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 fostercare.centacare.org.au, phone 8159 1400 or email fostercareenquiries@centacare.org.au



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



Childhood is the most important and precious time of life. Children’s Week (October 21-29) is an opportunity to reflect on this, and the role adults have in nurturing our children and providing them with every opportunity to reach their full potential.

This year the focus is on education and the many ways this supports the development of a child’s personality and talents.

Children’s Week celebrates the right of children to enjoy childhood. It is also a time for children to demonstrate their talents, skills and abilities.

On Wednesday, Australia will mark Universal Children’s Day.

This day of awareness calls society to a greater response to the plight of many millions of children around the world who are denied the basic necessities of a happy childhood and the education to develop their capacities.

It also calls us to consider those conditions in society which affect the lives and future of our own children.

We would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the important and varied work of Centacare staff in supporting children, families and parents.

You can read more about Children’s Week HERE, including a message from national patron, Sir Peter Cosgrove.


If you go down to the Domain today, you’re sure of a big surprise.

For every bear that ever there was will gather there for certain because that’s the day the teddy bears have their picnic.

To celebrate the start of Children’s Week, Centacare’s Family Connections Program (FCP) is hosting a family picnic at Millicent Playground from 11am.

“Teddies play a significant role in childhood,’’ says Priscilla Baker, Family Worker.

“They bring happiness, comfort, support, and teach children about love and belonging.’’

Priscilla’s 27-year-old teddy, Edward, will be at the picnic.

“My grandma Connie purchased him for me.

“She passed not long after I was born so I appreciate that she gave him to me and think of him as a comfort.

“Mum’s patched him up a few times where the stitching has come undone, and I think he originally had a bow.

“His nose used to be suede but that’s worn down too and is now quite smooth.’’

The picnic won’t be Edward’s first outing. His previous adventures include school excursions, sleepovers, family holidays, and community activities.

“I’ve left him in places before but he’s definitely made his way back,’’ Priscilla says.

Joining Edward at the picnic will be Centabear.

His origin is unknown but he has been holding the fort in the South-East foyer for as long as anyone can remember.

The teddy bear’s picnic runs from 11am – 2pm. There will be lots of marvellous things to eat and wonderful games to play.

*Family Connections is a mobile resource support program, with a focus on children aged 0 to 12 years, parenting support, early intervention and education. We work in partnership with local communities to build child-safe environments where families can thrive.




Anyone at any time can become a carer – a parent, a friend, a child, your partner, a sibling.

National Carers Week  (October 15-21) is an opportunity to acknowledge the outstanding and diverse role Australia’s 2.7 million unpaid carers play in the lives of the loved ones they support.

At Centacare, we encourage you to take a moment this week to think about people you may know who have a caring role. Perhaps you are a carer yourself.

We acknowledge that those who are dedicated carers of our clients are there before, during and after our involvement.

For some, caring will be something they do over time as the health of a love one slowly deteriorates. Others may assume a caring role more suddenly, as a result of an accident, crisis or mental health challenge. A child may juggle school and the care of a sibling or parent.

We value carers maintaining an active role in their loved one’s life
– Lauren Lo Basso, Assistant Executive Manager, Disability Services


Every situation is different but the impact they have on the life of those they support is significant.

Lauren Lo Basso, Assistant Executive Manager of Centacare’s Disability Services, says working in partnership with carers leads to positive outcomes for clients.

“Centacare is grateful for and acknowledges the continuous role our client’s carers have in contributing to the quality of care through sharing their knowledge, experiences and expertise.

“We value carers maintaining an active role in their loved one’s life and believe that through building a strong partnership with Centacare, we are able to achieve positive outcomes for the individuals we support.’’



One in eight Australians is in a caring role, with around one in ten aged under 25 years.

Sharon Hoffman is General Manager Client Services at Davoren Park-based Northern Carers Network and says the role of one carer is often multiplied within a family, across generations.

“The percentage of parents of children with a disability or mental health challenge who are also caring for their own mother and father is increasing,’’ she says.

“There are complex issues in many families; some parents may be caring for more than one child in addition to an ageing parent. That impacts the whole family, including siblings who essentially then become young carers.’’

Parenting carers are the `invisible backbone’ of national schemes designed to place the care of loved ones in independent hands, Sharon says, highlighting the NDIS.

“The level of support they provide in making such systems sustainable is crucial but it is often overlooked. Carers are essential to the success of these schemes.

“They are almost a partner to those schemes, and the NDIS and aged care systems may not be sustainable if carers weren’t playing their role.

“If you know someone who is in a caring role, express your gratitude, and take the time to connect with them socially. It’s important that carers are supported too.’’

For more information about National Carers Week, please visit the campaign website.


It’s school holidays – and time for fun and friendship at Kolbe Cottage.

With its state-of-the-art renovation complete, Kolbe is offering daily activities from Monday to Friday for young people aged 5 to 18 years with NDIS funding.

The Plympton service has been providing support for children with intellectual disabilities for more than 34 years.

Come along and join in:

  • Leisure and recreation activities
  • Community programs
  • Games and sensory learning opportunities
  • Outdoor learning and play
  • Swimming and music programs
  • Friendships and fun

Overnight stays and day respite on weekends is also available.

For more information or to book a spot in our school holiday program, phone our Disability Services team on 8215 6818 or email disability@centacare.org.au.

To explore our NDIS support services, visit our new website.



Centacare’s K17 Challenge team are putting their feet up after walking the Kokoda Track earlier this month.

The Track offered up the usual mix of heat, humidity, rain and mud, snakes, spiders and, of course, relentless hills.

The K17s met the challenges with quiet determination and a good natured acceptance of hardship.

Assistant Director Bernie Victory says the group was one of the most efficient and disciplined in his 13 years of leading teams on the Track.

“The Track hasn’t got any easier but the K17s were well organised, had put in the required training, and looked out for each other.

“Every day was still hard but there was a remarkable absence of injury, illness, meltdowns and falls.

“All the tears were reserved for the emotional memorial services held at Isurava and Brigade Hill .’’

The team featured a diversity of ages with someone born in every decade from the 50s to the 2000s, and an equally diverse geographic and employment spread.

These differences became largely irrelevant as everyone trudged together up the endless bulk of Maguli ridge or cooled off together in the cool waters of Ofi Creek.

From Nik leading impromptu Yoga sessions on the banks of the Agu River, to KC breaking speed records, Paige making friends with local children, Jarden getting up close and personal to World War II ordinance, Gordon introducing a whole new music repertoire to the jungle, Jeff negotiating the intricacies of local currency and politics, Jacqui’s morning dance/exercise sessions or Paddy cheerfully accepting whatever tasks and challenges his youth invited, all contributed to a memorable journey across the Owen Stanley Ranges.

The group raised over  $50,000 for Centacare’s Kolbe Cottage and Limestone Coast Domestic Violence Service, and donations have continued as the team have returned to normal life.

The K17s realised that you don’t ‘conquer’ Kokoda but that the Track offers a fleeting glimpse of its heroic and tragic history, its stunning beauty and rich culture and its relentless testing of body and mind.

They embraced that opportunity and can feel justly proud of their achievement.

Parents can nurture their children’s mental health by getting “back to basics’’, Centacare’s Lynne Thorpe says.

Manager of Family and Relationship Services at Murray Bridge, Lynne is urging families to take the time to reconnect.

“Parents can become so engulfed with what’s going on in their life that while they take care of their child’s basic needs, they forget that little person wants to be heard too.

“They want to talk about what they’re seeing and what’s happening in their life.

“Even though your grown-up world might be full, take the time to listen to them. See your child’s strengths and abilities and spend some one-on-one time with them.’’

Sharing household chores is a good opportunity to chat to your kids about their day, says Lynne, highlighting the benefits of standing together and doing the washing up.

“Get back to basics, put the phone down, and do the dishes together.

“Your children will talk about their day and will really feel heard. Everything now is so complex, those little things are what we all still need.’’

Parents often underestimate the impact on children of challenges such as financial hardship, transiency, unemployment and marital breakdown, says Lynne.

“They might not be the reason a child is at risk, but those sorts of factors are often in the background. They can be isolating.

“Families who are connected with their children and their extended family, and have social supports around them, fair better than those living in isolation.’’

Centacare is playing a key role nurturing the mental health of young people living in regional South Australia. Through our Supporting Children & Youth (SCY) program, we work with families to build their resilience and overcome challenges in their lives.   

Every week Centacare’s SCY team travels hundreds of kilometres to bring sunshine to the bush.

A mental health outreach service operating across the Murray, Mid Murray, Coorong and Mallee regions, SCY sees children and young people who are showing early signs, or are at risk, of mental illness.

SCY team members, from left: Christine Hazel, Alison Oppelaar, Lynne Thorpe and Angelica Valderrama

For many families, the free Murray Bridge-based service is their only support.

From Morgan to Pinnaroo, Mount Pleasant and Tintinara, the SCY team engages children aged 0 to 18 years to improve their wellbeing and overcome challenges.

“…we are doing a lot in the present to help the future”
– Angelica Valderrama, SCY Family Practitioner


These include family breakdown, grief and loss, bullying, loneliness, peer pressure, low self-esteem and self-labelling.

“Some stories can be difficult but if we don’t address things now, they can escalate even more, so I feel we are doing a lot in the present to help the future,’’ says Family Practitioner Angelica Valderrama, who has been with SCY for two years.

“Children can sometimes be very silent but we give them a voice and a chance for their feelings to be heard.

“It can be difficult for a child to talk about hard stuff, so I feel very proud when they tell me precious things because I have their trust.

“They have a lot of wisdom and sometimes we forget that as adults; the way children say some things can be so simple but so powerful and perfectly applied to our adult lives.’’

SCY provides intensive long-term early intervention, short-term supports and opportunities for young people to reconnect to community.

Manager Lynne Thorpe says a rise in the number of self-referrals, in addition to those from local schools, doctors and other service providers, shows the program is having a positive impact in communities where `rural stoicism’ and stigma around mental illness has traditionally deterred people from seeking help.

“We see the relief from parents because in a lot of these areas, there are no other services that will come to them,’’ says Christine Hazel, SCY Family Practitioner.

“When you live in a remote location, distance is a huge barrier to accessing supports for your children if you have a four-hour round trip there and back and have to take them out of school.’’

Social isolation can exacerbate life stressors in vulnerable families, with the rate of suicide in rural Australia about 40 per cent higher than in major cities. Drug and alcohol use and smoking is also more prevalent.

SCY Family Practitioner Alison Oppelaar feels privileged to work with young people as they navigate childhood and adolescence.

“Just saying to a child ‘buddy, I believe in you’ can be super powerful for them and for their parents,’’ she says.

“Some children have challenging behaviours but every kid we work with is awesome. If they can see that and believe in themselves and understand why they react to certain situations, a lot of positive change can happen.

“When you praise them and build them up gradually and really listen to them, they look at you with this beam – it’s very rewarding.’’

For more information about SCY, please phone Centacare Murray Bridge 8215 6320 or email murraybridge@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

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