Five months ago we embarked on a visual journey to tell the story of Centacare.

We wanted to showcase our services through the eyes of staff on the frontline. What inspires them to support some of our most vulnerable and marginalised – often in the face of great adversity – and what have they learned from those they have met along the way?

The result is a 30-minute feature, directed and produced by Mackbel Films, which encapsulates Centacare’s core mission and values, the professionalism of staff, and the many ways we meet the complex challenges of those we support each day.

Launched this month at the Centacare Expo at Adelaide Oval, the film provides a glimpse of our history, and reinforces our commitment to continuously improve services and deliver quality supports and outcomes for clients. This is our story:

NEW resources outlining the rights of children and young people have been launched by Centacare.

The illustrated booklet and supporting short animation reinforce the importance of children having their voice heard and their rights valued.

Aimed at children aged up to 10 years, the resources follow the adventures of three characters – Patch, Pippy and Piper – as they explore their rights, such as their right to feel happy and safe, to understand their culture, and to ask for help when needed.

Learn about your rights with Patch, Pippy and Piper from Centacare on Vimeo.

“Children and young people we see may not have had an opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills or confidence to voice their wishes or advocate for themselves,’’ said Leanne Haddad, Executive Manager of Children’s Services.

“We hope these resources will support them to learn that they do have rights, and that we will work with them in their best interests to value these rights.’’

The resources will be shared with families engaged with programs across Centacare services, especially the Children’s Services Unit.

“We hope they will also highlight to children and young people the significant role our multidisciplinary teams play in working with them and for them to see their rights are respected,’’ said Laura Hooper, Senior Family Preservation Worker.

“If children are aware of and understand their rights, they will feel more confident to speak up when they recognise something is wrong and their rights are not being met. Then we can work together towards positive change.’’

The fun and interactive materials will be distributed to children and young people and displayed prominently at Centacare sites. 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 supportfamily preservation, reunification programs and specialist foster care services.

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

Centacare champions the voice of the child and seeks to implement the Charter of Rights for Children and Young People in Care to the fullest potential.


Substance misuse not only impacts the individual but also their family and friends. Seeking support for yourself as well as the person at risk is crucial, writes Gabrielle Preston, Manager of Centacare’s Drug and Alcohol Service (CDAS).


Centacare’s Drug and Alcohol Service (CDAS) is an alcohol and other drug counselling and in-home detox service that operates across metropolitan Adelaide.

The service works with people who use substances as well as their families.

In many instances, it is often a family member who contacts the service first, concerned about their family member and seeking help to support them to make change.

From first contact, CDAS will focus on the wellbeing of the family and how they are coping and looking after themselves.

Individual and family support is offered and can be delivered from Centacare sites, community-based locations (by negotiation) and in the family home if appropriate.

Providing a safe space for families to share concerns, worries and goals for the future is important in order for them to plan and identify strategies that will result in ongoing engagement with the person who uses, and positive family well-being.

For many reasons, people who use substances are often disconnected from community and lack a sense of belonging. However, if they feel that they are loved, supported and belong, then they are more likely to recover.

Families of young people who use substances are well-placed to support a young person to make positive change in their life, and address underlying issues that may have resulted in them developing a substance use issue.

Education and support for families is therefore crucial.

CDAS works with families as a whole unit, or independently of the person that uses substances.

Since January this year, CDAS has seen 64 new clients of which about one third have involved family members.

Where necessary, CDAS can allocate individual counsellors to each family member to ensure that each person receives one-on-one support while reducing concern clients might have regarding privacy and confidentiality of their information, and increasing the likelihood of ongoing engagement with the service.

Key things to consider if you are a parent/family member of someone who uses substances:

Looking after yourself is one of the most important things you can do to help your family. Loving, caring and supporting someone who uses substances can be mentally and physically exhausting. To ensure that you have energy to support them, make sure you take time out for yourself, maintain your own interests, and connect with others.

Consider accessing support for yourself to help talk through your worries and concerns for your family member. Educate yourself around their substance use and explore ways to look after yourself and support your family member more effectively.

Accessing support for yourself will not only help you manage the situation but also models to your family member how to seek help without judgement.


Talking with your young person about their substance use might be confronting but is important if you are going to be able to understand their use and support them.  Misunderstanding what/why they use can lead to assumptions about what is going on, as well as increased anxiety about what might happen in the future.

Creating a space and time to convey curiosity and care without judgement in communicating with your family member may lead to greater understanding and openness about the situation. This opens the door for further conversation and requests for help when they are ready.


Sometimes when a family member uses substances they may behave in ways that contribute to damaging relationships and trust. While the person may be under the influence or withdrawing when these behaviours present, be clear for yourself about what behaviours you will and won’t tolerate.

Setting boundaries is best done together with your family member in a non-judgemental way and with the message that you love and care for them but there are limits to what you might accept or do in response to their behaviour.

Ultimatums rarely result in someone changing their behaviour, however love, care, support and clear boundaries will maintain connection and opportunities for change when your family member is ready to take action for themselves. Remember: the issue is the behaviours not the person.


One of the hardest things families talk to Centacare about is accepting that, despite their best efforts, they cannot make their family member change.

Many parents and families describe feelings of guilt, fear, hopelessness, and responsibility for `fixing’ the situation for their child.

Families that accept that they can provide information, love and care but ultimately can only control their own behaviour are more able to clearly identify what they will and won’t do to ensure their own self care and maintain connection with the person that uses.


Consider connecting with other parents who have or are currently walking the same path as you. Family Drug Support holds regular groups across SA for family members who are supporting or have supported someone in relation to their drug use.

Speaking to others can help you feel that you are not alone, be reassured that recovery is possible and diminish the shame and stigma that comes with substance use.



Holly Konopka is intent on making a difference to young lives through food.

Every month, the 21-year-old takes her passion for nutrition – and the positive impact it can have on mental health – to headspace Port Adelaide, as a member of the Youth Reference Group.

Holly brings lived experience of an eating disorder, and an undergraduate degree in health science, to the voluntary role which she says has strengthened her resolve to support others facing similar challenges.

“Understanding the effect nutrition has on mental health is what enabled my recovery,’’ she says.

“I started looking at food for its nourishing value and realised you can eat certain foods to be happy,  not just to be a certain body type.

“I think that’s often overlooked in dietetics; people go to a dietician because they want to lose weight, but why not go because you want to be happy and fulfilled?’’

The YRG has given Holly a platform to speak up, learn from others and the drive to chase her goal.

“I am learning so much more about mental health, and the experience I’m gaining from all aspects of the YRG will really enable me to pursue my passion.

“The influence nutrition has on mental health has not really been fully mapped out, and I want to explore that unknown territory.’’

The YRG is made up of young people of varying ages, genders and cultural backgrounds. The group works with headspace to ensure young people’s voices and opinions are heard, and that resources are put to the best use. Members also represent headspace at events.

“I’ve done different types of volunteer work since I was 14 and I’ve finally found something that’s the right fit for me,’’ Holly says.

“The feeling I get from doing this is the main thing that drives me, but there’s also the secondary things that come with it: friendships, career and travel opportunities. Volunteering is something I would recommend to everybody.’’

*Holly’s role with headspace Port Adelaide is being highlighted as part of National Volunteer Week, an annual celebration to acknowledge the generous contribution of our nation’s volunteers. The theme this year is Give a Little. Change a lot. This represents the millions of volunteers who make a profound impact in their communities through giving a little time.

Every parent needs a well-earned break to rest and recharge, and foster carers are no different.

That’s when respite carers step in: to share the responsibility of caring for children and young people while also providing them with an opportunity to extend their friendship and support networks.

“It takes a village to raise a child and respite carers are a crucial part of that village,” says Amalie Mannik, Manager of Centacare’s Family Preservation Foster Care Program.

“Respite allows for the carer to rejuvenate, re-energise and replenish their resources, enabling them to maintain the quality of the care that they provide. It can prevent placement breakdowns and carer fatigue.

“In order to care for others, you also need to look after yourself.’’

Organised in partnership with foster carers, respite care is planned around maintaining the child’s regular routine.

Respite carers are carefully matched to children and long-term carers to ensure the best connections and experience for themselves, the children, and their foster families.

“I feel that I help children to acknowledge that people can connect with love and respect, creating a positive reinforcement,’’ says Carmen Polidori, a Centacare respite foster carer.

“I enjoy finding the child’s positive attachments through playing and talking. I believe respite foster care strengthens and brings out the best in a child in a positive way.’’

Respite carers undertake the same training, assessment and approval process as foster carers, and have the option of providing other forms of care, such as short-term and long-term placements.

“Respite carers are an invaluable part of the community of care that provides a consistent and stable environment for children to thrive,’’ says Leanne Haddad, Executive Manager of Children’s Services.

“Regular support and specialised training gives respite carers an understanding of the experiences of children in care, and how this affects their needs. It also helps to prepare new carers to meet the needs of children.

“Even if it’s only for one night, respite care is beneficial for children because it encourages them to forge new friendships and widens their network of familiar faces they can trust. They also get to experiences new places and opportunities.

“It brings back the neighbourhood approach to care as it takes more than one family to raise a child.’’

Centacare is seeking respite carers to join our foster care team.

A child-centred approach, flexibility, empathy, love for children and a willingness to support families is essential.

For more information on becoming a respite foster carer, phone our foster care team on 8159 1400.

Have you recently separated from your partner? Do you want to better understand and manage the changes in your family? Do you feel like your children don’t listen to you? Would you like to understand their behaviour better? Is your child abusive towards you? Centacare is running a host of parenting courses to support you with these challenges.

Post-separation Parenting Course – Dealing with change after separation

A workshop for separated parents wanting to understand and manage the changes in their family.

The three-hour course will run on Tuesday and Thursday in the morning and at night from June to December. Cost is $5. There is no charge for mediation clients. For more information and available times, please CLICK HERE.

This workshop will enable you to:

  • Share with others about what is different now that the family has changed
  • Learn about what your children need from you
  • Learn how to communicate respectfully with the other parent
  • Identify what gets in the way of working together as parents
  • Develop strategies to deal with these challenges
  • Understand the developmental attachment needs of your children
Bookings essential. Please phone Centacare on 8215 6700 or email your details to



What To Do When Kids Push Your Buttons

When: Tuesday, July 3, from 1pm to 3pm at Centacare, Level 2, 45 Wakefield St, Adelaide.

This workshop will assist parents/carers with:

  • Identifying triggers
  • Understanding what is behind their child’s behaviour
  • Learning how to defuse the behaviour and find new behaviour management strategies

For more information, CLICK HERE.

Bookings essential. Please phone Centacare on 8215 6700 or email your details to
Circle of Security

Do you want to have more understanding about your child’s behaviour?

Come along and learn how to:

  • Help your child organise their feelings
  • Enjoy a more fulfilling relationship with your child
  • Help them to feel secure, both now and into the future

The course will run weekly on Tuesday from July 3 – 31, from 10am to 11.30am, at Centacare, Level 2, 45 Wakefield St, Adelaide.

For more information and session dates and times CLICK HERE.

Bookings essential. Please phone Centacare on 8215 6700 or email your details to



Who’s In Charge?

A free 8-week course for parents whose children are abusive towards them. This course has gained national media coverage.

Based on the work of Eddie Gallagher, Who’s In Charge is for parents of children aged 8 to 18 who feel constantly challenged by their children’s behaviour. The course aims to:

  • Reduce parents’ feelings of isolation
  • Challenge parents’ feelings of guilt
  • Create belief in the possibility of change
  • Explore anger – both children’s and parents’
  • Develop safety plans for families
  • Help parents to look after themselves
  • Clarify boundaries of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour
  • Examine strategies for creating meaningful and practical consequences for unacceptable behaviour
  • Reinforce progress and provide emotional support while you attempt to become more assertive parents

When: Every Thursday, from 9.15am-12.15pm, starting August 2 and finishing September 20.

Venue: Enfield Community Centre, 540 Regency Rd, Enfield

For more information, CLICK HERE

Bookings essential. Please phone Centacare on 8215 6700 or email your details to



How to Talk so Kids Will Listen

Do you feel like your requests are falling on deaf ears?

Come along and learn how to:

  • Develop strategies to communicate effectively with your kids
  • Really hear what your kids are trying to tell you
  • Explore realistic expectations and setting boundaries
  • Foster resilience in your child

When: Tuesday, September 11, 10am to 12 noon.

Venue: Centacare, Level 2, 45 Wakefield St, Adelaide

For more information, CLICK HERE.

Bookings essential. Please phone Centacare on 8215 6700 or email your details to



Dr Jackie Amos is a child and adolescent psychiatrist and gestalt psychotherapist, and supports Children’s Services Unit (CSU) programs at Centacare. Her role is being highlighted as part of National Families Week (May 15-21).

Jackie works psychotherapeutically with vulnerable families, where abuse and neglect of children is a central concern.

In her doctoral research, Jackie developed two complementary models of the intergenerational transmission of neglect and abuse, and the role of trauma in maintaining relationship difficulties.

These models were then used to understand the key objectives of treatment for families where the care and protection of the children is compromised

Key techniques and processes used are Adult Exploration of Attachment Interview (AEAI) and Parallel Parent and Child Narrative (PPCN). Jackie trains CSU therapist in her models of therapeutic practice.

In 2017, Jackie’s PhD When wounds from infancy collide -The mother child relationship as trauma, trigger, and treatment, was passed with no changes.

The examiners were extremely positive about the work and suggested that it has international significance.

The PhD has opened up many pathways for Jackie who has shared her expertise at state and national level over the past year. She has presented on how parental history of trauma has disrupted ability to parent, and on breaking the cycle of intergenerational transmission of neglect and abuse.

You can read more about Jackie’s work here:

New hope in prevention of child neglect

Project explores impact of shame




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

For young mums who grew up without a positive maternal influence, Mother’s Day can be a powerful catalyst for change.

Centacare’s Vicki Lachlan says it’s one of the most important dates on her calendar at Louise Place each year.

One of four Young Family Support Program sites across metropolitan Adelaide, Louise Place supports young pregnant or parenting women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

“Mother’s Day is very, very important,’’ Vicki says.

“These young women have made the decision to be parents and they need to feel proud that they have a little one, and that they’re doing ok.’’

Vicki recalls the experience of one teenage mum with a six-month-old baby.

“Her mother had given her lots of negative feedback but because she was living here, we could see lots of positive things she was doing with her baby, and how well she was coping.

“When we gave her a Mother’s Day present and congratulated her on how she was doing, she was just overwhelmed because we were recognising her as a mother.

“We talk about them being mothers all the time but it was like a light switch went on. It was really lovely to see.’’

Such celebrations are often foreign for young mums who are learning to parent on the back of childhood trauma and other complexities, says Megan Welsh, Executive Manager, Youth and Community Support Services.

“They may have a child protection history or trauma in their background, and they’ve got no support network around them that they can trust. That makes it hard.

“Developmentally they are still teenagers, but they are teenagers trying to do adult things, and that’s tough.’’

For them, Mother’s Day can be a positive step forward, she says.

“They often have really tricky relationships with their mums and that brings up all sorts of stuff around what it is to be a mum and how they want their experience to be different to their own upbringing.

“A lot of the young women haven’t celebrated anything in their lives. So it’s important we make a fuss and recognise the influence they have on the little people they’re looking after.

“Becoming a mum is a total shift in their lives. They can spring off it and change their own family trajectory.’’

Findon Family Housing and Malvern Place services Manager, Stacey, sees Mother’s Day as an opportunity to cut through the loneliness and isolation felt by many young mums in the absence of a supportive family and partner.

“We really try and empower them. We let them know how important they are for their children and make them feel special.’’


The Catholic communities of South Australia and Townsville are today mourning the death of Emeritus Archbishop Leonard Faulkner.

The much-loved former Archbishop of the Adelaide Archdiocese and Bishop of Townsville diocese died yesterday afternoon at the Pines Lodge in Adelaide, aged 91.

The eldest of ten children, he was born in Booleroo Centre in the southern Flinders Ranges on December 5 1926 and after entering the seminary at Rostrevor was ordained a priest in January 1 1950 in Rome.

He was appointed Bishop of Townsville on November 28 1967 and on June 19 1985 he was installed as the seventh Archbishop of Adelaide where he continued his commitment to, and support of, the lay people as a critical part of the life of the Church.

His funeral Mass will be held in St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral on Monday May 14 at 11am, following a vigil service in the Cathedral commencing at 7.30pm on Sunday May 13.

*Read the full media release HERE.



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 | F 08 8232 8920

Opening Hours

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

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