Message from Gary Christensen

As the official social services agency of the Diocese of Maitland Newcastle our vision is to build inclusive, just, and strong communities where all people feel safe, heard and validated.

The mission of Jesus is at the core of everything we do as we work with our local communities to build a stronger, fairer and kinder society in collaboration with the other agencies within the Diocese under the Bishop’s Many Parts. One Body. One Mission initiative.

As I reflect on 2019, I am encouraged, proud and buoyed by the hard work and dedication of our incredible team of staff, volunteers and carers. This year they have continued to implement the objectives outlined in the 2017–2020 strategic plan. Our service offerings included permanency support (foster care), young adult services, targeted early intervention children protection, mental health support programs, counselling and clinical services, youth services (targeted early intervention and our Beyond the Gates program), family preservation, and social justice programs. In addition, following a competitive EOI process, we received new funding from the Department of Communities and Justice to operate the Gloucester Youth Service and we launched our Multicultural Family Support program working in partnership with DARA to support refugee and asylum-seeker families.

Importantly, our social justice programs have continued to grow with the Taree Community Kitchen reaching a milestone of serving more than 23,000 meals since opening. We have also opened two new community kitchens, one at The Junction in partnership with the local Catholic parish and the other at Hamilton in partnership with the Hamilton Baptist Church.

At CatholicCare we believe the provision of quality support services to vulnerable people takes a whole-of-community approach. To this end, partnerships and collaboration are key elements of the way we deliver services. This year we have been proud to partner with a number of agencies including Ungooroo Aboriginal Corporation, DARA’s Refugee Hub, the University of Newcastle, the Institute of Open Adoptions at the University of Sydney, Access Programs Newcastle Hunter Manning, St Clare’s High School Taree, St Mary’s College Gateshead and Mercy Services. Additionally, Club Taree entered into a partnership agreement with CatholicCare providing financial, in-kind and volunteering support for the Taree Community Kitchen. We also supported the establishment of a new Aboriginal agency, Connecting Culture, which provides mentoring and cultural planning and supports to indigenous children and young people in care.

While there are many rewards and positives, the vocation of those in the social services sector can often be difficult and at times heartbreaking. It would be remiss of me not to recognise this and say thank you to all members of our team and indeed, to their friends and family for the ongoing support they provide. The work that we do each day would not be possible without the continued support of our Bishop and the CatholicCare Advisory Board and I thank them for their support, guidance and direction throughout the year.

 

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Gary Christensen

Gary Christensen is Acting Director, CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning. Please visit catholiccare.org.au.