In 2018, *Fiona phoned a crisis helpline seeking support for a serious amphetamine addiction she feared would ruin her life.

The mother-of-one was referred to a drug and alcohol service where a social worker suggested she reach out to Centacare program Kids in Focus (KIF).

Based at Salisbury, KIF works in partnership with families for up to 18 months to increase parenting capacity, minimise harm caused by substance misuse, and create safe home environments.

At KIF, Fiona met Family Practitioner Jan Player, and the program quickly became her biggest support.

By Fiona’s own admission, she was not the easiest client.

In denial about the effect her drug use was having on her daughter – who was unaware of her daily struggle – Fiona’s progress was slow.

But as her “wretched addiction’’ worsened, her resolve to escape its grip grew stronger.

Fiona credits the support of Kids in Focus Family Practitioner Jan Player for turning her life around.

In April this year, Fiona wrote to Team Leader Chantal Dodd to outline the many ways Jan and KIF had brought her back from the brink.

It all boiled down to the team’s support, she said. Not once had Jan doubted her, even in the moments Fiona gave up on herself.

Fiona noted the comfort she found in KIF groups such as Photovoice which involved taking photographs to reflect significant moments in her recovery journey.

“It really made us take a look at ourselves and our families while teaching us and boosting our morale with people who were in the same situations as ourselves,’’ she wrote.

“To groups doing crafts, or just having coffee and talking about whatever we needed to talk about, all the while constantly being assured that we were worth it.’’

Fiona wrote her daughter had never questioned why Jan and KIF had become a staple in their lives, until a few years later.

“I told her that being a single parent is hard sometimes and I wanted to be the best parent I could for her, so I asked for some help and I got Jan!’’

Fiona is now drug free, studying and working towards regaining employment.

While sad to close with KIF, Fiona wrote it was comforting to know other families facing substance misuse challenges had KIF’s support.

“Not only have mine and my daughter’s lives changed for the better on such a grand scale, but the changes I have made will change the course of not only my daughter’s life, but her children – children that are yet to be born.

“I am so proud to have made it.’’

*Not her real name

Families battling substance misuse are inspiring hope and understanding in one another through group work with Kids in Focus.

From hiking to Sing and Grow music therapy, seasonal celebrations and chat sessions, the groups provide families with a safe space to share their journey as they work towards recovery.

For many, the groups are a rare opportunity for parents and children to make friends and participate in community.

The isolating nature of substance misuse by parents and caregivers can deny children opportunities for normalised experiences such as going to the park or playground and mixing with peers.

“As families take part in the groups, they meet up with the same faces and connect over their journeys with no judgement, regardless of where they’re at with their AOD recovery,’’ said Family Practitioner Jan Player.

“For those that have recovered, it’s nice to see them acknowledge how far they’ve come but with a real kindness and gentleness for others who haven’t got there yet.

Often the families are at different stages of recovery which provides space for learning, reflection and insight.

Jan Player, Family Practitioner

“Often the families are at different stages of recovery which provides space for learning, reflection and insight.’’

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

However, families who participated in one or more of the 11 groups held over the past year had shown significant insight into the effects of their behaviour and life challenges on their children, Jan said.

“The focus of conversations often led back to the needs of their children and their experiences of being parents,’’ she added.

KIF works in partnership with families for up to 18 months to increase parenting capacity, minimise harm caused by substance misuse, and create safe home environments.

In 2021-2022, KIF engaged 27 families including 52 adults and 31 children, closed 15 cases and allocated 10 new cases.

For 12 families who closed with the service after engaging with KIF for three months or more, nearly 92 per cent of children had an increase in opportunity and experiences which had supported them to reach life domains.

 Nearly 67 per cent of all families working with KIF improved their circumstances and family functioning.

“It’s a privilege to have the time we do to work with families, and it’s what’s needed to go with the ebbs and flows of addiction and mental health, because both by nature involve relapse,’’ Jan said.

“It’s that longevity of service that enables us to sit beside people to get real change at the end, rather than putting a band aid on and not getting to the challenges that sit underneath the substance misuse.’’

Kids in Focus Team Leader Chantal Dodd (pictured left with Manager Megan Jones) said the groups were an opportunity for clients to genuinely support one another as part of their broader KIF intervention.

“What is evident is the high tolerance of differences and acceptance, and the empathy, understanding and kindness they show one another,’’ she said.

Chantal highlighted the nature walk group which saw two families overcome initial anxiety and embark on a hike through Kersbrook with their children.

“The kids had a great time and the parents were so glad to have done it, but without the scaffolding of KIF, they might not have been able to make that leap for the first time.’’

Jan said she was constantly inspired by the personal growth of the families she met through the program which is based at Salisbury.

“My hope is that working alongside the parents changes their children’s inheritance map and shifts things to a point where life will be a bit different going forward,’’ she said.

For more information about Kids in Focus, email salisbury@centacare.org.au or phone (08) 8412 9500.

Young women who have experienced removal of a child use images to explore their identities as mothers in a new book created by Breathing Space.

As part of the Photovoice project, participants engaged with the pilot program were gifted a digital camera to capture images that represent their journey as mums.

The result is See My Voice: My Identity as a Mum, a collection of photographs and words.

“We started Photovoice to give the young women a platform to have their voices heard,’’ Case Manager Caz McClure said.

“The internal conflict they have over their parental identity whilst not having children in their care is ever-present – they carry it all the time – and that was really highlighted in the little everyday moments and the simplicity of what they chose to capture.

“The validation they got from being able to explore how they felt through imagery was huge.

“Some of the women said it was the first time they felt truly recognised as a mum.’’

Caz highlighted a photograph of three seagulls taken by one participant.

“In her caption, she wrote `I see families, everywhere’. Most of us would walk past the seagulls, but for her, they were a painful reminder that her family is a little bit more fractured and complicated,’’ she said.

Breathing Space works with women aged under 25 years who have experienced removal of a child or children from their care and are therefore at heightened risk of recurrent removal in the future.

The trauma-responsive therapeutic intervention – believed to be an Australian-first – delivers holistic, wraparound supports for women whose support needs are largely disregarded after child removal.

“When a baby or a child is removed, generally the woman is left just to pick up her things and find her way home; she doesn’t get many services because she doesn’t have children in her care, so she’s in that forgotten land,’’ said Breathing Space Manager Jessica Justice.

“Photovoice was about privileging their voice and giving them a platform to talk to society to say `this is how we see the world.’

“They all may not be experiencing motherhood, but they do have an identity as a mother.’’

Case Manager Oakleigh Lehman said she was inspired by the women’s creativity and the connection the book created between participants who had never met.

“It’s that little book of hope for them to keep going, and a reminder that even though things may be challenging now, they can get through eventually,’’ she said.

“It tells them that their voices are heard, that they’re valid, and they matter.

“They trusted us with their voices and now other people can hear them too.’’

Centacare has launched innovative feedback toolkits for children and young people to mark the start of National Child Protection Week (4-10 September).

The toolkits engage children in feedback and evaluative processes, ensuring their voices as service users are not only heard but are amplified at the centre of supports.

By honouring their ideas and providing meaningful opportunities to seek children’s views, we contribute to a community in which they can grow up safe and supported.

“Often we are working with families with one, up to five children, and the focus is on capturing the voice of every child in that family, whether they are verbal or non-verbal,” said Deputy Director Leanne Haddad.

Developed in consultation with program managers and staff across the organisation, the toolkits are tailored to meet different age groups, developmental stages, and specific client and program needs.

From digital resources to paper-based activities, the toolkits give children and young people a platform to have their say, develop agency, and recognise their right to make choices.

“It’s not just about informing service delivery; we bring the child’s voice into everything we do and use that to guide how we interact with clients and write policies and procedural guidance in every program,” said Amalie Mannik, Acting Executive Manager – Children’s Services.

“We also use their voice in our reporting, in terms of things we’re doing well or learnings we can take forward.’’

How the toolkits work

The toolkits have been developed to capture the child’s voice across a diverse range of Centacare programs including residential, counselling and home-visiting services.

For example, for Unify Family Reunification Services, a toolkit was developed to capture the child’s voice through workers’ observations.

“Unify works very differently to the other programs. The service’s therapeutic intervention is with the parent in building their capacity, their confidence, and their ability to parent – they don’t interact with the child or young person in front of the parent,’’ Amalie said.

“Due to their intervention approach, we couldn’t have a tool where the workers go and chat to the children. Instead, we developed a worker observation feedback tool, based around an electronic survey, to record things the child might have said or what the worker has observed between parent and child.

“If a child is saying that they’re in a really good position, they’re really happy, it’s crucial we find creative ways to capture that, as it can be part of informing reunification direction and decision-making.’’

Home-visiting programs, such as RESTORE Intensive Family Services, will use a digital rainbow and drawing pad to help younger clients articulate how they are feeling through colour and illustration.

Outreach and residential services will incorporate paper-based activities alongside electronic resources, which feature dot paintings by talented footballer and artist, Monica Turner-Collins.

For example, children engaged with Centacare Foster Care will circle different pictures to track how they feel at the beginning and end of a placement, while the views of birth children will also be captured throughout their foster sibling’s journey.

“The birth children of the carers can often make or break a placement and we need to know how they’re tracking,’’ Amalie said.

“Often birth children have an idealistic view of what having a foster sibling in their family might look like, but down the track, they might be challenged by the pain-based behaviours they are seeing in their house.

“Some of them absolutely thrive and love being role models and we see that through feedback when they highlight little things, like modelling to a foster child how to use a knife and fork and then their joy of seeing them do this.

 “But at the same time, if they’re not coping, we need to know, so we can put measures in place to support them to have their needs met.’’

Amalie said the significance of the child’s voice could not be underestimated.

“If you look at the heart of what we do, if you peel away all the layers of accountability and risk, it’s to help children and young people and ensure that they are in a safe, nurturing environment in which they can thrive and be the best they can be,” she said.

“There’s power in a child or young person having a platform to voice their hopes and dreams, or what they’re wanting and things they are not liking, because it gives us the ability to change it.’’

Breathing Space is filling a service gap for young women whose support needs are largely disregarded after child removal, new research shows.

An evaluation of the pilot program, released today by Centacare Catholic Family Services and the Centre for Social Impact at Flinders University, recommends a scaling up of Breathing Space to allow more women to be supported.

The research details how the 18-month intervention delivers significant benefits across multiple life domains for participants and is associated with improvements in wellbeing, parenting capacity and self-determination.

In particular, the evaluation notes that four of the 12 participants who sustained engagement with Breathing Space were reunified with their children during the intervention, and reunification was at least partly attributable to the program’s supports.

One participant had another child during her intervention and the new baby remains in her care.

Launched by Centacare in late 2020 and funded by the Department of Human Services, Breathing Space works with women aged under 25 years who have experienced removal of a child or children from their care and are therefore at heightened risk of recurrent removal in the future.

The trauma-responsive therapeutic intervention – believed to be an Australian-first – delivers holistic, wraparound supports for women who have high complexity of need and present with a wide range of issues at intake.

These include the trauma, loss, grief and anger associated with the removal of their children, in addition to poor mental health, financial hardship, housing stress and homelessness, exposure to family and domestic violence and substance misuse.

Most participants have a history of trauma dating back to their own childhoods and have themselves spent time in out of home care placements as children.

“Breathing Space aims to disrupt the cycle of intergenerational trauma and child maltreatment,’’ Centacare Director Pauline Connelly said.

“Themes emerging from the evaluation include the multiple intersecting forms of disadvantage experienced by these women, and how their experience of child removal compounds previous trauma.’’

Commissioned by Centacare, the evaluation notes the rarity of programs for parents who have experienced the removal of a child, particularly in the Australian context, which makes the research especially important.

“The system’s failure to provide proper supports for young people with complex trauma who are experiencing challenging issues in their lives increases the likelihood they will find it difficult to parent safely and have their children removed,’’ writes evaluation author Dr Veronica Coram, Research Fellow at the Centre for Social Impact.

“An emerging theme from the Breathing Space evaluation is that even with program advocacy, systemic issues (notably inadequate supply of appropriate affordable housing, income support payments that leave people in poverty, and lack of effective affordable mental health supports) create substantial barriers to improving the lives of participants.’’

The evaluation details 13 recommendations and 14 key findings including Breathing Space’s role in offsetting broader systemic deficiencies in areas such as mental health, child protection, welfare, disability support and housing.

Dr Coram highlights how Breathing Space benefits women, children and society more broadly by reducing out of home care and child protection costs for government while keeping children with their parents where they are likely to achieve better long-term outcomes.

“Breathing Space participation was associated with a strengthening of the parenting identities and capacities of the young women, to the extent that a quarter of them were reunified with their children before exiting the program, and others reported developing more meaningful relationships with their children as a result of the program,’’ the report states.

“Enhanced parenting capacities were related to other improvement in the lives of Breathing Space participants, including a strong sense of self, greater resilience and coping skills, and feeling empowered to make better decisions for themselves and their children.’’

Key factors supporting Breathing Space’s positive outcomes for participants include “strong trusting relationships with staff, a trauma-responsive approach, integrated wraparound supports delivered by a multidisciplinary team, flexibility and responsiveness to individual need, and intensive therapy to unpack trauma.’’

The evaluation recommends Breathing Space should continue with appropriate resources to scale up to a caseload of 40 participants.

Charlotte’s story

(Extracted from the evaluation)

Charlotte (22) was referred to Breathing Space by the Department for Child Protection following the removal of her child due to concerns regarding unexplained physical injuries when the child was six months old.

Child Protective Services (CPS) had conducted a parenting capacity assessment and recommended the child be placed under the guardianship of the Minister until she turned 18. At the time of removal, Charlotte had no fixed address and was living with her child and partner between two different households. Charlotte was occasionally using marijuana prior to removal.

Charlotte was provided with an individualised and intensive therapeutic and practical intervention through Breathing Space from March 2021. Charlotte engaged with the case manager, senior practitioner, nurse and financial counsellor. After a period of homelessness, Charlotte and her partner obtained a private rental property and started engaging with Connecting Families to support increasing their parenting capacity. Charlotte also ceased marijuana use.

Breathing Space provided a range of supports for Charlotte. These included brokerage supports (food, furniture and household items); medical supports (doctors’ appointments, surgery, COVID-19 vaccination); contraceptive supports; financial supports (budgeting and debt negotiation); court supports (care and protection and reunification court); and therapeutic supports (therapeutic genogram, Narrative Exposure Therapy and Adult Exploration and Attachment Interviewing). Breathing Space also indirectly supported Charlotte’s partner to secure access to the Disability Support Pension, which improved the family’s financial situation.

In October 2021, Charlotte and her partner were granted 12-month orders and referred to the reunification court. In February 2022 Charlotte’s toddler was returned to the care of her and her partner, with DCP revoking the orders six months early. Charlotte is now enjoying many new experiences with her little girl, including first birthday parties, first Easter and first Mother’s Day celebrations.

SUPPORTING WOMEN: Breathing Space team members (from left) Tiani, Jessica, Jacki, Lynnette, Caz and Oakleigh.

Centacare early intervention service Breathing Space is a 2022 finalist in the SA Child Protection Awards.

Breathing Space is one of three initiatives vying for the Outstanding Service Award – Non-government Organisations.

The winners of 11 categories will be announced at a ceremony at the Adelaide Convention Centre next Friday, September 9 during National Child Protection Week.

Funded by the Department of Human Services, Breathing Space is a pilot program for women aged 25 and under who have experienced removal of a child or children from their care and are therefore at heightened risk of recurrent removal in the future.

The trauma-responsive therapeutic intervention delivers holistic, wraparound supports for young women whose support needs are largely disregarded after child removal, and in most cases have been unaddressed for a long time leading up to child removal.

The aim is to improve participants’ quality of life, wellbeing and life skills by addressing the complexities that may have contributed to their children entering the child protection system.

Meantime, the Orange Tree Quilters group is a finalist for Volunteer of the Year.

Centacare nominated the group for its generous donation of 80 handmade quilts to our foster care program over the past two years.

Most recently, the group crafted quilts using Aboriginal prints to nurture cultural connection and identity in children placed with non-Aboriginal homes on their foster care journey.

Eve Bologiannis founded Orange Tree Quilters in 2015, with the orange tree representing generosity. She is passionate about creating special keepsakes for children in foster care, and others in community, and says there “is love in every stitch.”

Nearly 300 nominations were received for the Awards which celebrate the outstanding achievements of children and young people, carers, volunteers, staff, and organisations from across the child protection sector.

The Awards are delivered by the Department for Child Protection in partnership with the National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.

The Power to End Violence Against Women (PTEVAW) program is having a ripple effect at Blackwood High where students have helped the primary prevention initiative to a historic milestone.

At its 140th school visit, PTEVAW yesterday reached its 10,000th student, six years after the program was launched in South Australia to encourage whole-of-community change.

Nationally recognised, PTEVAW uses the power of sport as a hook to start conversations with Year 10 male students about domestic violence and challenge gender-based norms that can lead to abuse.

Centacare, Power Community Limited (PCL) and the Department of Education launched PTEVAW in 2016.

Blackwood High was among the first schools to engage the program, and in recent years it has introduced peer-to-peer learning to continue conversations about respect and gender equality.

Students in Years 11 and 12 help deliver PTEVAW at the school, alongside PCL program coordinator and Magpies captain Cam Sutcliffe.

Year 12 student Jay said that since undertaking PTEVAW two years ago, he had stepped in to call out inappropriate behaviour amongst his peers. Yesterday he co-facilitated the program with fellow school leaders Darcy and James.

Darcy said the trio took their role as advocates for change seriously and encouraged younger students to follow their lead and role model respectful relationships in all aspects of life.

After undertaking PTEVAW for the first time, Year 10 students Lachlan and Kobe said they had a better understanding of gendered drivers of abuse and in future would not hesitate to call out disrespectful behaviours such as sexist jokes.

A 2018 evaluation of PTEVAW by Flinders University found messages about respectful relationships stick with male secondary school students beyond the classroom.

“What is quite powerful is the way the program challenges students to look at certain behaviours, such as street harassment or belittling and gendered language, and how this manifests in a mentality that contributes to a normalised continuum of disrespect and inequity,’’ said Dr Jonathon Louth, who co-wrote the evaluation and now heads up strategy and research at Centacare.

“While we are not in a position to measure the extent to which the retention of key messages transitions into behaviour change over the long-term, the study reveals that there is an increase in awareness and there are early indicators of positive outcomes.

“As it stands, the program is vital for starting conversations and speaking across generations.’’

Power Community Limited General Manager Jake Battifuoco said he had observed significant shifts in the behaviours of young people over time.

“I think that is more broadly demonstrating the significance of a whole-of-community approach to promoting gender equality,’’ he said.

“We know how important primary prevention programs are so that we can have the conversations early and stop violence before it starts.’’

Centacare Director Pauline Connelly said reaching 10,000 students was significant.

“Imagine the ripple effect of that through families, through friends, through communities,’’ she said.

“We see firsthand the effects of domestic violence, and abuse, and power imbalance in families through clients at Centacare.

“We know that relationships, and how to have a relationship, and how to be in a relationship is influenced by the significant others around you.

“So to have programs like this where young people are given another choice, and information about what a healthy relationship can look like, and from that discern how they want to be as a person, it’s remarkable as much as it is essential.’’

*If you would like the Power to End Violence Against Women program visit your school, please contact Community Programs Coordinator Cam Sutcliffe csutcliffe@pafc.com.au

Susie Smith flinches at the thought of all the women and children with nothing but a car roof over their heads at night.

After 25 years working in regional domestic violence services, she knows how precarious sleeping in a vehicle can be.

The high visibility, the health and hygiene risks, the fact locked car doors and windows are all that separates a perpetrator from their victim.

“It’s incredibly difficult for professionals to get rentals in Mount Gambier, let alone our cohort at the bottom of the pile, so there are a lot of women living in cars with children,’’ said Susie, Manager of Centacare’s South-East based Southern Country Domestic Violence Service.

“They might not necessarily all be domestic violence victims, but they are all victims of the system. It’s a highly dangerous and unsatisfactory situation to be in.’’

The all too common sight of bedding spread across folded-down back seats is putting the escalating homelessness crisis in glaring view of communities everywhere.

Susie said it highlighted the growing shortage of public housing which was keeping women in crisis accommodation for longer at the expense of those at imminent risk.

“Successive governments have sold off public housing right across the state, Mount Gambier is a case in point; the few properties left only go to the very high end of complexity, so our clients are competing with other cohorts across homelessness, mental health and substance misuse,’’ she said.

“That means women are stuck in crisis accommodation for far longer than they should be.

“The domestic violence has passed, the intervention order is in place, he’s disappeared, and she is ready to move on – but she can’t because there is nowhere to go.

“That blocks up the crisis end because we can’t keep moving women through the continuum of emergency, crisis, and transitional accommodation to a safe exit point, so our specialist domestic violence services essentially become homelessness supports.’’

Susie pointed to the Domestic and Family Violence Crisis Accommodation (DFVCA) Pilot which created extra beds across regional South Australia in early 2020 to divert at-risk women and children away from motels into short-term safety.

“Thirty-day stays in DFVCA properties have blown out to many months,’’ she said.

“In 25 years, I’ve never seen it this bad.’’

A groundbreaking report released by Anne Summers last month sets out the financial challenges women face when leaving abusive relationships which leaves them with an impossible choice between violence and poverty.

In Homelessness Week, Susie urged women living in unsafe situations to reach out to specialist services which continue to work tirelessly across the state to find solutions.

“We will do our absolute best for you,’’ Susie said.

“Whilst we can’t promise a house, we can work with you to support you and your children with material goods, and potentially explore options you may not have thought about, and certainly put some safety plans in place because it’s a very risky and unsafe situation to be living in a car.’’

* In Australia, more than 116,000 people experience homelessness on any given night. Homelessness Week (1-7 August) aims to raise awareness of the impact of homelessness, the importance of housing as a solution, and how communities can make a difference. This year’s theme is: To end homelessness we need a plan. For more information visit Homelessness Australia.

Retirement villages are the new frontline of youth homelessness as desperate teens turn to their grandparents for shelter.

For the first time, Centacare is seeing adolescents who are couch-surfing with elderly relatives present to the Outer North Youth Homelessness Service (ONYHS) at Elizabeth for support.

Adolescent Specialist Case Manager Victoria Markovic said the situation was heartbreaking, with elderly people putting their own housing and health at risk to keep their grandchildren off the street.

“It’s a unique situation, and one we haven’t seen before,’’ she said.

“You hear about young people living with nan and pop but it’s not usually in a retirement village.’’

Victoria is currently supporting one young man who has been couch surfing at his grandfather’s retirement village in recent months. The 16-year-old has a disability and complex mental health challenges.

“You can see the grandpa’s genuine stress because he’s exhausted,’’ Victoria said.

“He is doing the best he can for his grandson, but he needs respite.’’

Victoria said family breakdown was among the most common presenting factors for the 250 young people currently engaged with ONYHS.

The service provides case management, early intervention, outreach, post-crisis and wait-list support to young people aged 15-25 years who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

In 2021-2022, ONYHS supported 423 clients. Of those, 204 were homeless at intake.   

“Maybe all other avenues with family have been exhausted and the only ones left are nan and pop who have a couch they can use,’’ Victoria said.

“But then they are getting told by the retirement village that the young person can’t stay with them long-term. The grandparents are well aware of that, but they don’t want the young person on the street.

“If they were in their own home, they might be able to make it work, but it can be really difficult to juggle their own health and daily challenges with the demands of caring for a teenager, especially if the young person has a history of complex trauma.’’

Victoria, who currently has a case load of 25 young people, said youth homelessness was the worst she had seen since joining the sector in 2015. Less than half of the clients engaged with ONYHS are in supported or transitional accommodation.

Victoria said it was becoming increasingly difficult to find solutions amid the rental availability and housing affordability crisis.

“Staying on your nan and pop’s couch in a retirement village is not a long-term option,’’ she said

“This is where we are just crisis managing constantly, trying to support people with doing what they can with what they have but it’s not an ideal outcome because there are very, very limited options and everyone’s circumstances are different.

“It is stressful, there’s no other way to put it. When the young person talks to you or they bring family in, you can see the tears in their eyes because they feel so exhausted and broken.

“Sometimes they’ve gone from one service to the other over months or even years.

“They end up feeling like they have gone to so much effort for no outcome, or the outcome wasn’t what they were hoping for, which is usually their own house.’’

Nationally, one in seven people presenting to homelessness services are young people on their own.

* In Australia, more than 116,000 people experience homelessness on any given night. Homelessness Week (1-7 August) aims to raise awareness of the impact of homelessness, the importance of housing as a solution, and how communities can make a difference. This year’s theme is: To end homelessness we need a plan. For more information visit Homelessness Australia.

Artist Damien Shen works on his portrait of Archie Roach.
Centacare is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Archie Roach – singer-songwriter, revered Australian music legend and campaigner for Aboriginal rights. We were privileged to know Archie and connect with him through our support of the Ruby Hunter Foundation and NO:RI Music Festival. In 2016, we purchased a portrait of Archie by Ngarrindjeri artist Damien Shen which proudly hangs in our reception. Rest easy, Archie. Thank you for all you taught us and for being a powerful voice for the Stolen Generations.

Celebrated Ngarrindjeri artist Damien Shen had long aspired to work with Archie Roach.

The chance came in 2016 when he was approached by Reconciliation South Australia to draw the revered Aboriginal singer-songwriter.

Shen saw it as a unique opportunity to honour Archie and his generation of Aboriginal Elders.

The portrait was presented for silent auction at the Reconciliation Week Breakfast in February that year to support the reparation of the Stolen Generations.

“The day before the breakfast, I went to meet Archie,” Shen said at the time.

“We went into the theatre area and he signed the drawing. I remember the look of appreciation on his face. He’s just an incredibly humble man.

“It was a great experience to be able to work with him, firstly from a distance, and then to get together and meet with him.”

Former Centacare Director Dale West purchased the emotive work which soon after was officially installed in Centacare’s Wakefield St reception.

“The portrait is about honouring a man who’s had an incredible career as a musician and is a role model to the Aboriginal community,” said Shen, the 2014 NAIDOC South Australian Artist of the Year.

“We are on the cusp of losing a particular generation of Elders so this was an opportunity to engage with Archie and to learn, and we must never take these opportunities for granted.

“Embrace Aboriginal people, embrace our history and be proud of it,” says the 2014 NAIDOC South Australian Artist of the Year.

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
E enquiries@centacare.org.au

Opening Hours

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

Quick Exit