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.

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.

 

Going back to school is not just daunting for little ones – older students can feel anxious too. Our parenting educators have put together some tips for parents of young people starting high school this year.

 

Many young people find starting secondary school a time of mixed emotions.

While they may feel excitement, fear, confusion and have a sense of curiosity and adventure, most will admit that starting a new school experience can be a bit scary.

They may feel lost and confused, miss their primary school friends and worry about fitting in.

Adjusting to these differences and their new learning environment can be challenging.

Secondary schools are much bigger, anonymous places than primary school where everyone knows your name. New school routines and unfamiliar classrooms and teachers add an extra dynamic.

Friendship circles change and even established bonds can be challenged in high school, as students tackle one of the primary developmental tasks of establishing identity.

Signs your child is not coping may include:

  • Irritability
  • A short-temper
  • Being disagreeable or rebellious
  • Withdrawing from family
  • Refusing to go to school
  • Articulating stress through tummy pains and headaches

While children may exhibit some of these behaviours regardless of the onset of a new school year, if these signs persist after the first few weeks of term, it’s time to speak to the school to help address the source of stress.

It is equally important that parents look after their own well being too. Remember, this can be a stressful and confusing time for you also, as you juggle work, family and other commitments, and try and figure out how much support to offer your child.

Here are some favourite pieces of parental advice drawn from our parenting groups over the years:

  • Remember that despite their emerging sophistication, students still need to hear you say you love, approve of and support them
  • Provide reassurance by normalising some of the confused and unsure feelings and perhaps share your own high school experience
  • Celebrate their strengths: they need to be reminded of what they do well while they tackle challenges
  • Be a supportive listener and don’t give advice too quickly: help them problem-solve and encourage thinking for themselves
  • Be patient while your student tackles the challenges of first year high school and remember that being organised is usually a learned skill
  • Get to know the school community – other parents can be your best resource.

 

Traumatic events in a person’s life can put them on a multi-directional path to homelessness. Understanding the impact of childhood trauma is driving Centacare’s support of vulnerable young people in the north.

 

It is easy to make assumptions about people living homeless: they’re tearaways, lazy, they should just get a job…

But it is the invisible pain cloaking their plight that’s guiding Centacare’s trauma informed care of young people living homeless in the north and Barossa Valley.

“I don’t think most people recognise the extent of how trauma effects people’s lives and their core,’’ says Megan Welsh, Executive Manager, Youth and Community Support Services.

“At the heart of their troubles is often years of immense sadness that’s hard to fathom when they’re still so young.

“Rather than punish and entrench that trauma, we try to repair and resolve it, and that in itself is quite complex because everybody’s experiences are different.’’

This is requiring a greater understanding of the challenges that precipitate homelessness, how adolescents act out as a result of experiencing childhood trauma, and the impact this has on the way Centacare supports them.

In response, the Outer North Youth Homelessness Service (ONYHS) has adopted a trauma-informed approach to increase our capacity to support vulnerable young people beyond therapeutic and other traditional interventions.

The focus is as much on youth case workers as it is on those at risk.

“You hear a lot of stories, you feel a lot of pain and see a lot of distress,’’ says Tina Breen (pictured), Senior Social Worker. “That can sneak up on you.’’

Reflective practice and supervision is used to encourage staff self-care, and their work is guided by trauma informed policies and procedures.

A 2015 Pegasus Economics report shows unresolved trauma, and its long-term impact on an adult’s wellbeing, costs the nation about $7.8 billion each year.

In 15/16, the ONYHS supported 549 people (348 females and 201 males). Of these, 281 were homeless at intake, 218 were experiencing mental health issues and 57 were fleeing family or domestic violence.

“Most of the young people we see present with complex trauma: repeated episodes of abuse and neglect as a child is common,’’ Tina says.

“Developmental trauma linked to poor attachment and neglect is compounded by other risk factors, such as domestic violence, substance abuse and family breakdown, putting them on a multi-directional path to homelessness.

“As a result, they have less capacity to function so they might self-medicate or end up being the victim of further abuse, such as rape, or put themselves in violent situations because they don’t have the ability to act and respond and make decisions like everybody else.’’

Embedding a deeper understanding of trauma across the ONYHS is helping staff predict and more thoughtfully respond to young people’s reactions to some supportive interventions.

For example, a teenager’s refusal to eat may be due to deprivation or denial of food as a child.

“We might think we’re helping offering them a piece of toast if they’re feeling unwell, but what they see in that is a very scary, threatening act that makes them feel highly vulnerable,’’ Tina says.

Over recent months, the ONYHS has adopted a trauma informed approach to its psychosocial assessment at intake to avoid young people reliving painful events in their past.

In addition, to provide consistent support, limit disruption and foster stability, one youth case worker now works during the day at Carlow Place, Monday to Friday.

“Taking responsibility for understanding how trauma impacts their past allows us to make more informed responses in the support we provide to each young person,’’ Tina says.

*This week we are marking Homelessness Week (August 7-13). The national campaign aims to raise awareness of the experiences and challenges faced by people living out of home. The theme of this year’s week is ‘Action and Innovation‘ and we will be highlighting some of the ways we are supporting young people to stay safe, remain connected with their communities, and build their independence. Centacare provides specialist youth homelessness services, and accommodation support for women and children experiencing domestic violence, in regional and metropolitan South Australia.

#HW2017 #endhomelessness and #innovationinhomelessness

 

 

 

 

New Netflix feature film To The Bone premieres today amid concern it glamorises anorexia nervosa.

At Centacare, we are mindful this may act as a trigger for vulnerable young people living with, or at risk of, an eating disorder.

However, we acknowledge it also may reduce stigma and raise awareness of eating disorders, and the importance of seeking help.

Our friends at headspace and the Butterfly Foundation have issued some useful resources to support people who may find the film’s content distressing, and for parents who are concerned about their children.

Centacare’s PACE service is also here to help.

Through our peer workers who have a lived experience of eating disorders, we offer one-on-one, group and referral support.

PACE Manager Nigel Wyatt is encouraging parents to engage in conversation with young people around the film which follows the journey of a 20-year-old woman living with anorexia.

To The Bone is based on writer and director Marti Noxon’s personal struggle with eating disorders.

Noxon has said she hopes the film will start conversation around an issue that is too often clouded by secrecy and misconception.

“One way or another, it is going to bring to the forefront of people’s thinking a significant and very dangerous issue,’’ PACE Manager Nigel Wyatt said.

“We hope it will help to reduce stigma and promote an attitude of seeking help but are mindful people living with an eating disorder may struggle to view the content objectively.

“Eating disorders are quite often incredibly competitive illnesses and comparison to others can be a problem.

“We encourage people and families living with some of the complexities raised in the film to seek support.’’

For more information about the services we offer to support people living with an eating disorder, please phone our PACE team on 8159 1400.

This year we welcome Port Adelaide Football Club defender Jasper Pittard to the Power to End Violence Against Women campaign.

Jasper joins Travis Boak, Ollie Wines, Hamish Hartlett, Matt White and Gavin Wanganeen as a Program Ambassador.

PTEVAW - Jasper & Russell

In his role, Jasper will visit schools with club legend Russell Ebert to talk to male students in Year 10 about respectful relationships with women.

We are grateful for the invaluable support of players as we continue our partnership with Power Community Ltd.

This term the #PEVAW program has engaged 305 students across four schools, including Norwood Morialta High School.

Students learn about respect, trust, gender equality, healthy relationships and the dangers of abusive behaviour, and how to make informed choices.

Launched in late 2015 with the help of the State Government, the program will be funded by Centacare until 2019 in order to reach more male students across the state.

For more information about the PEVAW program, please phone Ross Wait 8447 9965.

headspace Woodville is excited to announce it is relocating to Port Adelaide.

“Moving the centre to Port Adelaide will provide access to youth-friendly mental health services to young people who may not have been able previously visit us,” said Stacey Roy, Centre Manager, headspace Woodville.

“We look forward to providing a safe and welcoming space where young people, their families and friends, can come and seek help on mental health, physical health, alcohol and drugs and work and study.”

The new headspace Port Adelaide centre will be located at 78-80 St Vincent Street, Port Adelaide, and will open on Monday 27 February. headspace Woodville will remain open until Wednesday 22 February.

If you need to speak to someone during the closure of the centre, please contact eheadspace on 1800 650 890 or online at www.eheadspace.org.au.

For further information phone Stacey Roy 08-8243 7900 or email sroy@centacare.org.au. Follow headspace on Facebook at 

*Further information on headspace Port Adelaide official launch event will be distributed at a later date.

 

 

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

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