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In the spirit of welcome | Family Spirit’s launch event 19 July 2018

Family Spirit welcomed guests and children to their launch event on 19 July in Sydney. Held at the beautiful Maritime Museum, more than 100 people gathered to celebrate the launch of Sydney’s newest agency in the foster care, adoption and guardianship sector.

CatholicCare Sydney and Marist180 have partnered to form a new agency known as ‘Family Spirit’, uniquely able to provide NSW families with a broad range of services including family support, foster care, adoption and guardianship. Both agencies believe that by working together, they can foster better outcomes for vulnerable children, families and young people.

The launch event celebrated a very welcome milestone on the NSW care agenda, and these sentiments were reflected in the words of the morning’s wonderful speakers and hosts. Uncle Chicka Madden, an Elder from Gadigal Country welcomed all guests on behalf of the Metropolitan Aboriginal Land Council.

Family Spirit’s newly appointed CEO Morgan Fitzpatrick highlighted the day’s significance on the NSW care calendar. She undertook to put the needs of vulnerable children and young people at the core of Family Spirit’s operational agenda. “Family Spirit’s mission is to enable permanency and well-being for children and young people by supporting families and carers to provide safe, stable and nurturing environments for them” she said. “This event is about celebrating our launch, and focusing on the vital work before us.”

Guests at the launch event were then privileged to hear from a young woman, Emma, who despite being only 15 was able to deliver an articulate and powerful account of being in care and what agencies such as Family Spirit represented to her. “The most important thing any care provider can do is to listen” she advised, “and place the needs and words of the young people at the centre of everything you do.” She also advised young people in care to speak up, outlining her great relationship with her social worker and the power that this has had to transform her care experience.

Family Spirit Chairman Nieves Murray thanked Emma for her advice and said that Family Spirit would remain diligent and focused on its duty of care to children and young people like her. “Family Spirit means acceptance, belonging and care for everyone. It means to capture the importance of every person and every child to have and experience "the family spirit" - a place where you are accepted, belong and receive unconditional care and support,” she said.

As the morning’s formalities concluded, guests enjoyed a delicious morning tea and views across sparkling Darling Harbour on a sunny winter morning. Many of the event’s guests were very young, or young at heart, and played with a range of toys and lego, or took time out to enjoy colouring in and games. Guests were able to browse the fascinating exhibits of the Maritime Museum and enjoy the myriad of entertainment options in the exciting Darling Harbour precinct.

Family Spirit is a new Sydney-based agency beginning operations in July 2018.

Services include family support, all forms of foster care (short-term, respite, kinship and permanent) as well as adoption and guardianship services. Family Spirit provides ongoing support and services to young people who are transitioning from the care sector to independence. There are currently more than 46,000 children and young people in care across Australia.