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Welcome to Candid Conversations 2.0!

It’s our pleasure to introduce Candid Conversations. We’ve invited a panel of experts from our industry to have robust conversations about the things that matter in our sector, the challenges our industry faces, and how we adapt and respond in an ever-changing environment.

This is a space to share knowledge, to ask questions, to be vulnerable, to learn and grow.

Our hope is that these conversations spark ideas and real solutions for us all. 

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Celebrating 40 years - Where all things began!

Our first episode takes a look back into Allambi Care's history. We celebrate 40 years this year – and there have been lots to learn and celebrate along the way.

Steve facilitates this conversation with the following people in the panel:

  • Simon Walsh – Allambi CEO 
  • Peter Walsh – former Allambi CEO
  • Janet Vickers – former Director Child and Family (NSW Family and Community Services)


The ‘Why’ back at the start

It all started with the concept of the 'Allambi Family'. Not only we were very excited about supporting families and kids in our community, but we also had family members working in the organisation. It was very much a family field. 

If you look at the history, Lake Macquarie Council identified that the biggest need in our area was youth and homelessness.  In the beginning, there was a group of people from the council and a group of people from Newcastle University getting together and looking and they kind of came up with this idea of the refuge.

At that time,  were closing down a number of mines in the area, one was at Redhead and they were closing that mine down and that meant that the manager's cottage or house became available and so BHP sold that to this group of people to run the refuge for homeless kids, that was the original beginning of how it works

You can learn more about our story here

The growth of Allambi

In early 2000's there was a huge shift in the system from a refuge system to Residential Care. Allambi Care started expanding to Residential Care services which was in its infancy in NSW. 

The residential care idea grew out of a need, given that younger and younger children were entering into the system and it wasn't the right system for these young kids. The refuge was a place where kids around 15, 16 years old could come and go as long as they were home in the nighttime. 

Learn more about what we do in the Foster Care space here

Lessons learnt along the way

We are really good at never giving up on kids. We are good at engaging key people at the right time, but what we are learning to do is to think ahead. Everything is based on learning and trying to do new things. 

What does it mean to be an industry leader?

Long story short - to do things right and set a standard. Allambi started to be seen as this organization that had a benchmark and was doing what everyone should be doing in a really challenging sector.

Our role in the ever-changing landscape of Foster Care and
Youth Work has been to shape in a collaborative way some positive changes our industry has seen with all of the government departments we've been fortunate to work with along the way. 

Providing quality care now and into the future

Our final topic looks ahead to how we can continue to improve. Our role in helping solve the Aboriginal in custody challenge Australia faces and what the next 40 years might look like. 

The challenge for Allambi will be to hang on to the core. The world will change around us, governments will come and go, the policies will change, but we're onto something. We are as an organisation contributing to the international knowledge base about what works so the trick will be hanging onto that.

The big challenge for Allambi, as it is for all organisations, is to lift their practice with the Aboriginal people. We know that Aboriginal kids are hugely overrepresented in this space. What Allambi needs is to take a real focus over the next 10 to 20 years to really get that right, of being culturally sensitive and appropriate and provide a real safety net for those kids. We can reach outside the organisation into other Aboriginal organisations to learn and listen from them. To connect those children back to their people, back to the land. It’s not easy task for any non-indigenous organisation, but it’s our main focus for the future

We hope you enjoyed our first episode of Candid Conversations 2.0. Follow us on Facebook so you can join the conversation and to get the notification of when we go live. 

See you next time!