Every foster carer’s motivation is different. This is Bindee and Karen’s story. The duo joined Centacare Foster Care program more than a year ago and have made a significant difference in the lives of two Aboriginal boys.

 

Bindee and Karen were volunteering at a soup kitchen feeding orphans in South Africa when they started to twig that they wanted to do more.

As they watched little faces devour bowls of chicken broth and bones, they were struck by the number of children in need of help.

“If we’d been able to take them all back with us, we would have,’’ says Karen.

“So we just decided then and there: we have to do more at home.’’

Weeks later, as they settled into a new suburb, north of Adelaide, the duo felt compelled to act after researching the number of Australian children in care.

“The statistics were appalling,’’ says Bindee, who reached out to Centacare Foster Care.

The program recruits, assesses, trains and supports foster carers to provide nurturing, safe and secure homes for children while they are unable to live with their birth family.

Four weeks into their assessment to become foster carers, Bindee, of Kuku Yalanji and Nauiyu  heritage, and Karen were matched with two Aboriginal siblings, aged under seven.

“Originally, our thoughts were to foster one child, but we didn’t hesitate; we said yes straight away,’’ says Bindee, who is studying veterinarian science.

“Then it was just a waiting game – how soon could we have them?’’

It would take another five months before the four became family, as Bindee and Karen worked through the assessment process.

“The first day we met them, we went to their carer’s house,’’ says Karen, a long-time children’s swimming instructor.

“They opened this big gate and came running up to us and then stopped and just kind of looked at us and we looked at them. And then it was all high fives and hugs.’’

The couple says the biggest challenges initially were managing the boys’ trauma-based behaviours, prior to their relationship building and repair work, as well as learning how to liaise with Department for Child Protection.

“Both the boys had some epic melt-downs,’’ says Karen. “We’re talking four, five hours of screaming. I’ve worked with kids for 20 years but never traumatized kids. It was really, really hard.’’

Adds Bindee: “Our Support Worker, Chanel, was on call for us 24/7. She was our rock and helped us get through. We’d call her nearly every day and speak on the after-hours phone as well.’’

Eight months on and it’s a very different story. The boys are thriving in their forever home and at school. They’ve learnt to have empathy, to share, and are growing in self-confidence and cultural pride.

“To see how far they’ve come in such a short time is incredible,’’ says Karen. “If I could grow my mind as much as they have in that time, I’d be a genius in 12 months.’’

She points to one moment: “A few weeks ago, one cracked it. I had put some cuttings in the ground that I was trying to grow and he ran out the front, ripped them out and stomped on them. I went outside and I cried and I said, I’m really, really sad that you did this.

“Then four days ago, he was out the front riding his bike, and he came inside and said, `Mum-Karen, when I get my pocket money this week, I want to do something really nice. I want to go to the shops and buy some seeds so you can grow some new plants.’

“It’s the moments like those that I didn’t expect; they’re really special.’’

Bindee adds: “When you have your own children, you see your baby talk and say Mum and Dad for the first time; or you see them crawl and walk for the first time. We’re seeing moments in the boys all the time because they’ve never experienced them before.

“It’s highly rewarding – not just for us but for them too.

“They ask us every single day, are you proud of us? And hell, yeah, we are.’’

For more information about Centacare Foster Care, please phone 8159 1400 or email fostercareenquiries@centacare.org.au

Families experiencing separation can now access one-on-one phone-based parenting education at Centacare.

Free courses are available to support parents and children to navigate challenges at home arising from changes in their family.

In response to COVID-19, the courses have transitioned to a telephone-based model run in hour-long sessions.  The number of sessions required to complete each course varies.

Participants can phone Centacare on 8215 6700 to book into the following courses:

 

Bringing Up Great Kids

Encourage parenting practices that build competence, optimism and capability in children.

4 x 1 hour sessions

 

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen

Develop strategies to communicate effectively with your children and truly hear what they are trying to tell you.

Explore realistic expectations and set boundaries to nurture resilience in your child

1 x 1 hour session

 

Inside Their Heads

What’s happening for today’s teens?

Learn more about adolescent brain development, how to set boundaries, and communication that encourages two-way respect and understanding.

1 x 1 hour session

 

Keeping Families Safe: Picking up the pieces after domestic violence

Children hear and see domestic violence too. What do children learn from this, and how do they experience domestic violence?

Learn strategies to support your children’s ongoing wellbeing and nurture their sense of safety and self.

1 x 1 hour session

 

What To Do When Kids Push Your Buttons

Identify triggers and understand what is behind your child’s behaviour.

Learn how to defuse the behaviour and respond calmly by adjusting your own beliefs, expectations and assumptions to regain your child’s cooperation and respect.

3 x 1 hour sessions

 

Developing Resilience

Develop your child’s ability to cope with disappointment and bounce back from challenging situations. Learn the five building blocks of resilience and how to nurture their self-esteem.

1 x 1 session

 

Circle of Security – THIS WILL COMMENCE SOON

An internationally recognised program that focusses on building attachment security. Children with secure attachment have increased empathy and self-esteem; better relationships with parents and peers; enhanced school readiness and an increased capacity to handle their emotions.

To enrol in a parenting course and make a phone appointment for one-on-one education, please phone Centacare 8215 6700.

 

It’s been one year since Dad’s Business HQ officially opened at Elizabeth Downs. From forging friendships to strengthening families, the site has quickly become a pivotal space for dads of all ages in the north.

 

Hundreds of children are set to reap long-term benefits from a dedicated dad space in the north which has been visited more than 1000 times in the past year.

Dad’s Business HQ opened at Elizabeth Rise Shopping Centre, Elizabeth Downs, last January to provide existing, new and expecting dads with parenting and other supports.

More than 300 dads have accessed the site, indirectly benefitting 500 plus children, many from Aboriginal families and a growing number from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

The HQ opens seven days a fortnight with dads able to seek advice, referral to services, parenting education, advocacy, counselling and support for misuse of alcohol and other drugs.

Centacare data shows that in the six months to December 31, 2019, 149 individual dads engaged with Dad’s Business HQ programs, and many more visited for one-off support. Almost one third of clients were referred by child protection authorities. .

Fourteen dads have since gained employment with a further five obtaining a qualification via TAFESA. A large number report they are now able to communicate more positively with an ex-partner in the best interests of their children.

Centacare social worker Darren Clarke said the HQ supported dads to focus on themselves and their decision-making in order to nurture their children’s wellbeing and sense of safety at home.

Many dads were grappling with their role as fathers on the back of complex challenges, he said.

These include family breakdown, domestic violence, mental health issues, substance misuse, transience, social isolation, financial and family law pressures, and childhood trauma.

“They sometimes come here because they’re not in a good space; they come here because they know they can get the support they require,’’ Darren said.

“We’ve had over 1000 touch points in a year – that’s 1000 opportunities for those dads to go down a different path.

“We’ve got dads who are now working, studying and putting back into the community. When you think of what that means for their children, well that’s huge generational change. You can’t put a dollar figure in savings on that.’’

Darren (pictured, right, with Paul Best, drug & alcohol counsellor) said the growing demand for support from Dad’s Business HQ had exposed gaps in community services, such as emergency accommodation options for men of all ages who were fleeing violence or experiencing homelessness.

Dad’s Business is an AnglicareSA Communities for Children funded initiative. Communities for Children is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services.

What dads say about Dad’s Business

“I have learned a lot to do with the way I parent and how to cope with heated situations.’’

“I feel better when I leave there.’’

“I have developed a healthy respect for the staff and what they do. Their honesty and approach to helping people has helped me handle problems I have had.”

Centacare Catholic Family Services is taking all reasonable steps to safeguard and support staff, volunteers, and clients as COVID-19 continues to evolve.

Further to the safety measures implemented last week, and in line with current health and government advice, additional practices have been put in place, effective today.

Centacare is committed to providing clients with the highest level of support possible while operating within an environment that is safe for everyone.

Additional changes to the nature of our service delivery and supports are inevitable as we adapt to the challenging environment in which we now live and work.

Navigating those changes will no doubt be difficult, but at the heart of all decisions will be Centacare’s client focus and commitment to staff safety and wellbeing.

Your patience, understanding and cooperation is much appreciated at this time.

For information about our services, please phone Centacare on 8215 6700.

Viliana Stefanov arrived in South Australia from Bulgaria on September 11, 2003. For Harmony Week, we asked Vili, an Assistant Accountant at Centacare, for her early memories of the city she now calls home.

 

 

I quite clearly remember that day. It was a cold, gloomy and windy Thursday. We didn’t know then how chilly those early spring Adelaide days could be.

Having been on the road and in the air for 38 hours, my husband and I were more than ready to start our descent into that then new, exciting world.

Looking through the small passenger windows, I could not comprehend how any sea could have all these shades, from lead grey to light emerald green, and those white beaches …

My thoughts drifted away to the practicality of this new adventure: Would we be able to find a rental property; would we understand a word of this so-called English; would we be able to find a job? But mostly could we make it our place and be happy?

The last question, I still cannot answer without hesitation. We could always go back if it didn’t work, of course.

My first encounters and impressions were of the landscape. How could any sand be so fine and so white, finer and whiter than flour?

How could parrots be so loud and flying freely everywhere? I had seen them only in a zoo.

My first time shopping for groceries: Did the cashier really want to know how I was? Do I have to elaborate?

And Vegemite! I had a full tablespoon, thinking it was a kind of jam. Never tried it again!

A few weeks later, there I was, standing in the middle of the living room of our tiny two-bedroom unit, with our only two suitcases, as this was all we had brought.

I will never forget how we got our first bed – or rather mattress – TV unit, sofa, and iron. Thank goodness for the hard rubbish day, which luckily, was on the day we moved in!

I know, all beginnings are hard, this was ours.

We have returned home and come back to our new home a few times now. Still, I can’t rid the feeling that I belong nowhere and everywhere at the same time.

But I know I can adapt, find new friends, make a living, achieve and succeed. And that’s a good feeling.

 

​For Harmony Week this year, we asked staff to share their stories and reflect on the people and places they hold dear. The result is a collection of three mini films which illustrate Centacare’s diversity and the many cultures, values and beliefs that enrich our work.

In response to COVID-19, Centacare Catholic Family Services has implemented immediate measures to safeguard and support staff, volunteers, and our clients.

The situation continues to evolve and Centacare is committed to minimising risk while mindful of the need for the well to support those who are not.

Based on current advice, Centacare has put practices in place across each of our regional and metropolitan sites.

These measures will be reviewed daily as we respond to the ever-changing environment we are now working and living in.

At this stage, all Centacare sites and services remain open. Were this to change, well-developed service continuity plans will be enacted.

Immediate practices to minimise risk of COVID-19 include:

  • Strict self-isolation protocols
  • Limiting non-essential travel
  • No interstate work-related travel
  • No non-essential events and meetings at Centacare sites
  • No external group meetings at Centacare sites
  • Cancelling all training until April 30
  • Increased phone contact in place of face-to-face support

As part of our continuity plan, the nature of some Centacare service delivery may change in the short-term as we act in accordance with the most recent advice.

However, we remain committed to providing clients with the highest possible level of support under the circumstances.

We will continue to communicate with our community openly and regularly regarding COVID-19.

 

 

Foster carers have used pictures to illustrate their journeys, to further understanding of their important role.

Launched last week at Centacare, Seaton, Photovoice provides foster carers with a platform to express their experiences through visual narratives.

The images provide a powerful insight into their everyday and help others to see foster care through their eyes.

The project was facilitated by Master of Social Work student Sid Wagle, on placement from Flinders University.

Eight foster carers provided three photographs/images which they felt encapsulated their caring experience and were then interviewed, which provided the narrative and reasoning behind the images.

The project illustrates how their perception of foster care has grown during their caring journey, from initially wanting to make a difference, to developing a deeper understanding of the challenges and complexities many children face – and the satisfaction of being positive influences in their lives.

Moments of joy, sadness and grief are expressed in the photographs, through which foster carers also express their hopes for the future including additional support and continuity of care for children.

“The reflections are very powerful and you can really feel that it’s personal, and that you live this every day,’’ said Amalie Mannik, Manager, Centacare Foster Care, at the launch.

“It’s a powerful way of raising awareness about foster care, especially to those who don’t understand it.’’

For more information about Centacare Foster Care program, phone 8159 1400 or email fostercareenquiries@centacare.org.au

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coaches can bring out the best of us in life and sport but they can also be influential voices on the home front.

Co-parent coaches are increasingly being sought by couples as they grapple with the challenge of shared parenting after separation and divorce.

Ceri Bruce is a Senior Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner at Centacare and supports parents to overcome factors that impinge on their ability to work together while living apart.

“Co-parent coaching does not involve delving into past behaviours or individual issues but rather assists parents to identify what it is that is blocking the co-parent alliance,’’ Ceri said.

“We assist them to try out new ways with specific behaviour strategies, or to change flawed thinking that is preventing them from reaching their family goals.’’

Parents accessing Centacare’s Family Dispute Resolution service can be referred to Co-Parenting Coaching and are coached over one-hour sessions, with a focus on respectful decision-making in the best interests of their child.

“The intention is always for children to get the best possible version of separation from both families in both households,’’ Ceri said.

“Sometimes it’s just about helping the parents communicate when they might not want to or think that they don’t need to.

“Our role is to help them separate themselves from their own needs and intent, in order to focus on what’s best for the child.’’

Together, parents are encouraged to set clear and consistent boundaries and practices that work in both homes, creating a sense of stability, security and safety for their children.

“Children benefit because they develop meaningful attachment with both parents as well as significant family members, which is crucial for their overall wellbeing,’’ Ceri said.

“Parents also learn strategies for self-care, and we see them grow in confidence from that.’’

ABS data shows there were 49,404 divorces granted nationally in 2018 – nearly half involved children. Of those divorces, the median duration of marriage was 12.3 years.

In family law cases, separating couples must make a genuine effort to resolve parenting and financial issues through dispute resolution before they can apply to the courts for orders.

In addition to co-parent coaching, Centacare offers child inclusive family dispute resolution, where appropriate, to ensure the voice of the child is heard in a safe and supported manner during parenting negotiations.

Ceri said family dispute resolution is an often quicker, more collaborative and more affordable option for resolving parenting disputes and reaching agreements about how property is divided.

Case Study

A couple, aged in their early 30s, experience a difficult separation. Communication continues to be a significant stumbling block, as it was throughout their relationship.

They attempt Family Dispute Resolution but find it difficult to reach and maintain effective agreements around parenting.

Through the service, they are referred to a Co-Parent Coach who supports them to identify the areas that are contributing to breakdowns in their communication.

They embrace new strategies to better manage their individual emotional reactions.

The parents report improved interactions with the other. Their children comment that they feel more at ease now when both parents are present as there is less tension and more amicable communication between the two.

The parents continue to seek the support of their coach until they are satisfied they have significantly strengthened their co-parenting alliance.

For more information about Centacare’s Family Dispute Resolution service, including Co-Parent Coaching, please contact the Manager, Jeannette Fiegehen, on 8215 6700 or the South East office on 8303 6630. Explore our range of Family Dispute Resolution services and locations including Mount Gambier HERE.

This week we have had the privilege of hosting Colombian-born Australian psychologist Andrés Otero Forero who specialises in transcultural mental health.

Based in Queensland, Andrés has extensive experience working with people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, including refugees.

For the past three days, he has been training Children’s Services Unit (CSU) staff in Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET), an evidence-based, culturally-inclusive intervention that maps an individual’s autobiographical account of major life experiences, including those that are traumatising.

NET was designed for implementation in communities affected by multiple and continuous traumatic experiences, such as organized violence, torture, war, rape, and childhood abuse.

CSU is working with Andrés to apply NET to a child protection context.

Andrés (pictured with Amalie Mannik, Manager, Foster Care) has extensive experience using and teaching NET, across multiple continents with a wide diversity of trauma survivors.

NET combines a narrative approach with cognitive behavioral exposure techniques to address the neuropsychological effects of trauma and memory on a person’s functioning.

Through this approach, clients benefit from contextualizing their trauma experiences in a holistic narrative that allows them to process emotions related to the trauma.

Research has shown that three to six sessions alone can provide considerable relief and support individual functioning, even in cases involving severe and chronic traumatisation.

Ten CSU staff have participated in the training which has involved a combination of theory and activities including demonstrations and role play.

 

Centacare

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
E enquiries@centacare.org.au

Opening Hours

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

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