Centacare has appointed child protection specialist Leanne Haddad as Deputy Director.

Leanne will commence in the role early January and work closely with Director, Pauline Connelly.

Highly regarded in national and state community services sectors, Pauline has led Centacare since August and was recently appointed for a further 12 months by Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide, Patrick O’Regan.

Currently, Executive Manager – Children’s Services Unit (CSU), Leanne joined Centacare in 2017 and oversees a range of metropolitan and regional-based programs including foster care, reunification and therapeutic multidisciplinary intensive family support services.

She has a genuine commitment to Centacare’s Catholic Social Teaching, and more than 22 years’ experience in operational child protection positions; policy and planning; service design; innovation; learning and development; leadership; and contract and project management.

At Centacare, Leanne has turned at-risk contracts into highly successful programs and led numerous successful tenders and grants. These include the $20.7 million RESTORE Intensive Family Services – the largest service of its kind in South Australia.

Under Leanne’s leadership, CSU was this year highlighted for excellence in service delivery as part of Centacare’s Quality Innovation Performance accreditation review. CSU programs Breathing Space and Dad’s Business received commendations.

“This experience was the highlight of my career, as it demonstrated the recognition of quality services from an independent body that looks at all aspects of service delivery,’’ Leanne said.

“This has made me want to strive for more service excellence to create quality outcomes for the families and individuals we work with.

“Working at Centacare is a vocation and a privilege. I do not see this as a job but a real opportunity to deliver essential services to community.’’

Pauline said she was delighted to welcome Leanne to the Directors Office.

“I know she will be a significant support to me, the executives, the managers and all staff, and I am very grateful for that,’’ she said

“I wish Leanne all the best and look forward to working more closely with her.’’

Your wellbeing is our priority. Centacare is taking every precaution necessary to protect the health and safety of everyone on site. We appreciate your patience and understanding in supporting our minimum site requirements.


All staff, contractors, clients and visitors must:

  • Adhere to mask wearing requirements
  • Check in via the QR code or by manual sign-in
  • Perform hand hygiene using provided hand sanitiser
  • Adhere to social distancing (1.5 metres away from others)

Screening questions

We will ask you some screening questions and confirm your vaccination status. This is so we can consider additional precautions to keep all parties safe.

All visitors engaging in work or duties must be vaccinated against COVID-19 with a TGA approved vaccine, and must be able to provide evidence of vaccination status.

Anyone who states they have a vaccination or a mask exemption will be asked to show proof of their exemption. Please be respectful to others as reasons for not wearing a mask are not always obvious.

We will continue to adapt our services in line with advice from SA Health. Additional changes to sites may be required over time and we will communicate these as quickly as possible.

Centacare AOD Youth Worker Jon Goodwin is the Australian Services Union (ASU) 2021 Delegate of the Year.

Jon joined the ASU in 2000 and has been a workplace rep for nearly a decade, advocating for his peers at Centacare and AnglicareSA during this time.

“I know we have a lot of really good workplace reps out in the field,  providing support to workers and being their voice to raise concerns both individually and collectively, so I do feel privileged to be presented with this award,’’ he said.

Jon received the accolade at the ASU Annual Members Conference, held recently at the Adelaide Zoo.

The ASU represents the industrial interests of about 135,000 members nationally in a variety of industries and occupations.

Workplace representatives form a vital link between members, their union and the union’s staff. In addition to providing information and support, they advocate for wages, conditions and safety.

“Everyone has the right to feel safe, supported and valued in the work they do,’’ said Jon, noting the collective work of members in bringing about positive outcomes.

“Certainly, advocating for workers’ rights with having them upheld, along with bringing about some changes in workplace practices, would be some of my greatest achievements to date.’’

Jon said his drive to succeed came from a determination “to ensure that community services are able to retain and attract the best possible staff to deliver meaningful support services to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities’’.

ASU spokesperson Paul Grillo commended Jon’s dedicated years of service.

“We consistently hear back from members about Jon’s warmth and empathy, combined with his strong and deep-seated sense of justice and a passion for collective outcomes,’’ he said.

“We’re very grateful for Jon’s contribution to both workplaces and this award is very much well deserved!’’

Four-time AFL premiership player Shaun Burgoyne has lent his voice to the Power to End Violence Against Women program to challenge gender-based abuse.

Speaking at a Role Model Event at AFL Max last week, Burgoyne urged school students and their adult role models to join him in condoning disrespectful relationships.

The event was a follow-up to the PTEVAW program, which starts conversations with male Year 10 students around rights and responsibilities in relationships, and how to recognise abuse and be a positive bystander.

PTEVAW program coordinator and Magpies captain Cam Sutcliffe, and Port Adelaide Football Club development coach Tyson Goldsack, joined Burgoyne on a panel to implore the boys to model positive relationships, values and respect in all facets of life.

The event further cemented messages around healthy and unhealthy relationships and was an opportunity for students to share learnings with their own significant role model.

Centacare, in partnership with Power Community Ltd and the Government of South Australia, developed the Power To End Violence Against Women (PTEVAW) program in 2015.

Launched in classrooms the following year, the primary prevention initiative has engaged more than 9000 students and visited 128 schools.

Living with anxiety is not easy, let alone at Christmas.

The rushing around and relentless focus on family, friends, gifts and social events can amplify day-to-day challenges and heighten worries.

In the lead-up to Christmas, headspace Port Adelaide is running Stress Less, a group to help young people recognise stress responses in daily life and apply techniques to manage symptoms.

“A lot of the time, young people don’t know they are experiencing anxiety,’’ said Milica Miocinovic, Youth Support Worker – Lived Experience.

“It comes in lots of different shapes and sizes and the group is about identifying the different ways we project our anxiety and what makes us anxious.’’

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is the most common mental health challenge in Australia.

Common signs include feeling agitated and catastrophic thinking.

“There’s a big misconception that anxiety is just fear, but it can come out in other ways as well,’’ said Milica.

For example, a person experiencing social anxiety may withdraw in a group setting while another will talk too much.

“Avoidance is a big one too. When we are really anxious about something and we avoid it, we justify this in our minds because our anxiety is so convincing.

“It makes us believe whatever it wants us to believe and leads us to think there’s something really, really scary about certain things, like going to school or making a phone call.

“Stress Less is about zooming out and understanding how anxiety looks and feels in our bodies, and how we can move away from catastrophic type thinking to something more logical and rational.’’

Coping with the festive focus

Milica said Christmas could compound financial and family stressors, exacerbating anxiety.

“If you have fractured family relationships, you might not have anywhere to go at Christmas. That brings up a lot of stress and potentially past trauma, and it can be very triggering in that sense,’’ she said.

“The expectations of buying gifts can also be a big worry if the young person has financial stress.’’

How to draw on inner strength

“Finding one’s self worth is really important,’’ Milica said.

“If they don’t have any social connections, understanding that one’s own company sometimes is more than enough.”

Milica said it was possible to be alone without feeling lonely if individuals recognised their own self-worth.

“Doing that means understanding ourselves better and where our anxiety comes from so that we can just sit with it, rather than trying to fix everything,’’ she said.

Stress Less is open to young people aged 12 to 25 years and runs weekly on Thursdays from 3.30-4.30pm at headspace Port Adelaide, 78-80 Vincent St. For more information, phone 8215 6340.

Welcome to 2022!

The heart of a strong community is a meeting place where people gather, share information and forge friendships. 

Wandana is all that and more, and we look forward to seeing you in the coming weeks and months.

Our packed Term 1 program commences Monday, January 31 with some new additions on the timetable, including a low-cost pop-up supermarket which will trade onsite fortnightly from February 2.

We have vacancies across our programs and welcome new participants. Groups include: quilting, craft, walking, community garden and literacy classes.

Please contact Carmen or Robyn on 8215 6330 for more information or to register for an activity.

Find Wandana at 14 Blacks Rd, Gilles Pains.

Explore the Term 1 timetable HERE

Regional communities will be mobilised to empower at-risk women and children under a new project to tackle domestic and family violence in response to COVID-19.

Strengthening pathways to safety that have been compromised by the health pandemic is a key aim of the initiative, launched this month by Centacare Catholic Family Services in partnership with Flinders University and the Office for Women.

The focus is on bringing people together, through activities and other platforms, to challenge gender stereotypes and entrenched behaviours that can disempower women and lead to abuse.

Project Manager Megan Hughes said the whole-of-community initiative had the potential to relieve pressure on specialist support services, where the focus had largely narrowed to crisis and risk mitigation due to rising demand for support and the complexities facing clients.

“Regional domestic and family violence services are increasingly being pushed to the more crisis end of the work, so there are fairly large gaps in responses due to lack of investment, time and opportunity,’’ Megan said.

“Through this project, we want to fill some of those gaps and provide an evidence base of primary prevention measures that can really infiltrate and gain momentum in the regions we’re on the ground working in.’’

The project team will be spread across Centacare’s domestic violence and homelessness services in Whyalla, the Limestone Coast, Riverland and Murray Mallee.

Domestic and family violence is everybody’s business. To enable change, we need everybody to be doing work that encourages preventative activities so that we can create safer communities.

megan hughes

“The small, close-knit nature of regional and rural communities encourages strong connections and community networks but also poses unique risk factors for vulnerable families,’’ Megan said.

“We want to work closely with local communities to identify opportunities to introduce or amplify existing mechanisms by which they can scaffold and reinforce the work of domestic violence service providers in their regions.

“There are opportunities for sporting clubs, businesses, community organisations and local government to play an important part in responses, especially in relation to primary prevention.’’

Megan said COVID-19 had exacerbated existing challenges for regional women in unsafe relationships because they were unable to leave their homes or ask for help safely and were isolated from community connections that may previously have offered a pathway to safety.

“We know that during lockdowns and border closures, women and children were unable to safely exit home environments; community or service provision pathways were compromised; and perpetrators could more easily control, monitor and silence victims,’’ she said.

The eight-month project will assess the effectiveness of whole-of-community responses that challenge gender stereotypes and behaviours that keep women disempowered, and will generate insights into what works across the targeted regions.

“My goal is that by the end of the project, we will have some preliminary plans in place in those regional centres that can support prevention long term,’’ Megan said.

Domestic and family violence is everybody’s business. To enable change, we need everybody to be doing work that encourages preventative activities so that we can create safer communities.’’

The project represents the first steps of a wider regional vision to do the ‘upstream’ work and support communities to put in place practical and very real measures that tackle the root causes of violence against women and girls.

It was Russell Ebert who welcomed Centacare to Alberton in 2015 as Port Adelaide prepared to take a stand against domestic violence.

In partnership with Centacare and the Department for Education, the club was about to break new ground in the AFL by launching  a respectful relationships program for teenage boys, and Russell wanted in.

By his own admission, he had much to learn about gendered drivers of abuse, but he recognised there was primary prevention work that needed to be done in classrooms and he was keen to play his part.

Russell took us into the inner sanctum at Allan Scott Headquarters, introducing friendly faces along the way.

He joked with the kitchen crew that Robbie Gray would be around later to do the dishes and thanked long-time boot-studder Alfie Trebilcock for cleaning mud from his wheels back in the day. These were the real club legends, Russell said, not him.

Ever-humble, he shrugged off his legend status, preferring to think of it as a way to use his influence – in this case, to open young minds around domestic violence, a hidden phenomenon when he was growing up.

“What is happening now is disgraceful, unacceptable and foreign to the way that I was brought up,’’ he’d later say of the national scourge in a 2018 research report on the Power to End Violence Against Women (PTEVAW) and Northern Territory-based NO MORE programs.

“It starts small, it might be a comment, a little push, a trip, a derogatory comment. That’s where it starts…. If you allow that to happen and not pull it up, well, what’s it going to be next time?’’

Every question we had about footy, Russell returned with one about Centacare and the role of community services in keeping women and children safe.

Later, during a workshop in the club’s lecture theatre with the entire playing group and senior coach Ken Hinkley, Russell listened intently as then Deputy Director Pauline Connelly unpicked the cycles of abuse and the club’s role in starting conversations around domestic violence and respectful relationships.

From that day on for the next six years, in the community and classrooms, at state-wide vigils or other awareness-raising events, the Ebert family presented a united front to challenge ideals of masculinity and gender-based attitudes.

Russell often spoke of their strong values and beliefs around how you treat others, reminding students of their own important role as future leaders and how they could chip away at gender norms that can potentially lead to unhealthy decision-making.

When you were with Russell, the air was clear. He was real. There was no fancy footwork with Russell when you met with him – he left that for the field,” Director Pauline Connelly said.

“When we first met to speak about the PTEVAW progam, Russell recognised this was an area for him to discover more about, and he did.

“Russell became one of our greatest advocates and role models in this area, and we needed him.

“I will be forever grateful for the experience of working with Russell.”

At year’s end, the PTEVAW program will have visited more than 120 schools and engaged nearly 9000 students.

The enormity of Russell’s contribution cannot be underestimated. ​​​​​​​Vale Russell Ebert.

Positive client outcomes, sector partnerships and staff resolve are among the stories highlighted in our Annual Report 2020-21.

Published today, the digital booklet explores Centacare’s achievements in a year that evolved into an experience of hope on the back of challenges, change and the retirement of our longest-serving Director, Dale West.

We pay tribute to Dale’s leadership, humour, compassion and humility, and welcome Pauline Connelly to the role of Director.

In her message, Pauline reflects on Centacare’s purpose within the context of the Catholic Church, and the commitment and skill of staff in responding to client needs without question or judgement.

Other stories include:

  • The rise in violence against women during the `shadow pandemic’
  • Our role in groundbreaking state homelessness and domestic and family violence Alliances
  • The opening of The Haven, a new safety and information hub at Mount Gambier Library
  • Milestones marked by the Power to End Violence Against Women program
  • Innovation in foster care
  • Mental health support for young people experiencing challenges arising from COVID-19
  • The future of online learning
  • Stories from Country
  • How challenges are driving achievements in Disability Services
  • Community collaborations at Coolock House and Kolbe Cottage
  • The role of Culture Hub in telling Centacare’s collective story

During the reporting period, Centacare supported 28,718 clients through 75 services across 34 sites in regional and metropolitan South Australia. Annual turnover moved to $54.4 million with paid staff now at 579.

We secured $58 estimated funding over the forward years, supported 4496 children and provided 3092 clients with a brief intervention.

Staff celebrated significant service milestones of 20 years or more, while our robust media presence was reflected in the more than 30 print and radio stories we garnered throughout the year.

Also in 2020-21, Centacare launched groundbreaking services including Breathing Space, which supports young women who have experienced removal of a child or children from their care, and the $20.7 million RESTORE Intensive Family Services.

Centacare is delivering RESTORE over 4.25 years to address complex challenges and reduce incidents of child abuse in families of children aged 0 to 18 years.

Alongside fellow non-government organisations, we embraced the move towards a more holistic, coordinated and integrated homelessness and domestic violence response through new Alliances, established by the South Australian Housing Authority.

“I want to acknowledge all staff. They are the people who are seeing daily the challenges, sadness and trauma of our clients. Their passion and commitment to the wellbeing of those they support is humbling and fortifying,” Pauline said.

I can’t do this. Nobody likes me. Something bad is going to happen.

These are reoccurring themes among clients engaged with Reconnect, an early intervention outreach service for young people with emerging mental health concerns whose housing is at risk.

Mental Health Worker Tasha Palumbo says negative body image, emotional withdrawal, academic anxiety and sleep disturbances are other common challenges.

Then there are the pressures wrought by volatile friendships and complex family trauma including relationship breakdown and domestic violence, key drivers of youth homelessness.

“Young people are often reluctant to burden their friends with their issues so they keep them to themselves,’’ Tasha said.

Reconnect works therapeutically with clients aged 12 to 18 years for up to six months. Interventions include counselling, family work and referral to other services.

On the last day of National Child Protection Week, Tasha is urging families to play their part in nurturing a positive mindset by checking in with young people regularly and connecting with them through their favourite activities.

“Show an interest in what interests them,’’ she said.

“Encourage young people to focus on the things that are in their control and let go of what’s not, such as other people’s opinions and actions.

“Show understanding and compassion, and normalise talking about mental health and daily challenges.’’

Milica Miocinovic (pictured), a Youth Support Worker with Thrive, said anxiety about the future was front of mind for many young people engaged with the service, which is based at headspace Port Adelaide.

“They are uncertain about what they can or should pursue and this is due to a combination of factors, mainly self-esteem and the realisation that many things are out of their control due to the pandemic, and not knowing how to overcome that,’’ Milica said.

Teaching them how to adapt, rationalise, and regulate their emotions are all really useful strategies that will promote better functioning during these times of great uncertainty.’’

Above all, take young people seriously, said Milica, noting the continuing impact of COVID-19.

 “We should appreciate the added layer of complexity that comes with being a young person. That is, the difficulty of forming an identity, being independent, self-assured, and having confidence in oneself,’’ she said.

“These can be challenging for young people even outside of a pandemic let alone now.

“Taking young people seriously is another important one: providing them with a safe, judgment-free space where they can speak for themselves and be heard is integral for promoting good mental health.’’



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
E enquiries@centacare.org.au

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