School’s nearly out for the Power to End Violence Against Women program – but not before a few final lessons.

In the lead-up to the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women last month, Wirreanda Secondary School students participated in the program and had an opportunity to speak with Port Adelaide Football Club defender Emmanuel Irra.

Emmanuel is the club’s first Ugandan player and has joined the PEVAW project as a program ambassador.

As we mark 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence around the globe, Emmanuel has this message:

We all need to think about our attitudes and behaviors towards females in our lives. Violence against women is unacceptable.’’

This year, more than 20 schools and 1580 boys in Year 10 have participated in the PEVAW program which is funded by Centacare and the State Government.

Students learn about respect, trust, gender equality, healthy relationships and the dangers of abusive behaviour.

“One of the biggest benefits of the program is that it raises awareness of domestic violence,’’ says Jake Battifuoco, Youth Programs Manager of Power Community Ltd.

“A lot of the young men we work with may not know it’s an issue in society if they’ve never seen or experienced domestic violence.

“This opens their eyes to the fact that DV is more than just physical abuse; it’s words, control and other behaviours that can have a significant impact on women.

“It also gives them an understanding of the important role they can play as a bystander to help out a mate, friend or a family member who may be experiencing domestic violence.’’


A determination to spread cultural awareness of mental health is driving Angie Bui’s nursing career.

The 22-year-old, who is Vietnamese Australian, has seen firsthand how beliefs about mental illness can affect people’s readiness – and willingness – to seek support.

“Talking about mental health is quite foreign for a lot of my local and international friends and their families from culturally and linguistically (CALD) diverse backgrounds; there is still a lot of stigmatism and misunderstanding attached to it,” Angie says.

The aspiring paediatric mental health nurse hopes new multilingual resources developed by headspace Port Adelaide (hPA) will start vital conversations about mental health across cultures in the community.



To be launched next Friday, December 8, the fact sheets explore anxiety, depression, trauma, tips for healthy headspace and other information in different languages, including Persian, Chinese, Greek, Italian and Vietnamese.

Funded by the SA Department for Communities and Social Inclusion, the fact sheets close a gap in high-quality multilingual youth mental health resources for young people and their families.

“Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of,” says Angie (pictured), who is a member of hPA’s Youth Reference Group.

“It’s the same as physical illness, just not visible, so it’s crucial that we spread awareness about the different types of mental illness and support services available in the community.”

Research shows people from CALD communities are at greater risk of developing mental health problems due to cultural differences, social isolation, and other risk factors.

However, stigma surrounding mental illness, lack of awareness about available services and difficulties speaking English can make it harder for them to access support services.

“That’s why having these fact sheets translated into different languages is so important because it breaks down some of those communication barriers for young people and their families,” Angie says.

“The fact sheets will support them to not only recognise challenges they may be experiencing but how to access vital holistic and recovery-based care through headspace, Centacare or other service providers in the community.”

*Join headspace Port Adelaide for afternoon tea to celebrate the launch of the new multilingual youth mental health resources next Friday, December 8, from 3pm at 78-80 St Vincent St, Port Adelaide. For more information, please phone 8215 6340.

Singing young children off to sleep is an evening ritual for many families, but why wait until nightfall to burst into song?

Parenting educator Clare Bowyer says singing simple rhymes and songs to little ones anywhere, anytime is important for both parents and children.

Besides calming children, playful melodies can teach them much about life and language – long before they learn to speak – while also strengthening the parent-child bond.

Through the Mother Goose program, Centacare and Uniting Care Wesley have teamed up to support parents to connect with their kids the old-fashioned way.

“The interaction is really lovely because it’s without technology, or even paper and music,’’ Clare says.

“We just sing. There’s no accompaniment, just the voice.

“The benefit is delight and enjoying each other’s company without toys and other distractions.’’

In today’s fast-paced digital world, it can be easy to overlook the little things, Clare says.

“The idea is you can sing to your kids anytime, anywhere, and connect with them through face-to-face contact and simple actions.

“You can also easily hone in on their interests, like cars and even jellyfish!’’

In addition to nurturing communication and social skills, the use of rhyme, song and story can diffuse stress, such as angst around getting dressed.

“Instead of going to the phone, use a silly song to change the mood,’’ Clare says.

“From a language point of view, children learn to recognise words, sentences and sounds which benefits them when they reach school age.

“You can have a lot of fun singing.’’

Join the fun of Mother Goose!

Where: Seaton North Neighbourhood Centre, 16 Cairns Avenue, Seaton

When: Wednesday November 15, 22, 29 and December 6 from 1.30pm-2.30pm

Free for parents and children. All ages welcome.

For more information, please phone 8215 6700.



Rosslyn Richards is piecing together her language for the next generation – one puzzle at a time.

A proud Ngarrindjeri woman, Ros has crafted and painted a set of floor puzzles to teach young children traditional language through pictures and emojis.

Many Aboriginal languages and dialects are extinct and others are endangered because of few surviving speakers.

“A lot of the time we’re teaching the mums as well,’’ says Ros, a family practitioner with Centacare’s Po:rlar Ka:ngkun Tainkuwalun (PKT) program which readies children for kindergarten and school.

“It depends on how they grew up: if they didn’t speak their language at home when they were little, they won’t know much of it today.’’

Emotions, animals and seasons are depicted on the puzzles which Ros made from placemats, with the help of fellow PKT worker Mark Capurso.

“Every few weeks for a craft activity for playgroup we try to include our language, whether that’s something from one of our Dreaming stories or an everyday word.

“By teaching our very young ones the language, hopefully they can carry it on.’’

Community groups and schools in Murray Bridge are working hard to revive and maintain the Ngarrindjeri language.

Nationally, NAIDOC Week this year focused on why languages matter and the role they play in Aboriginal cultural identity, linking people to their land and water, and in the transmission of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, spirituality and rites.

“In Murray Bridge, we are pushing to have our language taught in schools and there are some schools that are already. Now our playgroup is helping by teaching it as well.’’

Start to learn Ngarrindjeri with these simple words:

·         Plukun (frightened)

·         Nori (pelican)

·         Mudlhari (magpie)

·         Wonggami (kangaroo)

·         Kungari (swan)

·         Thukeri (fish)

·         Thukubi (turtle)

·         Mandhari (lizard)


It’s the race that stops the nation in a flutter of fashion, form guides, foreign raiders and famous faces but, behind closed doors, the Melbourne Cup is one of the darkest days of the year, writes Director Dale West.


Horses aside, there is one sure thing tomorrow – domestic violence will soar.

Alcohol and gambling coupled with the use of power, coercion and control over another create a perfect storm for abuse on the first Tuesday in November, most often by a male perpetrator.

The result can be sickening.

Research shows emergency department admissions, police recorded assaults and family incidents are elevated on Cup day.

In response, South Australian support services are preparing for a spike in demand for outreach, emergency accommodation and crisis help, as the impact of race day celebrations hits home.

The problem is not the Melbourne Cup itself – we should be able to enjoy the Spring Carnival without hurting our partner and kids. Rather, it is the cumulative effect of noxious gender attitudes, alcohol and gambling.

For a big problem, the link between gambling and violence remains largely unknown.

In the past decade, studies have found family members of a problem gambler are likely to experience violence and that this can impact the broader family: parents, parents-in-law, children, siblings.

In acts of desperation, family members may turn to violence themselves – sometimes against their partner, and other times, against children – to try and change the situation.

Centacare is currently working with Government and other non-Government organisations to develop practice frameworks for problem gambling and domestic violence.

While we recognise that these two problems are not always interrelated, many households receive support for both. However, service providers may not always be aware of one other or cross-refer clients.

Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) recently announced it would fund new research into the impact of gambling on domestic violence.

The study is one of three ANROWS projects to address key gaps in current evidence on the experience of domestic abuse, and the prevention and response to violence against women.

Key research questions include how problem gambling might contribute to domestic violence towards women – when it is linked to his gambling or her own habit – and the use of economic abuse to sustain the perpetrator’s gambling.

Hundreds of millions will be bet on the Melbourne Cup as once-a-year punters join regular gamblers for their annual wager on the iconic event.

Who wins, who loses and how that affects individuals and the choices they make will mean many families are fearful of what tomorrow may bring.

Living under the threat of violence day-in and day-out is debilitating.

As the euphoria of the world’s richest two-mile race dies down, spare a thought for those who will lose more than money – their lives are threatened regardless of who’s first past the post.

Dale West is Director of Centacare Catholic Family Services.

The Melbourne Cup is anything but a celebration for women and children in vulnerable homes.

Centacare’s Vicki Lachlan says there is a significant rise in domestic violence on the first Tuesday in November, with alcohol and gambling creating a perfect storm for abuse – most commonly by a male perpetrator.

“If the money is gone after a day at the races or a Cup event, then that can have a big impact on the family,’’ said Vicki, Manager, Domestic Violence and Homelessness Services.

“It’s not only the loss of income, but there’s potential for behaviours and moods that put women and children at risk when he comes home.

“He won’t blame himself for losing on the races, he’ll blame the woman.’’

Research shows emergency department admissions, police recorded assaults and family incidents are elevated on Cup day.

In response, local support services are preparing for a spike in demand for outreach, emergency accommodation and crisis help, as the impact of race day celebrations hits home.

Vicki said the glamour of the Spring Carnival hid a dark side of problem gambling and increased accessibility to multiple betting platforms, via the internet, telephone and face-to-face formats.

“It’s like everything in today’s society – betting platforms are easier to access so you can also lose money quicker.

“There will be a lot of women feeling apprehensive about Tuesday.’’

The Cup is among a number of dates on the nation’s social calendar that put vulnerable women at a heightened risk of abuse.

Christmas and New Year also take a heavy toll on families in which perpetrators exercise power and control over their partner and children, Vicki said.

This year more hundreds of millions will be bet on the Melbourne Cup as once-a-year punters join regular gamblers for their annual flutter on the iconic event.

Centacare is currently involved in work with Government and other non-Government organisations regarding the development of practice frameworks for problem gambling and domestic violence.

This work has stemmed from national research recognising a link between domestic violence and gambling, and that both problems exist in many families.

“Centacare is pleased to be looking at how services might better respond when there is problem gambling and domestic violence, and while we recognise that gambling and domestic violence are not always interrelated, a lot of families see services for both issues but those services don’t always know about each other or how to cross-refer,’’ Vicki said.

“That’s what we are working to address.’’

Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) recently announced it would fund new research into the impact of gambling on domestic violence.

The study is one of three ANROWS projects to address key gaps in current evidence on the experience of violence, and the prevention and response to violence against women.

Key research questions include how problem gambling might contribute to domestic violence towards women – when it is linked to his gambling or her own habit – and the use of economic abuse to sustain the perpetrator’s gambling.

New research released last month by the Australian Gambling Research Centre (AGRC) found nearly one million Australians regularly gamble on horse and dog racing, with about 41 per cent experiencing one or more gambling-related problems such as relationship issues, financial pressures and health problems.

The AGRC analysed data collected through the 2015 Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey.

In the lead-up to Cup day, AGRC Researcher Dr Andrew Armstrong said “regular bettors should consider their financial position carefully and seek help if they are concerned they are at risk of gambling-related problems.’’

What is your happiest childhood memory?

Centacare parenting educator Kay Buckley recalls the freedom of growing up in the ‘50s – and crossing one of the nation’s busiest thoroughfares on her 2km walk to school each day.

“I lived in Sydney and I’d cross the Hume Highway – without traffic lights, on my own, at six! That was normal back then.

“In the 1980s when I was bringing up my own kids, we lived on a fruit block and they’d be gone from morning ’til night. Now most parents are reluctant to let their kids walk to the end of the street.’’

As parents become increasingly confused about what children can and cannot do, young people’s resilience – and their freedom to learn and grow – is gradually being eroded and replaced with fear, Kay says.

Our fears are often unlikely but our fears are likely to become more likely if we don’t skill our kids up
Kay Buckley, parenting educator


In response, Centacare is encouraging parents to use practices that build competence, optimism and capability. Allowing children to take some risks also helps to nurture resilience and persistence, Kay says.

“Our fears are often unlikely but our fears are likely to become more likely if we don’t skill our kids up.

“Children have always been able to take risks and if we don’t let them take little ones incrementally, with some scaffolding and support around them, then there’s a certain inevitability about what they may do as adolescents.

“We complain that our children can’t do anything or won’t do anything, but we don’t give them life skills and freedom because we do everything for them. We don’t coach them anymore; we stand there clapping on the sidelines. We should be giving them instruction.’’

Kay’s 12 ingredients of competence:
  • Offer opportunities for initiative and autonomy at an early age
  • Help build confidence by partialising challenges
  • Stop lecturing, testing and drilling
  • Reinforce your child’s excitement about achievements
  • Recognise effort rather than outcome
  • Create an environment where mistakes are accepted
  • Stop rescuing your child
  • Teach the language of optimism and persistence
  • Model positive self-talk
  • Help children manage strong emotions
  • Affirm your child’s ability to impact their world
  • Encourage responsibility, good judgement and persistence
To nurture resilience in children, Kay recommends:
  • Exposure to healthy role models
  • Discover a sense of spirituality
  • Support them to develop life skills
  • Recognise islands of competence
  • Promote positive self-talk




Centacare is seeking foster carers to join our Specialist Family Preservation program.

The program offers well supported short-term placements for children aged 0 to 12 years who have a reunification plan with their family.

SFPFC Manager Rachel Kemish is urging South Australians from a mix of family types to consider opening their hearts and homes to vulnerable children at a time when they need it the most.

Foster carers receive an enhanced allowance, therapeutic and Aboriginal cultural competency training, and development opportunities. The assessment process takes up to five months.

A care team supports carers to nurture all areas of a child’s life including family access, education, personal achievement, emotional and physical health, identity, culture and social relationships.

“Every child, regardless of their cultural background, needs a safe and loving home,’’ Rachel says.

“Foster carers come in all shapes and sizes. We would love to hear from Aboriginal families too, because we are committed to connecting children with their communities and nurturing their sense of belonging and cultural identity.

“Together we work as a team to support children to make the transition home.’’

Foster care support workers visit households every week for the first eight weeks of a placement. Support is ongoing, with foster carers encouraged to reflect on their role – and how they are nurturing their child’s development and healing – with their support worker.

“This program isn’t just working with the child, it’s working with the whole family,” says Elly, a specialist foster carer.

“There’s no greater love than a parent’s love for a child, so if we can get that child back home and they are able to give that child that love, there’s no better outcome.”

We are holding Specialist Foster Care information evenings in the coming weeks.  If you are interested in becoming a foster carer, come along to one of the following sessions:
  • Thursday, November 2 – Centacare, 413 Grange Rd, Seaton, 6.30pm-8pm
  • Wednesday, November 15 – The Arts Centre, 22 Gawler St, Port Noarlunga, 6.30pm-8pm
  • Wednesday, December 13 – Centacare, 413 Grange Rd, Seaton, 6.30pm-8pm

For more information about how we can support you to support a child through specialist foster care, visit, phone 8159 1400 or email



Rebuilding relationships between  children on long-term guardianship orders and their parents is the focus of a new program, aimed at reducing the number of young people in out-of-home care.


A joint partnership between Centacare and the Department for Child Protection (DCP), Adolescent Reunification supports children aged 11 to 17 years to reconnect with their birth family.

At the same time, parents are supported to address familial challenges that led to their children’s removal, such as drug taking, domestic violence, mental illness, hygiene and safety concerns – often the outcome of their own childhood trauma.

Young people aged 14 to 17 years currently living in commercial and residential care across the state are a priority under the program. 

“It’s hard enough for families to navigate the ‘teen’ years, but where parents and teenagers carry these burdens of trauma, the challenge is multiplied,’’ says Chris Kemish (pictured), Manager of Centacare’s Reunification Service.

“Long-term orders are there for a reason and the child’s safety is always paramount but we should never hold a fixed hypothesis about a family as situations change.

“If we can build the relationship between the parent and young person and help them understand their own traumatic experiences, search for good intentions and move them away from the blame and shame linked to that, then we have a chance.

“There needs to be some kind of motivation and acknowledgment of the risks and concerns that were there, and might still be present, and a commitment and capacity to change.’’

The two-year program, which is being evaluated by University of Adelaide Professor Paul Delfabbro, runs alongside Centacare’s existing Reunification Service.

Collectively, the services provide therapeutic and practical support to 34 families and 52 children. Referrals come from the Department for Child Protection.

In a state-first for non-government organisations, the services incorporate Parallel Parent and Child Therapy (P-PACT), delivered by child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr Jackie Amos.

The approach combines attachment-focused interventions and trauma-based therapy to individually support parents and children, as well as their relationship.

The therapy offers new hope in the prevention of child abuse and neglect arising from a mother’s personal trauma and shame, and the impact of this on her mental health and parenting capacity.

“Some young people will place themselves back home but there might still be anxiety and stress around that which we need to address if the reunification is going to be sustainable long-term,’’ Chris says.

“Our role is to support the young person to make sense of their journey within the context of their previous relationship with their family.

“Perhaps their mother was a victim of domestic violence or experienced other trauma which impacted on her ability to parent, despite her acting with the best of intentions.

“The child in turn might blame their parent, and feel let down and angry.’’

Individual and family needs related to socioeconomic disadvantage such as food, transportation, financial management and housing are addressed as part of the reunification programs.

Links to education, training, health care and other services also are provided, alongside home-based support to assist with day-to-day family functioning.

Post reunification support aims to strengthen relationships and the young person’s ongoing developmental needs.

“If we can help both the child and the parents understand why certain events have occurred and why they responded in the manner they did, then we have an opportunity to break that generational cycle,’’ Chris says.

“Where possible and safe children should be with their parents. It is really exciting to be part of something where we can support children to transition back home to their parents and live in a safe environment.’’

Playgroups are a great way for children to make friends, learn new things and develop skills. They also connect community and families, writes Melissa Woolford, a Family Worker with Centacare’s Family Connections Program.


The Family Connections team has been reflecting on the benefits of playgroup for children, and the importance of connection to community through grassroots activities and events.

We facilitate mobile intensive supported playgroups with a strong child focus and a gentle approach, recognising parents as the `first teachers in their children’s lives’.

Playgroup provides a safe and happy environment for children to learn, play and develop language, communication and other skills.

Playgroup is an opportunity for parents and children to build friendships and learn about other activities and groups within their community.

Through Family Connections, we celebrate children’s individual talents, personalities and strengths, and support parents to nurture resilience, confidence and self-esteem in their children.

Our playgroups focus on the importance of play for children as it teaches them about the world they live in, how to share experiences with others, use their creativity and develop their imagination.

Besides physical and cognitive development, play supports healthy brain development and builds emotional strength in children. Play is an integral part of learning which assists children to adjust to kindergarten and school environments.

For parents, playgroup provides an opportunity to interact with their child and forge friendships with other families.

Find your nearest Family Connections playgroup (for children aged 0-6 years) here:

Melaleuca Hub – Boandik Tce, Mount Gambier.
  • Every Tuesday, Term 4 (weeks 2-9) from 9am-10.30am. Free.
North Primary – Heath St, Mount Gambier
  • Every Wednesday, Term 4 (weeks 2-9) from 9.15am-10.45am. Free.
Penola Primary Hall – Young St, Penola
  • Every Thursday, Term 4 (weeks 2-9) from 10am-11.30am. Free.

For more information, please phone 8724 0500




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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