Two leading non-profit organisations with a combined history of more than 300 years serving the Geelong and the wider community have merged to become one united organisation.
Barwon Child, Youth & Family (BCYF) and the Bethany Group are now known as Meli and together form one of the region’s largest employers with a combined workforce of more than 750 staff.
Meli is the Barwon region’s largest provider of kindergartens and vital community support services including foster and kinship care, family services, family violence services for women, men and children, school engagement, youth justice, mental health, drug and alcohol services, homelessness support, family and relationship counselling, financial counselling, Gambler’s Help, emergency relief and NDIS services.
Meli chief executive officer Grant Boyd said the merger brought together two like-minded organisations to consolidate their expertise and be better placed to respond to changing needs in the community.
Mr Boyd said the organisation’s new name was inspired by the word ‘meliorism’: the belief that the world can be made better through human effort.
“At Meli we are meliorists at heart- we believe in social justice, equality, and doing the right thing. These beliefs, combined with our insights built on over 300 years of combined experience mean we are well placed to fulfill our purpose of supporting people and strengthening communities”.
“Our experience shows us that the best way to support community wellbeing is by being proactive, providing compassionate support and taking a preventative and early engagement approach”.
While the name has changed, Mr Boyd said it would be business as usual for the merged organisation which has offices and kindergartens in Greater Geelong, the Bellarine, Surf Coast, Winchelsea, Colac, Bannockburn, Warrnambool and Horsham.
“Meli will continue to provide its current community services to children, young people families and individuals including our network of 29 kindergartens, with plans to grow our services to meet the changing needs of our communities.” Mr Boyd said.
Meli Board Chair Chris Bowly applauded the BCYF and Bethany teams on a smooth transition to the new organisation.
“The merger exploration began in 2021 and involved extensive consultation with staff, clients and stakeholders, along with due diligence to ensure the outcome would provide our community with tangible benefits,” Mr Bowly said.
“I am proud that our people have been integral and positive in establishing the culture of our new organisation, including shaping our vision, purpose and values.”
Bethany was established in 1868 as a women’s refuge, then a babies home and later community support services. Geelong Kindergartens Association joined Bethany in 2017, strengthening its proud history of providing quality and innovative services to support children, families and individuals.
BCYF has a history stretching back to 1855 with the opening of Geelong’s first children’s orphanage and grew to become a leading child, youth and family services provider following the 2015 merger of Glastonbury Community Services, Barwon Youth and Time for Youth.