The South Australian Women’s Honour Roll Awards took place last night at Government House.

Held every two years, the Honour Roll acknowledges and celebrates the diversity of women in our community and their commitment to ensuring that we live in a safer and more inclusive society.

Her Excellency, Honourable Frances Adamson, welcomed everyone to the event, recognising the contributions and impact of all the outstanding nominees in the South Australian community. Minister Katrine Hildyard (for Women and the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Child Protection) also shared kind words, further praising and celebrating the twenty successful nominees.  

Dr Jackie’s impressive career has seen her working as a consultant psychiatrist for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) for over 17 years, as an Adjunct Research Fellow in the Health Economics and Social Policy Group at the University of South Australia, and as an external collaborator with Emerging Minds.

In 2017, Dr Jackie’s PhD ‘When wounds from infancy collide -The mother-child relationship as trauma, trigger, and treatment’ was passed with no changes. The examiners were extremely positive about the work and suggested that it has international significance.

With more than 25 years of experience as a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and Gestalt Psychotherapist, she is currently based at our Strategy, Research and Innovation unit, where she is leading the implementation of her research at Centacare.

The Children’s Services Unit has been utilising her social casework model in supporting vulnerable families to interrupt distressing family patterns and improve child and family safety and wellbeing.

To add to Dr Jackie’s long list of achievements, in June 2023 she was invited to New Zealand to begin discussions between Centacare (South Australia) with teams that have been practising with the models described in her PhD.

We congratulate Dr Jackie on this outstanding achievement, and we are privileged to be part of her journey.

Today, 10 October 2023, is World Mental Health Day.

This years theme is ‘Mental Health is a Universal Human Right’ – more information can be found via this link World Federation for Mental Health (

This year’s theme enables us to focus our efforts to ensure that everybody should receive quality mental health care and that the human rights and well-being of people with mental illness are respected.

At Centacare we offer a range of services to support mental health and wellbeing from headspace Port Adelaide, EAP ACCESS Programs, Counselling Services, Supporting Children and Youth (SCY) Program, Individual Psychosocial Rehabilitation Support Service (IPRSS), Drug and Alcohol Services, ASCEND Youth Life Promotion Services, Eating Disorder Support Services (EDSS), Reconnect, Community Connections Program and Animal Wellbeing.

If you would like to know more about any of the above services, check out the programs portal pages.

Our services aim to ensure that people with mental health difficulties have:

  • The right to be protected from known harms to mental health.
  • The right to access quality and affordable care when a person is struggling with their mental health.
  • The right to freedom and dignity, including the right of choice.

We encourage you today to re-kindle our efforts to make the world a better place!

headspace Day 2023: headspace Port Adelaide urges young people to leave unrealistic expectations behind and reach out for support.

As new data reveals two in five young Australians prefer to deal with their emotional problems alone, headspace Port Adelaide is using headspace Day 2023 to remind young people that support is always available.

This headspace Day – headspace Port Adelaide wants to continue to dismantle the stigma surrounding mental health and encourage young people to reach out for support.

Watch headspace’s new brand campaign.


The current debate surrounding the Voice to Parliament carries significant emotional weight. This is particularly true for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities. There is a profound burden borne by First Nations peoples, and as an organisation deeply rooted in the tradition of social justice, we recognise and see this burden.

Centacare Catholic Family Services supports the Voice to Parliament as an authentic step in working towards meaningful reconciliation. It offers a lasting and stable platform for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to offer counsel and, more importantly, to be heard by the government on matters that deeply impact First Nations communities. This process is intricately woven into the trinity of Truth, Treaty, and Reconciliation.

Centacare wholeheartedly embraces the Uluru Statement of the Heart as a generous invitation to walk alongside in the relentless pursuit of recognition, reconciliation, and justice. As an organisation, we are steadfastly committed to advocating for a fairer and more inclusive Australian society that not only reflects but actively supports the dignity, equality, and participation of all its citizens. We firmly believe that embedding a Voice in the Commonwealth Government’s Constitution is an important milestone in realising this vision.

Our position is grounded in the principles of Catholic Social Teaching, with a particular emphasis on the tenet of Subsidiarity: that decisions should be made by those who are closest to and most affected by the issues and concerns within a community. We believe that a permanent and resourced representative body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, to deliberate and provide advice on critical matters that affect First Nations peoples, will pave the way for both tangible improvements and, in time, transformational opportunity.

We also acknowledge the complexities of the proposed Voice to Parliament within Aboriginal communities and that there are many paths to reconciliation. Furthermore, the work to unpick the ongoing impact of colonisation belongs to us all; work that will continue with or without formal constitutional recognition.

Our support for the Voice to Parliament is tied to our foundational commitment to justice, equality, and inclusivity. It is a call for a more harmonious Australia, one that not only hears but truly listens to the voices of its First Nations peoples, ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are empowered to actively shape their lives and their communities.

Centacare foster carers Jeannie Alderson and Julia Popkins have been honoured in the South Australian Child Protection Awards 2023, announced today by the Department for Child Protection.

Nominated by the twins in their care, the duo tied for the Positive Impact Award, which recognises individuals who have gone above and beyond in caring for or supporting a child, particularly assisting them to have a voice.

Julia and Jeannie (pictured with Centacare Foster Care Placement Manager, Jennifer Boyle) welcomed the siblings into their home five years ago.

‘’They came to us, they were scared, worried; when we look at them today, five years later, they are the most funny, happy, empathic, loving kids you could ever wish for,’’ said Jeannie in a video to mark their finalist nomination.

‘’The kids learn from us, and we learn from the kids. They have really turned our lives around as well as us turning their lives around.

“They have made us into better people, wanting to have better relations ourselves so we can help them become the best versions of themselves they can be. They are amazing kids.’’

Children’s Services Executive Manager Amalie Mannik applauded Jeannie and Julia’s win.

“Jeannie and Julia have provided consistent therapeutic care and support to the twins and are not only inspirational but very deserving of this recognition,” she said.

Centacare faces were among 41 Awards finalists. Specialist Therapist Dr Jackie Amos and long-serving foster carer Lyn Matthews and her late husband Roy were nominated for the Lifetime Achievement category.

Fellow foster carers Rhona and Brad Jacob were recognised as finalists for their commitment to connecting children to Country and culture by implementing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle.

Centacare was a bronze sponsor of this year’s event.

Delivered by the Department for Child Protection in partnership with the National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN), the Awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of children, young people, carers, volunteers, staff and organisations across the child protection sector.

It has been more than a decade since Alex Vlahos last spoke to his dad.

Amidst the pieces, Alex found purpose, and he now starts conversations with dads in the north to empower them in fatherhood.

“I am grateful that they are fighting for their kids and that they are trying to better themselves for their children,’’ said Alex, a Dads and Fatherhood Worker at Centacare.

Through a strengths-based and child-focused approach, Alex uses fatherhood as a motivator to address challenges such as financial distress, and alcohol and drug use.

Many of the fathers he meets have been impacted by intergenerational trauma.

Alex supports them to build on their coping mechanisms and develop parenting approaches that strengthen the parent-child relationship.

‘’The most satisfying part of my role is supporting fathers to be reflective around their parenting and the type of father they want to be for their children,’’ he said.

Alex points to the success of a baby massage pilot program, run in the Playford area by Centacare for the first time earlier this year.

The program aimed to facilitate couples’ conversations while providing them time to bond with their baby. 

“I was able to speak to the families about the changes in relationships after having a baby and encourage the fathers to be more active members of the household,’’ Alex said.

“This led to couples coming up with ideas on sharing roles and responsibilities in ways that worked for them. It also prompted idea sharing amongst the couples, especially between those who already had set routines, which they felt worked. 

“This sharing led another couple to implement this routine, which they stated had greatly improved the father’s relationship with the baby but also the mother’s mental health.’’

On Father’s Day, Alex is encouraging dads to recognise the vital role they play in children’s lives.

“My message is for dads not to give up and to keep working and striving to be the best they can for their kids in the hope they don’t end up like me, who, at 27, hasn’t spoken to their dad in years,’’ he said.

*Through Dad’s Business, Centacare delivers a range of inclusive activities for fathers in the Playford area. The program provides relaxed and non-judgmental group environments where dads can be themselves and share their parenting experiences.

For more information, phone 8412 9500 or visit Alex and the team at shop 7a Elizabeth Rise Shopping Centre, Hamblynn Rd, Elizabeth Downs.

Dad’s Business is a Communities for Children initiative and is funded by the Department of Social Services via our facilitating partner AnglicareSA.

PICTURED: Megan Jones, Manager, Dad’s Business; Alex Vlahos, Dads and Fatherhood Worker; and Chantal Dodd, Team Leader – Northern Programs – Kids in Focus and Dad’s Business.

The First 5-year Action Plan, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan and the Outcomes Framework to implement the National Plan, are now available.

The Action Plans outline government initiatives aimed at preventing, addressing, and responding to violence against women and children.

These Action Plans underpin the National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022–2032. The National Plan describes how all areas of society need to work together over the next 10 years to end violence against women and children.

For the first time, the Australian and state and territory governments will have a dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan 2023-2025 was developed in genuine partnership with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Council on family, domestic and sexual violence. It lays the foundations for longer-term structural change. It aims to address immediate safety needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, children and families.

The First Action Plan, together with the dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan, forms an integral part of commitments made in the National Plan. It provides a roadmap to drive the first 5-year effort towards achieving the vision of the National Plan. Development of the First Action Plan included specific consultation with victim-survivors, beyond the inclusion of victim-survivor expertise on the National Plan Advisory Group and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Council.

The Outcomes Framework 2023-2032 shows us where we want to be in 10 years – working towards a generational change where all Australians live free from gender-based violence and are safe at home, work, school, in the community and online. It will help track, measure, monitor, and report change over the life of the National Plan.

We all have a role to play in ending gender-based violence. By working together, we will create a safer and equal Australia for women and children.

Find out more

You can read the Action Plans and Outcomes Framework at:

What support services are available?

If you or someone you know needs support regarding domestic, family or sexual violence, you can also visit or call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732). This service is free, confidential and operates 24 hours a day.

If you are concerned about your behaviour, call Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491 or visit for judgement free support.

Wandana Community Centre is digging deep to preserve local biodiversity through indigenous plants.

Backed by an environmental grant from the City of Port Adelaide Enfield, the Centre’s Monday gardening group has in the past month planted 250 indigenous plants native to the Gilles Plains area at the Blacks Rd site.

“The plants add to the already established indigenous species at the site and will attract native birds, butterflies and insects, including native bees,” said Alan Shepard, the longtime caretaker of Wandana’s much-loved community garden.

“Once established these plants will survive on natural rainfall. 

‘’We have put bird boxes in as well, in the gum trees, which are working well in terms of providing nesting sites for birds such as the rainbow lorikeet and eastern rosella.”

More than 40 indigenous species are now represented on the Wandana site, including kangaroo grass, planted to attract the Southern Dart butterfly. Other species planted include Native lilacs (Hardenbergia), Running Postman (Kennedia) and Old Man’s Beard (clematis). 

“Only three per cent of the Adelaide Plains flora remains, and many revegetation projects are happening on public land, school grounds and in residential gardens,” Alan said.

“Even planting a small number of indigenous plants and grasses in your garden and verge will help to bring back the species under threat due to urbanisation.”

Every week, Alan guides a team of volunteers and participants in Wandana’s sprawling garden, tending its orchard, vegetable and garden beds, propagating seedlings and picking produce.

For more information about Wandana Community Centre, phone the team on 8215 6330.

Specialist Therapist Dr Jackie Amos, and long-serving Centacare foster carer Lyn Matthews and her late husband Roy, have been named finalists in the Lifetime Achievement category of the 2023 South Australian Child Protection Awards.

The category has been introduced this year to recognise an individual/s who, through exceptional dedication and commitment, has made a significant contribution to the sector for at least 15 years.

Dr Amos, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and gestalt psychotherapist, has for more than three decades worked with adult survivors of child abuse and neglect, and with families where abuse and neglect of children is a primary concern.

Dr Jackie Amos is a finalist in the 2023 South Australian Child Protection Awards

At Centacare, Dr Amos supports staff to integrate attachment and trauma-based therapies into existing case and best practice frameworks, informed by her doctoral research.

Lyn and Roy Matthews welcomed 19 children into their home across nine years with Centacare Foster Care before retiring from the program in 2021.

Meanwhile, fellow foster carers Jeannie Alderson and Julia Popkins are finalists for the Positive Impact Award, while Rhonda and Brad Catterson are in contention for top honours in the Active Efforts category.

Roy and Lyn Matthews welcomed 19 children into their home as longtime foster carers with Centacare.

Jeannie and Julie were nominated by the twins in their care for the award, which recognises individuals who have gone above and beyond in caring for or supporting a child, particularly through assisting them to have a voice.

Rhonda and Brad Jacob have been recognised for their commitment to connecting children to Country and culture by implementing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle.

Delivered by the Department for Child Protection in partnership with the National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN), the Awards will be announced on Friday, September 8 in National Child Protection Week.

The awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of children, young people, carers, volunteers, staff and organisations across the child protection sector.

Suruchi Bhatia is one of the first voices clients hear when they reach out to the Adelaide North West Homelessness Alliance for support.

With compassion and understanding, Suruchi, an Intake Worker and Case Manager, provides people of all ages with on-the-spot referrals, advice, and most importantly, hope.

On a busy day, Suruchi Bhatia can answer up to 20 calls for help from people in crisis.

Their desperation is palpable as they recount the circumstances that have led them here.

In Suruchi, an Intake Worker and Case Manager at Centacare, they are seeking solutions for homelessness – and a reason to hope.

“We are the first point of contact for the clients when they initially phone the service to discuss their situation,’’ Suruchi said.

“We listen to their story so that we can explore options and provide them with the right support or refer them to the services that can best meet their needs.

“It’s important to put yourself in their shoes and show some empathy. I always try and make them feel safe, so they are comfortable discussing their situation and know we are here to support them.’’

Suruchi works alongside the Outer North Youth Homelessness Service to find solutions for people in crisis.

While every story is different, resilience and courage are common threads across age groups.

“When I listen to young people, I think of what I was doing at 18 or 19, but here they are, facing incredible challenges in life, yet they are still taking responsibility for the tasks we give them to try and get out of the sector,’’ Suruchi said.

“Some of them are young mums and I feel so proud of them.

“At the other end are the older generations, the clients who are 80-plus. When they call and say they are homeless, it touches my heart.

“Often they are just coming to us for advice, with the hope we can provide them with some guidance and support.”

In 2021-22, 272,700 people were supported by homelessness services across Australia (AIHW, Specialist Homelessness Services Annual Report 2021-22).

A further 105,000 people sought help but were unable to be assisted because of shortages of staff, accommodation, or other services (AIHW 2022).

Suruchi, who is based at The Centa, in Elizabeth Park, said nearly 40 per cent of people currently seeking homelessness services through the Alliance cite issues with housing or finances, such as the affordability of rent, as the main reasons they need help.

“Some clients might have a few weeks before their lease is up. For others, it’s today or tonight; tomorrow they’ll have nowhere to go,’’ she said.

Suruchi adds that finding exit options is becoming increasingly difficult with the rental crisis compounded by a lack of affordable housing, the rising cost of living, and over-stretched support services.

“Over the past 10 months, I have cried two or three times after sitting with a client and listening to their story,” she said.

“Sometimes I feel helpless. As workers, we question ourselves: are we doing our jobs properly? But we can only do our best with the resources we have.

“Often it’s the little things that make me feel proud. I get nice emails from the clients saying thank you so much, or bless, with smiley faces and all.

“It makes my day knowing that somewhere along the way, I helped them.’’

Suruchi said working in the sector has taught her the true meaning of resilience.

“I can only imagine what clients are going through, but they are still working towards their goals. That is something I acknowledge every day,” she said.

“They teach us that whatever happens, you need to keep trying, to keep moving on.”

*Homelessness Week (August 7-13) aims to raise awareness of the causes and impacts of homelessness via national and local events and campaigns. This includes providing information on the
importance of housing as a solution and educating communities on how they can make a


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

Opening Hours

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

Quick Exit