HELGA SMIT: 2015 Year in Review Report

I have served as Director of CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning for a year now and am proud to share the past year’s achievements.

There are too many successes to mention individually, but CatholicCare’s reason for being is the people we support. Making a difference to them is our mission.

In our daily attempts to make a difference and to align with a reforming sector, the words, Unity, Quality and Sustainability – underpinned by a vibrant people strategy – serve as our future roadmap.

Unity. We celebrated working together as one unified CatholicCare during our team celebration earlier this year and introduced a new Leadership Team. Restructuring some areas allowed for a better continuum of care and outreach. Our Out of Home Care portfolio includes the Manning area now and having a strong clinical services team across our offices increases our impact.

The Community Care Van continues to provide support to the disadvantaged in our local community. The van provides not only hot meals to those in need, but a place for people to come together for conversation and support.

Each year CatholicCare participates in NAIDOC Week and this year we featured at many events around the Hunter and Manning regions. It’s a week to acknowledge and celebrate the history, culture and achievements and actively engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

CatholicCare Refugee Service became part of our portfolio of services in July. CatholicCare Refugee Service provides support, education, information and advocacy services to refugees throughout the Hunter.

Goodstart Early Learning has recently partnered with CatholicCare. This partnership has seen the addition of two Child and Family Practitioners who operate from the Goodstart Early Learning Centres in Taree and Glendale. Our practitioners support educators caring for children and families who have been exposed to trauma or are living in volatile environments. We are now able to provide ongoing support for all staff, children and families, and this support links with other services we provide, such as Brighter Futures, PHaMs, Parent Education and Counselling. We hope that this partnership will expand into the Hunter.

Quality. CatholicCare was successful in attaining Third Party Verification for our Disability Services in March 2015, confirming 100% compliance across all Disability Service Standards. We continue to deliver a high standard of person-centred care to all the people we support. CatholicCare hopes to expand its support to more people living with a disability in the Upper Hunter and Manning regions. Our support assists people in gaining independence, increasing their involvement in the community and developing key living skills. 

CatholicCare also underwent the Office of the Children’s Guardian Compliance Monitoring Audit in June. The audit led to a very positive report, so we can confidently look ahead to the Out of Home Care services re-accreditation in February.

Sustainability. November 2014 saw another milestone for CatholicCare with the opening of our Cardiff office to increase our service delivery to Lake Macquarie.

August marked the opening of our fifth office, in Gloucester. Like many small rural communities, Gloucester has significant needs in the areas of social and counselling services. Our newest office will give Gloucester residents access to a vital service, which includes counselling, mental health support services (PHaMs), targeted early intervention services (Brighter Futures), youth services and disability support services, which will assist in building community capacity. 

Much was accomplished in the last twelve months and I look forward to continuing our mission and outreach, focusing on engaging with our staff, the people we support and our communities. I thank all members of the CatholicCare team for their passion and resilience in working together to make a difference. 

I will leave you with a quote I return to often which represents my inspiration. “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Emerson

Article originally published in the the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle Year in Review 2015

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Helga Smit

Helga Smit is the Director of CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning. Helga is an authority on disability services, Indigenous issues and other social services.