The two-day Holi festival does much more than bathe India in colour – it spreads hope around the world, writes Alicia Remedios.

Holi is one of the most significant festivals for Hindus and is celebrated by people of different faiths in India. Growing up as a non-Hindu in India, I learned that the festival had a deep religious importance to my Hindu friends and their families.

Holi signifies triumph of good over evil and marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring and new life.

Traditionally, a bonfire is lit the night before Holi to start the festivities.

These continue the next day and involve tossing fistfuls of coloured powder and buckets of water at one another, gorging on delicious food and dancing to drums and traditional music.

For me, Holi has always symbolised the spirit of unity in diversity, the strengthening of friendships and the sheer joy and glee it brought to my childhood.

I have vivid memories of the morning of Holi and filling up water balloons with my friends, prepping our pichkaris (water guns) and making sure we had sufficient coloured powder to throw in the air and at each other.

I especially enjoyed the delicious malpuas (fluffy pancakes served as a snack or dessert) my close Bengali friend’s mum would make.

The day ended with a hearty meal shared with neighbourhood children and their families and some much-needed rest after a long day of fun!

Holi will be observed March 17-18.

Alicia is a Training and Review Officer with Centacare Foster Care.

Picture: Bartosz Hadyniak

Foster Care Manager Amalie Mannik explains why her Estonian folk dress is a nod to the decorative beauty of traditions passed down by generations.

My folk costume is called pühalepa and originates from Hiiumaa (translates to Hiiu Island).

The blouse and apron, and their intricate embroidery, were handstitched by my great-grandmother Jenny Ülesoo.

Vilma Beier, an Estonian craftswoman woman in Adelaide, now deceased, made my headpiece from wool she shore from her sheep (rastas). Mine is an open head `maiden’s’ piece which indicates I’m not married. Married women wear the head piece with a red cloth underneath to differentiate their relationship status.

Vilma also wove the wool for my skirt on her loom. I layer this with a silver coin belt, crafted by Jaan Kirk, an old family friend.

Brooches are said to protect the wearer from spirits. Six rubies adorn my silver brooch passed down to me by my grandmother Mälle Mannik.

When I wear my Estonian folk dress, I feel proud to be passing on traditions of Estonian culture to my daughter’s Eevi and Silvi, who strongly identify with their Estonian heritage.

It also provides one with the overwhelming urge to dance!

Danica Davidson has lived most of her life searching for her cultural identity. Despite years of struggle, she has never lost hope that one day she will find a sense of self and place.

Danica Davidson has embarked on an all-consuming quest to find her ancestry and, in turn, herself.

For years she has struggled to gain a sense of identity and place due to limited information about her family’s roots in Broome, Western Australia.

Part of the Stolen Generation, Danica’s father was separated from his five siblings when authorities arrived one day to take them away.

“He was only days old when his brothers and sisters got removed,” Danica said.

“Dad was small enough to be hidden in a box and he was put in the back of a car with an Aunty who travelled out of Broome.”

Left behind was Danica’s grandfather who she said was forced to sign a statutory declaration to deny his Aboriginality in order to move to Ceduna, where he believed his children had been taken. He never saw them again, and died in 2001.

Danica desperately wants to know more about her grandfather and his mob but unearthing clues is a slow and painful process.

“That would be a massive piece of the puzzle,” she said “but I have asked my family questions and no one has any information.”

“Certain parts of my life have been put on hold as I don’t feel like I can move forward until I know the where, when, what, who, and why.”

It was not until Danica joined Northern Carers Network six years ago and began working alongside Aboriginal Elders, that her quest to know more became all-consuming.

She said her role as Aboriginal Community Development Officer had given her the confidence to embrace the heritage she was taught to reject as a child.

“The Elders I met and a few of the workers drove me to find out more about my ancestors, beliefs, religion and culture,” she said.

Part of her role is to coordinate Kindred Spirits, a program supporting Nunga families to develop safe and nurturing homes.

“I believe that each and every day I spend helping someone in the community is also helping me piece my life story together,” Danica said.

“Sometimes when I’m out in the community, when I announce my grandfather’s name, a few Elders are aware of him.

“I still feel I don’t know who I am.

I know I am a proud Aboriginal woman but from where and from whom I don’t know. I haven’t declared my Aboriginality because I want more information.”

Danica said her quest is as much for her own children and “grandies” as it is for herself.

“I want my grandchildren to know who they are and their background by the time they’re adults, and that their nanna researched it for them,” she said.

“To be able to sit my kids down and say `this is my journey’ and teach them would be everything.”

February 13 marked the 14th anniversary of the Apology to the Stolen Generations.

Get in touch with Northern Carers Network on (08) 8228 8900.

Each year, Harmony Week (March 21-27) is marked by a week-long celebration of Australia’s cultural diversity. It’s about inclusiveness, respect, safety, and a sense of belonging for everyone.

At Centacare, our work is enriched by the origins, stories, colour and traditions of many different cultures which together make us stronger.

Throughout Harmony Week, we will be sharing some of the staff stories published in our internal newsletter, Culture Hub, an initiative of the Cultural Competence Committee to celebrate our collective identity.

First up, let’s meet Milijana Stojadinovic.

Enriched by diversity

Time has taught Milijana Stojadinovic to embrace her Serbian heritage.

Growing up, the first generation Australian pushed her ethnicity away after experiencing covert racism which led her to question her identity.

In her new role managing headspace Port Adelaide, Milijana hopes to use her experiences of “othering” to help young people who are feeling misunderstood as they grapple with their own cultural fabric.

“Having a name like Milijana Stojadinovic, my cultural background wasn’t something I could ever run away from, but I tried very hard to,” she said.

“I shortened my name to Mill and didn’t speak my language. I really pushed my culture away; it was something I was quite ashamed of.”

It wasnt until her early 20s that Milijana embraced her Serbian roots while studying social work and writing a thesis on migrants’ experiences of living in Australia.

“Doing my thesis helped me understand a little bit more why I felt the way I did as a young kid,” she said.

“It wasn’t a rejection of culture as such, it was a rejection of being treated like the `other’.

“I don’t feel like that anymore. I feel like I belong and that I’ve found my place.

“I do see myself as Australian, deeply, but I’m also an ethnic kid with strong ties back to my country of origin, language and cultural traditions.

“That’s my point of difference in the work I do with young people who are of different ethnicity but who have that affinity with me.

“I find that my relationships are really enriched by that commonality, and that point of difference, because they are on a similar journey realising where they fit too.”

A mental health social worker and mother-of-one, Milijana is acutely aware of the ways that cultural diversity influences conversations about mental health, how it is perceived and understood, and the impact of stress associated with migration and the readjustment into new cultures.

“I think it’s important for everyone to ask themselves questions and think about where there might be bias internally and where that bias comes from,” she said.

“Be ready to challenge it, and ask others questions too, but from a point of curiosity, not nosiness.

“Get conversations started.”

Centacare has partnered with community housing provider Housing Choices Australia and Aboriginal Sobriety Group on an innovative new project to prevent young people falling into homelessness after exiting out-of-home care.

Funded by the Department for Child Protection, the $2.7 million Next Steps pilot will provide young adults aged between 17 to 21 years on long-term guardianship orders with a direct pathway into low cost accommodation across metropolitan Adelaide.

A multidisciplinary trauma-informed care team will support participants to maintain tenancy and address complex challenges in their lives as they transition to independence.

Research shows young people leaving out-of-home care are at increased risk of homelessness, substance misuse and contact with the criminal justice system, and are more likely to have poorer health, education and employment outcomes.

Understanding participants’ child protection history and the ongoing impact of underlying trauma is a key focus of Next Steps. The model focuses on the foundation of trauma responsive practice and is underpinned by a therapeutic framework designed and implemented by child and adolescent psychiatrist and specialist therapist, Dr Jackie Amos. 

Participants will receive 1:1 therapeutic support to strengthen identity, agency and build life skills.

“Young people leaving residential care face many barriers as they transition into adulthood without family support,’’ said Megan Welsh, Executive Manager – Domestic Violence and Youth Homelessness Services.

“They may have high and complex needs that impact their capacity to live independently and impede their ability to enter and sustain their own tenancy.

“We don’t want to see them cycling in and out of homelessness – we want to see them settled in community and engaged in employment or education with a strong sense of place and belonging.’’

In the first two years, Next Steps will initially settle up to 20 young people in city HCA housing, with on-site access to medical, dental and mental health services.

“As a social housing provider with a long history of working with young people, we are excited to be a part of this collaborative model that digs deeper to build independence and life goals,’’ said Julie Duncan, General Manager, South Australia, HCA.

Centacare will provide wraparound support through therapeutic case workers, a financial counsellor, clinical nurse, and youth workers. Linked into this team will be a dedicated youth tenancy officer based at HCA.

An educator from Centacare’s Registered Training Organisation will support each young person to identify language, literacy and numeracy needs and offer pathways into foundation skills, where required.

“The model recognises that for many young people leaving care, early relationship templates can remain an unhelpful influence in their transition to adulthood, and many young people’s journey through the care system may not provide opportunities to address these influences therapeutically,’’ Megan said.

“Centacare believes that integrating therapeutic principles will provide the best opportunity for young people to overcome these challenges and maximise their potential.’’

ASG, through its expertise as an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation, will provide cultural support and consultancy, and a much-needed lens and way of practice when working with young Aboriginal people.

“Cultural connection and support for many young Aboriginal people exiting care is vital. Working with our community networks, we are looking forward to helping create a sense of cultural belonging for those young people that seek it,’’ said Susie Andricic, CEO, Aboriginal Sobriety Group.

Centacare has appointed child protection specialist Leanne Haddad as Deputy Director.

Leanne will commence in the role early January and work closely with Director, Pauline Connelly.

Highly regarded in national and state community services sectors, Pauline has led Centacare since August and was recently appointed for a further 12 months by Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide, Patrick O’Regan.

Currently, Executive Manager – Children’s Services Unit (CSU), Leanne joined Centacare in 2017 and oversees a range of metropolitan and regional-based programs including foster care, reunification and therapeutic multidisciplinary intensive family support services.

She has a genuine commitment to Centacare’s Catholic Social Teaching, and more than 22 years’ experience in operational child protection positions; policy and planning; service design; innovation; learning and development; leadership; and contract and project management.

At Centacare, Leanne has turned at-risk contracts into highly successful programs and led numerous successful tenders and grants. These include the $20.7 million RESTORE Intensive Family Services – the largest service of its kind in South Australia.

Under Leanne’s leadership, CSU was this year highlighted for excellence in service delivery as part of Centacare’s Quality Innovation Performance accreditation review. CSU programs Breathing Space and Dad’s Business received commendations.

“This experience was the highlight of my career, as it demonstrated the recognition of quality services from an independent body that looks at all aspects of service delivery,’’ Leanne said.

“This has made me want to strive for more service excellence to create quality outcomes for the families and individuals we work with.

“Working at Centacare is a vocation and a privilege. I do not see this as a job but a real opportunity to deliver essential services to community.’’

Pauline said she was delighted to welcome Leanne to the Directors Office.

“I know she will be a significant support to me, the executives, the managers and all staff, and I am very grateful for that,’’ she said

“I wish Leanne all the best and look forward to working more closely with her.’’

Your wellbeing is our priority. Centacare is taking every precaution necessary to protect the health and safety of everyone on site. We appreciate your patience and understanding in supporting our minimum site requirements.

Check-in

All staff, contractors, clients and visitors must:

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We will ask you some screening questions and confirm your vaccination status. This is so we can consider additional precautions to keep all parties safe.

All visitors engaging in work or duties must be vaccinated against COVID-19 with a TGA approved vaccine, and must be able to provide evidence of vaccination status.

Anyone who states they have a vaccination or a mask exemption will be asked to show proof of their exemption. Please be respectful to others as reasons for not wearing a mask are not always obvious.

We will continue to adapt our services in line with advice from SA Health. Additional changes to sites may be required over time and we will communicate these as quickly as possible.

Centacare AOD Youth Worker Jon Goodwin is the Australian Services Union (ASU) 2021 Delegate of the Year.

Jon joined the ASU in 2000 and has been a workplace rep for nearly a decade, advocating for his peers at Centacare and AnglicareSA during this time.

“I know we have a lot of really good workplace reps out in the field,  providing support to workers and being their voice to raise concerns both individually and collectively, so I do feel privileged to be presented with this award,’’ he said.

Jon received the accolade at the ASU Annual Members Conference, held recently at the Adelaide Zoo.

The ASU represents the industrial interests of about 135,000 members nationally in a variety of industries and occupations.

Workplace representatives form a vital link between members, their union and the union’s staff. In addition to providing information and support, they advocate for wages, conditions and safety.

“Everyone has the right to feel safe, supported and valued in the work they do,’’ said Jon, noting the collective work of members in bringing about positive outcomes.

“Certainly, advocating for workers’ rights with having them upheld, along with bringing about some changes in workplace practices, would be some of my greatest achievements to date.’’

Jon said his drive to succeed came from a determination “to ensure that community services are able to retain and attract the best possible staff to deliver meaningful support services to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities’’.

ASU spokesperson Paul Grillo commended Jon’s dedicated years of service.

“We consistently hear back from members about Jon’s warmth and empathy, combined with his strong and deep-seated sense of justice and a passion for collective outcomes,’’ he said.

“We’re very grateful for Jon’s contribution to both workplaces and this award is very much well deserved!’’

Four-time AFL premiership player Shaun Burgoyne has lent his voice to the Power to End Violence Against Women program to challenge gender-based abuse.

Speaking at a Role Model Event at AFL Max last week, Burgoyne urged school students and their adult role models to join him in condoning disrespectful relationships.

The event was a follow-up to the PTEVAW program, which starts conversations with male Year 10 students around rights and responsibilities in relationships, and how to recognise abuse and be a positive bystander.

PTEVAW program coordinator and Magpies captain Cam Sutcliffe, and Port Adelaide Football Club development coach Tyson Goldsack, joined Burgoyne on a panel to implore the boys to model positive relationships, values and respect in all facets of life.

The event further cemented messages around healthy and unhealthy relationships and was an opportunity for students to share learnings with their own significant role model.

Centacare, in partnership with Power Community Ltd and the Government of South Australia, developed the Power To End Violence Against Women (PTEVAW) program in 2015.

Launched in classrooms the following year, the primary prevention initiative has engaged more than 9000 students and visited 128 schools.

Living with anxiety is not easy, let alone at Christmas.

The rushing around and relentless focus on family, friends, gifts and social events can amplify day-to-day challenges and heighten worries.

In the lead-up to Christmas, headspace Port Adelaide is running Stress Less, a group to help young people recognise stress responses in daily life and apply techniques to manage symptoms.

“A lot of the time, young people don’t know they are experiencing anxiety,’’ said Milica Miocinovic, Youth Support Worker – Lived Experience.

“It comes in lots of different shapes and sizes and the group is about identifying the different ways we project our anxiety and what makes us anxious.’’

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is the most common mental health challenge in Australia.

Common signs include feeling agitated and catastrophic thinking.

“There’s a big misconception that anxiety is just fear, but it can come out in other ways as well,’’ said Milica.

For example, a person experiencing social anxiety may withdraw in a group setting while another will talk too much.

“Avoidance is a big one too. When we are really anxious about something and we avoid it, we justify this in our minds because our anxiety is so convincing.

“It makes us believe whatever it wants us to believe and leads us to think there’s something really, really scary about certain things, like going to school or making a phone call.

“Stress Less is about zooming out and understanding how anxiety looks and feels in our bodies, and how we can move away from catastrophic type thinking to something more logical and rational.’’

Coping with the festive focus

Milica said Christmas could compound financial and family stressors, exacerbating anxiety.

“If you have fractured family relationships, you might not have anywhere to go at Christmas. That brings up a lot of stress and potentially past trauma, and it can be very triggering in that sense,’’ she said.

“The expectations of buying gifts can also be a big worry if the young person has financial stress.’’

How to draw on inner strength

“Finding one’s self worth is really important,’’ Milica said.

“If they don’t have any social connections, understanding that one’s own company sometimes is more than enough.”

Milica said it was possible to be alone without feeling lonely if individuals recognised their own self-worth.

“Doing that means understanding ourselves better and where our anxiety comes from so that we can just sit with it, rather than trying to fix everything,’’ she said.

Stress Less is open to young people aged 12 to 25 years and runs weekly on Thursdays from 3.30-4.30pm at headspace Port Adelaide, 78-80 Vincent St. For more information, phone 8215 6340.

Centacare

Meeting the Challenge

Centacare Catholic Family Services is a Catholic welfare organisation delivering a range of services across the Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide.

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