Eric Cruz is on a mission to change the face of men’s health – and he wants you to join him.

Through his men’s lifestyle platform MANABOUTADL, Eric uses digital storytelling and social events to tackle stigma around mental health and wellbeing, and to boost civic pride.

Ahead of Men’s Health Week (MHW), June 10-16, Eric is imploring men and women to “check their engines’’, school up on preventable health problems, and reach out to one another.

“One of the biggest contributors to men’s mental health is social isolation,’’ said Eric, a Foster Care Support Worker at Centacare.

“There’s also the stigma that guys shouldn’t talk about their emotions.

“We want to be the change and let men know it’s ok to talk. Let’s get the conversation started fellas!’’

Men experience worse long-term health than women and die on average six years earlier. Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show deaths from suicide occur among males at a rate three times greater than that for females.

From Monday, MANABOUTADL will run an awareness campaign to highlight some of the biggest health issues and preventable problems faced by men to encourage fathers, brothers and friends to support one another, said Eric.

These key messages will be reinforced on Tuesday at Centacare’s MHW launch at Seaton which will raise funds for the Movember Foundation.

“Men don’t usually like to check their engines and attend GP appointments, so we will be highlighting the various health concerns that affect men such as prostate cancer and suicide,’’ Eric said.

“We want to enable our staff to be aware of the various health issues and to be hyperaware of the signs and symptoms when liaising with clients.

“It’s also a good reason to get together and celebrate the men in the organisation – and have a reason to be together!’’

Simple acts such as spending time with people who make you feel good, checking up on your mates and being an empathetic ear could make a world of difference, said Eric, who has supported friends and family through mental health challenges.

Sam Carpenter has heard in painful detail the countless stories of families who have had their children removed.

Some days bring back faces from the past – adults he first met as at-risk children years ago while working in the Department for Child Protection.

Now parents themselves, they have experienced the removal of their own children, and have been referred to Centacare for support by the Department.

Breaking this generational cycle is what drives Sam, Manager of Reunification Services, and his team as they work to reconnect parents and children who are living in out-of-home care.

“Seeing what they achieve under circumstances that we couldn’t even imagine is truly inspiring,’’ he says.

In some cases, the children have only recently come in to care, while others have lived apart from their families for many years under long-term court orders, often sought with the aim of creating certainty and stability for children.

“When you see children who are 16 and they have never lived with their parents but they want to return home, you see how the drive and desire to be with their family never goes away,’’ Sam says.

“That goes to show how important this work is, whether they’ve been in care for a decade or for just a few weeks.’’

Currently, Centacare is providing intensive therapeutic support to 37 families across two reunification programs.

While Centacare Reunification Service works with children in short-term care, the pilot Adolescent Reunification Program provides specialist support, offered over 12 months, to young people aged 11 to 17 years. Some may have never lived at home or been removed very early in life.

The program is being independently evaluated by Professor Paul Delfabbro at the University of Adelaide.

In 2018/2019, Centacare has successfully reunified 61 children and young people with their birth families.

The team works closely with Children’s Services Unit Lead Therapist Dr Jackie Amos and the therapeutic model described in her thesis ‘When Wounds from Infancy Collide’ strongly influences the team’s approach to families and working assumptions.

“We always assume those we are working with want to be together; that parents want to be a good parent to their children and that all children want a close relationship with their birth parent,’’ Sam says.

“We walk alongside the birth parent and offer empathy and understanding so that we can try and better understand the reasons why it might not have presented that way to the system.’’

Each family is facing a range of challenges but trauma is a common thread. Often this is manifested in drug and alcohol use, domestic violence and mental health issues.

“Trauma is frequently what gets in the way of them being the parent they want to be to their children,’’ Sam says.

“We try and get to the heart of someone’s trauma because we want to make long-term sustainable change and stop the cycle”.

This is the basis of the Adult Exploration of Attachment Interview (AEAI), a therapeutic intervention frequently used by Dr Amos and the Reunification team.

“What did they learn about being a child from their own caregivers? What did they learn about being a parent? When that is brought into consciousness they can then make a decision: What elements of that do they want to take into their parenting now, and what do they want to do differently?’’

It’s a powerful but painful process which has achieved numerous successful outcomes and fits with the team’s commitment to working therapeutically, using a strengths perspective, and to confronting intergenerational trauma.

The process has proven that positive parenting templates can be found and drawn upon, even in people with the most significant trauma histories.

The team’s approach is flexible according to the needs of each family and can include counselling, education, parenting skill development, regular home visiting and supporting family contact.

“ We never minimise risk for the child or young person, and we never look at people with rose coloured glasses,’’ Sam says.

“But we do focus on the resilience the families have shown in their life, rather than where they’ve gone wrong”.

The team’s experience working with adolescents returning home after experiencing a lack of stability over many years in the care system is a constant reminder of the importance of believing in families and giving them every opportunity to provide safe care.

“To say a young person needs to be in long-term care because their parents have not been able to do what they needed to in a particular time frame is a fair enough statement to make in a vacuum but we don’t live in a vacuum.’’

Centacare’s reunification programs are based at Seaton. Assistance is available for families across metropolitan Adelaide and in regional South Australia (for Adolescent Reunification), where Centacare works with partner agencies to deliver services.

The facts

  • Reunification is the planned process of reconnecting children and young people in out-of-home care with their families.
  • The Reunification Service works in a flexible, coordinated and collaborative way with families, the Department for Child Protection and other service providers to strengthen family relationships, improve the wellbeing of children, young people and parents and assist families to adjust as their children return home.
  • All work with families is done in the best interests of the child and with the child at the centre of case planning.
  • Families are referred by the Department for Child Protection.
  • Parents need to consent to working with Centacare and to become actively involved in the reunification process.

Don’t be a butthead! Be a nice guy.

With that one simple statement, a student sent a strong message to all men from his seat at the Power to End Violence Against Leadership Day this week.

And the message wasn’t lost on Power co-captain Tom Jonas.

 “Good point,’’ he told the 95 secondary students taking part in the event at Port Adelaide Football Club on Wednesday.

“Schools and businesses and footy clubs are all built on having a really strong culture.

“When our recruiters go to the draft, they don’t necessarily pick the most talented player, they pick quality people that are going to make our club better.’’

The event aimed to empower participants by encouraging them to think about their core values and beliefs, and the qualities that make a good leader.

Students present had or will soon participate in the Power to End Violence Against Women (PTEVAW) program, which is delivered in schools by Power Community Ltd to teach young men about respectful relationships.

“Whether it’s going out of your way to ask someone else how their day is going or holding the door open for someone, it’s those little things we can do that can sometimes get lost in our society and don’t always get recognised, but they can make a big difference to someone else’s day,’’ Jonas said.

A joint partnership between Centacare, PAFC and the State Government, PTEVAW has engaged 5000 students over the past four years.

Participants learn about respect, trust, gender equality, healthy relationships and what constitutes abusive behaviour.

In her opening address, Carolyn Power, Assistant Minister for Domestic and Family Violence Prevention, implored the students to play their part by having the courage to challenge disrespectful behaviours and attitudes.

“The only way we are going to end violence against women and their children, and also men who experience domestic violence, is by changing our core beliefs and attitudes – particularly towards women,’’ she said.

“It’s up to you guys to continue to shine a light on it and call it out when you see it. We can’t do it without you.’’

For more information about the PTEVAW program, please phone Jake Battifuoco, Youth Programs Manager, Power Community Ltd, on 8440 3002

What does the federal election result mean for social services?  Fr Frank Brennan, Chief Executive of Catholic Social Services Australia, has highlighted several new government policies of particular interest.

National Disability Insurance Scheme

The Morrison government has committed to:

The rollout of new NDIS participant planning pathways – making sure people with disability have a single point of contact with the NDIS, and can choose to be on a longer NDIS plan of up to 3 years if their disability is stable.

Expand the NDIS community connectors program to support and assist hard to reach communities – including Indigenous Australians, culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities and ageing parents of children with disability – to navigate the NDIS and get the services they or their children need.

Introduce a new NDIS Participant Service Guarantee – setting new standards for shorter timeframes for people with disability to get an NDIS plan and to have their plan reviewed, with a particular focus on children, and participants requiring specialist disability accommodation (SDA) and assistive technology.

Develop a national disability information gateway ($45 million), including a website and 1800 number, to assist all people with disability and their families to locate and access services in their communities.

Introduce a new 7 per cent employment target for people with disability across the Australian Public Service (APS) by 2025.

Provide $2 million to support people with autism to find and keep a job, including a $1.5 million national expansion of the successful Dandelion Program in partnership with DXC Technology.

Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

The Morrison Government’s 2019 Budget included more than $500 million for their Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan. The funding also includes $19.6 million for measures to prevent Indigenous youth suicide, particularly in the Kimberley and a funding boost for the Headspace network.

Multicultural Communities

The Government has committed to investing an additional $5 million in a dedicated Accelerator Support Program to assist first generation migrants looking to develop a start-up business. A further $10 million has been committed to create a dedicated network of Aged Care System Navigators to assist people from CALD backgrounds and their families in navigating the aged care system.

Drought

The Government has committed to:

Invest $3.9 billion in the Future Drought Fund to prepare for future droughts. The Fund will grow to $5 billion over the next decade and enable investment of $100 million per year in water infrastructure and drought resilience.

Continue to ensure the Farm Household Allowance is fit for purpose, making the $5m farm assets test for Farm Household Allowance permanent.
Create a new restocking and replanting concessional loan through the Regional Investment Corporation.

Establish a $7 million Drought Communities Small Business Support Program’

Provide extra support by providing $1 million each to an additional 14 local council areas experiencing severe drought through the Drought Communities Program’

The additional funding outside the budget is around $36.4 million.

Housing

There is isn’t much in the housing space, other than a commitment by the Government to establish a First Home Loan Deposit Scheme.

The scheme effectively allows eligible first home buyers to access the housing market with less than a 20% deposit and not being charged a bank imposed mortgage insurance.

The government has committed to offering loan guarantees for first home buyers so they can buy their first home with a cash deposit of only 5% of the purchase price.

 

Every day is a celebration of human kindness for Vicki Giacomin.

For the past 18 years, Vicki has witnessed ordinary people go to extraordinary lengths to serve their community.

“It’s humbling, and it’s a privilege to hear their stories,’’ she says.

Volunteer Coordinator at Centacare, Vicki oversees 80 people in unpaid roles across 12 services.

“I think the common reason people choose to volunteer is for a sense of purpose and to make a difference,’’ she says.

“Our volunteers come from all walks of life. Many are highly skilled. Perhaps they’ve experienced something that makes them want to give back or they might be unsure about what they want to do in life.

“Some people are just wanting to get out of the house and meet new people, and gain experience. For others it’s a gentle way of re-entering the workforce.’’

Vicki’s affiliation with volunteering began in 2001 with Centacare when she was a Volunteer Coordinator for a mobile crèche service with the Northern Parent Resource Program.

As with paid employment, a formal recruitment process is followed. Volunteers are interviewed and then matched to programs that harness their interests and diverse skill sets.

“To see them grow in confidence and self-esteem once they start in their roles is really so satisfying,’’ Vicki says.

“Not only do volunteers give to the community and Centacare but they support one another. There’s a real comradery between them; I’ve witnessed that many times – it’s very moving.’’

At Centacare, volunteers tackle roles from gardening and administration to cooking, crèche work and tutoring.

Vicki urged people who are passionate about a cause to consider volunteering.

“It’s a special thing to do, to give back,’’ she says.

If you are interested in contributing to the work of Centacare, visit our website or phone Vicki on 8252 2311.

 

June Duffy loves sitting with Aboriginal women at the Otherway Centre and hearing the stories that shape their lives.

So much so, the retired TAFE lecturer decided to volunteer at the centre, in return for their wisdom and trust.

She says her deepening understanding of Aboriginal culture and spirituality has allowed her to give the women a voice.

“I think I am more outspoken now,’’ June says.

“I have more knowledge and confidence in talking about the issues Aboriginal people face.’’

June first visited the Otherway Centre at Stepney about four years ago. She volunteered sporadically before making a more permanent weekly commitment a year ago, in retirement.

In addition to providing administration support and writing and collating the centre’s newsletter, June prepares the Sunday Mass sheets and occasionally cooks lunch for the friendly faces who take part in weekly activities, such as line dancing and jewellery making.

She also joins in yarning, an important process within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, which has enabled June to learn from the collective group, and to preserve and pass on cultural knowledge.

“I couldn’t get over how welcoming people were, how friendly and warm; they were inclusive straight off the jump,’’ she says.

“I like the relaxed way the day unfolds here. There’s no pressure. People are very kind and patient. You hear some amazing stories over cups of tea.

“The other thing that’s bowled me over is there is no bitterness. I think people have the absolute right to be very bitter but I haven’t experienced any bitterness – they’re just beautiful people who work and come to the centre, and that’s why I keep coming back.’’

June says volunteering at the Otherway Centre has helped her to recognise the “deep similarities between Aboriginal spirituality and Christianity’’.

“I started coming to mass here every Sunday; it would have to be the friendliest mass you could ever wish to go to. That really warmed me to the community here as well.’’

Her advice to others pondering volunteering is simple: go for it.

“Go to the organisation and find someone who works there and talk to them,’’ she says. “Be honest; tell them you want to learn more and ask if there’s anything you can do.

“Sometimes it can be a bit of a challenge because there might not be a job or a role for you but don’t give up.’’

*June’s role is being highlighted as part of National Volunteer Week, an annual celebration to acknowledge the generous contribution of our nation’s volunteers. The theme for this year is `making a world of difference’. For more information, visit Volunteering Australia. For more information about volunteering at Centacare, visit our website or phone Vicki Giacomin on 8252 2311.

Sam Turner was 17 when she first inquired about volunteering.

Told she was too young, Sam phoned back a year later – on her 18th birthday.

“I finished school at the end of Year 11 and I wanted to do something to keep busy,’’ Sam said. 

Driven by her love of children, Sam began volunteering with a mobile crèche service which was then part of the Northern Parent Resource Program.

Eighteen years later, she is still giving her time to the crèche, now run by Centacare at different sites across the north.

“I didn’t think I’d ever have children of my own so initially it was a good way to be around kids while helping out others,’’ Sam said.

“I think the joy of watching the little ones grow up has been the best bit.

“I play darts with one of the mums of the children I looked after in my first crèche I ever did. They’ve finished high school now. It makes me feel old!’’

One of 80 volunteers at Centacare, the mother-of-three (she has two boys and an “angel baby in heaven’’) balances volunteering with a hectic home life.

Her oldest son, Thomas, arrived early at 25 weeks. Small and fragile, he required intensive neonatal care at Flinders Medical Centre.

Her youngest, Joshua, is one month old.

“I somehow just find the time to keep going,’’ Sam said.

Dubbed the `baby whisperer’ by Centacare Volunteer Coordinator Vicki Giacomin, Sam said knowing she had a positive impact on the families she meets along the way was all the reward she needed.

“It makes me feel good when mums say I’ve had a positive impact on their child,’’ she said.

*Sam’s role is being highlighted as part of National Volunteer Week, an annual celebration to acknowledge the generous contribution of our nation’s volunteers. The theme for this year is `making a world of difference’. For more information, visit Volunteering Australia. For more information about volunteering at Centacare, visit our website or phone Vicki Giacomin on 8252 2311.

 

 

Frank Todd is not sure where he would be without Dad’s Business.

Two years ago, the father-of-four turned to the program for perspective on his role as a dad – but he gained much more.

The confidence and understanding Frank found in talking to fathers facing similar challenges empowered him to such an extent that he couldn’t stay away.

After Frank completed his fourth course certificate, Dad’s Business Social Worker Darren Clarke took note of his enthusiasm and offered him the role of resident volunteer.

“I was ecstatic just to be asked,’’ Frank said.

“To be able to have an impact on other fathers who are in similar or very different situations but want to better themselves, even it’s just making them a coffee and talking and listening, that’s a starting point.’’

Frank spends at least two days a week at Dad’s Business HQ at Elizabeth Downs.

His tasks include cleaning, keeping stock of the pantry and making hot drinks for clients.

On the days he’s not required, Frank will often still show up, even if only to sweep up the leaves out the front.

“Children’s futures are very important,’’ Frank said.

“Yes, we have to look after ourselves, but if we’re not looking after our children now when they’re little, then the decisions they make later might be different.’’

The first space of its kind in the north, Dad’s Business HQ provides dads with a safe space to seek parenting and other supports.

Activities come from a place of hope and focus on building self-esteem and addressing shame through acceptance and honesty so that the dads recognise the value of fathers in family and children’s lives.

In partnership with Communities for Children facilitating partner AnglicareSA, Centacare oversees the HQ where dads can drop in for a chat and seek advice, referral to services, parenting education, advocacy, counselling, and support for alcohol and other drugs.

“Because I came to Dad’s Business, I was able to deal with things going on in my own life that are partially beyond my control,’’ Frank said.

“Because of Darren’s influence, I made different decisions.’’

In the future, Frank hopes to balance his volunteer work with study.

“My plan is to do a Certificate III in Community Services so I can work my way into a role like Darren’s,’’ he said.

Facilitating partner AnglicareSA Communities for Children Playford funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services.

*Frank’s role is being highlighted as part of National Volunteer Week, an annual celebration to acknowledge the generous contribution of our nation’s volunteers. The theme for this year is `making a world of difference’. For more information, visit Volunteering Australia.

A fading photocopied poem is surrounded by scores of baby photos on the pinboard at Hannah Place.

The words about what makes a mum special speak loudly to Social Worker Fatima Krivdic.

The poem, she says, is a reminder of what most of us have but what others go without – sometimes for their whole lives.

The love a mother shares, the many little thoughtful things that show how much she cares…

When you’re little she protects you, she tucks you in at night, and when she knows you’re ready she steps aside, but still she watches over you with tender loving pride.

“Our clients didn’t have this and we endeavour to work alongside them to provide this for their children,’’ Fatima says.

“We will always go the extra mile to support them, even if we don’t always support the choices they make.’’

Fatima is a founding staff member of Hannah Place where young women under the Guardianship of the Minister who are pregnant and parenting, and require support to bond with and care for their baby, can stay until the age of 18.

Most clients have spent their formative years in and out of foster homes or residential care facilities due to unresolved family crisis, childhood trauma and other complexities such as mental health, sexual violence, and drug use.

Located at Pooraka, Hannah Place opened eight years ago. In 2018/2019, the service has supported 48 young women and their children.

“It’s somewhere they can call home for the first time ever in their life,’’ Fatima says.

“What we love about this place is that we can hug them, we can laugh and cry and get angry with them, and we do – we do all those things.’’

Under a case management framework, clients are supported to develop their parenting capacity and mother/child attachment and, if their child has been removed from their care, to work towards reunification.

“Developmentally the mum might be seven but chronologically she’s 15, so essentially she’s a child trying to parent without a positive template of her own,’’ Fatima says.

“The mother loves the baby but love, sadly, is not enough to raise a child.’’

Outreach support is offered to clients until they are aged 19 but the door at Hannah Place is always open.

“All of them at some point will call just to say hello or to share an achievement with us, or they will come back here if they’re hungry or need somewhere to go, because trust is a huge thing,’’ Fatima says.

On Sunday, staff will host a Mother’s Day lunch for the six women and four children currently living at Hannah Place.

“It will be a big day for sure, not just looking forwards but looking backwards, because 99 per cent of them don’t have any supportive figures in their life, let alone a mother,’’ says Ellen Massie, Youth Support Worker.

“They love to be recognised and acknowledged for the work that they are doing.

“Sometimes they don’t believe us because they’ve never heard that in the past.

“So we praise them every day and look for the positives, not just on Mother’s Day.’’

Fatima Krivdic, left, and Ellen Massie.

Mother’s Day has come early for families at Coolock House.

A special high tea was held today to recognise the strength and resilience of young mums who are learning to parent on the back of complex challenges.

“The love and commitment these young mums show their children is truly inspirational,’’ Manager Anthea Francis said.

“For some, their own childhood has been fraught with trauma, neglect and/or abuse, so it is difficult for them to understand what positive parenting is.

“Despite this, they are still learning new skills, meeting the physical and emotional needs of their children, and striving to be the best mothers that they can be.’’

Coolock House, at Morphett Vale, supports pregnant or parenting women aged under 25 years who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Through onsite and outreach support, young mums are assisted to set goals, re-engage with education, develop independent living and parenting skills, and transition into long-term housing.

“Parenting is filled with rewards and challenges but parenting with limited positive supports creates additional challenges,’’ Anthea said.

“In addition, many young mums are acutely aware of the stigma and judgement they face from some in our community.

“Mother’s Day is an opportunity to recognise their strength and resilience, and to acknowledge the vital role they play in their children’s lives.’’

In 2018/2019, Coolock House has supported 42 women and 53 children.

 

Centacare

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

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