CSSA Award Winners

11 September 2007

The 2007 CSSA Awards were held on 11 September during the CSSA National Conference in Coffs Harbour.

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)

Marina Gray, Conference President, St Vincent de Paul Society

Marina Gray was concerned for the welfare of people living in outback towns and settlements where no St Vincent de Paul services existed, let alone many other necessary services.  Because of the ongoing drought, casual work has been hard to come by.

The trailer transports clothing and other goods to these remote areas and at Christmas it is used to deliver goods, toys and hampers to people in need.  The trips also provide the opportunity for workers to provide help with food and other day to day needs like electricity and phone bills.

The trailer travels from Bourke to Brewarrina, a 200km round trip.  It also visits Engonnia which is a 220km round trip and Weilmoringle which is a 700km return trip. Trips have also been extended to Ivanhoe and other new locations are being planned.

The trailer visits are an occasion of social interaction and enjoyment for everyone.  The trailer was approved by the Narromine Bourke Regional Council in 2004 at an initial cost of $7205, at which time Marina and Vinnies volunteers set about raising the necessary funds.

The trailer trips are heavily subsidised by the Society as accommodation and travel expenses exceed the money recovered from the sale of goods, which are priced to enable needy people to purchase with dignity.

The Vinnies trailer does not solve all the social challenges facing people in remote communities, but it does, with innovation, express the value and dignity of all people, no matter what their circumstances, or where they live.

Marina travelled from Bourke to accept the award.

The Perkins Award for Excellence in Service (Individual)

Award for Excellence in Service (Organisational)

The Northern Respite Service - Auricht House, operated by Centacare Catholic Family Services, Disability Services (Adelaide Diocese)

The service operates from Auricht House, which was purpose built by Centacare with proceeds from fundraising and with the aid of a government grant.

It provides respite to individuals and their families who live in the north and north eastern suburbs of Adelaide and is available to families whose son or daughter is aged between 13 and 30 years of age and has an intellectual disability.

The service currently operates from Friday afternoon to late Sunday afternoon for up to 12 people at a time and overnight respite can be offered for up to four of those people.

Respite services are available for a couple of hours or an entire weekend, depending on individual and family need.

NRS has been recognised by peer and other community organisations, including funding bodies, as a leader in the field of providing services to people with an intellectual disability and was recently awarded a ‘leading practice' commendation after a Quality Management Services audit.

NRS excels as a service under the guidance and governance of Centacare, clearly and intentionally encompassing and promoting the Principles of Catholic Social Teaching.

Their approach and their results are testament to the hard work of committed staff, their strong and respectful relationships with clients and a continuous program of quality improvement to ensure the very best standards of service to all who seek support.

The Service has applied for additional Federal government funds which would allow them to provide Monday to Friday respite for older parents who have an adult child living with them in the family home. It would also help to provide services to a wider geographical area where unmet need is extreme.

Dale West, Director of Centacare Adelaide accepted the award presented by CCI representative Mr Jeff Giltinan.

The Norma Parker Award for Most Innovative Program (Organisational)

The Strong Young Mums program, Centacare Wilcannia-Forbes

Strong Young Mums, is a truly innovative program run by Centacare Wilcannia-Forbes, which helps young pregnant women achieve the equivalent of Year 10 accreditation.

The program was established in Bourke in 2005 in response to the large number of teenage mothers who had dropped out of school once they learnt they were pregnant.

Funding was secured and the first four months were spent organising activities at the Centacare office to help develop a routine of consistent attendance, build a support group among the young mothers, and start conversations about their futures.

At the same time, negotiations began with TAFE towards designing modules in line with the interests and abilities of the young mothers. TAFE made a building available and teachers consulted the girls regarding course content.

After 18 months 19 young mothers are consistently attending TAFE two days a week and a broader group of 40 young mothers attend playgroup where they have input on health, parenting, nutrition and issues such as domestic violence and financial management. For the first time ever, Indigenous children are attending childcare.

Strong partnerships have been forged with TAFE, childcare, maternal health nurses, the Department of Community Services and other agencies.

Through the Strong Young Mums program, young mothers are appreciating education and learning. They have become stronger and clearer about the quality of life they want for themselves and their children. They have improved parenting skills and knowledge of children's developmental needs. They are better informed of services and are more confident about approaching those services.

These young women are taking action to end violence in their relationships and they are developing a sense of future opportunities.

Their children are developing social skills and are exposed to early learning opportunities. They are receiving improved parenting and are learning the routine of regular attendance, which has the potential to see them attending preschool and primary school on a regular basis.

The program has the potential to create systemic change and to break the generational cycle of disadvantage in Indigenous communities. 

Centacare hopes to extend the program to a number of other communities within western NSW. 

The Department of Families, Community services and Indigenous Affairs, who fund the program, recently forwarded this program to the Minister as one of their ‘exemplary' programs. The Department has now funded the establishment of another Strong Young Mums program in Lake Cargelligo.

Belinda Cunningham and Fallon Ord, both instrumental in the current program, travelled from Bourke to accept the award and are pictured right with Centacare Wilcannia-Forbes Director Sr Margaret Flynn.