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Berry Street’s inspiring and innovative leaders and teams have been recognised by the 2022 Victorian Protecting Children Awards, announced Wednesday, 7 September as part of National Child Protection Week.

The Victorian Protecting Children Awards recognise dedicated practitioners, workers, carers and community members who demonstrate excellence in protecting children, young people and families.

Berry Street’s Senior Advisor of Child Parent Psychotherapy, Emma Toone, won the Minister’s Award for Innovation in Protecting Children, which recognises an individual, team or group demonstrating innovative approaches and creative intervention to achieve the best possible outcomes for children, young people and their families.

Ms Toone received this Award in recognition of her instrumental work in the implementation and growth of Child Parent Psychotherapy (CPP), evidence-based therapy for young children who have experienced family violence together with their caregiver/s – across Victoria and Australia.

Ms Toone’s leadership and mentorship have helped more than 60 children and their carers directly benefit from CPP delivery within Berry Street’s Take Two program, which helps to address the mental health impacts on children of the trauma they have experienced from abuse, neglect or adverse experiences.

Also nominated for the Minister’s Award for Innovation in Protecting Children was Berry Street’s Positive Parenting Program, for its innovative and rapid adaption to change its service delivery to meet the needs of children, young people and families during COVID-19 and the extended lockdowns in Victoria. The Positive Parenting Program is an evidence-based program offering parents simple, practical strategies to build strong, healthy relationships with their children and confidently manage behaviour.

The Keeping At Risk Young People Safe Award was given to Berry Street’s Emily Nester, who has been the lead coordinator for the Multi-Agency Support Team (MAST) – a unique youth crime prevention partnership model in the Ballarat area – since 2017.

This Award recognises an individual, team or group that goes above and beyond to support at-risk youth, and prioritises empowering young people in the decision-making process and assisting them to achieve their goals.

Highly Commended for this Award was Berry Street’s Phipps Crescent Residential Care Team, for their intensive work over a period of 12 months to keep a young person with high-risk behaviour safe in the home and community, before reuniting them with their parent.

Also nominated was Berry Street’s Western Region Intensive Case Management Services Team, a dedicated team with a well-earned reputation across the region for advocating and championing the individualised needs of the children it works with to enhance opportunities for optimal outcomes.

Berry Street also congratulates Margarita Frederico AM from La Trobe University, who was nominated for the Robin Clark Making a Difference Award, which recognises the exceptional contribution of a team or group of people who have worked to directly improve the lives of children, young people and families in Victoria, including in partnership or collaboration with government and non-government agencies.

Berry Street nominated Ms Frederico for her work leading our Take Two research program.

Berry Street CEO, Michael Perusco, said the organisation is proud its team members and programs have been recognised through these Awards.

“People who work in this sector do so with immense dedication and commitment to improving the lives of vulnerable families and children,” Mr Perusco said.

“At Berry Street, we believe that children, young people and families should be safe, thriving and hopeful, and our team work hard to help achieve that every day.”

Berry Street services support children, young people and families impacted by abuse, violence and neglect across Victoria. This includes out-of-home care, family violence programs, parenting support, and trauma-informed wrap-around services.

“Sadly, many of the children and young people we work with have experienced trauma, abuse, and neglect, and we are increasingly seeing more children and young people entering the child protection system, and presenting with more complex needs and challenges. We are also seeing increased demand for our family services and support programs – particularly family violence services,” Mr Perusco said.

“Many of Berry Street’s programs are aimed at re-imagining the system and targeted early intervention – helping to keep families together safely.”

“The work of Emma and Emily, and all the teams nominated are fantastic examples of how Berry Street is continuing to deliver critical support to Victorian children and families experiencing vulnerability,” Mr Perusco said.

“Congratulations to everyone who received awards, and all those nominated for this year’s Victorian Protection Children Awards.”

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