CSSA Award Winners

10 October 2006

The 2006 CSSA Awards were held on 10 October at the National Museum of Australia. 

CSSA would like to acknowledge the generous sponsorship contribution from Catholic Church Insurance who have supported this important event for many years.

The Perkins Award for Excellence in Service (Individual)

Br Geoffrey Kelly

Brother Geoffrey Kelly has been involved in the social welfare work of the Marist Brothers for 29 years.

His commitment to disadvantaged young people has been very clear over that time. Residential care for adolescents is extremely demanding. Over a period where many agencies have abandoned residential care, Geoff has led Marist Youth Care in developing a professional approach with a sound theological base.

Geoff has a balanced and informed approach to his work. To better equip himself he has continued his own education and kept abreast of developments in the field.

He developed a sound team approach to residential care, careful never to lose sight of family considerations and education.

Geoff has been an advocate of ‘tough love' and clear boundary setting in the day to day management of problem adolescents. In his years as Coordinator, Geoff developed a reputation of being able to work with the most difficult young people, to survive insult and aggression without allowing it to take a personal toll.

Geoff models an approach where his own values and Gospel stance are openly seen, but with an understanding of motivations and values-base of others who may not be connected to church nor committed at a formal faith-base. 

He has been involved in the development of a network of quality programs for the Agency. He has played a leading role in the movement from institutional to community connected model of service delivery.

He supports the ongoing professionalising of residential care as the preferred model for some clients with multiple complex needs. He has worked with Juvenile Justice to develop a case management program connected with the Youth Drug Court.

He's a firm believer in restorative justice as a principle in working with young people and has initiated discussions with DOCS to review services for young people with intensive needs. 

Geoff is an avid reader, is keen on current films, especially those with social or political themes. As such he can make discussions relevant.

Geoff's work is a living witness to the church's preferential option for the poor.

Award for Excellence in Service (Organisational)

Working On program, Mercy Family Services, Banyo in Queensland

The Working On program is a unique response to the prevalent drug problem in our society.

The program, which has been running for six years, has successfully changed the lives of over a hundred young men and women in recovery from substance abuse through a training and employment program that helps people to break the cycle of addiction and crime and to realise their full potential. By achieving their goals and realising their dreams they are able to feel valued, connected, strengthened and hopeful for the future.

Most of the young people in the program have been referred by drug and alcohol agencies.

Mercy Family Services accepted an invitation from the Brisbane City Council to deliver the program in 2000.

The major strengths of the program are its simple design, its ability to meet specialised needs, its cost effectiveness, workability and potential for use elsewhere. The program is underpinned by the values of Mercy Family Services, which exists:To empower and strengthen disadvantaged and vulnerable children, young people and families in a society that is inequitable, diverse and changing.

The three phase program involves a seven week preparation course, where the young people improve their workplace knowledge and lean skills to help them gain and maintain employment.

Phase two involves placement in traineeships which provide skills, experience and nationally accredited qualifications in areas such as horticulture, information technology, and business administration, usually with the Brisbane City Council or Queensland Government.

Once employment commences, phase three involves on the job support by Mercy Family Services staff for 12 months.

Working On is supported by an advisory group with representatives from drug and alcohol agencies, Job Network providers, private and public sector employers, State Government funding bodies, Mercy Family Services and Brisbane City Council. 

The program is funded jointly by State and Federal Government bodies, the Ian Potter Foundation and Mercy Family Services and has won a number of previous awards.

The Norma Parker Award for Most Innovative Program (Organisational)

Psychiatric Carer Respite Program, Centacare Ballarat

Centacare's Carer Respite Program provides access to low-cost, short-term ‘time out' for people who have a family member or friend who is experiencing a psychiatric problem.

The three-bedroom fully furnished home in Sweeney Street in Ballarat is within easy access to shops, public transport and most services.

The program, which has been operating since May 2003, not only enables carers to take some time out, but also to stay close-by during crisis or transition phases of their loved one's illness.

The parents of a young person from Horsham, 200km away, admitted for inpatient care to the acute care unit at Psychiatric Services, Ballarat Health Services, were provided with accommodation close to their son, enabling them to maintain valuable connections with their son through the recovery process.

The program provides services to a population of almost 210,000 people in the rural Grampians region of Victoria.

The service helps overcome the sense of isolation felt by many carers, who are often faced with a 24 hour, seven days a week care role.

Eighty four carers and 36 associated family members have stayed at the Carer Respite House in the past three years.

The house is owned by the Victorian Department of Human Services, who provided funding to Centacare Psychiatric Disability Rehabilitation Support Service to renovate the property for carer respite.

The program has received letters of support from the local member for Ballarat, Karen Overington, the Commonwealth Carer Respite Service, Wimmera Uniting Care and the Regional Psychiatric Carer Consultant.