Making a positive impact on children

10 August 2023
Stewart House: Making a positive impact on children’s lives

The Smartgroup Foundation is dedicated to helping causes that have a positive impact on the community around us. In 2021, one of the grant recipients which we were able to support was children’s charity Stewart House and their Health and Wellbeing Program.

Improving children’s lives since 1931

Located in Curl Curl on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Stewart House has a rich history caring for children stretching back more than 90 years. Their team welcomes around 1,600 disadvantaged public school children from NSW and ACT annually, usually aged between seven and fourteen.

The children who come to Stewart House face a myriad of issues, including poor health, neglect, poverty, social disadvantage, and mental health struggles. As such, the team works hard to nurture and give a much-needed break from their current circumstances.

While the NSW Department of Education provides infrastructure and staffing support for the onsite specific-purpose school, outside of school hours, overnight and at the weekend, the children are cared for by suitably qualified supervisors. It costs about $5 million yearly to cover meals, accommodation, transport, entertainment, and salary for supervisors, cooks, cleaners, laundry, and maintenance staff. The NSW public education system staff have traditionally contributed around $2 million of this $5 million through fortnightly salary contributions. Around $500,000 is also raised through school-based fundraising by public school children. The remainder is gathered through personal and corporate donations and applications for private grants and subsidies.

A meaningful program for at-risk kids

The Health and Wellbeing Program integrates school and home life, inviting groups of children to stay at Stewart House for 12 days at a time. While there, they stay in pleasant cabins with all their essential needs met, and receive specialised education and medical support.

Stewart House provides eye, teeth, and ear screenings, plus an overall medical assessment. Children can also receive essential treatments, like having teeth extracted or getting prescription glasses. And health professionals can make additional referrals, if necessary. Qualified psychologists onsite directly support the children’s wellbeing during their stay.

For ten days of their stay, children attend a specialised school the Department of Education created for the program. There, they can develop their social and emotional skills, and build their self-esteem. Children also get the chance to enjoy some excursions around Sydney, and a variety of recreational activities.

The staff at Stewart House promote a more positive outlook for the future, teaching skills to appropriately handle emotions and surroundings. And they encourage techniques of self-care and ways to deal with anxiety. It’s also a great opportunity for children to make new friends and learn some new, healthier routines.

The Smartgroup Foundation offers assistance

The Smartgroup Foundation was so grateful for the chance to support Stewart House with a grant that covered the costs of taking in a cohort of 16 children for a 12-day stay.

We were also thrilled to meet the team when Sophie MacIntosh, Chief Legal and Sustainability Officer at Smartgroup, visited Stewart House to accept a certificate for the Foundation’s contribution.

She said, “There’s something truly special about making a real difference in a child’s life, and Stewart House is doing a marvellous job with the children in their care. They’re lifting their spirits and teaching them valuable life skills. We’re happy to be able to contribute to such an amazing cause and doing our part in helping to empower these children to a positive outlook on their futures.”

The Smartgroup Foundation

We launched the Smartgroup Foundation in 2019 to give support to the communities where we live and operate. Each year, we provide financial grants to charitable organisations running community-based projects.

In a 2022 survey, our employees nominated the upcoming causes they’d like to see the foundation support, covering children’s illnesses, mental illness, at-risk children and families, and the environment.

Find out more

Read more about the Smartgroup Foundation and the next opening of our grant rounds in October. Find out more about Stewart House and the important work that they do here.

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia. We pay our respect to them, and to Elders past, present and future.

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