More than 130 children and young people were placed in safe homes with foster carers across the Murraylands, Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu Peninsula by ac.care last financial year.
Meanwhile, 137 families and individuals in the region were supported to avoid homelessness thanks to early intervention provided by the agency's Murraylands Homelessness Service.
These are among highlights outlined in the country organisation's annual report despite the challenges posted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
ac.care chief executive officer Shane Maddocks explained at the organisation's annual general meeting last month ac.care had grown from a small organisation founded under the auspices of Mount Gambier's Anglican church in 1986 to be now classed as a large not-for-profit agency.
"This growth in our funding continues to ensure we are strong financially, however, our success stems from the trust country people put in our sta and volunteers and the services they deliver," Mr Maddocks said.
"We have committed, skilled, compassionate people who have continued to provide services despite the challenges of the pandemic and have adapted well to working in dierent ways to ensure our essential services continue to be delivered in a safe way to help provide a better future for people who use our services."
However, Mr Maddocks said many challenges remained to achieve the agency's mission in ensuring vulnerable country people had safe homes, enough money to live on and strong, positive relationships.
"Our communities are deeply affected by the shortage of affordable housing, lack of mental health services and reliance on incomes that continue to keep people in poverty," he said.
"During the initial stages of the pandemic, we saw what was possible with income support lifted for those without work, as well as support provided for those industries directly impacted by lockdowns."
Today, the organisation employs more than 240 people to provide diverse services across the Murraylands, Adelaide Hills, Fleurieu Peninsula, Riverland and Limestone Coast,.
Aboriginal people represent 12pc of the staff team, with the figure continuing to grow.
Over the past financial year, ac.care was appointed as the lead agency for the Southern Country Homeless Alliance to work in partnership with Moorundi and Pangula Mannamurna Aboriginal health services, Junction Australia and SA Housing Authority under State Government reforms.
Meanwhile, the organisation partnered with Habitat for Humanity SA and other charities, agencies, the South Australian Housing Authority and supporters in the community to convert a vacant duplex in need of repairs into four modern apartments now home to four supported vulnerable youth in the Murray Bridge area.
ac.care also introduced a range of new services after receiving funding for Community Connections and youth development and support initiatives.
Additional support from government during the pandemic allowed ac.care to ensure more people sleeping rough were provided with a safe place to stay, including in motels and caravan parks as housing shortages continued to restrict accommodation opportunities.
"We have seen what is possible to support people to live with dignity and we continue to advocate for change to enhance services to those who are experiencing vulnerability," Mr Maddocks said.
Meanwhile, community support through donations of funds and goods has helped people working in frontline services extend the impact they can have in helping people overcome challenges, secure a better future and help vulnerable people extend their limited budgets to cover basic necessities.
"Our values of compassion, adaptability, relationships and excellence continue to drive us to achieve our mission, but we can't do this alone and continue to welcome the support of the communities in which we live and work," Mr Maddocks said.
Anyone can become a regular or one-off donor to increase the impact of ac.care's services by visiting accare.org.au/donate
Visit accare.org.au for an online version of ac.care's annual report to read more about the agency's achievements over the past financial year.
Key Murraylands and Adelaide Hills statistics
- 132 children found homes with local foster carers
- 137 people avoided homelessness with early intervention support
- 292 people moved from homelessness into stable accommodation
- 132 people were able to get over a crisis with access to emergency or short-term accommodation
- 428 people accessed the Riverland Homelessness Service
- 834 people were supported in a crisis with financial help and food relief
- 212 people managed a difficult financial situation by seeking financial counselling