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Residential Family Preservation & Restoration

A guide for young people, families, teachers and support people.

Attendance rates at the Dunlea Centre exceed 90%, and after completing the program the average Dunlea student’s reading comprehension improved by 2 years, reading age improved by 4 years and spelling improved 2 years.


Is the Dunlea program for me, my child, or a child I work with?

Dunlea’s residential program may be a good fit if:
• there’s conflict at home;
• people are worried about safety and welfare;
• there are disagreements about supervision;
• the family is at or nearing breaking point.

Am I, or is my child or a child I work with eligible?

Our residential program is aimed at future potential young people who:
• are in Years 7 to 10 at school.
• reside in the Sydney Metropolitan area or the Illawarra Region.
• currently live in a family setting, including with long term carers. The Dunlea Centre program is voluntary and, as such, young people and their parent(s)/ key carers coming into the program, need to be willing to attend counselling and to work on their family issues.

Next Steps
• Contact us to speak with a member of staff about the program and eligibility details.
• Attend a family talk – a group presentation for families and young people that happens three times a term.
• If a young person chooses to participate, they can take an application pack.
• Complete and return the application pack (call us if you have any questions).
• Come in for a family assessment meeting.
• If accepted into the program, come to an orientation meeting to finalise enrolment and a start date.
• Meet the team and be shown the facilities and residential areas.

Our History Fr Thomas Dunlea founded Australia’s Original Boys’ Town in 1939 after being inspired by the youth work of Fr Flanagan in Omaha, Nebraska. It has continued to evolve over the years in order to remain relevant to the changing needs of adolescents and families. This ability to adapt was reflected in 2010 with the introduction of girls into the current programs. This necessitated a name change and Dunlea Centre was adopted in honour of its founder. The Salesian charism still underpins the work at Dunlea Centre today although it has an interdenominational charter.

“For me, going to the Dunlea Centre was like planting the seed of a better future. I started thinking about making good decisions. Obviously I didn’t make every perfect decision. I was just a young teenager. But a lot of things resonated with me later on down the years, and it started to make more and more sense as time went on. It just took me a few more years to focus in on that and work out what was important.” – Kane, former Dunlea Centre student

The Dunlea Centre Program is about helping young people and their families change those aspects in their lives that are barriers to family cohesion. It does this by focusing on the needs of the young person and of the family.

The Program is aimed at young people aged from 12 to 16 who are in Years 7 to 10, and targets their welfare, educational, social and life skills needs.

Dunlea Centre is a registered Years 7 to 10 school and is accredited to deliver the ROSA credential.

The Program is voluntary and lasts for approximately 12 to 18 months. The young people attend from Monday at 9am through to Friday at 12pm and go home for the weekends, public holidays and the regular school holiday periods.

A young person entering the Program will be placed in one of four units, living with a maximum of 7 other young people, and working with 5 staff members consisting of a teacher, a Life Skills Social Educator, a Family Services Worker (counsellor) and 2 residential carers. It is in this context that the needs of the young person and the family are able to be targeted. Some aspects of the program are as follows:

For the young person:
• Individual counselling targeting what is happening in the family and what is happening emotionally for the young person;
• The development of an Individual Education Plan targeting the educational needs of the young person and meeting the requirements of BOSTES in a relevant and creative way;
• Social Skills development including focus on: communication, anger management, conflict resolution, social interactions, exposure to social settings and learning to live with others;
• Life skills development including focus on cooking, washing, hygiene, household chores, shopping, budgeting, resume` writing, interviewing skills;
• A chance to target personal goals and to make changes.

For the Families:
• A chance to identify and target the issues of concern existing in the family;
• Individual and family counselling;
• Access to services to target issues in the family;
• A chance to target goals and to make changes.