The CSSA Awards pay special tribute to the outstanding people, programs and organisations who work tirelessly, and often quietly, for a better life for vulnerable, marginalised and disadvantaged people.
In 2015 we received a number of excellent entries across two award categories – the Award for Excellence in Service (Organisational) and the Norma Parker Award for Most Innovative Program. The quality and diversity of entries received is testament to the significant impact of Catholic social services across many local communities.
Award for Excellence in Service (Organisational)
WINNER - H.O.P.E Program
Since 2001, the H.O.P.E Program has been providing case management and medium-term accommodation to young single women and their children who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
The program aims to disrupt generational cycles of homelessness, abuse and poverty through providing trauma-informed case management, parenting training and support and assisting the young women to develop independent living skills.
The program has seen remarkable success with 92% of clients moving on to sustained independent living and many reporting improved engagement with education as well as healthier connections with relatives.
The judges were taken with the tenacity of CatholicCare staff to fight for the program when federal government funding was recently cut. CatholicCare’s strong belief in the program model and its positive impact for clients is clearly demonstrated in their commitment in sourcing alternative funding for the program.
The judges were also impressed by the programs’ focus on empowerment – both through the program design and in the name itself, which was chosen through collaboration with clients, and stands for “Housing and Outreach to Promote Empowerment”.
Merit - School Student and Family Program
The School Student and Family Program currently supports over 17,000 students, teachers and families across the Diocese of Wollongong. The program provides critical counselling services for school students as well as innovative classroom programs to support children and youth in developing respectful, healthy relationships and positive self-esteem.
Strong data collection has allowed counsellors from the program to provide invaluable information to schools about the issues affecting their students, as well as to shape the therapeutic approaches used to suit the students’ ongoing needs.
Our judges were impressed by this programs’ strong focus on the dignity of the person and the significant impact of the program for individual students and their families.
Merit - Daramu Aboriginal Youth Services
Marist Youth Care
Daramu Aboriginal Youth Services is staffed entirely by Aboriginal workers and assists young Aboriginal young people who are involved in, or at risk of becoming involved with the criminal justice system.
Daramu has been a significant contributor to the development of the Youth Koori Court pilot program at Parramatta Children’s Court, designed to reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal young people in the criminal justice system. The program offers an alternative court process for Aboriginal young people which is culturally responsive and relevant and utilises the cultural influence of Aboriginal Caseworkers and Elders.
Norma Parker Award for Most Innovative Program
WINNER - MYC Painting Services
Marist Youth Care
MYC Painting Services is a social enterprise focused on creating sustainable employment for Indigenous job seekers.
MYC Painting Services is a licensed contractor exclusively employing first year Indigenous apprentices. After graduating from the program, participants are assisted to transition to a long term employer, often Marist Youth Care’s corporate partner “Programmed”.
The judges were impressed with this program design which proactively looks at long term at investment and planning for sustainability. The project builds genuine employment opportunities by bringing together stakeholders with mutually beneficial goals.
The judges saw innovation in this program particularly through the additional support provided to participants to transition to the workforce. The program also has a strong focus on quality and tailoring support and training to individual needs and progress.
MYC Painting services targets a genuine need for Indigenous young people, and through providing employment and training opportunities for this group addresses entrenched disadvantage.
Merit - Parents Apart program
Centacare North Queensland
This program was developed in response to the pronounced and growing need for greater support for families experiencing family breakdown. Evidence indicates these families are extremely vulnerable to experiencing heightened conflict and instances of violence, as well as significant negative impacts for children’s wellbeing.
The Parents Apart program is a short course for separated parents, with a focus on co-parenting and an awareness of children and their needs in the process of separation.
The program expresses core Catholic Social Teaching values and is continuing to expand to meet the needs of vulnerable families in both local and outreach areas.