The Benevolent Society – Industry Focus

Australia’s oldest charity, The Benevolent Society, has been helping Australians for almost 210 years!

In the two centuries since, The Benevolent Society has seen and undergone many changes but its underlying mission – to have a just society where all Australians can live their best life – has remained unchanged.

The Society’s belief is that everyone deserves to live their life their way, and combined with its principles and values, it is guided to reach our vision and leave a positive impact on the lives of its clients and their carers.

Think of a community program or service and you can almost guarantee The Benevolent Society is behind it or runs/offers a parallel service.

A majority of the Society’s clinical health and disability services can be funded through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and they also offer privately funded payment options and telehealth options where required.

Here’s a brief run-down of the services they offer:

Supporting Children and Families

  • Family Parenting Support
  • Child & youth behaviour support
  • Domestic and family violence support
  • Information and referral
  • Parent coaching
  • NDIS Early Approach (ECA) Brisbane

Providing Care for Older Australians

  • Home Care Packages
  • Planning your support
  • Support for carers
  • Help around the house
  • Living an active life
  • Clinical health services
  • Personal care
  • Dementia care

Supporting People with Disabilities

  • Support coordination
  • Support for carers
  • Positive behaviour support
  • NDIS Early Childhood Approach (ECA) Brisbane
  • Physiotherapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Dietitians
  • Speech pathology

The Society also has an extensive list of programs to support individuals, carers, children, parents, and families to help them connect with the community and live happy and healthy lives.

Some programs are funded by the NDIS for Early Child Early Intervention in Queensland.

The Society also has many programs funded through government grants and free to those who need them.

The Benevolent Society has a rich history, steeped in community endeavours and helping people.

To understand the depth of its mission, it’s passion for others, how it values, impacts and contributes to the community and Australians, it is important to recognise and explore the Society’s rich and amazing history.

The Benevolent Society was formed on May 8, 1813 by Edward Smith Hall, Rev. William Cowper and five other like-minded gentlemen and was originally known as The NSW Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and Benevolence.

It was the first private charitable organisation dedicated to meeting needs of vulnerable groups in Australian society, assisting people far beyond the capacity of government.

While its origins were Christian, it soon went on to become a non-religious, unaffiliated organisation.

Several years after forming, the Society introduced community nursing to reach isolated patients, then in 1821 it opened an asylum for homeless older men, deserted women and children and the mentally ill in Sydney.

In the decades after, the Society opened a place for “male paupers”, created the NSW Society for the Relief of Destitute Children after subsidies from the British government ceased, took care of destitute people and opened a maternity hospital.

Towards the end of the 1800s, the Society provided free legal aid to poor women in order to pursue cases of maintenance against the fathers of their children and campaigned to outlaw child labour and baby farming.

As a result of this campaign, Society president Sir Arthur Renwick initiated the introduction of the NSW Child Protection Act which was later amended to “enable children whose widowed or deserted mothers could not support them to be boarded out to their own parents”.

Just before the turn of the century, Sir Arthur led a campaign for the Old Age Pension which was eventually introduced by the NSW government in 1901, the first of its kind in the world.

The Royal Hospital for Women was established by The Benevolent Society (inspired by Sir Arthur) and operated until 1992, and was gifted Scarba House in Bondi as a welfare home for women and children which was officially opened in September 1917.

By 1960, a joint research venture between The Benevolent Society’s Royal Hospital for Women and the Commonwealth Acoustic Laboratories, in the Federal Department of Health, was established to develop ultrasonic equipment for obstetric applications.

By the end of that decade the Benevolent Society opened its first retirement village with ownership transferring to another aged care provider in 2016.

In the years following, the Society opened an adoption agency, an aged care home followed by several retirement villages and parenting services for single mothers by 1971.

Through the ’70s and ’80s, the Society went on to form a childcare centre and early intervention programs for families at risk and a post adoption resource centre.

Just before 2007, the Society branched into Queensland and not long after, established Fostering Young Lives, a program for foster care.

As the 2000s rolled on, the Society became the joint founder of GoodStart to acquire the ABC Learning Centres, started advocating change by supporting the “Speak up for Kids” and Australians for Affordable Housing campaigns and celebrated its 200th year in 2013.

Just before its anniversary, the Society launched a $10 million, five-year social benefit bond, also known as a social impact bond, in partnership with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac to fund early intervention program Resilient Families.

In 2016 The Benevolent Society’s research into the adequacy of the age pension determined it was inadequate.

The Society launched an advocacy campaign for better conditions for older Australians including the Fix Pension Poverty campaign.

The Society went on to transition the Disability Service Teams formerly part of FaCS (Family and Community Services) of the NSW government in order to provide disability clinical services across NSW, including regional and remote areas.

Today, the Society continues to advocate for older Australians with the launch of a campaign against ageism called Every Age Counts.

Australians can get behind this amazing organisation and help it continue its great work in the community. Your support can make a difference to someone in need.

From volunteering, partnerships and donations – every bit helps. Find out how you can help continue the founders’ legacy by contacting the Benevolent Society today!

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