Region’s oldest community organisations merge

May 4, 2022 BY

David McDonald and Chris Bowly, Bethany Community Support chair and Barwon Child, Youth & Family chair. Photos: SUPPLIED

TWO of the region’s oldest and largest service providers for children, individuals and families are merging into a single organisation.

Barwon Child, Youth & Family (BCYF) and Bethany Community Support have issued a joint statement saying the decision was independently made by boards for each organisation, based on consultation and feedback from service users, staff and stakeholders and “due diligence work undertaken”.

“We believe that a new, larger organisation will provide tangible long-term benefits for our service users, staff and the communities we serve,” chairs of Bethany and BCYF, Chris Bowly and David McDonald said.

“We have seen an increasing demand for the services we provide and the needs of the people we support are becoming more complex.

“The decision to merge our two organisations was made based on the belief and evidence that we can achieve even stronger outcomes for our community as one single organisation.”

It is expected that the merger of the two agencies will be finalised no later than June 30, 2023.

The Geelong Female Refuge opened in 1868 in Hamlyn Heights, later becoming home to Bethany Community Services. Photo: BETHANY COMMUNITY SERVICES

When complete, it will unite some of region’s oldest ongoing institutions with a collective history of over 300 years.

BCYF was launched as a new entity in 2015, an amalgamation of Barwon Youth, Time for Youth and Glastonbury Community Services.

Glastonbury Community Services originated in the 1850s as an orphanage asylum in Geelong for deserted and orphaned children, Bethany Community Support started out in May 1868 as the Geelong Female Refuge at the Hamlyn Heights site where the organisation now resides.

Part of the Bethany group of services includes a kindergarten arm that operates 22 centres throughout Victoria’s west and south west, complementing BCYF’s management support services for the sector.

The two share numerous other services spaces, including counselling for alcohol and other drugs, family violence and housing services.

The organisations respective chairs said each will continue to operate as normal while the two prepare for the merger.