These 12th CSSA Annual Awards recognise and promote the work of the CSSA member organisations and of individuals working in the broader social services sector.  The Awards pay special tribute to the outstanding programmes, organisations and people, who work tirelessly and often quietly for a better life for disadvantaged people. 

This year all the entries give living testament to what it means to be an agency or person living out their mission with a strong foundation in Catholic Social Teaching - what it actually means to live out principles such as the common good, or preferential option for the poor.  

CSSA acknowledges the generous sponsoship contribution of Catholic Church Insurances, who have supported this important event for many years.

The Perkins Award for Excellence in Service (Individual)

Margaret Pirotta,CatholicCare Sydney

Margaret effectively ensures Tree of Hope provides a confidential, non-judgemental environment for people living with HIV, their family and support person, to connect with other people who understand the challenges and issues they experience.

Margaret holds special events for support persons, a World AIDS Day Ceremony and produces an informative quarterly newsletter. 

Despite the program’s limited finances and resources, Margaret’s person-centred service displays how the desire to support and care for others can overcome many obstacles.  

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Margaret Pirotta from CatholicCare Sydney

Award for Excellence in Service (Organisational)

Vintage Voices Choir, Centacare Brisbane.

Vintage Voices Choir, with 60 registered members, offers a chance for older people to participate in arts and cultural events as active community members rather than being ‘passively entertained’.

It provides an opportunity for public performance which generates positive acknowledgement for choir members. Choir members enjoy a positive and healthy activity that is cognitively challenging in a stimulating and socially-inclusive setting and the opportunity for social interaction with their peers.

The choir also provides opportunities for professional music teachers to develop and expand the delivery of singing programs in the community and plans to include university placement opportunities for choral directors is currently being explored.  

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Anne Marie Corbett (Left) and Jennifer Clark (Right) from CentaCare Brisbane

The Norma Parker Award for Most Innovative Program (Organisational)

My Kids and Me, CatholicCare Sydney and CatholicCare Wollongong.

My Kids and Me is a unique 7 week program offering therapeutic and educational assistance to parents, whose children have been removed and placed in out-of-home care, with the aim of building and maintaining connections and positive relationships with their children.

Unlike many parent education programs where parents are learning how to improve on their skills, My Kids and Me is tailored to the needs of these people who are not living with their child/children.

The program allows parents to come to terms, without judgement, with having their child/children removed, why the child/children might have been removed and the real possibly that restoration may not be an option.

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Trudy McNamara (Left) CatholicCare Wollongong, Robyn Mitchell (right) CatholicCare Sydney.

Merit Awards

Award of Merit - The Perkins Award for Excellence in Service (Individual)

Tomasa Morales,CatholicCare Melbourne

Tomasa Morales, the Team Leader for CatholicCare Melbourne’s Refugee Settlement Program in Dandenong was acknowledged with a Merit Award for Excellence in Service by an Individual, The Perkins Award.

The Refugee Settlement Program equips people who are new to Australia as refugee and humanitarian entrants with the social and life skills necessary for successful integration and settlement in the community.

For over three years Tomasa has provided a leadership role at the Refugee Settlement Program. Over and above her exceptional leadership, Tomasa brings something extra: the depth of understanding and empathy gained through her own experience as a refugee.

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Tomasa Morales (Left) CatholicCare Melbourne with Christine Milne (Right) Australian Greens Leader and Senator for Tasmania

Award of Merit for Excellence in Service (Organisational)

Good Shepherd (NSW) – Rosemount Good Shepherd Youth and Family Services

The Waranara Centre, established by Rosemount Good Shepherd Youth and Family Services, was awarded a Merit Award for Organisational Service Excellence at the 2014 Catholic Social Services Australia Awards.

Good Shepherd has created an alternative education program to provide support for young people at risk of disengagement from education and training. Social and familial issues including mental health issues, family breakdown, transience, behavioural problems and victimisation mean that some young people struggle to engage with mainstream education and training.

Good Shepherd believes that all young people have a right to access educational opportunities within a context that is responsive to their individual life circumstances and personal attributes. The Waranara Centre was created in response to this belief.

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Lyn Harrison from Rosemount Good Shepherd Youth and Family Services

Award of Merit -The Norma Parker Award for Most Innovative Program (Organisational)

Multi Mix Mob – CatholicCare Sydney

CatholicCare Sydney’s Multi Mix Mob program was recognised with a Merit Award in the Norma Parker Award category for Most Innovative Program at the 12th Annual Catholic Social Services Australia Awards.

The Multi Mix Mob is first and foremost a playgroup providing a safe and welcoming place for Indigenous families to meet. It has grown to become known for its music after CatholicCare Sydney’s Luke Edwards, Coordinator of The Bridge program, was invited to teach the group how to play the guitar.

Since then, the Multi Mix Mob has used music and their personal experiences to bring strength and harmony to communities around Australia and the world.

The Multi Mix Mob guitar mob comprises five Indigenous women who, with CatholicCare’s support, use music and other means to spread a powerful and positive message to communities affected by social issues like domestic violence, and alcohol and other drug addictions.

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Robyn Mitchell (left) CatholicCare Sydney being presented the award by Donella Johnston (right) Director of the National Office for the Participation of Women.