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Our story

Berry Street began in 1877 when a group of courageous women defied the social norms of the day to care for mothers and babies who had been abandoned.

Founded on leading social and systemic change, today we are here to help those experiencing poverty, violence and abuse and support families to stay together in safe and healthy homes.

Michael Perusco, CEO, Berry Street: What I value most is the courage of the people that we work with and the fact that they let us into their lives at a point in time where they're really struggling, and I really value the commitment and expertise of our staff to work in partnership with the people who use our services.

Michelle Smith, Senior Case Worker, Integrated Family Services: Berry Street is very much about hearing the voices of our young people families and our victim survivors that we work with and what they need.

Marcos Millet, Residential Care Worker: We would love to provide our young people with all the right tools that they need to live independently and succeed in life.

Ebony Torrance, Senior Case Worker, Early Intervention Services: Within our organisation we're always willing to mix things up, try something different, find the newest research and move forward with trying to help families and children to have better lives. alarming

Tendai Shumba, Senior Clinician, Take Two: There's just such an alarming number of children that are in care and such an overrepresentation of that number being Indigenous young people. So, we'd like to think about how we can get in to do those early interventions so that we can stop that cycle from continuing

Rebecca Heffernan, Integrated Team Leader, The Orange Door: We want to see less family violence in the community – it's more prevalent now than it ever has been. There's a national conversation about family violence that is stronger than it's ever been before.

Louise Childs, Lead Teacher – Noble Park, Berry Street School: At the Berry Street School we've received a huge increase in inquiries; every day we're receiving phone calls from schools and carers families for disengaged young people or young people at risk of disengaging from their education.

Michelle Smith: We're seeing an increase in worsening mental health issues, social and financial pressures on families and it's just quite often crisis point.

We have learned that traumatic experiences from the impacts of violence, poverty and abuse can change the way our brains work. Trauma makes it difficult to regulate our thoughts and emotions, leaving us hyper-alert to danger and making it hard to cope with life's challenges.

The good news is that there has never been greater awareness of the importance of addressing trauma and now we have tried and tested approaches that work. We understand that children can recover from trauma with the right help and support and lead healthy, happy lives.

Michael Perusco: Some of the key ways in which we work include healing trauma, supporting people who've experienced family violence, providing safe homes, providing trauma-informed education and supporting families to stay together safely.

Michelle Smith: Trauma-informed practice is we make sure that we can identify, and we can work with, and we can help young people and our families to move on. Trauma can occur but it doesn't have to affect the rest of your life.

Tendai Shumba: As part of the Take Two team, we work with people that are experiencing challenges and some of those challenges are psychological difficulties and mental health challenges and we use tools such as the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT) that helps us to form and to guide our interventions.

Rebecca Heffernan: So, we have a multi-pronged approach to family violence, and we aim to make sure anyone who's experiencing family violence can access services really easily and that when they do (access family violence programs) that it's a good experience, so if they're ever in crisis again they will access services because they'll trust them. They'll trust Berry Street

Diana Doyle, Major Gifts Manager, Philanthropy (Former Case Worker): Unfortunately, not everyone can live at home with their parents...We have kinship care which is where a child's placed with family members; foster care and Teaching Family Model homes in residential care.

Michael Perusco: Our education programs, including our Berry Street School, help students to reach their potential and particularly those students who have complex unmet learning needs.

Louise Childs: And what we're able to provide them at the Berry Street School is a trauma-informed approach to education using the Berry Street Education Model (BSEM) as a foundation which is rolled out in many schools across Australia – actually mainstream and specialist settings.

Anita McCurdy, Senior Manager, Shepparton, Youth Foyer and Better Futures: So, it's really important that Berry Street are able to continue to be trauma-informed around what needs to happen for young people when they aren't with family anymore or we're trying to get them back to family as well and keep those connections with family and community.

To create the future we imagine we work hard to provide families with the support and tools they need to stay together safely and recover from violence and trauma.

Our staff are passionate about creating communities where families are supported, and children are born into safety and love.

We know that with connection and belonging children are healthy, happy and free to engage in school to learn, to achieve and to create the future they imagine for themselves.

Join us to reimagine futures and courageously change lives.