Young  women who have experienced removal of a child or children from their care will be supported in an innovative early intervention service announced this week.

The Department of Human Services (DHS) has funded Breathing Space, which Centacare will pilot over two years with up to 15 women aged under 25 years.

Part of the DHS Child and Family Service System redesign, the service aims to improve young women’s quality of life, wellbeing and life skills, by addressing the complexities that may have contributed to their children entering the child protection system.

Some young women may have experienced an out-of-home care placement themselves and/or have experienced homelessness.

“These women are the forgotten women, and the only time we hear about them is when they have the next child, which could potentially be removed,” said Leanne Haddad, Executive Manager of Centacare’s Children’s Services Unit.

“The loss of a child into care is significant. There is a lot of shame involved, particularly with Aboriginal women, and this can lead to other significant challenges that may otherwise never be addressed.”

Breathing Space is based on UK program Pause, and is believed to be the first service of its kind in Australia.

Participation is voluntary and each young woman will be allocated a case manager, women’s health nurse, financial counsellor and a senior practitioner providing wrap-around support.

Breathing Space is underpinned by Aboriginal co-design criteria and will privilege the voices of young Aboriginal women who are engaged in the program to empower self-determination, address intergenerational trauma and promote the importance of culture.

Specialist input will be provided by CatholicCare NT on the Aboriginal Family Coping Toolkit.

Referrals will come from, birthing hospitals, Child and Family Assessment and Referral Networks, Local Partnership Groups, Department for Child Protection and other approved services.

The therapeutic model for Breathing Space draws on the doctoral research completed by Child, Adolescent Psychiatrist and Specialist Therapist Dr Jackie Amos in 2017, and other trauma-related research literature, and clinical experience.

“We want to identify the protective factors that mitigate the recognised effects of intergenerational trauma to increase self-identity, but also safeguard potential future children the young women may have,’’ Leanne said.

“Many of the young women may have experienced childhood trauma and have been abused or neglected themselves or may be in a domestic violence relationship. They are facing significant life challenges.”

“Breathing Space is a time for the young women to focus on themselves, share stories with others to learn they are not alone, to identify better ways to live and develop effective coping strategies.  It is a time or the young women to breathe and find out who they are.”

For more information, please visit our Breathing Space service page.

Rebecca McNicol began her social work career supporting our smallest and most vulnerable.

Not long out of university, the then-22-year-old was working in out-of-home care, nurturing young children separated from their families by the child protection system.

Stints in regional family preservation and targeted intervention followed, with a focus on providing critical in-home supports where early child wellbeing or safety risk factors had been identified.

Now a member of Centacare’s Youth and Community Support Services, Rebecca is drawing on these early experiences to support young people and adults at risk later in life.

Many are caught in generational cycles of unresolved crisis which has put them on a multi-directional path to homelessness.

“Trauma manifests in different ways,’’ Rebecca says. “Sometimes the effects of this go unnoticed but then issues come up later in life, and homelessness is usually one of them.’’

Working across Centacare’s Whyalla Generic Homelessness Service (WGHS) and Whyalla Regional Domestic Violence Service (WRDVS), Rebecca sees the full gamut of challenges facing clients aged as young as 15 and up to those in their 60s.

The cumulative effect of years of immense sadness is obvious.

“Perhaps they were removed from mum and dad, placed in Guardianship, but then they get to 18 and they’re out in the big wide world,’’ Rebecca says.

“We see them quite a few years later with pretty significant mental health and drug and alcohol issues, and their housing is one of the things that falls by the wayside.’’

Collectively, the WGHS and WRDVS worked with 543 people In 2019/2020.

Domestic violence is the leading cause of homelessness in Australia, and women fleeing unsafe households account for the majority of clients who access specialist supports.

In Whyalla, factors which precipitate homelessness are compounded by limited public transport, Rebecca says, which makes it difficult for many people to access the supports they need. To overcome this barrier, Centacare provides transport assistance to clients.

“No day is the same,’’ Rebecca says. “Sometimes it is really, really difficult, particularly with the domestic violence, and then the people who have just had a challenging hand in life.

“Obviously things can creep up and shock you more than other cases but, for the most part, taking an empathetic approach and perhaps offering an apology – saying sorry that they are upset – that’s huge for some clients.

“At the end of the day being able to offer someone a house so they feel safe and have a roof over their head, that’s a pretty awesome feeling.’’

Rebecca attributes her strong sense of social justice, and her drive to help others less fortunate, to her family’s caring influence.

“My dad worked in the public service with young offenders in maximum security detention centres. He was a youth worker and is now a minister. We travelled all over Australia for Dad’s work which brought about a richness to our life in seeing different things.

“My oldest sister is a social worker, and my other two sisters are in the health field, so we are definitely a family of helpers!’’

*It’s Homelessness Week (August 2-8), a national campaign to raise awareness of the experiences and challenges faced by people living homeless. This year the theme is Everybody Needs a Home. Even before COVID-19, almost 120,000 people had no place to call home each night. Today, many more Australians are currently unemployed, facing rental stress and the possibility of losing their home.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Asking a child what they want for breakfast can be all that it takes.

They react as if the world is over, throwing themselves to the floor and sparking mutual fury – all in a split second.

Whether you’re a parent of a toddler or teen, you know the feeling.

So how do you control your own reaction in order to defuse the behaviour that set you off?

‘What to do When Kids Push Your Buttons’ is a workshop for parents experiencing separation who find it difficult to stay calm when confronted by particular behaviours.

The child might refuse to go to bed or eat their dinner. Perhaps they throw a tantrum when asked to pick up a toy, turn off their device, or hop in the car.

“It’s all age groups and not just really young children; teens often push our buttons too,’’ said Clare Bowyer, Educator and Counsellor at Centacare.

Based on the work of parenting specialist Bonnie Harris, the workshop supports parents to probe their own buttons, where they come from and how we can step back and respond rather than react.

“A child might swear at you,’’ said Clare, “but if you react to that and say `how dare you?’ the situation is likely to escalate.

“If you look at it from another perspective, and don’t take their comment personally, you will likely see they are having a problem, not being a problem.

“Usually the child is angry about something. It’s about looking for the root of the behaviour rather than just what we see on the surface.’’

Parents learn how to respond calmly and effectively by looking at their own beliefs, expectations and assumptions, and adjusting them accordingly to regain their child’s cooperation and respect.

For more information about this course, please phone Centacare on 8215 6700.

Kylie Degenhardt has heard it all.

As a fair skin Palawa woman, the Youth Support Worker has had her identity questioned, been mocked for being Aboriginal and told she doesn’t belong.

“People say things like `how Aboriginal are you?’, like I need to prove it,’’ Kylie says.

“There’s still that mentality if you don’t fit the usual picture of what an Aboriginal person is meant to look like. The racism and stereotypes, they never go away.’’

The conversations Kylie’s skin colour provoke are a constant reminder of the challenges around identity and acceptance that endure today for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The 43-year-old is passionate about reversing this `cultural disconnect’, born from past government policies and felt so painfully by her grandfather Robert, a member of the Stolen Generations.

“He didn’t see his sister until he was 60 odd years old and then they both passed away six months later – after a lifetime without each other,’’ Kylie says.

“It’s that disconnection: What he was made to think about his mum; what he was made to think about his culture; how policy and thinking turned our people against themselves.’’

In her role at headspace Port Adelaide, Kylie helps young people to embrace their heritage by connecting them to community and other supports for challenges such as depression and anxiety.

In addition, she teaches community service professionals to view mental health through a cultural lens, as one of a handful of facilitators in the state delivering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health First Aid training.

Participants learn how to assist an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander adult who may be experiencing a mental health problem until appropriate professional help is received or the crisis resolves.

“Every day I see the trauma but I also see the resilience in people,’’ Kylie says.

“The younger generations especially are using their voice positively. Yes, they are angry, but they are also getting their message of survival out there: that we are still here, thriving and surviving!

“They are proud and they’re speaking up.’’

Fancy playing cricket on the Murray River? How about chasey or a game of tag?

Lyall Willis does all that and more – in an open top kayak – as part of a Communities for Children-funded program run at Murray Bridge.

Beyond Kayaking has engaged about 1000 adults and children since it began eight years ago.

The initial aim was to bring families together for fun on the water but the program has achieved much more, says Lyall, a Family Practitioner at Centacare.

In addition to building confidence, communication skills and resilience in children aged up to 12 years, Beyond Kayaking nurtures mindfulness parenting.

This strengthens familial bonds and helps to hone parenting skills.

“It’s not just about the kids, it’s about the parents having a break as well, and the kids are part of that which is pretty unique,” Lyall says.

“There’s a mutual encouragement and respect built between them. Parents will say it’s the highlight of their week to be able to come out here, because the kids just want to be part of something with them.

“It’s great to see parents have a new level of engagement with their child in an environment that they’re both not 100 per cent confident in, and for the kids to look to their parent for that safety and guidance.”

For more information about Beyond Kayaking and where to find Lyall, phone our Murray Bridge office 8215 6320.

Collaborative practice in the north is giving vulnerable young people broader access to crucial support networks.

Centacare is one of many organisations working together to wrap services around clients who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

“When the community resources and funding are less than ever, you have to be creative and proactive in getting things to happen,’’ says Tina Breen, Senior Social Worker at our Outer North Youth Homelessness Service. 

“Over the past 12 months we have really focussed on setting up what we call a care team for each young person.

“That means pulling in anybody that’s connected to that young person, and really strongly and purposefully collaborating together; we value what each service can bring to the table and work out how we can cross-services the young person to meet their needs.

“It’s about what we can do together as a sector to give young people the best chance of positive outcomes.’

The approach is giving young people access to multiple services at the same time so they don’t have to navigate complex systems alone, says Tina.

“I went to a meeting yesterday with 12 different agencies supporting one person.

“There is a huge possibility he’ll have really good outcomes because he’s got so much support wrapped around him.

“It’s a really strong community to work in.’’

Homelessness Week is an annual week coordinated by Homelessness Australia to raise awareness of people experiencing homelessness, the issues they face and the action needed to achieve enduring solutions.

ARE you aged between 17 to 25 years and looking to enter the independent housing market for the first time?

HYPA’s free Get-A-Place advisory service is now available at headspace Port Adelaide, via case manager Reece Hammond, to guide you through the process.

Get-A-Place specialises in assisting young people who are seeking independent housing but have limited experience and understanding of what is involved and how to go about it.

Through Get-A-Place, we can support you to:

  • Identify the right accommodation for your needs
  • Understand the different housing options available
  • Clarify tenants’ rights and responsibilities
  • Apply for a rental property
  • Know what’s required for ongoing maintenance of the tenancy

For more information on the service, click HERE.

To get in touch with Reece at headspace Port Adelaide phone (08) 8215 6340 or click HERE.

 

National Families Week begins today. To celebrate the vital role that families play in the community, we will be highlighting some of the many ways Centacare supports families to thrive. Today we look at our Children’s Services Unit which celebrates the diversity in community and believes in providing families with opportunities.

 

Each year, Centacare’s Children’s Services Unit (CSU) provides support to about 340 families and 600 children across metropolitan Adelaide, the Murraylands, Mount Gambier, and the Riverland.

We aim to build parenting capacity that is sustained long-term through the provision of family supports, therapeutic interventions, the development of parenting and relationship skills and connection to community resources.

We work with families to identify and harness their strengths, build confidence and address challenges. These may include drug and alcohol misuse, mental health, domestic violence, homelessness, poverty, and abuse and neglect.

Our multidisciplinary teams consist of social workers, nurses, counsellors, therapists, administration, management and leadership.

“We work with vulnerable families to create sustained change; even the most marginal family deserves supports,’’ says Leanne Haddad, Executive Manager.

“The rewards are invaluable when families can stay together in a safe and supported environment.’’

We offer a number of programs for families, children and young people, from parenting groups, to home visiting programs, family support services, targeted intervention, specialist dad support, family preservation, reunification programs and specialist foster care services.

Staff work with the families to identify risks and target support to mitigate challenges impacting their capacity to parent.

“Therapy is provided alongside in-home supports to families,’’ Leanne says. “This is a crucial element that can lead to sustained change. The therapy addresses the underlying factors that often cause the at-risk behaviours.’’

How we can support you

Click on the links to explore our CSU programs and services

From jumping castles to kayaking, we have school holiday fun covered for kids!

 

Children’s Fun Day at Wandana Community Centre

When: Thursday, April 26

Ages: 5 to 15 years

Time: 10am to 1pm

Free activities! Rock climbing, jumping castle, arts and crafts, and a BBQ. Sausage sizzle $2.

Please call 8261 8124 to book your child’s place. Children aged under five years must be accompanied by a parent/adult.

 

Beyond Kayaking 

Communities for Children is holding a kayaking program at four locations across the Murraylands. Come and have some fun with the kids on easy to use sit on top double kayaks. All equipment is supplied. Just bring a hat, water, sunscreen and solid soled shoes (no thongs please). Sit on top kayaks are wide and stable for beginners, and provide great fun for children. Please phone Lyall at Centacare 8215 6320 to book your session.

  • Murray Bridge @ Long Island

Monday, April 16

10am to 12 noon and 1pm-3pm

 

  • Swanport Reserve

Thursday, April 9

10am to 12 noon and 12.30pm to 3pm

 

  • Murray Bridge @ Sturts Reserve

Tuesday, April 24

9am to 10.30am

 

  • Mypolonga

Tuesday, April 24

12 noon to 3pm

 

 

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

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