Celebrating excellence across MacKillop

Posted on 13 November 2017 by Rachel Dale

MacKillop Education receives the Edmund Rice Award for excellence in practice by a team

On Wednesday 8 November, MacKillop Family Services held its 20th Annual Public Meeting. Over 200 industry colleagues, partners, staff, young people and families came together on the night to: celebrate our 20th anniversary; reflect on the achievements of the past year with the launch of the 2016-17 Annual Report; hear MacKillop’s vision for the future; and recognise outstanding achievements by individual staff, teams, carers, young people and families.

The MacKillop Excellence Awards recognise excellence in practice and an outstanding commitment to MacKillop’s values. The Awards are named in recognition of the founders of our three congregations, Edmund Rice, Catherine McAuley and Mary MacKillop.

We received a bumper list of nominations this year across the award categories and wanted to take this opportunity to congratulate all nominees, and in particular to acknowledge the following award recipients:

The Catherine McAuley Award for excellence by a carer

Winner: Lynn and Mark Brierty, Foster Carers

Lynn and Mark understood the importance for the two young children in their care and their birth parents to stay emotionally connected, and went out of their way to maintain a relationship between them.  Lynn wrote letters to the parents, telling them about how the children were progressing and invited them to come to the children's health appointments. This has ultimately resulted in the mother engaging with services and managing her own mental health. The children now live with their birth parents, and Lynn and Mark continue to provide practical support and respite to the family.

The Edmund Rice Award for excellence in practice by any permanent member of staff

Winner: Deirdre Farrar, Family Options Support Coordinator, Disability Services Barwon

Deirdre is responsible for supporting care givers, clients and their families. Her experience and disability knowledge are central to the sustainability of many long-term and secure placements. Deirdre ensures that care givers are supported and get the respite that often allows young people to continue to live in their family home environment. She understands that emotional support is vital to those managing the complexities of caring for a young person with a disability.

The Edmund Rice Award for excellence in practice by a team

Winner: MacKillop School Geelong (MacKillop Education), Teachers and Education Support Staff (pictured above)

In just four years, the dedication of the teachers and support staff at MacKillop School, Geelong has built a school framework which runs on a trauma-informed approach. The staff have created a safe learning environment where kids can build positive relationships and grow in self-esteem. Positive outcomes include a decrease in incident reports and student exclusion, an increase in academic achievement, growth in attendance and improved wellbeing in the areas of safety, social wellbeing, emotional wellbeing and learner confidence.

The Mary MacKillop Award for ‘Courage in Life’, acknowledging the great endeavour exercised by a family

Winner: Maureen Visser

Maureen has single-handedly cared for Nathan since he was one. Nathan has significant health issues because of CHARGE Syndrome, which presents with severe heart and eye issues as well as cleft lip and palate and many other health issues such as autism. Thanks to the support and dedication he receives from Maureen, Nathan has defied all the odds and has progressed to the age of 15. A shining example of resilience and inner strength, Maureen has continued to care for Nathan after her husband's sudden death last year. Maureen has been the epitome of a caring parent, realistic in her goals for her son, generous in her love and advocating for his care. Always looking for ways to increase Nathan's quality of life, Maureen is proactive in trying new activities and finding ways to better communicate with Nathan.

The Mary MacKillop Award for ‘Courage in Life’, acknowledging the great endeavour exercised by a child or young person

Winner: Christopher, NSW

Christopher came into the care of MacKillop five years ago, at just 12 years of age. Living in residential care, Christopher has always been a thoughtful house member, befriending and showing kindness to each young person who comes into the house. He has always actively participated in all activities and programs available to him. Over the past year, Christopher has focused on his goal of becoming a mechanic. Despite facing many challenges, including health concerns, hardship at home and school, and coping with his trauma history, he has remained committed to his goal. As soon as he was able, Christopher enrolled in a VET mechanics course and attended every day. His enthusiasm and work ethic was so strong, he was invited to continue his work experience beyond the course requirements. Christopher has shown courage and resilience and is well on the way to realising his dream.