Valeria Cavallo sought emotional comfort in the pages of psychiatric and psychology journals after settling in South Australia from Argentina.

In the first year, while improving her English, Valeria started to recover her independence and professional identity after leaving Buenos Aires and a successful career in psychoanalysis and clinical psychology.

“In my first few months here, I went into the Women’s and Children’s Hospital one day and asked if they had any journals on children’s psychology that I could read,’’ she said.

Valeria Cavallo

“I became very good at drawing pictures during that time because I didn’t have English for some of the words to express what I needed.

“I couldn’t understand all the words in the newspapers which I found very frustrating but I could understand the jargon in the professional journals! That gave me confidence.

“I’d go from psychology journals to kindy books. My husband’s friend had a four-year-old child and I would read with her. After a couple of years in Australia, I started to read in English some of the books I used to read in Spanish.’’

It took some years for Valeria to regain her true sense of self.

Even with a cross-cultural background (her mother, Ecil, is Argentinian and her father, Giovanni, was Italian) Valeria says she was not prepared for the sense of grief and loss associated with migration.

Making new friends at 29 and rebuilding her career – in a different language – was difficult.

“On the surface people are people and houses are houses all over the world, but other things are different.

“It’s confronting but it’s quite humbling too.’’

Valeria grew up in the heart of the Argentinian capital (her mother still lives in the same house, very close to Parliament House) surrounded by the arts and eclectic cultural European influences.

“When I go back to Argentina now, it’s as if I never left. I know the neighbourhood and the people. I go and do the shopping and remember the bus routes and street names.

“And then it’s like a switch in your head and I’m at the airport and back in Adelaide, which also feels like home. So it’s home here and home there. It didn’t feel like that for quite a while but now I’m in that privileged position.

“I never considered choosing one or the other; it’s about adding up and not subtracting, and making life richer with the diversity.’’

A psychologist and counsellor with Centacare’s ACCESS program, Valeria draws on her empathy and deep understanding of cultural differences to support others experiencing challenges in their life.

“It definitely allows you to see things with a very open mind. This experience of migration has also allowed me to understand better what to be human is all about, and allowed me to apply some of this `newly acquired knowledge’ to my professional practice, too.’’

* Valeria’s role is being featured in recognition of Harmony Day, a national celebration of Australia’s cultural diversity. At Centacare, we strive to be inclusive, respectful and to grow a sense of acceptance and belonging for everyone. Our policies reflect this. #HarmonyDay

The childhood ritual of handing out birthday party invitations still resonates strongly today for Norwegian-born Helen Nielsen.

“We were taught very young that you invite every girl in your class to your party or you don’t have one,’’ Centacare’s newly-appointed Executive Manager of Support Training and Intervention Services says of her upbringing in Fredrikstad, Norway.

“Norway’s value system is very social justice-based. It’s ingrained in us that we should be kind and good to people, and try and be inclusive.

helene pic

“If a new child moved into our street, we invited them into our games and our home to play.’’

Helene credits the influence of `strong women’ including her mother, a physiotherapist with `social work values’ and a neighbour who was a child protection social worker, for reinforcing these principles early in life.

She has drawn on them regularly throughout her social work career which has taken Helene to London, back to Norway and home again to her adopted country, Australia.

Her first social work placement was at the Magill Training Centre where her passion for helping young people and offenders “who hadn’t had the opportunities I had’’ took hold.

Helene’s earliest childhood memories are of outdoor adventures – in the mountains during summer and the snow in winter – with her sister, Anne-Therese.

“Even at five we would walk on our own to our friends’ houses and play. We felt really free and happy. Depending on the season, we’d go tobogganing or skiing.

“We’d cut holes in the corners of plastic bags and put our legs through to make us go super-fast down the slopes.’’

Helene arrived in South Australia in 1986 from Spain where her family moved to escape the bitterness of Norwegian winters when she was nine.

“Spain was a massive culture shock because of the level of poverty,’’ she says. “Norway is quite affluent and their social welfare system reflects that.

“I’d never seen anyone living homeless before I went to Spain. There were kids I went to school with who would beg after school in front of the church. There was corporal punishment in schools there, too.

“We were about to move back to Norway when we got visas to come to Australia.

“We were quite disappointed, my sister and I. We were happy to be going home and now we were going to a different place to live.’’

Settling in Aldgate in the Adelaide Hills, Helene says she initially struggled to fit in.

“Even though I looked as Aussie as everyone else, I didn’t sound Aussie! One of the things I struggled with was that everyone always wanted me to say something in Norwegian.

“I found that really quite hard to deal with at first. Even just getting them to pronounce my name. In the end I’d try and tell them, `just say Helen!’’’

Living in three countries by the time she was 10 taught Helene how to view her own values and beliefs in the context of other cultures.

When she returned to Norway years later to work at a rehabilitation services for young people with extreme challenging behaviours (such as drug and alcohol use, and offending) Helene says she saw herself in a new light.

“It was good to go home but I learnt that my work ethic and values were more in line with Australia than Norway.

“My people brought me back to Adelaide. They make it home for me.’’

* Helene’s role is being featured in recognition of Harmony Day, a national celebration of Australia’s cultural diversity. At Centacare, we strive to be inclusive, respectful and to grow a sense of acceptance and belonging for everyone. Our policies reflect this.


Informed by his own courageous journey to freedom from South Sudan, Clement Kuek provides crisis support to Adelaide’s African community.

Clement Kuek was eight years old when he lost his way in the dark fleeing Arab militia in South Sudan.

“That night, it was around 3am, and the whole village just ran in different directions,’’ he says. “I went with my mum and my siblings but I lost my way.

“I didn’t know where my family was or what to do. I saw other groups, people running, so I followed them. In one group was my cousin and he told me `don’t worry, we’ll find them’, but I didn’t.

“The days passed. I stayed with the group and we walked, for three months, to Ethiopia. On the way, there was no water to drink, no food to eat.

“Some people were dying from hunger, thirst. Some were bitten by snakes and taken by lions but, thank God, we managed.’’

Unbeknown to Clement, his father Kuek Thou was also walking, in desperate search of his son.

“One of the guys who came after said my dad walked from home to another place, one month away, in search of me. But he couldn’t find me and no one told him I went to Ethiopia. That’s a sign of love, what he did, looking for me.

“We had to cross the River Nile. There was no way across except on wooden boards. There were crocodiles and it wasn’t easy. Maybe that stopped him.’’

Clement stayed in a camp for minor groups in Ethiopia until 1991 when he returned to the South Sudan border. From there he went to the Kakuma Refugee Camp, run by the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, in the north-western region of Kenya, where he finished his education.

In 2003, Clement arrived in South Australia, alone, as a refugee.

It took him many years before he was finally reunited with his family, only to learn his father and two of his siblings were killed in 1998.

“Sometimes I sit down and think of my father and how good he was,’’ Clement says.

“He’s looking after me. If you look at the difficulties that I’ve gone through, God is there and Dad is also there supporting me and giving me the courage to go on, otherwise I would have lost hope. But I still have hope inside of me.’’

Through his role at Centacare and the Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide, Clement uses his journey to freedom, and the values instilled in him by his parents and Sudanese culture, to provide crisis and other support to the African community.

Clement says the challenge of beginning a new life in Australia with different laws, value systems and cultural expectations, is overwhelming for many families.

This is made all the more difficult due to the often traumatic circumstances under which they left Africa.

“The support I’ve had from people and the Church all along the way has encouraged me to give back to the community I live in,’’ says Clement. “I feel that it is my duty to be there for the people if they think the support I can give them will help.

“I don’t see them as just a person coming to me asking for something, or coming as a client. I see them as part of me, part of my family.

“When someone comes to you for help, you can’t just turn that person away without knowing the reason why he or she is there.

“If people are struggling and you don’t know what sort of help to give, well, you can feel sad about that but you have to be strong to support them.’’

On Harmony Day, Clement has this message: “ You have to be proud of who you are and where you come from, and then look at the country you are living in and bring the two together.’’

* Clement’s role is being featured in recognition of Harmony Day, a national celebration of Australia’s cultural diversity. At Centacare, we strive to be inclusive, respectful and to grow a sense of acceptance and belonging for everyone. Our policies reflect this. #HarmonyDay


Clement Kuek 2

Lana Dulic was just 11 when she fled Bosnia amid the turmoil of the Balkan war. Twenty-four years later, the Centacare social worker is drawing on her past to help others make sense of their future.


Three years ago Lana Dulic waded into the River Vrbas as for the first time as an adult.

Running through the city of Banja Luka, the River was the backdrop for her idyllic childhood before it was abruptly interrupted by the Balkan War in 1993.

Until then, Lana knew little of the conflict tearing her country apart by ethnic cleansing and the indiscriminate shelling of cities and towns.

“My parents did an absolutely incredible job of keeping us shielded from everything that was going on, so being 11, I didn’t really understand what was happening,’’ she says.

lana pic

“I had a really, really carefree childhood. We would swim in the river and there were lots of trees and greenery. It was so pretty. You could see the history of the world, all the influences, in our city so it was incredible.

“It’s in the aftermath, when you escape the war, when you reflect back and go, `wow, that was a bit rough’. There were incidents and situations when we obviously feared for our lives and were quite scared to even walk the streets, but that’s not how I think of my childhood.

“My memories are of me and my sister, Maja, playing with all our friends.’’

Lana’s father fled Bosnia – the former Yugoslavia – for Serbia first, and three months later the family followed.

“My mum and my sister and I caught a bus.

“By that time the whole country was war-torn but there was still some transport. The journey there wasn’t always pleasant for a lot of people, so I think we were relatively lucky being able to escape.

“Lucky for us we haven’t lost anyone in the war but then we had to leave and create a new life and that was a loss in itself.’’

Lana and her family arrived as refugees in Adelaide on July 27, 1996.

“The first day we just slept,’’ she remembers. “The following day, my parents being crazy resilient as they are, decided to catch a bus and look for the beach. Coming from the Adriatic Coast, you kind of expect the ocean to be magnificent, which it is – in summer!

“It was really freezing and we arrived in summer dresses and sandals. Not a good look for winter!

“Within a week we were ready to start our lives here but the emotional stuff was resolved over the years that followed.’’

Lana returned to Bosnia with her mother in 2000 and again in 2014.

“It took me six months to get over the holiday blues because I saw my family for the first time in 14 years. My cousins had had kids and all the changes I wasn’t part of was hitting hard at the time.’’

Inspired to welcome others into her adopted home country with “open arms’’, Lana forged a career in social science.

With a passion for suicide prevention and mental health, she joined Centacare’s ASCEND program, and now supports young people aged 12 to 24 through the Integrated Youth Substance Misuse Specialist Service, based at Stepney.

“My cultural background makes me who I am, and why I am empathetic and compassionate, and in that regard it helps me relate to my clients and understand that there are a number of different walks of life.

“My parents and I have never seen ourselves as people who have gone through something extraordinarily tough.

“The best thing Mum always tells me is, it’s life. The war was something that helped me build my resilience and go, yes, that was pretty full on, but at the same time it’s not the worst experience that we could have had.’’

Lana says Adelaide is now home, inside and out.

“My DNA was built in Bosnia, and when I go back there and smell the air and see the people, I feel a huge connection.

“But the fact is there is a huge difference between the reality of living there and the daydream of what I had as a child. I do love where I come from but Adelaide is home.’’


* Lana’s role is being featured in recognition of Harmony Day, a national celebration of Australia’s cultural diversity. At Centacare, we strive to be inclusive, respectful and to grow a sense of acceptance and belonging for everyone. Our policies reflect this. #HarmonyDay

Let’s be honest, we all have the ability to be unkind. We can be disrespectful, selfish and put ourselves before others. We can use mean words… sometimes!

When we persist with these behaviours with the intention to disempower another, we choose to be a bully.

Today we’re asking you to be honest with yourself: How do you act and treat others – at home, in the workplace, at school?

How is your power station fired?

Are you coal-fired by unkind thoughts, or do you use clean energy to support and nurture others?

Make good intentions your power source. Choose not to bully!

Elaine Reynolds: You can’t take words back

Suicide Intervention trainer Elaine Reynolds sees the impact of bullying on young people – and it’s not pretty.

Bullying can trigger social isolation, depression, anxiety and suicidal behaviours.

Through Centacare’s youth suicide intervention program, ASCEND, Elaine supports young people aged up to 25 years who are at risk of self-harm, and provides specialised training to build the capacity of people around them to appropriately respond and recognise warning signs.

On the seventh National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence, Elaine has this message for young people and their families. #NDA2017 #BullyingNoWay #TakeaStandTogether #Centacare

Centacare’s domestic violence services are taking part in a forum today to examine the development of targeted perpetrator interventions in South Australia.

If women and their children are to be safe, perpetrators should be held to account through effective interventions that stop their violence.

The forum, organised by the Office for Women, is part of the implementation in SA of the National Outcome Standards for Perpetrator Interventions (NOSPI), endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in late 2015.

The standards will guide and measure the outcomes achieved by perpetrator interventions across the nation.

Identifying shortfalls in the SA system around responses to men’s violence against women is one focus of today’s meeting.

It will also explore ways to develop a framework for the best model of interventions for perpetrators, supported by evidence and best practice.

“Just because a perpetrator goes to an intervention program doesn’t necessarily mean his behaviour changes,’’ said Desi Alexandridis, Senior Manager, Domestic Violence & Homelessness Services.

“From our perspective, it’s really important that perpetrator interventions are conducted in conjunction with women’s services.

“If the victim’s experience is not part of that intervention, then how are we actually going to keep him accountable?’’


Centacare’s culture, client-focussed approach, values and community influence have been independently recognised as exceeding expectations for quality improvement.

Recently our organisation was awarded Quality Innovation Performance (QIP) accreditation  against the Quality Innovation Council (QIC) Standards.

Accreditation against these standards recognises our commitment to continually review, evaluate and improve services, and provide quality support and outcomes for our clients.

The process follows a rigorous, independent, whole-of-organisation review by a Quality Innovation Performance assessment team, in September last year.

The QIP team found Centacare’s management, client-centred focus, sector collaboration, mission, care, safety, support of staff, and community leadership, reach and influence, underpin our excellence in service delivery.

“This is a huge achievement for Centacare,’’ said Director Dale West. “It is an acknowledgment of the commitment and dedication of staff who strive, every day, to provide the best possible support to clients who are always at the centre of everything we do.’’

Centacare was assessed as exceeding best practice ratings for the following standards:

  • Management systems
  • Safety & quality integration
  • Focussing on positive outcomes for clients
  • Confirming consumer rights
  • Collaboration & strategic positioning
  • Incorporation of and contribution to good practice
  • Community & professional capacity building

“There is no tokenism in the way this organisation operates or works,’’ the QIC accreditation report states.

“There is a strong and clear congruence between the values and mission of the organisation and what the organisation does, and how it does it.’’

AGPAL Group CEO, Dr Stephen Clark, commended Centacare for this achievement.

“Centacare has clearly worked very hard and successfully implemented a range of policies and procedures to ensure continuous improvement within their organisation,’’ he said.

For the past 74 years, Centacare has worked to support people in reaching their full potential so they can participate in the community, regardless of their circumstances.

Today, we deliver more than 80 services – underpinned by the values and principles of Catholic Social Teaching – in 35 sites across metropolitan and regional South Australia.

Centacare first earned QIC accreditation in 2004.

External accreditation assessments occur every three years. Centacare strives to consistently meet and exceed practice ratings for standards across the organisation.

With 350 new picture books to read, it’s hard to know which to open first!

That’s the welcome dilemma facing local families after a community library was donated to Centacare South East by Raising Literacy Australia (RLA).

Our Family Connections program was one of 10 chosen from across the state to receive a library, bookcase and a folder of make and do activities.

The RLA community library initiative, run through the Little Big Book Club, aims to encourage young families to read, play, sing and talk with children aged 0-5.

“Books are quite costly and a luxury some families cannot afford, so having access to this library is going to have a huge impact on the early learning and speech development of children,’’ Centacare family worker Melissa Woolford said.

“Just opening and closing a book is beneficial for kids. Turning pages helps develop fine motor skills while reading with a parent or older sibling strengthens attachment.

“Nurturing a love of books at a young age will also mean children are more willing to read later in life, and that’s now more important than ever given today’s digital age.’’

The Family Connections team will initially take a selection of books to share at the North School Hub playgroup each week, and is planning a variety of other literacy-based activities during the year.

Family Connections provides young families with a direct pathway to key parenting support and early intervention services by taking help on the road to work in partnership with schools, services, children and their caregivers.

For more information, please phone Craig Wood at Centacare South East on 8724 0500.

Invest in your child’s future by reading to them each night

Renowned South Australian children’s author Phil Cummings shows how easy it is to bring a book to life through words and expression.




FEBRUARY 20, 2017 – Today is United Nations World Day of Social Justice. We asked our Executive Managers what social justice means to them, as they strive to support people experiencing hardships and challenges in their lives.



For the past 74 years, Centacare has worked to help people reach their full potential so they can participate in the community, regardless of their circumstances.

Today this commitment underpins the 80 community services we deliver in 35 sites across the Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide, in metropolitan and regional South Australia.

We operate within a strong ethical framework informed by the values and principles of Catholic Social Teaching.

At Centacare, we believe for justice to be upheld, we must become compassionate voices in action for all.

What does social justice mean to you?



headspace Woodville is excited to announce it is relocating to Port Adelaide.

“Moving the centre to Port Adelaide will provide access to youth-friendly mental health services to young people who may not have been able previously visit us,” said Stacey Roy, Centre Manager, headspace Woodville.

“We look forward to providing a safe and welcoming space where young people, their families and friends, can come and seek help on mental health, physical health, alcohol and drugs and work and study.”

The new headspace Port Adelaide centre will be located at 78-80 St Vincent Street, Port Adelaide, and will open on Monday 27 February. headspace Woodville will remain open until Wednesday 22 February.

If you need to speak to someone during the closure of the centre, please contact eheadspace on 1800 650 890 or online at

For further information phone Stacey Roy 08-8243 7900 or email Follow headspace on Facebook at 

*Further information on headspace Port Adelaide official launch event will be distributed at a later date.




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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