By choosing to become a foster carer, you can make a big difference in a child’s life at a time when they need it the most.

Centacare is part of the state’s Choose to Care campaign which seeks to celebrate South Australian foster and kinship carers, and encourage more people to open their homes to vulnerable children.

​We are seeking new foster carers to join our specialist Family Preservation and Respite foster care programs.
On Thursday, June 8, we are holding an information session at Seaton, 413 Grange Rd, from 6.30pm – 8pm to explore what’s involved in becoming a foster carer, the assessment process, and other prerequisites.

Not all foster care providers are the same. Within Centacare’s programs, carers work as a part of a team to ensure they are supported and prepared for both the challenges – and rewards – of fostering and reunification.

Foster carers receive regular on-call contact and high levels of support from Centacare, as well as an allowance enhanced to reflect the professional nature of the specialist foster care role. Ongoing education, training and development is also provided.

For more information, please phone 8159 1400 or email

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The Indigenous Marathon Project is making big waves with small steps.

Established in 2010 by Robert de Castella, the project uses running to instil a sense of pride, purpose and accomplishment in young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 18 to 30 years.

“They go from no running to running the full New York City marathon in just six months,’’ de Castella told Reconciliation SA’s `Still Yes’ breakfast today, attended by 1670 people at the Adelaide Convention Centre.


“That’s pretty silly. Most people train for years before they embark on a marathon which is synonymous with hard work and struggle.

“But we want it to be hard because we work on the philosophy that when you achieve hard things, you feel good about yourself.’’

Before the project began, no Aboriginal person had finished a major international marathon.

That feat has now been achieved by 65 young people who have crossed the finishing line in New York, Boston and Tokyo.

“The thing that shocked me travelling around Australia in the early days was there was a lack of self-respect and pride, and feelings of despair and hopelessness,’’ de Castella said.

“We use running as a way to instil a sense of pride and accomplishment, and finding your voice and courage, so you can embark on a strong life and go forward with a sense of purpose so that you can really make a difference.’’

de Castella highlighted IMP graduate Elsie Seriat who completed the New York marathon in 2014 and began a “running revolution’’ on Thursday Island, Queensland.

“When Elsie started she was ashamed to run,’’ he said. “A car would come past and she would stop and walk and wait for the car to go and then she would start running again.

“After doing that for a couple of weeks she said: `This is stupid. Why am I stopping? I should be proud of what I’m doing and get out there and show everyone.’

“So she kept on running and then people started looking at her out the window as they drove past and then they started tooting the horn, and now they’re out there joining her!’’

Elsie now manages IMP’s FrontRunners program and is based in Canberra. de Castella says it’s what graduates do after they’ve crossed the finishing line that matters the most.

“We provide support and mentoring and grants and opportunities for them to step up to the next level and become Indigenous leaders.’’

Adelaide’s Tahnee Sutton recalled her journey to New York last year.

“I’ve faced adversity throughout my life and I was feeling lost and wondering what my purpose was,” she said.

“Running a marathon is hard, it’s one of the hardest things you can do. But with small steps you can create big waves.’’

At least one million primary school children across Australia are expected to hit the streets on foot tomorrow for National Walk Safely to School Day.

Swapping car seats for sneakers will foster more than fitness and road safety awareness in kids, Centacare parenting expert Kay Buckley says.

No matter how far they have to walk, children and parents can learn a lot from a quick stroll to school which can benefit child development.

“We don’t always take opportunities to give our kids practice at living skills because that takes time and patience and, more often than not, requires us to be there.

“But walking to school is one of those little things that can help grow really capable children.’’

On their way to school, children can:

  • Gain independence
  • Learn about their neighbourhood
  • Become aware of driveways
  • Learn to take risks
  • Get to know what’s in people’s yards and begin to recognise landmarks
  • Interact with nature
  • Learn about social science
  • Learn about vegetation growing on nature strips and in gardens
  • Meet their neighbours and other locals who may become a possible support resource later
  • Communicate with siblings and their parents/carers
  • Spend electronic device-free time together

“The information around them will promote conversation and that can take children and parents anywhere,’’ Kay says.

“Walking also takes time, and for parents who are time-poor, that’s valuable time with their kids.’’

Run by the Pedestrian Council of Australia, national Walk Safely to School Day, now in its 18th year, is a community initiative aimed at raising awareness of road safety, and the health and environmental benefits of regular walking.

For more information, please phone Elizabeth Rowe 0437 062 302


Ask John Lochowiak why family matters and he recalls childhood trips with his grandfather to the Pitjantjatjara lands.

“We’d sit down and he’d nod and say `there’s your brother over there’ and I’d meet him for the first time, but straight away we’d behave as brothers, says John, a Wati (initiated man).

“In traditional settings, we don’t use names. We use how we are related and behave accordingly and it strengthens that relationship.

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“Uncles and aunties don’t exist because they become our mothers and fathers, and cousins become your brothers and sisters, so our extended family is huge ’’

Family is at the core of the Aboriginal world view, says John, Manager of Centacare’s Aboriginal Services, but he believes this should not preclude western families from caring for vulnerable children.

The rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care is almost 10 times that of other children, and continues to grow.

The causes of over representation are complex, including the legacy of past policies of forced removal, intergenerational effects of separations from family and culture, poor socio‐economic status and perceptions arising from cultural differences in child‐rearing practices.

The current Family Matters Week of Action aims to highlight these difficulties and drive a collaborative approach to change; to see all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children grow up safe and cared for in family, community and culture.

“Our family structure is a bit different, but really we are not dissimilar to white families,’’ he says.

“The challenges and dynamics that impact non-aboriginal people impact us too; the need to work and live in dignity and contribute to society is equally as important to our culture.

“I think we need to look closely at how we can better support Aboriginal families to increase their capacity to foster children.

“That support should start with cultural training for Aboriginal people so that they re-engage with their culture because a lot of our people have lost it.’’

John says it just takes one person – black or white – to believe in a vulnerable child in order to make a difference.

“Western culture will talk about significant others and emotionally that children will be stable if someone believes in them.

“That’s replicated a hundred fold in the Aboriginal culture, because everywhere they turn they have someone to share in the responsibility of raising them.

“If every child is loved, they have the chance to be good citizens.’’

Centacare Catholic Family Services is concerned about the impact of recent events on the South East community.

Assistant Director Pauline Connelly has the following advice for children and adults who might be struggling with grief and loss at this difficult time.

  • Complex sense of loss

“We hear of violence around the world and in other cities, but it can be shocking when it happens in your own community where you have always felt safe and happy. That can change the way we feel about a place, and how we experience it.

“There will most likely be a sense of loss in these communities. Because people may know both the alleged perpetrators and the victims, it can become very complex. That can lead to grief and loss.’’

  • Don’t fuse with your feelings

“How we feel about our community may have now changed. It is important to observe your own reaction; sadness, grief, shock or fear, but don’t fuse with that. Bring yourself back to your reality. You are safe even though your thoughts about your town, in the short term, may have changed.’’

  • Talk to others

“Don’t judge other people. We will all have our own response to these events. When we’re confused and upset, we may become judgemental or frustrated or even resentful of someone else’s reaction, but now is the time for displaying kindness and tolerance.’’

  • Avoid gossip

“One way of helping with difficulties is to talk about them. But if people are gathering in groups and going over the events again and again, and trying to find out the details, then it can become unhelpful and set off an anxiety response.’’

  • Pay close attention to children

“If you find your children are affected or you’re not sleeping, or you’re having flashbacks even just hearing about it and this doesn’t go away, then it would be very useful to talk to a professional about that.

“It’s important to recognise how we deal with our responses, especially in children, and care for them around that.

“Protect your children from newspapers, TV and the saturation of media coverage. These images do not need to be stuck in the little one’s minds. Allow your children to speak about their feelings, but gently bring them back to their reality that they are safe.

“They might want to do something positive, like draw a picture, write a letter or a simple prayer. It may be that the school creates a positive activity for the children to do that helps them feel they are making a difference.”

For more information, please phone Centacare South-East 8724 0500.



Every Monday Kay Morrison takes a trip around the globe without leaving her classroom.

From Hong Kong to India, Poland, Syria, Iraq, Russia, Italy, China, Iran and beyond, countries and customs colour Kay’s day as she teaches Beginners English at Wandana Community Centre.

Drawing on her own experience as a migrant – and more than 40 years teaching children and adults here and overseas – Kay connects with new arrivals through friendly conversation.

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“As a migrant from Ireland, I found listening to the Australian idiom very confusing and, as well, the surroundings were so huge,’’ says Kay, who arrived in South Australia in 1972.

“So I really empathise with them.

“Initially I focus a lot on the conversation so that we can at least communicate and when we have the very basics, we do the alphabet and build up from there to the sounds.

“This approach to teaching is a way that will engage the students as they apply themselves to a more structured programme of listening, reading and writing.

“They are exposed to learning everyday skills designed to help them fit into the community with some ease and confidence.’’

It’s not unusual for Kay to speak in Gaelic or break into song, usually a rendition of It’s A Small World.

“I get to know them and we get to know each other; who came by air, who came by boat, festivals, family, who they left behind… We all have a story.

“Recently I was very touched because one woman, she is from Iraq, wanted to share something with me because it was Easter so she brought in the Koran.

“I’m lucky because I get to see the lovely understanding between people, even if they can’t speak one another’s language.’’

One of 36 Wandana volunteers, Kay initially visited the centre to join the walking group.

“I looked around and asked if they needed support. I haven’t got that many talents but I thought the one thing I can do is teach.’’

For those considering volunteering in their local community, Kay has a simple message: “Oh, come on! It gives you a real sense of giving back but also I think you have to like people and be good at engaging them.’’

The Beginners English class runs every Monday from 10am to 12pm at Wandana Community Centre. Join the conversation at any time during the term. Cost is $2 per class and child care may be available. For more information, phone 8261 8124 or drop in at 14 Blacks Rd, Gilles Plains.

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 outreach worker Stacey Gibb 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.’’

*Bags of baking goodies and other kitchen wares will be distributed to young mums through Centacare support services tomorrow. The Mother’s Day gifts are the work of MumKind, a group of South Australian women who have banded together to help others in need. MumKind’s Katie Earl is pictured with Vicki Lachlan, Manager, Louise Place, and Centacare’s Assistant Director, Bernie Victory.


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A student placement at Centacare motivated Lorrene Smale to put her TAFE studies into practice as a volunteer peer support worker.

A year later, Lorrene is helping secondary school students challenge today’s selfie-obsessed teen culture through her role as co-facilitator of Be BOLD – Break the Mould.

Run by Centacare’s PACE Service, the program aims to support girls in years 8 to 12 to grow in confidence and self-esteem.

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“There’s no such thing as perfect and we all have flaws,’’ says Lorrene, who is studying a Diploma of Youth Work.

“I encourage the girls to think about that, and why they are unique.

“I love being part of the program because I feel like I can give the girls some choices and knowledge that they can be themselves and have their own values, and that they don’t have to follow what media and society stereotypes say.’’

In the process of supporting school students to accept themselves, Lorrene says she is learning much about herself, too.

With a lived experience of mental health, her sense of purpose and self-worth is growing stronger through volunteering and her involvement with PACE.

“I feel like I am doing my part in helping break the stigma around mental health and Borderline Personality Disorder.

“With hard work, recovery is possible.

“It’s easy to forget where you’ve come from when you’re doing well in recovery, but if I’m having a bad day and I’m down on myself, now I think, `well, hang on, I’m doing this, I’m volunteering, I’m researching, I’m making things better.

“ If I can put a little bit of self-knowledge out to these young girls, not by telling them my whole story but by giving them some grounds to be gentle on themselves, then I think I can make a difference.  Knowing that helps a lot.’’

Lorrene says volunteering provides a direct pathway from the classroom to employment.

“I’m expanding my knowledge while working alongside professionals in the sector and having fun doing what I love. It’s an all-round learning experience.’’

Lorrene’s role is being highlighted as part of National Volunteer Week, May 8-14.  For more information, follow the #NVW2017 hashtag on social media and visit Volunteering Australia.

*Centacare’s PACE team supports young people and adults who are struggling with eating disorders, anxiety, panic attacks, and obsessive compulsive behaviour. Delivered over three 90-minute workshops, Be BOLD – Break the Mould teaches girls in Years 8 to 12 how to:

·         Recognise unrealistic standards of beauty portrayed in the media

·         Avoid unhelpful comparisons with others

·         Accept themselves and what makes them unique

·         Develop a positive body image and healthy lifestyle

·         Gain confidence and self-belief

The program is free. If you would like the free workshops offered at your school, please phone 1800 809 304 or email


Steve Kiely began his professional life as a jockey before making the unlikely switch to dry cleaning.

When the local garment industry began to contract, he reskilled and worked in electronics before snaring a job at a multimedia company.

Over the next decade, he packed CDs and honed his computer and printing skills before the onset of digital music swallowed up his role.

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Feeling lost, Steve, then aged 56, followed a friend’s advice and turned to volunteering.

He plucked Wandana Community Centre off a long list of options because “it was close to home’’.

“I didn’t know what a community centre was,’’ Steve (pictured)  says, “but I came in and the rest is history’’.

“Now I’d describe a community centre as a place that’s welcoming, that helps people and caters for everyone.’’

Five years on, Steve spends about 11 hours each week helping computer rookies navigate the IT world in beginners’ classes each Wednesday and Friday.

“As with this day and age, there’s a lot of people left behind in that area so they are just really thankful to have some help,’’ Steve says.

“We get people bringing us cake, writing thank you cards and all sorts of things because they are just so grateful. One chappy tells me how thankful he is every week.

“It’s a good feeling helping people.’’

Besides personal satisfaction and friendships, volunteering helps keep the body and mind active, Steve says.

“It gets you out of the house to start with and it beats sitting down watching daytime TV.

“Volunteering keeps you in the community. You are always meeting people and talking about new things. They learn from me but I learn a lot from them too.’’

Steve’s role is being highlighted as part of National Volunteer Week, May 8-14.  For more information, follow the #NVW2017 hashtag on social media and visit Volunteering Australia.

* The Wandana Community Centre at Gilles Plains is run for and by the local community. Welcoming people of all backgrounds, cultures, ages and gender, the centre fosters and encourages personal growth and lifelong learning. For more information, please phone 8261 8124 or drop in and say hi at 14 Blacks Rd, Gilles Plains.




National Volunteer Week is an annual celebration to acknowledge the generous contribution of our nation’s volunteers. This week (May 8-14) we will be profiling some of the hardworking people who share their expertise and time in voluntary roles across Centacare services.

We have volunteers working in a number of programs. Tomorrow we will celebrate their commitment and drive at our annual Volunteers Dinner at the Buckingham Arms Hotel, Gilberton.

From cooking lovely lunches to gardening, computer training, teaching English, and supporting young people and adults in reaching their full potential, Centacare volunteers play a crucial role.

If you would like to follow their lead, the NVW_Logo_CYAN_CMYK_2017first step is to talk with our Volunteer Coordinator, Vicki Giacomin.

We will explore your options and support you to achieve your volunteering goals. All volunteers complete a National Police Check before commencing at Centacare.

For more information please phone Vicki on 8252 2311.

*This year’s National Volunteer Week (NVW) theme, Give Happy, Live Happy, continues to highlight and explore the research that shows volunteers live happier and healthier lives. For more information, follow the #NVW2017 hashtag on social media and visit the NVW website.



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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