Australia's oldest charity begins operations in Pirie

GOOD DEEDS: Team leader Melanie Prior, third from left, and staff members Esther Cappelletto, left, Jo Brenecki and Emma Hayes are embarking on a new journey in Port Pirie.
GOOD DEEDS: Team leader Melanie Prior, third from left, and staff members Esther Cappelletto, left, Jo Brenecki and Emma Hayes are embarking on a new journey in Port Pirie.

Australia's oldest charity has begun operating in Port Pirie and is reaching out to children with disabilities.

Eleven specialist clinicians have been hired and more are on the way, thanks to The Benevolent Society's Mid North regional hub.

Most of the team is made up of locals, according to Melanie Prior, team leader with the hub. "We have the capacity to increase as we grow," she said.

"We are the biggest provider of specialist services to people with disability outside government and we proudly offer the highest quality, but with a local style and understanding of local needs."

The team, now headquartered in Barrier Chambers, in Alexander Street, will provide a mobile service to greatly benefit residents. Therapy programs will include:

  • Positive behaviour support for complex and challenging behaviour
  • Coaching for educators in creating and supporting Inclusive classrooms
  • Speech pathology
  • Psychology
  • Occupational therapy
  • Little Steps Program – kindergarten readiness
  • School readiness
  • Early intensive behavioural intervention
  • Social work and complex case management
  • ASD diagnostic service
  • Full range of psycho-educational assessments

The service will include social programs and school holiday fun this year.

The society is registered with what it described as the "incredible" National Disability Insurance Scheme. "We want to attract more world-class allied health professionals to country South Australia to ensure that Port Pirie has a service equivalent to the big cities," Ms Prior said.

"We hope to help everyone within the region of Port Pirie and along the Copper Coast and expect to eventually have more than 1000 Mid North clients.

"Simply put, we plan to change lives for the better."

Economic powerhouse group Regional Development Australia Yorke and Mid North helped to bring the society to Port Pirie.

The charity is more than 200 years old and exists to be a catalyst for social justice and change. It aims to keep people living in their own homes for longer and to offer quality support services.

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