Domestic and family violence is not confined to home – abuse can follow individuals everywhere, including to work.

Understanding and responding to domestic violence in the workplace is the focus of a three-hour workshop being held in Berri today as part of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign.

Under the guidance of Dr Katrina Birchmore, Manager, Women’s Safety Strategy, Women’s and Children’s Health Network, businesses will be taught how to recognise and act on early warning signs of abuse.

A joint collaboration between Centacare’s Riverland Domestic Violence Service (RDVS) and Housing SA, the initiative is part of a local community push to widen the safety net for adults and children at risk.

RDVS Manager Sam McKay said one of the best ways employers can protect workers from domestic violence is to learn to recognise warning signs of abuse.

“Many people think domestic violence is a private matter which only happens at home, but abusive behaviours can infiltrate every aspect of a person’s life including their workplace,’’ she said.

“It is usually a pattern of behaviour and the level and type of violence used by a perpetrator to control, coerce and intimidate can escalate quickly.

“If employers pay attention to warning signs and know how to respond and who to refer people to for specialist support in their local community, they can help prevent serious harm.’’

Sam said victims were often particularly vulnerable at work because the perpetrator knew where and when to find them.

How to recognise an employee is at risk

Changes in a person’s appearance, personality, habits, work performance and behaviour can be indicators of domestic and family violence. Common warning signs include:

  • Changes in appearance
  • Wearing inappropriate clothing for the season to conceal injuries
  • Regularly arriving late to work or taking sick leave
  • Decreased work productivity, concentration and performance
  • Erratic behaviour
  • Unusually anxious
  • Keeps to themselves and ceases usual interaction with colleagues
  • Sensitive about their private life
  • Appears afraid or anxious after receiving some phone calls and messages

“Once a workplace knows how and what to look out for, they are able to act,’’ Sam said.

“It’s important they are aware. Women in general are probably more aware of what’s going on for other women because of female intuition.

“Men can see those signs as well but they might not want to pry or don’t believe it’s their place to say anything. But it’s important they act on their instincts if they have immediate concerns about someone’s safety.’’

How Centacare supports staff and volunteers

Centacare is leading the way in supporting workers and volunteers at risk of domestic violence.

In what is believed to be a state-first for non-government organisations in South Australia, Centacare has gone one step further than the minimum domestic and family violence leave requirement in order to assist workers to stay safe.

Employees can now access at least 15 days domestic and family violence leave each year, including upto 10 days paid and a from five days unpaid leave.

The updated leave entitlements are outlined in the Domestic and Family Violence Workplace Policy and Procedure, which was endorsed on February 25, 2019.

The entitlements follow a Fair Work Commission decision on August 1, 2018, to update all industry and occupation awards to include a minimum five days unpaid domestic and family violence leave per year.

Centacare’s policy extends to developing an accountability framework for perpetrators, and safety planning for those at risk.

“Centacare acknowledges that a supportive place of employment constitutes an important pathway for men and women to reduce the effects of domestic and family violence,’’ said Director Dale West said.

“Employment is critical to women’s financial security. It can provide a pathway out of being trapped and isolated in violent and abusive relationships, and allows women to maintain, as far as possible, their home, safety and standard of living.’’

The policy applies to all workers, including those who are experiencing or who have experienced domestic and family violence, and those who perpetrate, and is inclusive of volunteers and students on placement.

Full-time, part-time and casual staff with no pre-qualifying employment period can access the leave.

Except that volunteers can’t access paid entitlements

Bold. Empowering. A voice for positive change. Meet, Embolden!

South Australia’s peak body of domestic, family and sexual violence services has a new name, and is more determined than ever to fight for women’s freedom, equity, safety and respect.

Embracing the gold colour of women’s suffrage, and the light of the sun as its emblem, Embolden is the new  identity for what was previously known as the Coalition of Women’s Domestic Violence Services SA.

The rebranded alliance will continue to lobby and advocate to end domestic violence but has widened its focus to include gender-based violence.

`Embolden’ means to give or to take on boldness or courage; to have resolution enough to overcome.

“Embolden, as we are now known, will work with all governments and civil society to ensure our strategic focus broadens beyond the South Australian domestic and family violence sector,’’ said Susie Smith, Co-Chair of Embolden, and Manager of Centacare’s Limestone Coast Domestic Violence Service.

“We are lifting our gaze to not only define ourselves by what we are against, but what we are proudly fighting for – nothing less than the universal achievement of women’s freedom, equity and respect.’’

Embolden has worked closely with Minister for Human Services Michelle Lensink and Assistant Minister for Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Carolyn Power to develop its vision, brand and strategic direction.

The alliance aims to embolden both survivors and the sector to make their voices heard. Embolden will:

  • Represent providers of specialist services in the domestic, family and sexual violence and related sectors, including services that work with men who use violence against women and Aboriginal specialist services
  • Consult and collaborate with Government and non-Government on issues relating to gendered violence and women’s safety
  • Provide policy advice and submissions
  • Coordinate events and community action promoting women’s rights to freedom, equity and respect

For more information, visit Embolden HERE

A pilot project in Mount Gambier is giving at-risk women a much-needed space to share their story and find hope in one another.

The six-week Stepping Out With Strength group brings together women who are rebuilding their lives in the wake of domestic and family violence.

Centacare South East began the group in October to address a gap in post-crisis supports for women.

Family Relationship Counsellor Deb Jackson says the group has helped participants to understand the impact of abuse on their sense of self, decision-making and their children.

“It has helped them to set aside any feelings that they had failed, or that they were to blame in some way for the violence,’’ she said.

Common themes raised by the women include social isolation, maternal alienation, and overwhelming feelings of guilt and shame.

Deb said post-crisis supports which empowered women to make informed decisions and understand perpetrator use of power and control were vital in maintaining their safety and breaking cycles of domestic violence.

“The trauma that’s experienced is ongoing; it can really impact people’s lives for years to come, and also their children,’’ she said.

“Some of the women are noticing their children are exhibiting some harmful behaviours so they have been helping each other with strategies for that and really sharing the pain of what their children are going through.’’

Supported by Soroptomists International Mount Gambier, a Mount Gambier church and a local bakery, the group will meet next week for the final session this term, and will have a celebration luncheon the week after.

Centacare South East plans to repeat the group early next year, during the first school term.

“A lot of the time, women don’t share openly with friends or family because they haven’t walked the same journey,’’ Deb said.

“So it’s really powerful to be in a group where you know other people just get where you are coming from and can relate when you share experiences and open up.’’

Centacare is committed to create safety and inclusivity for everyone who accesses our services.  We would like your feedback regarding your understanding of Centacare services and anything we currently do, or could do, in order to better meet your needs.

Centacare provides a number of support services for families and children.  We would like to hear your opinion on play group opportunities for children (under 12) who identify as gender and/or sexually diverse, and also for parents who identify as gender and/or sexually diverse and their children, as to whether this is something that you think is needed in South Australia and/or if this is something that you would be interested in attending if we were able to develop these services.

Thank you for your time.

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.

Meet Centacare’s fab four – the young guns determined to inspire a new generation of disability workers.

Together they help run much-loved Kolbe Cottage, a respite service for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

For more than 35 years, Kolbe has been a home away from home for children aged five to 18 years and, most recently, adults.

At 26, Support Worker Lauren Glenn is the oldest of Kolbe’s new age of staff bringing their own brand of energy to work each day.

“I can’t imagine not being here; I was working in retail before and it wasn’t nearly as stimulating or rewarding,” said Lauren, who followed her mother (longtime Centacare Disability Support Worker, Fiona Glenn) into the field in early 2019.

“There are endless opportunities. Every day is different.”

Team Leader Tahlia Bray, 25, also made the jump from retail to disability services. After completing a Certificate III in Disability, Tahlia joined Centacare in 2017. She would like to see career pathways in disability given a greater profile in schools to encourage more young people to follow in her footsteps.

“My high school was directly opposite a service provider and not once were we given any education around disability or encouraged to pursue it as a career choice,” she said. “The energy we have all formed with each other as a staff group flows on to our clients, and that makes for a lot of fun.”

Zimbabwe-born Anesu Matanhire, 22, hopes to one day return to his homeland to apply the skills and knowledge he has gained as a Support Worker with Centanet, a day options program based at Kolbe.

“Sometimes as people, we are the disability by not being there for others; society becomes the disability instead of just the diagnosis,” he said. “Watching the young people we work with participate in the community just like anybody else, and knowing we have played a part in helping them do that, is pretty big.”

To those contemplating a career in disability, 25-year-old Raymond Donato’s message is simple: “Go for it! Speaking out for people and helping them is really rewarding.”

Centacare is a registered NDIS provider. For more information about the supports we offer, please phone 8215 6818, email or visit our website.



A trailer of treasures is heading to Penola to give geographically isolated families and children vital access to new play experiences.

Loaded with educational resources, the Wattle Range Mobile Toy Library aims to nurture child development, learning, confidence, imaginative play and resilience. Parenting and community services information can also be accessed from the library, run by Centacare’s Family Connections Program (FCP).

Catch the trailer at the FCP playgroup at War Memorial Park, from 10am to 11am, on Thursday, November 21 and Thursday, December 5. The playgroup will run for a further 30 minutes, finishing at 11.30am.

Funded by the Stand Like Stone Foundation, One Forty One Plantations, and the Sidney Myer Fund, the toy library boasts more than 100 items which can be borrowed for free, for up to two weeks at a time.

The FCP team reports that grandparents especially appreciate being able to borrow educational resources on a fortnightly basis without the expense of purchasing items.

Meanwhile, the playgroup is running weekly this term, through to week 8, finishing on Thursday, December 5. In the event of wet or cool weather, the playgroup moves indoors to St Andrews Presbyterian Church Hall, Arthur Street.

For more information, phone Centacare South East 08 8303 6630.


Foster care is a truly family affair for Marianne Langes.

Growing up, the 64-year-old shared her home with four siblings and three much-loved foster children, whom her parents later adopted.

Marianne is now following in her parents’ footsteps, as a Specialist Short Term Reunification Carer at Centacare.

For the past three years, she has played a pivotal role in a care team that has wrapped around a brother and sister, and their birth family.

The primary aim has been to see the children return home.

Marianne has done whatever she can to nurture the relationship between parent and child, and respond to the children’s often complex needs.

“I’m a single carer who’s never had children so it’s been a steep learning curve, but they’ve changed my life,’’ she says.

“They have brought so much laughter and love into the house. There is never a dull moment. Every day they give me some sort of surprise, be it big or small. It’s just a joy.’’

The pull of familial ties is close to home for Marianne who watched her brother search for his identity in his early twenties.

“I just saw in him that real need to be reconnected to birth family and I think that’s why I chose reunification,’’ Marianne says.

Specialist Short Term Reunification Carers support and encourage family connection and contact for children in their care, and help them to frame meaning about their experiences.

In recognition of the outstanding care Marianne has provided, she was recently invited by the Department for Child Protection to a two-day Adelaide workshop with therapist and international speaker, Bonnie Badenoch.

Bonnie’s focus is on helping trauma survivors and individuals with significant attachment challenges to reshape their neural landscape to support a life of meaning and resilience.

Children in care often face complex challenges due to family complexities and part of Marianne’s role is to help children make sense of events.

“I’ve had to have a flexible brain in trying to sort out what to do with some of the children’s issues,’’ Marianne says.

“The workshop helped me to think how I react to the children and it affirmed some of the things I have done with them and left me with two impact statements – I see you and I am here – and the other is to hold the brain with compassion.

“With the children, I’ve learnt the importance of being present; to just be with them, and that I don’t always need words and to jump on a problem.’’

Marianne is grateful for the support and training she has received at Centacare and highlights the fortnightly home visits made by Foster Care Support Workers.

“That has been really great – the time given to you to listen to you,’’ she says.

“I know it’s about the children but a lot of it is the support of you which makes a real difference.

“I’ve no regrets with anything I’ve done in my life, but this I think has fulfilled me the most and given me more rewards than what I’ve given to the children.’’

Do you have lived experience or a special interest in mental health?

Centacare is recruiting new members for the Mental Health Consumer, Carer and Community Advisory Group (C3AG).

The group provides meaningful input on the way our mental health services are delivered and is an opportunity to share community wisdom, feedback and new ideas relevant to the sector.

We operate within a strong ethical and culturally-inclusive framework, informed by the values and principles of Catholic Social Teaching.

As a C3AG member, you will use your professional or lived experience of mental illness or mental health issues in an advisory capacity.

In addition to providing feedback on proposed new policies, plans, procedures, materials and projects, you will:

·         Partner with Centacare to make meaningful change

·         Identify any service gaps or concerns from a community perspective

·         Participate in education and training of staff, and in research as consultants when requested by the C³AG Coordinator

·         Be willing to express a point of view and share ideas that contribute to positive participation within the group.

We value your perspective! There are no restrictions on age, gender, ethnicity or ability.

C3AG members meet bi-monthly for two-hour meetings and receive $180 for three hours, including one-hour preparation time.

The meetings are conducted in an informal way at 45 Wakefield St, Adelaide, from 4pm to 6pm. Basement car parking is available.

For more information, please phone Kim Formosa (08) 8215 6781.

headspace Port Adelaide and the Thrive program have been recognised in the 2019 Adelaide PHN Primary Health Care Awards.

Delivered in partnership with Adelaide Medical Solutions, Thrive was awarded second place in the Integration and Collaboration Category for bringing primary care services into a mental health care setting for young people.

The Awards celebrate outstanding achievement in improving the health and wellbeing of our community across the Adelaide metropolitan region.

Thrive is an office-based youth mental health program, run from headspace Port Adelaide, which aims to address the mental health care needs of young people aged 16-25 years in western Adelaide who are experiencing severe and/or complex mental illness.

Senior Youth Mental Health Clinicians and a Youth Support Worker with lived experience partner with young people, their family, friends and other services to support individuals to achieve their mental health and wellbeing goals.

The Awards highlight how effective partnerships can improve peoples’ care and health outcomes. This helps create a health system that works seamlessly to provide the right care at the right place at the right time.



To be eligible for Thrive services, the young person must be:

  • ​​Aged 16-25 years
  • Living in the western region of Adelaide
  • Diagnosed with or at risk of severe anxiety and depression, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, complex post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, and/or psychosis (not first episode of psychosis, which is addressed at headspace Youth Early Psychosis Program at headspace Adelaide)
  • Experiencing significant psycho-social complexity which necessitates multi-disciplinary and multi-agency approaches to their mental health care needs
  • Seeking support with their mental health care needs

Services Provided

At Thrive, eligible young people can access:

  • ​​Engagement support and biopsychosocial assessment
  • Clinical care coordination
  • Psychological therapies (individual and group)
  • Peer work interventions
  • Linkages with functional recovery supports
  • Multi-disciplinary, multi-agency approaches to mental health care

Young people can access Thrive services for up to two years, as clinically indicated.

For more information please email or phone ​8215 6340



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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