Centacare’s Unify team
Centacare’s Unify team

Staff and stakeholders recently gathered to reflect on the journey of Centacare’s reunification services. From humble beginnings in 2004 at The Corner Store, Plympton, to becoming the largest provider in the state under Unify.

Unify Reunification Services aim for children and young people to live safely in the care of their parents or families, whenever possible. Unify support workers therapeutically work with families who have been separated by the child protection system due to safety concerns, to process their trauma, increase agency and increase their relationship capacity. While the service is based at Seaton, most work occurs within the family home.

Leanne Haddad, Executive Director at Centacare, started formalities by outlining her own past experiences as a junior social worker. She worked in frontline child protection and had to refer families for reunification services, describing the services as a beacon of hope. She detailed how memories of removing children from family homes have affected and stayed with her for over three decades.

Sam Carpenter, Senior Manager at Unify added: “Our service provides the islands and stepping stones of connection and repair. Whilst celebrating this key milestone, I want to honour the brave and difficult work our families and parents do when they come to our service”.

As Sam reflected on the past two decades, he acknowledged the strength it takes to keep vital services running uninterrupted for such a long period of time. He also noted innovation has driven a model of practice that provides safe exit points for children in care, out of the child protection system.

At the core of Unify is the work of Dr Jackie Amos, whose thesis became the basis of Centacare’s therapeutic framework and the Unify model, which focuses on responding to and addressing intergenerational trauma.

The success of Unify speaks for itself. It is estimated the chance of a child returning to their family of origin after removal is as low as 16-20%. Families who have worked within Unify have achieved a return rate of 60-75% each year.

The event concluded with a touching lived experience video that shared a parent’s reunification story with her children.

Unify is effectively placed to provide trauma-responsive support to families, in partnership with the Department for Child Protection (DCP), well into the future.

We thank Gabby Ramsay (DCP) and Melissa Gibson (CAFFSA) for joining us on the day.

Click here for further information about Unify Family Reunification Services.