Helping the Sydney community with relationships, parenting, ageing, disability, pastoral services and mental wellbeing.

The HOPE Program

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Supporting young women and their babies and young children

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Since the HOPE program began in 2019, it has helped over 180 young families in the Sydney area to stay together and build greater hope for the future.

Sadly, we know that too often young parents have missed out on secure and healthy early childhoods themselves, so HOPE has been carefully designed to provide young families with the right combination of supports to help break the cycle of intergenerational disadvantage.

The program is specifically planned to be a 12-month therapeutic program for at-risk young women with babies and children in their first 1000 days. The program aims to provide the young women with the support they need to heal from trauma, build their parenting skills and create a nurturing and safe home environment while also assisting them to make positive choices for their future.

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The difference HOPE makes

In FY22:

  • HOPE reached 73 young women who had 81 children.
  • Of the women who completed the program, 97% remained as a preserved family unit.

Of the young women HOPE worked with in FY22:

  • 73% were either homeless or at risk of homelessness or living in unsafe or unsuitable conditions
  • 81% had additional mental health needs
  • 51% have experienced domestic or family violence
  • 26% have experienced sexualised violence
  • 47% identified as being from a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) background
  • 19% identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders
  • 14% have experienced the out-of-home-care system in their own childhood

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The issue

Evidence from a broad spectrum of research shows us that development during the first 1000 days, from pregnancy until a child is two, lays the foundations for later learning, wellbeing, mental and physical health.

During this time, a baby’s neurological and physical development is shaped by their environment and experiences. The interactions and relationships they have with their parents and primary caregivers are critically important.

HOPE CatholicCare Sydney babyHealthy early development, supported by nurturing and good relationships, makes it more likely that children will have happy, healthy, and bright futures.

Infants can experience trauma in environments that are unsafe, unsuitable, or unpredictable. This might be an environment where there is a lack of access to things such as sufficient support for parents, safe and stable housing, strong community networks or adequate income to cover the basics. It may include exposure to domestic and family violence or other forms of trauma in the home.

Early trauma can affect all aspects of development and functioning, including health and wellbeing, mental health, social functioning, and cognitive development.

The approach to parenting most adopted by new parents mimics that which they would have received as children. This can be helpful for those who received positive childhood experiences. However, often families with complex vulnerabilities may have done the very best they could with the resources they had but may have created unhelpful or harmful approaches to parenting.

The good news is that relationships also help children to recover from early trauma. More influential for the child than their early trauma is the quality and quantity of their safe relationships. This is an incredibly hopeful message from the research.

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Tegan's story

Learning you are about to be a new mum is a lot to handle but becoming a mum when only 21 and with no support from your partner can be daunting.

HOPE Program Tegan CatholicCare SydneyTegan was referred to the HOPE program for extra support by a hospital social worker when she was about 20 weeks pregnant. She was matched to a HOPE case worker, and they met weekly for home-based sessions. The HOPE case worker helped Tegan to heal from past trauma and set goals for the future.

When Tegan began with the HOPE program, she was struggling to find safe and stable housing and her case worker quickly assisted her to access transitional accommodation and the basics to set up a home.  As a resilient young woman, Tegan was determined to improve her family’s position and she found that the HOPE program valued her experience and commitment and partnered with her on services that made sense and helped her with her goals.

Tegan’s case worker provided support to improve her family’s position – help to access childcare for her baby, guidance as she worked to secure a childcare subsidy, and more.

The case worker explored with Tegan the impact of her own trauma on her, her mental health and on her template for what healthy relationships should look like.  Over time Tegan’s confidence in her parenting skills increased.

With the HOPE Educator’s help, Tegan enrolled in a Certificate 3 in Community Services at TAFE and is looking forward to starting next year.

Now, Tegan’s case worker is working with her to secure permanent accommodation for her and her baby as she prepares to complete the HOPE program.

I’ve been through tough times, but I’m proud of the new life I’ve made for myself and my baby girl, Zailee. I couldn’t have done it without help from the HOPE program.” Tegan.

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Why investing in women matters

Around the world, investing in women has a proven multiplier effect. Women and girls use the knowledge and skills they develop to benefit their families, communities, and countries, not just for their own personal profit.

Yet women still face many barriers to equality of opportunity to create healthy and secure lives for themselves and their families.

Research also tells us that half of all female sole parents and their children don’t earn enough to support their families and rely on government payments as their main financial support. 

HOPE young families are amongst the lowest income families in the community. 

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Thanks to our supporters

We celebrate financial and in-kind support made during the Financial Year 2022 (July 2021 – June 2022) and offer our heartfelt thanks to each of our incredibly generous supporters for making it possible to carry out this work.

Charitable Foundations
Curran Access Children’s Foundation
Charitable Works Fund
Betty Wade Charitable Foundation


Individuals and Family Foundations 
Phillips Family Foundation
The Harris Family
Eureka Benevolent Foundation
Edwin and Nil
Karen and Matthew Hope
D’Leanne Lewis

NSW Health

Community Housing Providers
Amelie Housing
Hume Community Housing
Metro Community Housing

Mummies Paying it Forward
Dandelion Support Network

HOPE Program Baby CatholicCare Sydney

How you can help

In the next three years our aim is to support 300+ HOPE young families.
For each young family who participates in the 12-month program, we need to raise $25,000 which covers the cost of all aspects of the program.
Here are some ways that you can create opportunities for our shared community.
 If you are interested in any of the above opportunities please contact Ali Barry at

Contact us

For further information or talk about the opportunities within the HOPE Program contact Ali Barry or Nikki Jones below.

Ali Barry CatholicCare Sydney

Ali Barry
Executive Manager, Partnerships and Philanthropy
02 9509 1197

Nikki Jones CatholicCare Sydney

Nikki Jones
Trusts and Foundations Manager
02 9509 1119