The Journey Continues…
Both Linkwest and Sudbury House recognised how vitally important viable and accessible community services were to the children and families of Mirrabooka. With this in mind, a strategic plan was developed in 2012 with a mission to ‘Provide quality innovative programs services and activities which reflect the changing needs of local families.’
In 2013, with letters of recommendation and support from Linkwest and other key agencies, Sudbury House successfully tendered fro the Mirrabooka Multicultural Education and Care Centre situated adjacent to Sudbury House. The decision to tender was on of many decisions being made that reflected the new vision and future focus of Sudbury House. However, new tenders and new innovative ideas to extend the services and programmes for the local community brought with them risks and increased workloads. Virginia now recognises that they could have resulted in negative outcomes and perhaps greater risk assessment should have been done throughout the journey. Kim Wedge (Chairperson of Sudbury House committee) reflects in part Virginia’s views; ‘We are infinitely more stable as a committee and have seen some positive outcomes over the last five years as an organisation, but I do get concerned that we may grow too fast and lose sight of who we are.’
The success of the tender for Mirrabooka Multicultural Education and Care centre was a huge step for Sudbury House as it required skilful planning in not only its set-up, but in the transition of the children and families using the current service. However, as the Long Day Care service moved to the newly acquired space next door, it increased the licensed number and capacity allowing more families to access quality education and care. It has also allowed the development of partnerships with other agencies, creating an influx of diverse user groups to Sudbury House. New services and organisations, such as Family Support Network and child and Parent Centres, are now partnering with Sudbury House.
‘Since I have been here I have personally seen the exponential growth of the Centre, the improvement in resources and facilities, and the very many different services and educational programmes which have been introduced.’ Hadia (group user and English language teacher)
The Education and Care centre is a core component of the services Sudbury House provides and has perhaps shown some of the most significant changes. New staff, including a Pedagogical leader, have been employed and bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the team. The new team dynamics have created a strong positive energy, stimulating both critical and reflective conversations as they share their continuous improvement journey working with the National Quality Framework. The team now provide pedagogical leadership and mentoring in the are of early education and care to other agency staff and students participating in practical placement.
Dumia, a long time staff member at the Education and Care service, shares her thoughts of the changes and the sense of belonging she feels. ‘It really feels like a family her and Sudbury House is not just my work place but very much part of my whole existence. There have been some challenges along the way as we have all had to learn to do things a bit differently.. But I feel really good about where Sudbury House is at; in fact it feels like the Golden Age, as he management team are really supportive. Ralph and Virginia value and respect out input as educators.’
Today, in 2014, Virginia’s unyielding faith in the importance of strengthening families and communities, coupled with a strong team and committee, has ensured long term user groups remain and new groups and partnerships have been welcomed to the Sudbury House community. Evidence-based practice is now very much part of the day-to-day work of Virginia and her team as they lay down strong foundations for a strong positive future for Sudbury House and the people of Mirrabooka.
The positive growth and development of Sudbury House over the last few years has created a healthy income stream due to robust business systems, effective processes and a change in the organisational structure. This ongoing growth and success has been noted by both the government departments and others in the community sector, and Sudbury house is now identified as a positive model for other community service providers.
As a final note, Sudbury House received a letter of support from Linda Parsons (Manger, Communities for Children) of The Smith Family(2013) which sums up the thoughts of many who have watched the rise of Sudbury House in recent years. Linda State; ‘I cannot speak highly enough of Sudbury Community House services and the importance it has in the Mirrabooka community. It provides responsive, innovative and visionary services that meet the needs of all families.