Winter Warmer Drive launched in Tasmania by UnitingCare

Carly Dolan
31 May 2017, 8 a.m.

DONATIONS WANTED: UnitingCare Tasmania acting chief executive Donna Lashmar and Bendigo Bank relationship manager Sarah Boutcher. Picture: Phillip Biggs

UnitingCare Tasmania and Bendigo Bank have launched this year’s Winter Warmer Drive.

It is the third annual drive, and people are asked to donate what they can to help people in need.

UnitingCare Tasmania acting chief executive Donna Lashmar encouraged all Tasmanians to participate by contributing their extra blankets, warm coats, gloves and scarves to Bendigo Bank branches statewide.

“Tasmanian winters can be extremely cold and the Winter Warmer Drive is a great way for Tasmanians to help those in need,” she said.

“You may have a coat you haven’t worn for a few years or an extra blanket at the back of the cupboard.”

Ms Lashmar said UnitingCare helped the homeless and some of the refugee population living in Tasmania.

“We now have mothers and children coming to the state fleeing family violence … arriving without the necessary clothes to get through the winter.”

We now have mothers and children coming to the state fleeing family violence- Donna Lashmar

Bendigo Bank relationship manager Keridan Taylor said it was wonderful to see staff and customers embrace the Winter Warmer Drive with enthusiasm.

“This is about supporting UnitingCare Tasmania and the crucial work it does every day,” she said.


Perfect timing for Winter Warmer Drive as snow falls in Tasmania

May 30, 2017 12:25pm

AN appeal for cosy coats, blankets and scarfs to ward off winter chills has officially opened in Hobart as snow falls on higher peaks across Tasmania.

UnitingCare Tasmania acting CEO Donna Lashmar today urged the public to dig deep for this year’s Winter Warmer Drive, which is held in conjunction with Bendigo Bank branches statewide.

The campaign launch has coincided with a cold snap in the island state, with snow falling at Cradle Mt and Great Lake in the Central Highlands.

The Bureau of Meterology has issued a bushwalking alert, with snow expected as low as 600m during the day. BoM said hazardous conditions were expected in parts of the Western and Central Plateau forecast districts.

A frost warning has also been issued, with temperatures down to minus 1C degrees forecast for Wednesday morning in parts of the North-West Coast, Central North, North East, Midlands, East Coast and Upper Derwent Valley districts.

“Tasmanian winters can be extremely cold and the Winter Warmer Drive is a great way for Tasmanians to help those in need,” Ms Lashmar said.

“You may have a coat you haven’t worn for a few years or an extra blanket at the back of the cupboard.

“We now have mothers and children coming to the state fleeing family violence … arriving without the necessary clothes to get through the winter.

“We also help the homeless and some of the refugee population that have come to call Tasmania home.

“Also, extra blankets are a welcome addition to low-income households to assist with cost of heating.”

Winter Warmer donations can be made at Bendigo Bank branches in Hobart, Glenorchy, Rosny Park, Sorell, Nubeena, Bicheno, Swansea, Kingston, Huonville, Cygnet, Geeveston, Dover and Queenstown.

UnitingCare Tasmania acting CEO Donna Lashmar, left, and Bendigo Bank relationship manager Keridan Taylor at the launch of the third annual Winter Warmer Drive. Picture: SAM ROSEWARNE



Talking Point: Families building blocks of economy and local communities


May 18, 2017 12:00am

WHAT is a family? What does the term mean to you?

Is it a group consisting of two parents and their children living together as a unit or a group of people related by blood or marriage?

Or is it my personal preference, people you love and who love you back, not necessarily blood or biological, but you trust them and they trust you, and they take care of you and you take care of them.

This is National Families Week, which aims to celebrate the vital role families play in Australian society. This year’s theme is “stronger families, stronger communities”.

The plan is to encourage us to celebrate with family, make contact with extended family and friends, and share family activities in the community.

It is a time to celebrate the meaning of family and to make the most of family life.

In Tasmania, it also a time to reflect on the inequality faced by many families.

A sobering fact, faced by UnitingCare Tasmania, is that there is one community in southern Tasmania where 310 families access emergency relief every week. Yes, 310.

The economy is growing in southern Tasmania, with construction and tourism numbers improving, and for many life is good. But for others, life is tough.

Senator Jacqui Lambie expressed the reality of life on Centrelink payments in a March speech in Parliament, when she said: “This is what it’s like. It’s not a choice for many of us to be on welfare. It is shameful and embarrassing and it is bloody tough. But we do it, not because we want to but because circumstances put us there.”

She spoke movingly about her fridge breaking and having to use an Esky for three weeks, putting it under the house to make the ice last longer.

Just recently, my washing machine broke beyond repair and I went and bought a new one. Imagine being unable to do that as a family. How do you wash your clothes? How do you keep your family presentable so your children can go to school or you can go to work?

For people on a fixed income, these challenges are very difficult and stressful.

We are now in May, into school’s second term, but UnitingCare Tasmania, like many other charitable groups, saw enormous activity around the start of the school year, with low-income families and parents under more pressure to get their children prepared for a new year.

UnitingCare Tasmania was able to provide Back to School vouchers through our partnership with the Foundation of Rural and Regional Health $50 Target vouchers.

Children grow, needing new shoes almost every six months or so it seems.

We need to recognise and support Tasmanian families, every single one of them, because they play a key role in teaching, supporting and nurturing children, especially as they grow. And children are our future.

Families are the building blocks of our communities — they connect our communities and nurture our communities, whether they be in our schools, our churches or junior sporting clubs of all varieties.

Children aged 0-14 years make up 19 per cent of the population, while people aged 65 years and older account for 15 per cent.

The last Census (2011), not the one which ran into trouble last year, revealed there were 5,584,000 families in Australia, consisting of:

COUPLES without children (37.8 per cent)

COUPLES with dependent children (36.7)

ONE-PARENT families with dependent children (10.6)

COUPLES with non-dependent children only (7.9)

ONE-PARENT families with non-dependent children only (5.3)

The Tasmanian Commissioner for Children Mark Morrissey issued his Health and Wellbeing of Tasmania’s Children, Young People and their Families Report.

It found that Tasmania is home to 114,058 children and young people aged between 0-17. But our population of children has declined by 2.7 per cent between 2005-2016, which is also reflected in the declining number of births, a 12.4 per cent decline since 2008.

Geographically, children and young people are distributed across Tasmania, with the state roughly divided into two halves with 49 per cent located in the South and 51 per cent in the North.

Tasmania has the oldest population of all states and the projected population of children is expected to rise, level out at 2023, and decline.

Families are the core of our society. Without them, the future would be very grim.

UnitingCare Tasmania’s message this week is for everyone to celebrate their families. Maybe something as small as calling your mum or dad if you have not done so for a while.

Treasure your children, because they are your future and the future of our state.

We will keep doing our work to support Tasmanian families in need.

Donna Lashmar is acting chief executive of UnitingCare Tasmania.



UnitingCare Tasmania and Bendigo Bank issue blanket call for winter relief

Keridan Taylor, a relationship banker with Bendigo Bank, and UnitingCare Tasmania CEO Lin

Keridan Taylor, a relationship banker with Bendigo Bank, and UnitingCare Tasmania CEO Lindy O’Neill are urging Tasmanians to donate warm clothing and blankets to those less fortunate. Picture: NIKKI DAVIS-JONES

STAYING snug in the colder months is about to become a little easier for Tasmanians on struggle street.

A new initiative called the Winter Warmer Drive was unveiled in Hobart today by UnitingCare Tasmania and Bendigo Bank.

Tasmanians are being urged to drop their surplus blankets, gloves, coats and scarves into Bendigo branches for distribution by UnitingCare’s emergency relief outlets.

A mobile mobile op-shop bus will also do the rounds of rural and remote regions to share the winter wear.

UnitingCare Tasmania chief executive Lindy O’Neill said the new initiative would become an annual event.

“We intend to do it every year in May,” she said.

“We all know how cold Tasmanian winters can be and this is a good excuse for people to raid their wardrobes for that coat which has not be worn for years or that blanket which is now no longer needed and is taking up space at the back of a cupboard.”

Greg Peel, who heads Bendigo Bank’s joint venture Community Sector Banking, said teaming up with UnitingCare for the drive was a no-brainer.

“Getting communities behind Uniting Care Tasmania’s blanket drive is not only helping those individuals who receive these generous donations but showing support for [their] crucial work,” Mr Peel said.

Donations can be made at Bendigo branches in Hobart, Glenorchy, Rosny Park, Sorell, Nubeena, Bicheno, Swansea, Kingston, Huonville, Cygnet, Geeveston, Dover and Queenstown.


Uniting Care Tasmania and Launceston-based Karinya Young Women’s Service have joined forces to equip pregnant and young mums with the accommodation resources and parenting skills necessary to kick start a new life for themselves and their children.

Under the joint initiative – unveiled in Launceston earlier this month with the support of Tasmanian Children’s Minister Michelle O’Byrne –  Karinya will manage and lease up to eight Housing Tasmania units for young mothers and UnitingCare will provide the residents with mentoring services aimed at assisting them to deal with the massive life change through its Pregnant and Young Parents Support program (PYPS).

Providing young mothers with secure accommodation is seen as an important first step in achieving positive life outcomes and a preparedness to participate in the PYPS program will form part of the lease agreement with each young parent.

Funding for the initiative has been provided by the Clarendon Children’s Home, for three years.

The two organisations have extensive experience in working with the target group of young families.

Karinya has provided supported accommodation services for young women in the region for more than 30 years while UnitingCare’s Pregnant and Young Parents Support program (PYPS) has operated successfully in Northern Tasmania for more than 20 years.

PYPS assists young parents and pregnant young women develop an understanding of the transition to parenthood and to facilitate the development of effective parenting skills. It aims to enable participants to make informed decisions towards achieving their short and long-term goals through the processes of empowerment, support and education.

UnitingCare Tasmania’s  Statewide Family Services Manager, Maurice Dawe,  said taking away the stress associated with uncertain living arrangements assisted clients to be able to focus more comfortably on issues relating to their pregnancy and the wellbeing of their other children if any.

“Many of these young mothers and mothers to be have not had the family support or guidance to enable them to feel comfortable with tackling such a life changing experience,” Mr Dawe said.

“In partnership with Karinya what we want to do is not only show them how to survive but, more importantly, set them on a path to thrive both as an individual and as a mother.”

Karinya chairperson Kerrie Dean said both organisations were highly regarded for the support they provide to young pregnant women, or young parents and their children, including those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

“Together we believe we can offer high quality support options that will significantly improve the health, wellbeing and life chances of pregnant and young parents and their children,” she said.

Ms O’Byrne welcomed the initiative and said it would provide two of the most important things for a young family – support and stable accommodation.

“Parenting is the most important thing that any of us will do but it is a difficult job, even in the best of circumstances,” she said.

“This initiative will help give young Tasmanians the best possible start in life.”


Pictured at announcement are (front from left): Young mum Brooke Kirkland with daughter Luca, Tasmanian Children’s Minister Michelle O’Byrne and Karinya youth work co-ordinator Ria Brink. 

Standing behind are (from left): UnitingCare Statewide Family Services Manager Maurice Dawe and Rev. Robert Legg, the president of Clarendon Children’s Home.

No heart in Newstart!

Making the allowance more equitable and giving recipients “a decent start at a decent life.”

To the Senate Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Committee inquiry into:

“The adequacy of the allowance payment system for jobseekers and others,
the appropriateness of the allowance payment system as a support into work
and the impact of the changing nature of the labour market”

Click here to download the full submission.

$143,000 in grants support a vital Tasmanian community relief programs

More than $143,000 in SHARE grants is being issued to UnitingCare Tasmania to support some of the State’s most vulnerable people.

The money was raised from generous donations to the SHARE Community Appeal over the past year.

More than $1 million will be distributed by SHARE throughout Victoria and Tasmania to support a variety of programs from services for children and families to emergency relief.

SHARE has allocated $55,000 to UnitingCare Tasmania’s volunteers’ program, $58,500 for the continuation of emergency relief programs at Bridgewater-Gagebrook, Hobart Benevolent Society, Kingston-Huon Valley and remote and rural communities and $30,000 for Bridgewater-Gagebrook’s Emergency Relief Financial Counselling and Family Support Program.

Click here to download the full media release.

Welfare agency seeks community support

UnitingCare Tasmania is urging residents to support its annual SHARE Winter Appeal, which provides funding to community aid programs across the State.

Chief executive Lindy O’Neill said without UnitingCare programs many Tasmanians would have no place to turn for assistance with emergency food relief, paying bills and basic living skills.

“Each year UnitingCare agencies apply for grants made possible by the funds raised through the SHARE Winter Appeal. The grants are allocated in July and the more money raised means the more Tasmanians we can help,” Ms O’Neill said.

Last year about $140,000 in grants was given to UnitingCare Tasmania agencies for emergency relief and material aid, homelessness services and many other vital programs assisting people in crisis.

Click here to download the full media release.