Volunteers give over 5000 hours to Carinity Youth - Harald's House
Volunteers will have given exactly 5671 hours of their time at Carinity Youth - Harald's House since it opened, by the end of this National Volunteer Week.
Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics[i] reveal they were among the approximately 35 per cent of Queenslanders volunteering every year.
35 per cent of the nation's volunteers gave their time once a week, and 42 per cent helped out at more than one organisation.
National Volunteer Week - running from Monday, 13 May to Sunday, 19 May - celebrates volunteers and volunteerism.
Volunteers work 100 hours a week at Carinity Youth - Harald's House, and Program Manager Harald Falge thanked the 11 people who donate their time.
"Harald's House depends on volunteers for its existence," he said.
"In today's society, where there is so much happening and so little time to do it all, sacrificing one's time is something precious."
For 82-year-old Julie Martin, who continues to give 48 hours a week in three giant shifts, volunteering at Carinity Youth - Harald's House is about providing young people with what they deserve.
"They have not had a background like mine when I grew up - with a mother and a father and siblings. They've been deprived of what a loving and caring family is all about," she said.
"It is a ministry of letting young people know that we're not there for fun, but because we love them, and want to see them directed with a future of hope."
Dr Falge called for anyone keen to help create a community of care, passion and respect for homeless and disadvantaged youth to help, saying good volunteers can be difficult to find.
"Often the applicants want to come in whenever they have nothing to do and of course we cannot run Harald's House that way. We need to roster people on to fill up the required hours."
He said there were a variety of tasks which volunteers could perform.
"We have one person coming in once a week to look after the gardens; other volunteers come in for four hours in the afternoon cooking and spending time with the residents. Other volunteers provide weekend activities," he said.
[i] Australian Bureau of Statistics (2010). Voluntary Work, Australia, 2010. Cat 4441.0. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Harald’s House rebrands as Carinity Youth – Harald’s House
The not-for-profit organisation Queensland Baptist Care which governs Harald's House in Cairns officially changed its name to Carinity on 6th May, to reflect its diverse range of services and expanding geographical presence throughout Queensland.
The youth accommodation centre will now be known as Carinity Youth - Harald's House, but will continue to provide a safe home where residents participate in schooling, training or work, along with important life education to help turn their lives around.
This rebrand is a major step forward for the organisation, which began in 1949 solely as an aged care provider and now offers a comprehensive range of community services throughout Queensland, including Aged Care, Lifestyle (retirement living), Education, Communities and Youth.
CEO, Jon Campbell said the word ‘Carinity' is derived from ‘care' and ‘affinity' and represents what the organisation strives to provide to its clients every day - care and a sense of belonging.
"For those in need of support, we provide communities of care, compassion and respect in which people feel secure and valued - a place where they feel they belong. By walking alongside those in need, we seek to ensure that no one is denied the chance to reach their full potential because of adverse circumstances.
"Our organisation offers caring services at 29 locations throughout Queensland, assisting over 11,500 people each year. After a great deal of consultation and consideration, we believe our new name Carinity well reflects both our mission and identity," said Mr Campbell.
Carinity is expanding across Queensland, having recently acquired Kepnock Grove aged care centre in Bundaberg and John Cani in Mount Morgan, with new services planned for the Gold Coast, Toowoomba and Townsville.
Mr Campbell said the expansion plans and new name are indicative of "the dynamic evolution of the organisation" over the past few years.
"Our organisation's positive reputation in the not-for-profit industry is based on its Christian mission and values which remain firm and a long history of listening to customers' needs and meeting their expectations," he said.
"Our clients throughout the state can be assured that under the new name Carinity, our caring staff will continue to provide the same high quality compassionate services and dedicated support, making a real difference to those in need."
In addition to caring for the frail aged, Carinity currently offers: support and accommodation for homeless youth; help for families and young people dealing with domestic violence and abuse; secure lifestyle communities for people over 65; support for those with a disability; chaplaincy support for people in hospital; and an alternative education for teenagers who struggle in traditional schools.
Carinity Youth - Harald's House can accommodate up to six young people between the ages of 14 to 18 years. It is the only home/shelter of its kind in Far North Queensland where residents are required to participate in schooling, training or work, enabling them to take the next step towards realising their potential and ending the cycle of homelessness.
Please click above to read the latest news and information on Harald's House and Orana Youth Shelter in Brisbane.
The Federal Minister for Housing and Homelessness complimented Harald’s House staff for the “great job” they’re doing to tackle youth homelessness in Cairns, when he paid an official visit to the shelter earlier this month.
Minster Brendan O’Connor said that the Queensland Baptist Care centre was a wonderful example of how a community can come together to tackle homelessness and that Program Manager Harald Falge had to be praised for his tireless work in looking after young people.
The six bedroom homeless centre is also an ideal size according to the minster, as it promotes a closer connection between residents and staff.
“Harald Falge and his team deserve recognition for providing a safe and secure place for young Cairns residents who may not otherwise find one. This truly is a noble vision which has come to fruition due to hard work and care for our most vulnerable,” said Minister O’Connor.
Dr Harald Falge said that he was “honoured” to have the minister pay a visit to Harald’s House as it would “draw people’s attention to this hidden epidemic and the havoc it plays on young lives”.
“It means a lot to us that he saw the facility firsthand and I have always maintained that the family atmosphere at Harald’s House is integral to its success, with all of us sitting down to dinner together every night. But more funding is still desperately needed to pay for the daily running costs of the centre,” he said.
A recent report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare highlighted the extent of youth homelessness according to Minister O’Connor, finding that a staggering 48 per cent of Australian’s homeless people are under the age of 25.
“And here in Cairns, a place usually associated with tropical paradise, there are twice the national average of homeless people, at a rate of 113 per 10,000 people,” he said.
Stating that his recent participation in the Vinnies CEO Sleep Out in Canberra gave him “a tiny glimpse” of what homeless people must be going through on a continual basis, the minister reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to cut the rate of homelessness in half by 2020.
Harald’s House was officially opened on April 18th, providing a safe supportive environment for up to six young people, who would otherwise be sleeping rough on the streets.
It is the only home/shelter of its kind in Far North Queensland where residents are required to participate in schooling, training or work, enabling them to take the next step towards realising their potential and ending the cycle of homelessness.
Operated by Queensland Baptist Care, Harald’s House is managed by Harald and a team of staff who are passionate about caring for young people and 100% committed to changing lives for the better.
Harald added: “Queensland Baptist Care and I have the same vision of creating a safe home where we can give these kids back their childhoods. We will do everything we can to assist people who genuinely want to change their lives around. But we only take kids who really mean business and want to achieve something,” he said.
Harald's House offers "hope" to street kids
ONE man's 20 year vision to ease the plight of street kids in Cairns and create a "home where they finally belong" has come to fruition with the opening of Harald's House on April 18th.
For the past two decades, Dr Harald Falge and his Street Level Youth Care team have offered food, support and hope to young people who have no-one else to turn to.
But after years of community fundraising, his dream of creating a safe "home environment" for these kids has finally become a reality, removing them from the risks of living on the streets where violence, sexual abuse and drug addiction are not uncommon.
Governed by Queensland Baptist Care, Harald's House will be managed and run by Harald and a team of staff who are passionate about caring for young people.
We all see injustice and wrong doing in our society but few of us are brave enough to do something about it. After seeing an indigenous boy being solicited by an older white man so that he could get money to buy food in 1991, Harald has made it his vocation in life to help vulnerable homeless children.
"Cairns was the paedophile capital of Australia; and I couldn't believe that these kids had to have sex to buy food in our beautiful city of Cairns. I was just stunned when the local kids explained what was going on after I had seen the man's hand creeping up the young boy's thigh on Cairns Esplanade. My son said 'why don't we cook some meals and you can take them out'; and that's how it all started," Dr Falge explained.
So moved was he by the plight of these homeless and disadvantaged youths, Dr Falge and his family initially distributed homemade meals from the boot of his car, growing to a fleet of mobile van units as donations filtered in.
But providing a "real home" with education and employment opportunities was always his long time goal as many of these kids felt like they were "stuck in one place and couldn't move forward with their lives" while they were sleeping rough.
The opening of the new youth shelter is particularly relevant here in Cairns where homelessness rates are twice the national average, at over 1,300 people, according to the last Census. A critical shortage of homeless hostels and beds in Cairns also leads to more people sleeping rough on our streets. However, Harald's House is the only home/shelter of its kind in Far North Queensland where residents are required to participate in schooling, training or work, enabling them to take the next step towards realising their potential and ending the cycle of homelessness.
Queensland Baptist Care has always supported the Harald's House project by offering tax deductibility to donors which was vital to raise the funds to purchase the house. Now that the project is off the ground, it will provide management and administrative support to ensure compliance with all state and federal regulations and quality standards. Grateful that they are operating the service, Harald maintains that his dream may not have become a reality without the organisation's help in negotiating the acquisition of the house.
"Both Queensland Baptist Care and I have the same vision of creating a safe home where we can give these kids back their childhoods and that's what this new project is all about. It's not just a house, it's about giving hope," said the soon-to-be 'house dad'.
Over the years, Harald has come into contact with many young people who, against the odds, have been able to break the cycle of homelessness. These success stories have kept him hopeful as he claims that "saving only one young life would make everything we have done for the past 20 years worthwhile".
Testimony to Harald's good faith in these kids, many of them have gone on to finish university, becoming lawyers, teachers, chefs, tradesmen and many other qualifications as well as going on to get married and raise children.
"Often they'll come up to me in the street and I hardly recognise them because they have turned their lives around so much. The main thing is that someone is there when they need it the most - someone who believes in them. One girl cried recently when I was giving her encouragement because it was the first time in her life that someone had praised her genuinely. And I have always maintained that there are no bad kids, just bad deeds," said the father of three who's an ex chiropractor.
Kicked out of home when she was 15 years of age, *Sarah spent three years living on the streets but is now attending university and renting a house, after receiving "encouragement and advice" from Harald.
"It's very hard to move forward with your life when you're on the streets and that's why having safe accommodation is so important. I think I would have got my life back on track a lot sooner if I had an opportunity to stay somewhere like Harald's House. But I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't met Harald. He showed me that the world wasn't a bad place and there are people here who care. That's a big deal when you have nothing," she said.
Director Vijaykumar Mirchandani has produced a documentary featuring Harald which portrays the gritty reality of sleeping rough on the streets of Cairns entitled "Where The Streets Have No Name".
While filming the award winning documentary Mr Mirchandani said that he was amazed by Harald's "determination, conviction and passion", in helping these street kids and points out that it wasn't always an easy journey as Harald was often subjected to personal attacks.
"For me, Harald's work speaks for itself and he treats these kids like his own. Sitting at home we cannot imagine the pain, hardship, mental trauma and physical abuse that have become a part of these kids' everyday lives. But, not all of them have ended up in a hole; and because of people like Harald there is still hope," said Mr Mirchandani.
He added: "Harald is an inspiration and it is clearly reflected by the recognition his work has received globally through this documentary by being screened in 30 International Film Festivals and winning 14 Awards."
Delighted that Harald's House, is now up and running, Dr Falge said that he "always saw the potential in these young people".
"But we only had the facilities to feed them until now. I always thought if we could give them a place where they could do their homework and they were safe, they'd have a far greater chance at achieving their goals. And now my dream has finally come true," said Harald who also praised the local community for their tireless fundraising work.
After being officially launched on Youth Homelessness Matter's Day, Harald's House will provide a safe, stable home in Cairns for homeless children and young people - helping to turn their troubled lives around.
The Queensland Baptist Care centre is not a halfway house or a diversionary centre. It will be a home where kids will have supervision, rules, chores and a supportive environment while completing their education, training and/or finding a job.
* Name has been changed for privacy.