Expanding Allied Health services for children and families in the Southern Downs

Organisation: BUSHKids

Project: Warwick Therapy Centre

Amount: $500,000 over three years

Year of grant: 2015

BUSHkids has been looking after the health and wellbeing of vulnerable children in rural, remote and regional communities in Queensland for 80 years. During his life, the charity was a particular favourite of the late John Villiers. In 2015, The John Villiers Trust made a significant grant of $500,000 towards the expansion of the BUSHkids Therapy Centre in Warwick.

BUSHkids aims to build capacity in local communities to identify and respond to children who are at risk of poor health, educational and social outcomes. Priority is given to young children not yet accessing education services and not eligible for other government, non-government or specialist services.

With a head office in Brisbane, it has six service centres across Queensland located in Bundaberg, Dalby, Emerald, Inglewood, Mt Isa and Warwick. Each centre has a team including a Speech-Language Pathologist, Occupational Therapist, Clinical Psychologist and Family Health Support Worker providing early allied health intervention for children and families who otherwise may not have been able to access such services.

During his lifetime, John Villiers was an active supporter of BUSHkids, then known as the Royal Queensland Bush Children’s Health Scheme. Having lived on the land for many years, John knew first-hand the isolation and hardships faced by many children and young people. After his retirement, he settled in Yeppoon and was a regular visitor to the Yeppoon Bush Children’s seaside home which provided medical care, treatment and recuperation for sick children from the country. As well as being a financial donor, John also gave his time, joining one of the organisation’s early community Committees. He was very proud when he was made an Honorary Life Member of BUSHkids, in recognition of his contribution over the years.

In his will, John asked that his Trustees give ‘particular regard’ to BUSHkids, as one of two favoured charities (the other is Autism Queensland). In 2015, The John Villiers Trust made a grant of $500,000 towards the expansion of the BUSHkids Warwick Therapy Centre.

The Warwick Therapy Centre began operations with a psychologist and a speech pathologist in 2006. The following year a full team commenced the work of building a multi-disciplinary service for the children of Warwick with outreach services to Inglewood, and Stanthorpe. By 2014, the Centre had considerably outgrown its premises and was struggling to meet increasing demand for its services from children and families across the Southern Downs.

The new expanded BUSHkids Warwick Therapy Centre officially opened in September 2015 and provides a welcoming family-friendly environment. As well as providing multidisciplinary services from a range of allied health professionals, its therapy spaces support parents and carers to develop skills and strategies which they can use to support their child’s development in their own environment.

Its flexible spaces meet a range of needs by:

  • Offering a holistic, family centred approach to child development and wellbeing;
  • Providing comprehensive psychology, occupational therapy and speech pathology assessment and intervention;
  • Working toward the prevention and early identification of childhood difficulties and disorders;
  • Increasing community awareness and providing education;
  • Offering adult and child group programs; and
  • Networking within the community to link families with other suitable community organisations and services to ensure continued support.

Through its support for the Warwick Therapy Centre, The John Villiers Trust is pleased to continue the relationship with BUSHkids established by the Trust’s benefactor, John Villiers, all those years ago.