Looking beyond our own people: Hosting family visits

Hillsong Brisbane Central have been providing a space for use by the Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs Mt Gravatt Child Safety Service Centre for a few years now. We spoke to them to find out about what it looks like.

“If we’re going to be a church Monday through to Sunday, we need to be ‘alive’ during the week.” Pauline, a Hillsong staff member said when we spoke about using their facilities in this way.

One of the main roles of the Child Safety Service Centre is to facilitate visitation for kids and families involved with the child protection system. For the Mt Gravatt team, they were looking for a place that was consistent and safe for families who are almost ready to be reunited.

The church offers their space on Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the morning and afternoon. It is scheduled in collaboration with the department and the visits are spread out, so it’s not a large group all at once. It takes minimal staff time to manage and there’s also efficiency for the department in having the same regular space and not having to move around several locations in one day for different visits. The consistency of meeting place also helps with a sense of felt safety and routine for both the children and their parents.

“Our campuses have got space to look beyond our own people. If we exist just for Christians, then I think we have missed the ‘city on a hill’ idea. The light is meant to benefit everyone, not just our members. We are part of the community, not a closed membership group. We have a beautiful and safe space, as a great alternative to the local park or shopping centre.”

Through the relationship with the Child Safety Service Centre, Hillsong Brisbane Central was able to host their Christmas Party for the kids and their families. “The department is so swamped with all of their responsibilities and there are things we as a church are good at! Decorating marques, face painting, jumping castle, an animal farm. It made life easy for them,” Pauline said, adding, “We were also able to provide toys for parents to give to their kids as Christmas gifts. The kids didn’t need to know that it came from us.”

Pauline also shared about four families who’d recently escaped domestic violence situations with only the clothes on their backs. The church was able to procure specific things they needed. One family from the church made an amazing gingerbread house that was given by the Department to a mum who was staying in a hotel with her daughters over Christmas.

Pauline says, “At some stage most community organisations are going to need an external venue for something. You could approach other organisations and explain what you’ve got to offer in terms of facilities. Consider what else your facility might be able to be used for during the week? It might be Mums and Bubs Pilates classes, or Ronald McDonald House physio sessions for kids. There are likely to be plenty of groups in your community who can use your space.”

The simple question of who might be able to utilise our facilities may open up a world of connections and possibilities to build relationship within the community and help make a difference. Why not just ask?

If hosting family visits is something that your church might be able to do, explore it further at the link below.

The Homeward Project provides a bridge between your church and the child protection system and offer practical resources and ongoing support to make a meaningful difference in the Out-of-Home Care space in your community. Find out more at the link below.

Other Resources

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Your Church and the Homeward Project

Help transform Out-of-home Care in your community.

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