Skip to main content

Never see a need without doing something about it: MacKillop’s Annual Public Meeting

On Wednesday 14 November, MacKillop held its Annual Public Meeting. Opening with a Welcome to Country, Gheran Steel, CEO Boon Wurrung Foundation, shared the importance of honouring sacred ground and encouraged all in the room to consider what that looks like for them, both in their work and more broadly in their lives. Gheran also discussed the importance of purpose – knowing who we are as an organisation and what we stand for.

Our purpose was highlighted in presentations by CEO Dr Robyn Miller and Chair Brian Keane. A strong theme throughout the night were words initially spoken by Mary MacKillop: “Never see a need without doing something about it”. Robyn shared positive outcomes from a broad range of programs supporting children and families in the communities in which we work. This was followed by a video featuring our Therapeutic Life Story Work, an initiative funded by MacKillop supporters to enhance the therapeutic support we provide children and young people in care.

The outcomes of our work were most evident during the presentation of our Excellence Awards, which were preceded by a special guest speaker, Tayla Ayliffe. Formerly in the care of MacKillop, Tayla is now achieving great things – working freelance as a florist whilst completing a Diploma of Event Management – and is passionate about the work of MacKillop. Her creative spirit was fostered during her time in care by MacKillop staff, and her desire to run a fundraising event for MacKillop was nurtured by the Community Engagement team. She shared her story and her passion for supporting MacKillop and advocating for children in care.

The night finished with the Excellence Awards, which celebrate the positive outcomes achieved by the families we support, the young people in care, and the staff who support them. We’d like to acknowledge everyone who was nominated, as well as those who received the Awards.

Award recipients were:

Catherine McAuley Awards for excellence by a volunteer

Trish Quig and Lee Bromley – Chaplains, Good Grief

Employees of Catholic Care, Trish and Lee have been voluntarily running Seasons for Growth in the Juvenile Justice system for a number of years. They are recognised for their incredible work creating a compassionate setting in a very challenging environment, enabling marginalised young people with extensive trauma histories to acknowledge the change and loss they have experienced, and develop the skills they need for a positive future.

Catherine McAuley Awards for excellence by a foster carer (joint recipients)

Kim Burrows (Wollongong)

Kim has shown great compassion and dedication in her 19 years as a foster carer, caring for 27 children in this time. Despite the tragic loss of her husband – Steven – who passed away very suddenly last year, Kim has continued to offer unwavering support for her foster children and supported them to grieve the loss of the man they knew as “dad”.

Kylie Jackson and Gavin Trewarn (South)

Kylie has been a foster carer for 26 years. In this time, she and her partner Gavin have provided short, long term, emergency and respite care to approximately 200 children, as well as raising three children of their own. Kylie and Gavin provide an incredibly nurturing environment, always going the extra mile for the children in their care.

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


Stacey Brown

Over the past seven years, Stacey has demonstrated unwavering support to some of the most complex and traumatised young people in our care. From practical support like collecting groceries for families, to emotional support in life-changing events (she was the support person for a young woman when she gave birth to two beautiful boys) Stacey can always be relied upon. She is also a major advocate for cultural work. She has travelled interstate on Return to Country visits and was lead an initiative to arrange a traditional aboriginal naming ceremony for each of the meeting rooms at our Preston Office.

Highly Commended

Timothy Strange - Case worker- Illawarra/Shoalhaven

Tim is acknowledged for his work with a young man whose carer of several years passed away earlier this year. The young man’s family report that Tim has been consistently available and has provided an extraordinary level of practical and emotional support. Tim has also advocated for the young man’s extended family to be assessed as carers to enhance his support network.

Saliah Ali - Residential Care Worker, West Metro

Saliah is nominated for his dedication to supporting young people to develop their unique sense of self through music, and to embodying the Sanctuary commitments. He always makes time to attend care team meetings or to support young people to advocate for their needs, and has developed a culture of using music as a tool for helping young people to practice emotional intelligence.

Michael Somers - Case Manager, Foster Care Perth Metro

In the words of his nominee: “Michael helped me transition into my first foster family at the age of 16. He helped me move all my things, and had his phone transferred on the weekend in case I needed someone to talk to who I know and trust. He has done so much to make sure I was ok. Oh, and if this all isn't enough, on the school holidays Michael drive me all the way to Narrogin and back just so I could see my Nan and Pop.”

Kathleen Devlin - Business Unit Coordinator / Management Accountant

Kathleen has demonstrated extraordinary dedication through her 12 years at MacKillop, working tirelessly in the finance team to ensure that managers understand the intricacies of their budgets in detail, and are able to explain any deviations. Her role is critical to the ongoing financial sustainability of the organisation.

Kate Davidson - Principal Practitioner Barwon, Clinical Services

Kate's passion for trauma-informed growth and change within communities is outstanding. Through her tireless focus on clinical practice, staff wellbeing, collaborative leadership, and respectful partnerships with stakeholders, she has made a remarkable difference to the Residential and Home-Based Care programs across the Barwon and Warrnambool programs.

Brett Hapi - TCP Key Worker, Family Services

Brett has worked tirelessly to support a young man exiting residential care. Through listening to the child, he identified the best placement option was with his biological father. He worked with the father to build his parenting skills and provided ongoing support in his new role as a single father to an adolescent boy. Brett’s intervention has changed the life trajectory for the family.

Edmund Rice Award for excellence in practice by a team


Helen House residential team

The team at Helen House has shown a deep dedication and commitment to the two young people in their care. Due to a consistent, holistic and nurturing approach from the team, the young people are thriving and have substantially increased their engagement at school. The team’s strategies have included setting up therapeutic zones in each room of the house; working with the children to arrange birthday parties (a first for each young person) and holidays; and supporting them to construct their life’s narrative using therapeutic life story work.

Highly commended

Home Based Care Team, Barwon South West

The Barwon South West team are nominated for excellence in the delivery of high quality, child-centred, family-focused and therapeutic case management. For over 12 months the team have delivered at 110% against funded expectations, yet continued to nurture a culture of creativity and innovation to deliver better client outcomes.

Supported Playgroups and Casual Childminding

This remarkable team are for many vulnerable families, the welcoming and understanding face of MacKillop. In the words of Mary MacKillop, they “never see a need without doing something about it” and always approach their work in a non-judgemental and compassionate manner.

Payroll Team

The Payroll team have implemented innovative new systems to ensure the accuracy of this critical function and have established strong relationships of trust across the organisation through their commitment to service excellence and their professional and respectful engagement with all staff.

Mary MacKillop Award for Courage in Life – Family

Tina, Dean and Jaqson

After nine years in long-term foster care, Jaqson has been reunited with his mother and stepfather. The family have worked hard to learn and incorporate new emotional regulation strategies into their daily lives. Tina and Dean are committed to making positive changes within their family, to improve their relationships with one another and to continue to make the restoration a success

Mary MacKillop Award for Courage in Life – Individual (joint recipients)


Jasmine and her two younger brothers moved to Australia after experiencing significant grief and loss within their family. From her very first day with us, her kindness and her care, and her sense of responsibility towards her two younger brothers stood out. She has become an important role model in her residential care home, encouraging all young people to prioritise their health, wellbeing and education. Jasmine is close to finishing a TAFE course in beauty therapy, and recently took the brave step of travelling interstate to develop connections with her extended family. She plans to continue these visits with her brothers, with the ultimate goal of moving in with family at the end of the year.


Sarah has shown incredible growth over her four years at MacKillop School Geelong. Now in Year 12, she demonstrated her new-found confidence in communication when she MC’ed the school assembly. Her calm and caring nature has not gone unnoticed by other students – they call her "school mum" as she always listens to their concerns and offers advice, hugs, tissues and light-hearted jokes in times of need. Sarah is currently looking to transition into independent living and is committed to finding a place to call home and continuing to build her independence.

*Names have been changed to protect identity