Fear and anxiety are inevitable responses when faced with a crisis, and it is easy to get lost in the worries.

But taking a few steps to control how we respond in the face of significant challenges can make a big difference.

Centacare Specialist Clinician Elaine Reynolds is encouraging people to focus less on what they cannot control and “face COVID-19’’ by concentrating on what they can control as the pandemic takes hold.

“The more we focus on what’s not in our control, the more hopeless or anxious we’re likely to feel,’’ she said.

“So one of the best things you can do in any type of crisis is to focus on what’s in your control by dropping anchor in the here and now.’’

“As the challenges mount up around you and you find yourself struggling with the weight of your worries, come back to a few simple strategies.’’

Elaine recommends following these steps, inspired by the Happiness Trap.


F – Focus on what’s in your control.

Take control of your behaviour – right here and now – and `drop anchor’.

A – Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings
C – Come back into and connect with your body

Try slowly pressing your fingertips together, stretching your arms or neck, and slowing your breathing.

E – Engage in and refocus your attention on what you’re doing

What can you see, hear and smell?


C – Committed action

What are simple ways to look after yourself? Can you help someone with a task. Perhaps check in with a friend on the phone.

O –  Opening up

Acknowledge difficult feelings such as anxiety, loneliness and fear, and be kind to yourself.

V – Values

Don’t abandon your core beliefs. Live your values, even in the face of the challenges COVID-19 presents.

I -Identify resources

Who can you call on for support? Be aware and only seek information from reliable and trustworthy sources. Use this information to develop your own action plan for family and friends.

D – Disinfect and distance

Practice social distancing but don’t cut yourself off from others emotionally. Follow good hygiene principles.



People struggling to cope with the chaos and fear surrounding COVID-19 can now access free phone counselling by appointment from Centacare Catholic Family Services.

In response to the health emergency, Centacare has increased capacity to provide telephone support for mental health concerns, family stress due to job loss, social isolation and other challenges arising from the coronavirus pandemic.

People do not need a mental health care plan to access the short-term support. Rather, they can phone Centacare direct and book an appointment for a telephone counselling consultation.

Specialist Clinician Elaine Reynolds said it was crucial people did not go it alone at a time when unprecedented social measures were keeping friends and families apart, exacerbating challenges for those already at risk.

“In extreme moments like this, the options for personal control are severely limited, so there are a lot of people feeling lost, powerless and anxious,’’ Elaine said.

“The worries and what-ifs surrounding COVID-19 are enormous, and the ramifications of this can be gut-wrenching for many people.’’

People can phone Centacare between 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, to make a daytime or evening appointment. The telephone counselling service is inclusive, non-judgmental and unconditional.

“Centacare wishes to offer a connection to those who seek counselling, strategies, or ways of working through individual, family or relationship issues, without having to leave their home,’’ Deputy Director Pauline Connelly said.

“In isolation with families, what once may have been an irritant can become an aggravator, and what once was a disappointment can lead to confusion and disturbance in one’s thinking.

“Seeking help early at these times, through phone counselling, can offer relief and provide a pathway to a new normal.”

To book an appointment for COVID-19 telephone counselling, please phone Centacare on 8215 6700. 

Every foster carer’s motivation is different. This is Bindee and Karen’s story. The duo joined Centacare Foster Care program more than a year ago and have made a significant difference in the lives of two Aboriginal boys.


Bindee and Karen were volunteering at a soup kitchen feeding orphans in South Africa when they started to twig that they wanted to do more.

As they watched little faces devour bowls of chicken broth and bones, they were struck by the number of children in need of help.

“If we’d been able to take them all back with us, we would have,’’ says Karen.

“So we just decided then and there: we have to do more at home.’’

Weeks later, as they settled into a new suburb, north of Adelaide, the duo felt compelled to act after researching the number of Australian children in care.

“The statistics were appalling,’’ says Bindee, who reached out to Centacare Foster Care.

The program recruits, assesses, trains and supports foster carers to provide nurturing, safe and secure homes for children while they are unable to live with their birth family.

Four weeks into their assessment to become foster carers, Bindee, of Kuku Yalanji and Nauiyu  heritage, and Karen were matched with two Aboriginal siblings, aged under seven.

“Originally, our thoughts were to foster one child, but we didn’t hesitate; we said yes straight away,’’ says Bindee, who is studying veterinarian science.

“Then it was just a waiting game – how soon could we have them?’’

It would take another five months before the four became family, as Bindee and Karen worked through the assessment process.

“The first day we met them, we went to their carer’s house,’’ says Karen, a long-time children’s swimming instructor.

“They opened this big gate and came running up to us and then stopped and just kind of looked at us and we looked at them. And then it was all high fives and hugs.’’

The couple says the biggest challenges initially were managing the boys’ trauma-based behaviours, prior to their relationship building and repair work, as well as learning how to liaise with Department for Child Protection.

“Both the boys had some epic melt-downs,’’ says Karen. “We’re talking four, five hours of screaming. I’ve worked with kids for 20 years but never traumatized kids. It was really, really hard.’’

Adds Bindee: “Our Support Worker, Chanel, was on call for us 24/7. She was our rock and helped us get through. We’d call her nearly every day and speak on the after-hours phone as well.’’

Eight months on and it’s a very different story. The boys are thriving in their forever home and at school. They’ve learnt to have empathy, to share, and are growing in self-confidence and cultural pride.

“To see how far they’ve come in such a short time is incredible,’’ says Karen. “If I could grow my mind as much as they have in that time, I’d be a genius in 12 months.’’

She points to one moment: “A few weeks ago, one cracked it. I had put some cuttings in the ground that I was trying to grow and he ran out the front, ripped them out and stomped on them. I went outside and I cried and I said, I’m really, really sad that you did this.

“Then four days ago, he was out the front riding his bike, and he came inside and said, `Mum-Karen, when I get my pocket money this week, I want to do something really nice. I want to go to the shops and buy some seeds so you can grow some new plants.’

“It’s the moments like those that I didn’t expect; they’re really special.’’

Bindee adds: “When you have your own children, you see your baby talk and say Mum and Dad for the first time; or you see them crawl and walk for the first time. We’re seeing moments in the boys all the time because they’ve never experienced them before.

“It’s highly rewarding – not just for us but for them too.

“They ask us every single day, are you proud of us? And hell, yeah, we are.’’

For more information about Centacare Foster Care, please phone 8159 1400 or email fostercareenquiries@centacare.org.au

Families experiencing separation can now access one-on-one phone-based parenting education at Centacare.

Free courses are available to support parents and children to navigate challenges at home arising from changes in their family.

In response to COVID-19, the courses have transitioned to a telephone-based model run in hour-long sessions.  The number of sessions required to complete each course varies.

Participants can phone Centacare on 8215 6700 to book into the following courses:


Bringing Up Great Kids

Encourage parenting practices that build competence, optimism and capability in children.

4 x 1 hour sessions


How to Talk So Kids Will Listen

Develop strategies to communicate effectively with your children and truly hear what they are trying to tell you.

Explore realistic expectations and set boundaries to nurture resilience in your child

1 x 1 hour session


Inside Their Heads

What’s happening for today’s teens?

Learn more about adolescent brain development, how to set boundaries, and communication that encourages two-way respect and understanding.

1 x 1 hour session


Keeping Families Safe: Picking up the pieces after domestic violence

Children hear and see domestic violence too. What do children learn from this, and how do they experience domestic violence?

Learn strategies to support your children’s ongoing wellbeing and nurture their sense of safety and self.

1 x 1 hour session


What To Do When Kids Push Your Buttons

Identify triggers and understand what is behind your child’s behaviour.

Learn how to defuse the behaviour and respond calmly by adjusting your own beliefs, expectations and assumptions to regain your child’s cooperation and respect.

3 x 1 hour sessions


Developing Resilience

Develop your child’s ability to cope with disappointment and bounce back from challenging situations. Learn the five building blocks of resilience and how to nurture their self-esteem.

1 x 1 session


Circle of Security – THIS WILL COMMENCE SOON

An internationally recognised program that focusses on building attachment security. Children with secure attachment have increased empathy and self-esteem; better relationships with parents and peers; enhanced school readiness and an increased capacity to handle their emotions.

To enrol in a parenting course and make a phone appointment for one-on-one education, please phone Centacare 8215 6700.


It’s been one year since Dad’s Business HQ officially opened at Elizabeth Downs. From forging friendships to strengthening families, the site has quickly become a pivotal space for dads of all ages in the north.


Hundreds of children are set to reap long-term benefits from a dedicated dad space in the north which has been visited more than 1000 times in the past year.

Dad’s Business HQ opened at Elizabeth Rise Shopping Centre, Elizabeth Downs, last January to provide existing, new and expecting dads with parenting and other supports.

More than 300 dads have accessed the site, indirectly benefitting 500 plus children, many from Aboriginal families and a growing number from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

The HQ opens seven days a fortnight with dads able to seek advice, referral to services, parenting education, advocacy, counselling and support for misuse of alcohol and other drugs.

Centacare data shows that in the six months to December 31, 2019, 149 individual dads engaged with Dad’s Business HQ programs, and many more visited for one-off support. Almost one third of clients were referred by child protection authorities. .

Fourteen dads have since gained employment with a further five obtaining a qualification via TAFESA. A large number report they are now able to communicate more positively with an ex-partner in the best interests of their children.

Centacare social worker Darren Clarke said the HQ supported dads to focus on themselves and their decision-making in order to nurture their children’s wellbeing and sense of safety at home.

Many dads were grappling with their role as fathers on the back of complex challenges, he said.

These include family breakdown, domestic violence, mental health issues, substance misuse, transience, social isolation, financial and family law pressures, and childhood trauma.

“They sometimes come here because they’re not in a good space; they come here because they know they can get the support they require,’’ Darren said.

“We’ve had over 1000 touch points in a year – that’s 1000 opportunities for those dads to go down a different path.

“We’ve got dads who are now working, studying and putting back into the community. When you think of what that means for their children, well that’s huge generational change. You can’t put a dollar figure in savings on that.’’

Darren (pictured, right, with Paul Best, drug & alcohol counsellor) said the growing demand for support from Dad’s Business HQ had exposed gaps in community services, such as emergency accommodation options for men of all ages who were fleeing violence or experiencing homelessness.

Dad’s Business is an AnglicareSA Communities for Children funded initiative. Communities for Children is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services.

What dads say about Dad’s Business

“I have learned a lot to do with the way I parent and how to cope with heated situations.’’

“I feel better when I leave there.’’

“I have developed a healthy respect for the staff and what they do. Their honesty and approach to helping people has helped me handle problems I have had.”

Centacare Catholic Family Services is taking all reasonable steps to safeguard and support staff, volunteers, and clients as COVID-19 continues to evolve.

Further to the safety measures implemented last week, and in line with current health and government advice, additional practices have been put in place, effective today.

Centacare is committed to providing clients with the highest level of support possible while operating within an environment that is safe for everyone.

Additional changes to the nature of our service delivery and supports are inevitable as we adapt to the challenging environment in which we now live and work.

Navigating those changes will no doubt be difficult, but at the heart of all decisions will be Centacare’s client focus and commitment to staff safety and wellbeing.

Your patience, understanding and cooperation is much appreciated at this time.

For information about our services, please phone Centacare on 8215 6700.

Viliana Stefanov arrived in South Australia from Bulgaria on September 11, 2003. For Harmony Week, we asked Vili, an Assistant Accountant at Centacare, for her early memories of the city she now calls home.



I quite clearly remember that day. It was a cold, gloomy and windy Thursday. We didn’t know then how chilly those early spring Adelaide days could be.

Having been on the road and in the air for 38 hours, my husband and I were more than ready to start our descent into that then new, exciting world.

Looking through the small passenger windows, I could not comprehend how any sea could have all these shades, from lead grey to light emerald green, and those white beaches …

My thoughts drifted away to the practicality of this new adventure: Would we be able to find a rental property; would we understand a word of this so-called English; would we be able to find a job? But mostly could we make it our place and be happy?

The last question, I still cannot answer without hesitation. We could always go back if it didn’t work, of course.

My first encounters and impressions were of the landscape. How could any sand be so fine and so white, finer and whiter than flour?

How could parrots be so loud and flying freely everywhere? I had seen them only in a zoo.

My first time shopping for groceries: Did the cashier really want to know how I was? Do I have to elaborate?

And Vegemite! I had a full tablespoon, thinking it was a kind of jam. Never tried it again!

A few weeks later, there I was, standing in the middle of the living room of our tiny two-bedroom unit, with our only two suitcases, as this was all we had brought.

I will never forget how we got our first bed – or rather mattress – TV unit, sofa, and iron. Thank goodness for the hard rubbish day, which luckily, was on the day we moved in!

I know, all beginnings are hard, this was ours.

We have returned home and come back to our new home a few times now. Still, I can’t rid the feeling that I belong nowhere and everywhere at the same time.

But I know I can adapt, find new friends, make a living, achieve and succeed. And that’s a good feeling.


​For Harmony Week this year, we asked staff to share their stories and reflect on the people and places they hold dear. The result is a collection of three mini films which illustrate Centacare’s diversity and the many cultures, values and beliefs that enrich our work.

In response to COVID-19, Centacare Catholic Family Services has implemented immediate measures to safeguard and support staff, volunteers, and our clients.

The situation continues to evolve and Centacare is committed to minimising risk while mindful of the need for the well to support those who are not.

Based on current advice, Centacare has put practices in place across each of our regional and metropolitan sites.

These measures will be reviewed daily as we respond to the ever-changing environment we are now working and living in.

At this stage, all Centacare sites and services remain open. Were this to change, well-developed service continuity plans will be enacted.

Immediate practices to minimise risk of COVID-19 include:

  • Strict self-isolation protocols
  • Limiting non-essential travel
  • No interstate work-related travel
  • No non-essential events and meetings at Centacare sites
  • No external group meetings at Centacare sites
  • Cancelling all training until April 30
  • Increased phone contact in place of face-to-face support

As part of our continuity plan, the nature of some Centacare service delivery may change in the short-term as we act in accordance with the most recent advice.

However, we remain committed to providing clients with the highest possible level of support under the circumstances.

We will continue to communicate with our community openly and regularly regarding COVID-19.



Foster carers have used pictures to illustrate their journeys, to further understanding of their important role.

Launched last week at Centacare, Seaton, Photovoice provides foster carers with a platform to express their experiences through visual narratives.

The images provide a powerful insight into their everyday and help others to see foster care through their eyes.

The project was facilitated by Master of Social Work student Sid Wagle, on placement from Flinders University.

Eight foster carers provided three photographs/images which they felt encapsulated their caring experience and were then interviewed, which provided the narrative and reasoning behind the images.

The project illustrates how their perception of foster care has grown during their caring journey, from initially wanting to make a difference, to developing a deeper understanding of the challenges and complexities many children face – and the satisfaction of being positive influences in their lives.

Moments of joy, sadness and grief are expressed in the photographs, through which foster carers also express their hopes for the future including additional support and continuity of care for children.

“The reflections are very powerful and you can really feel that it’s personal, and that you live this every day,’’ said Amalie Mannik, Manager, Centacare Foster Care, at the launch.

“It’s a powerful way of raising awareness about foster care, especially to those who don’t understand it.’’

For more information about Centacare Foster Care program, phone 8159 1400 or email fostercareenquiries@centacare.org.au










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
E enquiries@centacare.org.au

Opening Hours

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

Quick Exit