SunnyKids has evolved from providing crisis accommodation under the name of Najidah in 1999 to designing and delivering award-winning support service and education programs across a wide range of schools and communities.
At the heart of all SunnyKids’ programs is a solution based concept called the ‘SunnyKids Virtual Village’ which allows contemporary Australian communities to apply the old adage that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’.
With more than 1,500 schools and communities participating in SunnyKids’ programs each year, and the organisation’s first student wellbeing publication The Quest for Courage distributed to every Australian primary school in 2012, we have certainly come a long way since 1999.
Having said that, in many ways little has changed. Everything SunnyKids did in 1999 was about gathering the community (or village) around kids and families in need. The only difference today is we are doing it with a lot more people in a lot more places!
CEO Chris Turner shares the SunnyKids Journey
Planning for the future of SunnyKids began the day I walked in the door as the Director of Najidah in 2003. At the time we provided violence related crisis accommodation and being confronted by nearly 20 children living in the womens’ refuge I realised that our services needed to evolve to focus on supporting children to stop the intergenerational cycle of disadvantage.
The journey into disadvantage begins in childhood and working mostly with adults didn’t allow us to effect change and truly achieve a better quality of life for these families. We worked hard to put in place a theoretical framework, articulate our beliefs, principles and values, and implement systems to deliver quality services and outcomes.
Essentially, we reinvented ourselves as a childrens’ charity that happened to run a womens’ refuge rather than vice versa which was how we were originally positioned. In 2009 we were the inaugural Queensland winners of the national ‘Schools First’ Awards which recognised our approach as national best practice in school and community partnerships. From there our work has grown both in scope and in scale. Whilst we still deliver a significant amount of programs ourselves we are now also looking for partners in other communities with whom we can collaborate in order to see every child, every family and every community in Australia ‘gather the Village to help raise the children’.
Our work in the family violence refuge is still very important to us, but these days we also focus on prevention and early intervention in schools because we believe that keeping at-risk kids engaged in their education is their best chance of breaking the cycle of disadvantage. After all, prevention really is better than cure.
SunnyKids aims to break intergenerational cycles of poverty and disadvantage, providing the hope and resilience necessary to move forward, both as individuals and as a society.
- Every child should have the opportunity to reach their full potential regardless of their circumstance.
- Capable children are the foundation of a capable and prosperous society.
- Every community problem has a community based solution.
A society in which every child can expect:
- to live in a safe home, in a safe community
- the opportunity to become a happy and effective citizen
- the chance to reach their full potential socially, educationally, professionally and physically.
A not-for-profit organisation that will:
- continue delivering best practice programs and services
- make our programmes available to other groups and communities across the country.
We are delighted to be continually recognised for our work improving outcomes for children.
2012 World Record – Most students participating in a reading event (350,265) 2009 State Schools First Awards 2009 Westpac Community Idol 2008 Givewell National Charity Awards 2007 National Volunteer Management Awards 2006 Suicide Prevention Australia Awards 2006 National Crime and Violence Prevention Awards 2005 National Community Housing Awards