Karinya House partners with disAbility Maternity Care

Karinya House partners with disAbility Maternity Care -

Karinya House partners with disAbility Maternity Care

‘It takes a village’ is often said about parenting, and the fact that parents need support in raising children. The same could be said about organisations that provide this support to parents. A single organisation cannot meet all the needs of every parent. Rather, a range of organisations do, and the more collaborative they are, the better the support provided to women, families, and children, especially those who are vulnerable. 

This month sees the beginning of a collaborative relationship between disAbility Maternity Care, and Karinya House, an organisation that provides support and accommodation to pregnant and parenting women who are experiencing a period of vulnerability. 

Pregnancy begins the transition to parenthood and a lifetime journey, and with it, brings many challenges. The premise of Karinya House is that every woman who is pregnant or parenting should be surrounded with the support she needs.

Karinya House partners with disAbility Maternity Care -

Karinya House recognises and acknowledges the unique lived experiences of women as they navigate building a future for themselves. Their practice framework is focused on developing a sense of hope and belonging, to effect lasting positive change in the lives of the women in contact with Karinya House. Women accessing the services of Karinya House are more often impacted by a history of trauma including family violence.  Over 50% of women supported by Karinya are experiencing a period of homelessness upon referral with limited or no support.  

The Karinya House Practice Framework is founded within the principals of trauma informed care and practice. Individual casework management and flexibility in service provision are paramount at Karinya House.  By providing a framework of care that encompasses the whole person, the Karinya Care Team walk alongside women as they regain their power to represent themselves and to make informed choices about their own lives.  

Karinya House partners with disAbility Maternity Care -

“single mothers who are experiencing a period of homelessness and face limited opportunities are never far from judgement, criticism and at times incredible prejudice in our community”

“Part of our practice is to seek, through word and action, to change the language around women, who are pregnant.” 

 They do this through word, action and story, reflecting the shared experience of walking alongside women who persevere and journey through critical times in their lives with strength, wisdom and knowledges from which we can all learn.

On accepting the ACT Woman of the Year Award in 2017, Executive Director, Marie-Louise Corkhill stated, “single mothers who are experiencing a period of homelessness and face limited opportunities are never far from judgement, criticism and at times incredible prejudice in our community”.…even today.

Karinya walks alongside around 200 women per annum. Of the women supported by Karinya House, on average 1-2 % of women present with a diagnosed intellectual or physical disability. Karinya shares with us Angela’s journey below. 

As a not-for-profit organisation, Karinya House is dependent on funding from both government and non-government partners, the latter representing 30% of annual operating costs. The importance of organisations like disAbility Maternity Care contributing to ongoing work for their organisation is crucial.

As a not-for-profit organisation, Karinya House is dependent on funding from both government and non-government partners, the latter representing 30% of annual operating costs. The importance of organisations like disAbility Maternity Care contributing to ongoing work for their organisation is crucial.

As part of this partnership disAbility Maternity Care has committed to donating the proceeds from the sale of this specifically created ‘Karinya’ Tee shirt to Karinya House. 

Young woman wearing white T-shirt that says lets change the conversation with picture of pregnant woman sitting.

Angela's journey

Angela lived at Karinya House for almost two years, during her pregnancy and following the birth of daughter Helen.  Angela was allocated a Housing ACT property and she and Helen moved in there together, enjoying living independently in a safe and affordable home, and successfully exiting her Karinya support period.  Angela kept in regular contact with Karinya House, phoning to update the care team on her progress and sending her best wishes at Christmas time.  Angela went back to work, supporting herself and her daughter, and as she herself said, “I got back on my feet and life was good!”  

Four years after the birth of her daughter, Angela was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  She spent 4 months in hospital, with her daughter being cared for by her maternal grandmother. Upon returning home from hospital, with Helen back in her care, and having no other supports to turn to she phoned Karinya House. As is the Karinya way, Angela’s file was re-opened for this new period of support. 

child in yellow dress blowing a feather

Angela’s daughter Helen had been previously diagnosed with a developmental delay and sensory processing difficulties.  She required early intervention as well as attending mainstream pre-school. Angela was unable to drive Helen to school due to her medical condition and was unable to access public buses from her home.  There were no other support services in the community able to transport Helen to and from school.  

“I had always stayed in contact with Karinya and when I called to let them know of my diagnosis, they were on my doorstep…I couldn’t believe they were still willing to help me…There’s a very special bond between Karinya, Helen and I. It goes beyond just being a client. They are our extended family.” (Angela’s reflection on reconnecting with Karinya House at this time)

Karinya House provided transport for Helen to and from pre-school and early intervention several days a week from some months to ensure Helen received the support and intervention she required to be able to commence mainstream primary school the following year.

Karinya House advocated for Angela to be placed on the Priority listing for a Housing ACT transfer based on her health needs and mobility restrictions.  A wheelchair accessible home was necessary and the home needed to be close to Helen’s primary school. This negotiation was successful.

Karinya House also assisted Angela to access other support services. Until her diagnosis Angela had been working for a local supermarket.  She had retained her position there, taking extended leave while she was unwell.  Angela returned to work on a part time basis after her health had stabilised.

Angela accessed Karinya’s Health Professional as part of her outreach casework plan, for herself and for Helen. The health professional assisted Angela to access the MS society and other valuable health services.  

During the support period, Karinya House volunteers took Helen on outings and cared for her during school holidays and at other times, provide some respite to Angela.  Angela and Helen also attended functions put on by Karinya House and thoroughly enjoy the social interaction they get from these.  Angela had the availability of 24-hour phone contact with Karinya House during the whole support period.  

Two women at lunch

The support Karinya House was able to provide to Angela during this season of her life, meant she could continue with her journey in a way that was right for her and Helen.

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