After five years driving the growth of Centacare’s highly regarded foster care program, Amalie Mannik has been appointed Executive Manager of Children’s Services.

She will begin in the role immediately after acting in the position since May.

Amalie joined Centacare Foster Care as Manager in 2018 when the program had just 12 placements and 14 foster carer households.

She leaves it with more than 70 carer households – a 429 per cent increase of approved carer households, and a 442 per cent increase in placements.

“I am incredibly proud of the foster care team. They are high functioning, cohesive and are able to manage complexity,” Amalie said.

“When I started in the program, there were half the number of staff we have today. There have been new roles added and senior positions created – things we couldn’t have envisaged five years ago.

“It’s bittersweet to leave it, but I do so at a time of great stability knowing I will continue to contribute, just in a different capacity, with more of a strategic planning lens.”

Prior to joining Centacare, Amalie was a research assistant, and a lecturer and pre-placement enhancement session officer for Master of Social Work students at Flinders University.

In 2016, she worked as a contractor on a project about psychosis for asylum seekers and refugees on Manus Island and Nauru, mapping co-morbidities of survivors of torture and trauma.

In what would be a defining moment in her career, Amalie provided 24/7 support over a three-month period to children orphaned in the 2010 Christmas Island boat disaster.

“Being a part of a significant tragedy and having to respond to the children’s trauma, grief and loss, while then re-settling them on the mainland, has deeply embedded my value of therapeutic interactions, helping those in need and the power of human connection,’’ she said.

Over the past six months, Amalie has steered Children’s Services amid heightened media attention on child protection services and the sector.

“Despite adversities, including media reports that have shone a light on the myriad of complexities and difficulties within the sector we work in, families have remained our priority with the voice of the client guiding the way,” she said.

“We continue to deliver services of the highest standard, demonstrating the resilience, skill and adaptability of Centacare’s workforce.’’

Recently, Amalie launched the CSU business plan, and she has been instrumental in expanding Centacare’s southern footprint through Restore Intensive Family Services South and Breathing Space teams.

She has contributed to research and evaluation in partnership with the Breathing Space team, clinical nurses and dads and fatherhood workers, with new research on father-inclusive practice published this week.

In September, Amalie co-hosted a virtual forum for the community services sector on behalf of Child and Family Focus SA, the state’s peak body representing the needs and interests of children, young people and families connected with or at risk of entering the child protection system. 

The forum explored the April Lawrie inquiry into the removal and placement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in care. In October, Centacare lodged a submission to the Inquiry, outlining key recommendations to prevent Aboriginal children entering long-term state care.

Through professional roles and post-graduate social work studies, Amalie has gained considerable knowledge and experience in relevant therapeutic models and is passionate about the therapeutic framework that underpins Children’s Services.

“Any area in social work has risk and accountability, and because we are working with vulnerable disadvantaged families, there is a power dynamic to consider as well,” Amalie said.

“Because we operate from the therapeutic framework and we have therapeutic case work, the staff in CSU have the skills to unpick that power paradigm and listen to the voice of the client which empowers them and gives them the ability to make changes needed in their own lives to create safety.

“It is risky work but it’s really important work, and that is the driving factor for me.”