18 December 2023

Across the country, Life Without Barriers staff and the people we support gathered to celebrate the end of the year.

Image: Four staff members wearing Christmas-themed clothing stand together under two umbrellas, smiling at the camera.

This holiday season, Life Without Barriers was alive with the warmth of shared moments, as our staff and the people who chose us to support them came together to celebrate the holiday season.

Christmas at Collingwood Children’s Farm

Despite a bit of wet weather, the Christmas party at Collingwood Children's Farm was a special day for the children, foster carers, and staff in attendance. Undeterred by the weather, the children embraced the outdoors, playing with enthusiasm in the mud and rain.

Image: A man and a child, both wearing rain ponchos, play with bubbles.

Guests brought the festive spirit to life with vibrant outfits, and the party buzzed with excitement thanks to a visit from Santa, engaging crafts, fun games, and a spread of delicious food.

Image: Bird's eye view of a child completing a craft activity.

Adding to the charm of the day was an unexpected guest—the farm cat, who decided to join the festivities, adding an extra layer of delight for the children and young people.

Image: A cat sits on a blue and black mat.

Beyond the festive atmosphere, the event served as a catalyst for meaningful connections. Children forged new friendships, while carers took the opportunity to reconnect with familiar faces and build relationships with new foster carers.

Image: Two women sit side by side at a table and smile at the camera.

“What a wonderful bunch of carers, it was a great turnout despite the weather," said Kylie Drummy, Director of Child, Youth and Family (CYF) Victoria.

"I really do thank our carers today and every day for the amazing support and dedication they provide to the children and young people. This is especially important during the holiday season."

"I hope everyone has a safe celebration, and we look forward to doing more great work together in the New Year.”

Image: A group of staff and foster carers wearing Christmas-themed clothing smile at the camera.

People and Culture Bake Off

Celebrating its fifth year, the People and Culture team gathered for the annual People and Culture Bake Off! The team conjured up all sorts of delicious festive treats and brought the whole office together to celebrate the year.

Image: Plates of treats created for the People and Culture team's bake-off.

Debra Neil, Mikaella Latimore, Kristy Crowe, Jess Powell, Cherie Walters, and Bianca Campese led the charge with some incredibly tasty treats. Beyond satisfying sweet cravings, the bake-off also served as a delightful opportunity for the entire team to come together, and celebrate teamwork, creativity, and the accomplishments of the year.

“Today was one of my favourite days on the work calendar. Big shoutouts to the amazing baking crew,” said Alison Hough, Head of People and Culture.

Image: The People and Culture team stand in a line in the staff kitchen, smiling at the camera.

South Australia Aged Care team Christmas festivities

The team came together at our Unley office to celebrate Christmas and the incredible work accomplished throughout the year.

Carmelina Langanis, Ricky Ponni, and Tracey Clark made our support workers feel extra special, treating them to a lovely afternoon tea with Christmas carols, fun activities and presents for winners of the games.

Image: The Aged Care team playing a game at their celebration event.

“A big thank you goes out to all our staff. Life Without Barriers' appreciates your dedication to the people we support and all the beautiful things you do. Merry Christmas and happy holiday to you all.” Rachana Patel, Care Manager.

Image: The Aged Care team stand together as a large group, smiling at the camera.

Western Australia end of year foster care celebration

Wrapping up the year on a heartwarming note, staff and foster carers came together for an end-of-year celebration in the Southwest.

Amidst the festive atmosphere, one of our amazing carers, Kristy, was acknowledged with an award for devoting five years to supporting children and young people in care.

Image: Two women stand together in front of a Christmas tree, smiling at the camera. One woman holds a bunch of flowers and an award.

Kristy shared that being a foster carer has been one of the most rewarding things she has ever done and that she has even recruited her aunt as a carer!

Helen Nys, State Director of Strategic and Operational Leadership, highlighted the positive impact of these events, and the connections they can facilitate.

“Foster carer connections that are built on families and community provide great opportunities for children,” Helen Nys said.

Image: Two foster carers sit next to each other, wearing paper crowns.

Townsville Christmas party at Melville's Farm

The Townsville CYF team brought the spirit of the season to life for our children and carers with a Christmas party at Melville's Farm.

Image: Townsville Child Youth and Family team dressed in festive outfits.

They welcomed a huge turnout of foster carers, young people, and families for an amazing afternoon of fun! The event was an exciting mix of activities, from petting animals at the farm to enjoying old-fashioned Chevvy rides and bouncing around on jumping castles.

Image: Children gather around Santa as he hands out a gift.

The smiles and laughter continued as everyone enjoyed the beautiful buffet food, followed by a visit from Santa, who came with presents for all!

“An incredible day to celebrate and say thanks to the carers and young people we have the privilege to walk alongside on their journeys," said Candy Walters, Program Manager, CYF.

"A sincere thank you must be said to our carers who always go above and beyond to provide care for the children and young people."

"I wish everyone a safe and festive holiday season, whichever holiday you may celebrate, and I look forward to seeing where 2024 may take us.”

Image: Santa and his helper smile at the camera.

Strategy and Governance team’s Christmas lunch

Adding to the festive celebrations, the Strategy and Governance team gathered in person for the first time at our Newcastle office for a special Christmas lunch. The team enjoyed a delicious meal together and shared some exciting plans for the next phase of Strategy 2025.

“Great to have a bit of fun as the year draws to a close as well as planning and preparing for 2024.” Paula Head, Chief Strategy and Governance Officer.

“There's nothing like catching up in person.” Nicola Gifford, Senior Communications Advisor.

Image: Strategy and Governance team pose in front of a Christmas tree.

Canterbury office break up

Victorian staff from directorates across Life Without Barriers joined a gathering at our Canterbury office, connecting and sharing delightful sweet and savoury dishes to celebrate the end of the year.

“It was lovely to see people we may not have seen for some time. Shout out to Dean O’Sullivan, who always steps up with his traditional Irish homemade bread, onion butter and smoked salmon - delicious!” said Nicole Hassall, Executive Officer.

Image: Collage of staff at the Canterbury office Christmas party.

Tuggerah Lakes Secondary College Christmas gift drive

At Tuggerah Lakes Secondary College - Entrance Campus, the spirit of giving came alive as students and staff embraced the joy of the season through their annual Life Without Barriers Christmas Gift Drive.

The initiative, organised by teachers Ellen Van Dam and Laura Gifford, with assistance from Year 12 Retail Services students, called for donations for children and young people in care.

The school community's generosity and compassion shone brightly, with students and staff contributing generously to the cause. A total of 98 gifts were collected, and a thoughtful hamper was curated to support a young person transitioning from care into their new home.

“We are so grateful to everyone who donated and went to such an effort during this busy time to donate such generous gifts. There will be a lot of smiling faces opening these up. Special thanks to Mrs. Van Dam for organising this logistically mammoth effort and, of course, all her helpful elves,” a representative from the school shared.

Image: Students and staff stand on either side of a Christmas tree with a number of gifts placed underneath.

As the year comes to an end, Life Without Barriers extends our gratitude for following along with our stories in 2023. We wish you a fantastic holiday season and look forward to sharing more of our stories with you in 2024.

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