Seventy-five years ago an orphanage was established on a local family farm, starting a decades long passion for helping children in need through the Peirson Memorial Trust.
The organisation will celebrate its milestone anniversary next week, highlighting its mission to serve young people at risk of entering or in the care of the Child Protection and Youth Justice systems, as well as their families and carers.
The organisation currently operates two farms in Bundaberg which are utilised for at-risk youth to learn about working on the land.
Peirson Services also operates under the Trust, providing counselling and intervention, youth programs and more out of its local office.
CEO Madeleine Marais said throughout its 75 years the Trust had grown to offer a multitude of avenues to support local children after originally starting as an orphanage in the Bundaberg Region.
“While some of these services are partially funded by the Queensland Government, the remainder is covered by the Peirson Memorial Trust from funds raised through the original Peirson Farm,” she said.
“Today, the farm acts as a modern agricultural business and training facility for youth, growing avocados and macadamias on the outskirts of Bundaberg.”
History of Perison Memorial Trust
The Peirson Memorial Trust is a charitable organisation that was established in 1947 when the Peirson sisters bequeathed their sugarcane farm in Goodwood to the Ann Street Presbyterian Church to care for and train orphans in agriculture.
The donation of the farm was the beginning of a mammoth mission to provide support services for children in need.
During its 75 years, the focus of Peirson Memorial Trust changed from orphans to children in the care of Child Safety Services under the Department of Communities.
This led to the establishment of Peirson Services in the 1990s, a counselling centre in Bundaberg.
Nowadays, Peirson Services continues as a ministry arm of the Ann St Church, to serve young people.
Trust continues mission of support
Madeleine said much like its humble beginnings, the Trust was just as dedicated today in providing support to children who needed it most.
“All the profits from our farms are used to support our counselling service and other initiatives,” she said.
“Our counselling service is focused on helping children, young people and their parents.
“We have a passion for families and love supporting them through training and counselling.”
Madeleine said the 75-year history of Peirson Memorial Trust highlighted how the welfare of children was at the heart of everything it accomplished.
“Through its existence the Trust has had an influence on the lives of many children and families,” she said.
“In the earlier years, the Trust provided homes for orphaned children which then led to ongoing youth services.”
Madeleine said there were a range of programs that had, and continued to have, a lasting impact on its participants.
“From 1999 to 2014 the Waarvah program provided support to Indigenous youth in the Bundaberg area under funding from the Department of Communities,” Madeleine said.
“In 2014 this program was integrated into the Youth Support Service which still currently provides access and support services to young people aged 12 to 18 who are at risk of disconnection.
“In 2016 we also entered into a partnership with the Bundaberg Youth Justice Service to deliver the Transition to Success (T2S) program at our Goodwood Road farm.
“From 2016 we have seen over 60 young people graduate with the Certificates in construction, horticulture as well as literacy and numeracy.”
Madeleine said in addition to being a training ground for young people, the work of growing avocados and macadamias on the Trust land was carried out efficiently and effectively by all farm staff.
“The young people involved with us have completed several projects for us on the farm, from building a fence to assist in restricting the movements of bush pigs to refurbishing several of the buildings that we have on the farm,” she said.
“Some of these young people have also been employed on the farm during our harvest season.
“The surplus made from the farm’s operations is used to fund our charitable services and meet the government financing shortfall for our funded services.”
In more recent times Madeleine said the Trust, together with others in the agricultural industry, had joined a Bundaberg Regional Council and Kepnock State High School initiative.
This program aimed at preventing disengagement from school by giving students hand-on experiences on various farms.
“This year we had the opportunity to partner with the Bundaberg Regional Council and Kepnock State High School in presenting a pilot program to 10 select students,” she said.
“This program saw the students actively engage in activities on various farms which culminated in their graduation on the farm.”
Celebrations open for all
Peirson Memorial Trust will celebrate 75 years with a community barbeque on the farm followed by a thanksgiving service on Saturday 29 October at 79 Peirson Road, Goodwood.
“We will be welcoming some of the original residents of our group home back on the farm and will also be joined by some of our previous staff members,” Madeleine said.
“Members of the Bundaberg community are welcome to join us on the day for farm tours, activities for the kids and the thanksgiving service.”
Madeleine said the milestone anniversary marked a proud history and a bright future for the organisation.
“We will soon begin to explore the possibility of welcoming more young people and families to the farm for camps and other activities,” she said.
“We hope that through the support from the farm Peirson Services will be able to continue providing valuable support to the families of Bundaberg.”
Anyone interested in attending the event can RSVP by contacting the office at email@example.com.
Find out more here.