From jumping castles to kayaking, we have school holiday fun covered for kids!


Children’s Fun Day at Wandana Community Centre

When: Thursday, April 26

Ages: 5 to 15 years

Time: 10am to 1pm

Free activities! Rock climbing, jumping castle, arts and crafts, and a BBQ. Sausage sizzle $2.

Please call 8261 8124 to book your child’s place. Children aged under five years must be accompanied by a parent/adult.


Beyond Kayaking 

Communities for Children is holding a kayaking program at four locations across the Murraylands. Come and have some fun with the kids on easy to use sit on top double kayaks. All equipment is supplied. Just bring a hat, water, sunscreen and solid soled shoes (no thongs please). Sit on top kayaks are wide and stable for beginners, and provide great fun for children. Please phone Lyall at Centacare 8215 6320 to book your session.

  • Murray Bridge @ Long Island

Monday, April 16

10am to 12 noon and 1pm-3pm


  • Swanport Reserve

Thursday, April 9

10am to 12 noon and 12.30pm to 3pm


  • Murray Bridge @ Sturts Reserve

Tuesday, April 24

9am to 10.30am


  • Mypolonga

Tuesday, April 24

12 noon to 3pm



The impact of drug use is felt across generations – many young and older people using methamphetamine are parents too.

Centacare’s Kids in Focus (KIF) service supports parents and carergivers who are misusing alcohol and/or other drugs. The team has made this video to illustrate how children can be affected by their parents’ lifestyle.


My world from Centacare on Vimeo.


Based in the northern suburbs, KIF is a home visiting service and uses child-focused interventions to increase parenting capacity, build healthy relationships between parents and their children, and provide safe family environments.

Parents and caregivers may be more susceptible to substance misuse if they have experienced intergenerational and multiple complex trauma, including mental health, family violence and homelessness.

Children in these families are vulnerable and at risk of accumulative chronic childhood neglect and abuse, leading to long-term behaviour and developmental issues and concerns.

Many parents have never known a nurturing, stable environment and, often, do not allow themselves to see the impact of their drug use on their children.

This includes a lack of play and educational opportunities, unrealistic expectations of the child – including the responsibility for caring for other siblings – developmental delays and mental health.

When parents and caregivers use methamphetamine, children often do not have basic necessities such as food, water, and shelter, and they frequently lack adequate supervision and medical care.

Our KIF team works in partnership with families to strengthen relationships, address drug addiction and assist parents to maintain a clear focus on the well-being of children.




Connection to culture plays a vital role in nurturing children and young people. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander foster carers are needed to provide this crucial support to children living away from home. We have compiled some frequently asked questions to give you an understanding of what is involved in becoming a foster carer, and the unique role you can play in a child’s life at a time when they need it the most.
Why is it important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to become foster carers?

They are able to share their rich cultural background with non-Aboriginal children while normalising cultural practices for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children in their care.

What are the requirements of a foster carer?

Carers must be willing to participate in training and the assessment process, and demonstrate a capacity to work with Centacare to meet the changing needs of a child.

We provide assessment and training for foster carers at no financial cost to the carers. We work in an open and transparent manner and support potential carers through the assessment process to ensure that foster care is the right decision for you and your family members.

You will be required to undertake:

  • Department of Communities and Social Inclusion Screening (DCSI) check by the Department of Child Protection (DCP)
  • Health check
  • Home safety check
  • Personal reference check
  • Ex-partner checks where children are involved

Prior to your approval as a foster carer, you will be required to complete ‘Shared Stories Shared Lives’ training. This is the official training package for foster carers used across South Australia and consists of nine modules of around two hours each (18 hrs approximately) and covers issues relating to children in care. The modules usually take place over two weekend days and one weekday evening session. Other compulsory training includes child-safe environments, first aid, safe infant care training (if caring for a child aged under two years) and therapeutic care.

What unique support can Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people provide to children?

Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people often have firsthand experience and understanding of the impact that being placed in out-of-home care has on children. This may include emotional anguish and loss of identity as a result of being separated from family, community and culture.

Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander carers will have a connection to the Aboriginal community and knowledge of cultural gatherings and, possibly, of the child’s cultural group and family members.

Is age a factor in becoming a foster carer?

Foster carers are generally aged between 25 and 70 years.  Younger applicants may be considered, depending on their circumstances.

Carers can include:

  • Individuals (male or female)
  • Couples (including same sex couples)
  • People with their own children
  • People who do not have children
What type of care do foster carers provide?

Carers can provide the following types of care:

  • Short-term up to approximately 18 months
  • Long-term care
  • Respite care

All types of care are needed for children aged between 0-17 years.

Can Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carer’s care for non-Aboriginal children?

Yes. This can be beneficial to the non-Aboriginal child. Centacare will ensure carers receive appropriate supports to assist them to meet the child’s needs.

Can Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in rural and remote area participate in our foster care program?

To be part of the program, you must live in metropolitan Adelaide, Adelaide Hills, Barossa and Light and lower North regions.

What sort of support does Centacare provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander foster carers?

Yes. You can speak with Aboriginal Consultant Les Wanganeen about what is involved in becoming a carer as well as any other questions you may have.

Ongoing training and support is provided by the Aboriginal Consultant and program support workers to assist foster carers in their professional and personal development. You will work as part of a care team, to ensure that children can enjoy safe, secure homes, and that carers are supported to prepare them for both the challenges of fostering and reunification.




Supporting Aboriginal children in care to be proud of their cultural roots is a key focus for Les Wanageen, as he works to connect young people to community.


Les Wanganeen was looking forward to retirement when caring for his cultural grandson sent him in a new direction.

“It was an interesting turnabout to look after a young child,” says Les.

“The day I finished work was the day I picked him up from hospital! He’ll be two next month.”

Les is drawing on a long career in child protection – and his own experience raising his grandson – in his new role as Aboriginal Cultural Consultant at Centacare.

Working in reunification and foster care, Les supports birth parents and foster carers to nurture, normalize and maintain connections to culture and community.

My hope for the future is that there are less Aboriginal children in care, and that those who are have a strong connection to culture and sense of identity

– Les Wanganeen


This can include linking carers and parents to Aboriginal services, communities and cultural events, researching a child’s background, and providing lingual support and other advice, such as how to normalise Aboriginal cultural obligations, practices, traditions and beliefs into the child’s everyday life.

“Culture is a living thing, so it’s important an Aboriginal child or young person, and even their parents, understand and know where they come from,” Les says.

“A lot of the kids we see today have identity issues – they have an idea they are Aboriginal but the general public doesn’t perceive them as Aboriginal because they might have fair skin and blue eyes, so they start to deny their own cultural identity.

“Culture should not be pigeonholed – it’s a part of life.”

One of 13 children, Les was raised at Point Pearce Aboriginal Station on the Yorke Peninsula.

His family moved to Adelaide’s western suburbs in the early 1970s after the 1967 Referendum to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Census results for the first time.

“We felt as though we had everything,” Les says of his childhood.

“When I think about it now, I think of what we didn’t have but I also think about the things that made up for that as well: family gatherings, exploring, family support, and the freedom.

“Everybody looked after everybody.”

Les is proud of his Narungga and Kaurna heritage and is committed to supporting Aboriginal children in care to feel the same about their cultural roots.

“It’s everybody’s right,” he says.

Through Centacare’s Foster Care Program, children on a reunification plan with their birth family are placed in households for up to 12 months while they are unable to live at home.

One-third of the children involved in the program are of Aboriginal descent, and many have a background of trauma and neglect.

Les says more Aboriginal foster carers are needed as the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care continues to grow, at almost 33 times that of non-Indigenous children.

The causes of over representation are complex and include the legacy of past policies of forced removal, inter-generational trauma and cultural differences in child-rearing practices.

The assessment process for becoming a foster carer takes about five months to complete.

Foster carers receive cultural awareness training and ongoing professional development, and are supported to nurture all areas of a child’s life including family access, education, personal achievement, emotional and physical health, social relationships and cultural supports.

“It’s not easy but it’s an investment in the future,” Les says of choosing to foster care.

“I’d encourage Aboriginal families to see it in the same way; to invest in the next generation by contributing to young people’s lives.

“Culture is a huge part of that.”

Les is currently developing resources to support young people who “don’t have a sense of where they come from”.

“I try and anticipate what non-Aboriginal workers and carers might need,” he says “and we work very hard with the child’s birth parents to get the best outcomes for the family”.

“My hope for the future is that there are less Aboriginal children in care, and that those who are have a strong connection to culture and sense of identity.”

*For more information about how we can support you to support a child through foster care, visit, phone 8159 1400 or email




Sam Lai is a Drug and Alcohol Counsellor working in the Police Drug Diversion Initiative and Integrated Youth Substance Misuse Specialist Service at Centacare. As we celebrate Harmony Day, Sam reflects on what it means to live and work in a thriving city surrounded by culture but away from home.


Sam Lai’s family travels on three different passports.

His daughter, Amelia, 4, was born in Australia, and Sam holds a British National passport while his wife, Ruby, is of Filipino background.

Together, they reflect the multicultural face of South Australia, and its wealth of colours, cultures celebrations and cuisines from around the globe.

“If you walk down the Mall, multiculturalism is everywhere,’’ says Sam. 

“It’s a very beautiful thing. People do things differently but we all live here together and share our experiences and traditions.

“If you ask people the right questions, you find there is a lot of depth and history to their culture and celebrations, and it’s fascinating.’’

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Sam moved to Australia in 2005 to study social work.

Accepted at universities in Melbourne and Adelaide, he chose the “quieter’’ option after a life spent in the hustle and bustle of the vibrant yet densely populated Hong Kong.

“it’s a very different environment here.”

“There is no sky in Hong Kong. By that I mean that if you look down the street, you can catch glimpses of it, but only between the buildings. There are a lot of people and it’s very busy and noisy.”

“Here, you have the blue sky and space, but then you don’t have your family, so that can be challenging. But you can’t have everything!’’

Travel expenses and lack of family support are some of the difficulties migrants face, Sam says, but they are offset by a long list of advantages of living in a foreign city.

“The lifestyle and space here is really good. We can embrace all the things we like about Australia. Within that, there are so many different cultures and practices like Chinese New Year, the Greek festival and Italian celebrations, plus more.

“So we can pick and choose and establish our own family tradition, and it’s very enjoyable in that sense.

“I think as migrants it’s much easier to relate to people. We have friends who have similar struggles but we have a common, mutual understanding, so it’s also advantageous in many ways.’’

Sam looks forward to visits from his dad who remains in Hong Kong. His two sisters are split between Hong Kong and Cambodia.

“We catch up here or I’ll go back from time to time,’’ he says.

Sam hopes Harmony Day encourages others to recognise the value culture brings to his adopted country.

“Be inclusive and open about other cultures, the colours, the flavours and food and everything we all bring to Australia.’’

Bullying can be just as distressing for a parent as it is for their child. Parenting educator Kay Buckley has these tips for talking to children about bullying.

Naturally, we want to defend and protect our children from hurt. However, the harsh reality is that we can’t – and won’t – always be with our children to do that.

But we can equip children with life skills to manage bullying. Doing some “What would you do if….” conversations can give you an insight into how well equipped your child may be to manage bad behaviour.

Ask them what they know about bullying, and what happens at their school if someone is bullied.

The story is often more complex than “I’ve just been bullied” and the conflict history between children is often very muddy.

A key message to get across to them is that if they are being bullied, to tell an adult or someone who can intervene.

If your child discloses to you they are being picked on, then it’s important that you take them seriously.

Make an appointment to speak to their teacher and discuss a plan of action. If you do not get a satisfactory response from their teacher, take it further with another staff member but try to avoid going directly to the parent of the bully.

If children feel safe and confident enough to stand up to the bullying, encourage them to use “I” messages such as “I don’t like it when you say that, please stop”.

Research shows the `bystander effect’ is a deterrent to bullying behaviour, so conversations with your child around what to do if they see someone being bullied are also important.

Talk with them about standing up for someone or, if they are too afraid to do this for fear of recrimination, to at least show the person being bullied some support by smiling, sharing, or sitting next to them.


Connected, well-informed communities can create vital safety pathways for women and children experiencing domestic and family violence, particularly in regional areas.

Geographical isolation often impedes the ability of women to identify as being at risk of domestic violence – the main reason women and children leave their homes in Australia – and shapes their coping and decision-making because it can limit their options.

Learn how you can help at a community information session on Tuesday, March 20, at Mount Barker Community Centre, 31 Princes Rd, Mount Barker, from 9.30am to 12 midday.

Listening to a woman in an abusive relationship, and knowing where to access specialist support for her, can be life-saving. Make every conversation count!

Hosted by Centacare’s Murray Mallee & Adelaide Hills Domestic Violence Service, session topics include:

  • What is domestic violence
  • The cycle of violence
  • Myths and facts
  • Why women stay
  • Impact on women and children
  • Services and supports available

For more information about the information session, please phone Pam or Anne at Centacare 8215 6320.

In addition, we are  running a FREE COURSE to support women who have been affected by, or are currently experiencing, domestic violence.

The aim is to assist women who are in an abusive relationship – or have left a violent relationship – to better understand their experiences, seek support from others in a similar situation, and learn skills to begin healing and live a life free of fear.

Topics covered in the program include:

–          What is domestic violence?

–          Myths and facts about domestic violence

–          Impact of domestic violence on women and children

–          The cycle of violence

–          Why women can find it hard to leave an abusive relationship

–          Women’s rights to a healthy relationship

–          Healing and moving on

The seven-week program starts on Friday, May 11, and will run from 9.30am to 12 midday every Friday, at Mount Barker Community Centre, with the last session on June 5.

For more information or to book a place in the course, please phone case managers Pam and Anne on 82156320.

Day-tripping across the South East is much more than just fun for migrant families, writes Centacare family worker Melissa Woolford.


Leaving everything behind in one country to begin life in another is not without its challenges.

There is a new language to learn, different laws, and new education and health systems to navigate.

In partnership with Natural Resources South East, Centacare is supporting families to meet these challenges by taking them on regional day trips.

From kite flying to fishing clinics and beach fun, the outings give adults and children a taste of local culture, and the opportunity to meet new friends and learn about community supports.

They also aim to ease social isolation by helping families to familiarise themselves with their new environment in a fun, informal way.

Language barriers are overcome with the support of community members who act as interpreters.

Run by the Family Connections team and funded by Grants SA and, the day trips have included a fishing clinic at Port MacDonnell, and kite flying and a family barbecue at Nelson.

Next month, families will have an opportunity to visit a farm and interact with animals at an agricultural-themed excursion, or take a trip back in time – and a history lesson – at the Millicent Museum.

Many families identify as Congolese or Kareni.

We see the trips as a way to build their confidence through connections to education, community services, and even links to employment opportunities.

The day trips are  promoted to all migrant families through our partnerships with Mount Gambier Migrant Resource Centre, local schools, Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, and other community service providers.

The Department for Communities and Social Inclusion has contributed funds towards this project.

For more information, phone Centacare South East 8724 0500.









On International Women’s Day, we reflect on a brave 21-year-old who was instrumental in laying the foundations for Centacare’s work.

Born in 1917 at Tarlee in the mid North, Hannah Buckley only had a few years with her parents James and Cecelia before she was orphaned.

Hannah and her two sisters were sent to Adelaide to be cared for by two maiden aunts. Intelligent and social-minded, they enrolled Hannah at Loreto College, and encouraged her to pursue further education. They fostered a belief that middle class girls should ‘do good work’.

Hannah studied economics and then went on to enrol at the newly-formed Board of Social Service Training (part of the University of Adelaide) in 1935 becoming one of South Australia’s first trained Social Workers.

As a well-educated 21 year old involved in Catholic Social Justice activities, Hannah came to the attention of Archbishop Matthew Beovich who was looking to establish a Catholic Social Services Bureau.

From 1942 – 1947 Hannah established and defined the role of the agency that was to become Centacare Catholic Family Services. She made important initial steps in reforming the care of children in alternative care, and in providing essential services to families.

She battled against elements of a Church bureaucracy suspicious about the abilities of a single, young woman to affect change, against chronic shortage of resources and in the midst of enormous social upheaval caused by the Second World War. It is telling that it took four years for Hannah to be reimbursed for the costs she incurred in purchasing the agency’s office furniture and stationery in its first year of operation.

After leaving the Bureau in 1947, Hannah worked in a number of hospitals, before she was appointed head Social Worker at the Queen Victoria Hospital, where she stayed for 16 years.

Hannah shaped a whole generation of social workers in South Australia when they did their placements at the hospital.

Hannah was very pragmatic and stern but had a sense of humour. She had a powerful sense of justice and believed in a fair go for young people. She didn’t like overly bureaucratic processes and believed her workers just needed to get on with the job of helping people.

She was passionate about opera, loved birds and cats, read National Geographic and the Saturday Evening Post and smoked rough, unfiltered Russian black cigarettes.

She didn’t see anything about marriage that made her think it was the only option for women.

She went to Church often, was pragmatic, kind and not judgemental in any way. She died in 1981

Centacare’s Hannah Place, a service for young women who are homeless and pregnant, is named after her.

Hannah Buckley is a woman who was a pioneer, who left her mark on her community and who deserves to be celebrated to this day…..

Sad things happen every day – in our personal lives, to friends and family, and people we don’t know.

We are all touched by global tragedies broadcast on the news, but atrocities such as this week’s Florida school shooting can be particularly confronting for children.

They may ask questions about what has happened and why, and worry it will happen to them.

As parents, we naturally want to protect our children from tragedy.

However, rather than avoiding explanations, brushing off their questions or telling them not to worry, it is important to talk through their concerns and how they are feeling.

“The important thing is to listen to them,” says Pauline Connelly, Assistant Director, Centacare.

“Don’t send them out to play when they ask about what has happened, as they will only take their fears and worries outside with them.”

Focus on making them feel safe in their immediate world rather than on their fears associated with the events – often very faraway –  they have seen or heard on the news.

American educator Fred Rodgers once said: “When I was a boy and would see scary things on the news, my mother would say to me, `look for the helpers, you will always find people helping’”.

This is valuable advice and a good place to start. Looking for the helpers amidst tragedy is a useful way to begin conversations with children about sad events.

Use age-appropriate language that builds their sense of safety and security, and acknowledge their emotions. Give them some facts but not the brutal ones.

Discussion regarding the recent tragedy in Florida might be:

“A very sad thing happened at a school in the US. A man made a bad choice and hurt a lot of students, and some people died. Some students were taken to hospital where doctors and nurses are looking after them. Usually schools are safe and fun places to be and the police are working hard to find out why this happened.”

It is important to focus on all the people who do help to keep us safe.

You could also mention ambulance officers, school principals, extended family, firefighters and even your child’s sports coaches and babysitters – all the people who keep them safe at different times in their life.

Talking to children about the people who protect them and then posing some `what if’ questions about who would keep them safe in the event of an emergency or sad time can reassure and help your child develop resilience.



Meeting the Challenge

Centacare Catholic Family Services is a Catholic welfare organisation delivering a range of services across the Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide.

Client Services

45 Wakefield Street Adelaide SA 5000
T 08 8215 6700 | F 08 8232 8920

Opening Hours

Monday – Tuesday | 9am – 5pm
Wednesday – Thursday | 9am – 9pm
Friday | 9am – 5pm

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