work placement, which may lead to further employment. The mother of ‘Sally’ was very appreciative of the assistance given by Bernice as she struggled with confidence to make these arrangements.