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MacKillop celebrates excellence

MacKillop’s Annual Public Meeting, held on November 14, reflected on and celebrated the outcomes of the organisation. We launched our Annual Report and shared our highlights from the past year (see video below).

The event also hosted our Excellence Awards which recognise excellence in practice and outstanding outcomes. This year, MacKillop received a record number of entries, celebrating the exceptional achievements and commitment of foster carers, volunteers, young people and families who all form a part of the MacKillop Family Services community.

Our Awards are named in honour of our three founding congregations: Catherine McAuley, the founder of the Sisters of Mercy; Edmund Rice, the founder of the Christian Brothers; and Mary MacKillop, the founder of the Sisters of St Joseph. The recipients of the awards are:

Catherine McAuley Awards for excellence by a volunteer, including foster carers
Sandra Morrison

Sandra currently cares for three young people in home-based care, who were either in residential care or at risk of entering residential care. She is passionate about supporting young people in her care to remain connected to culture and makes a significant effort to attend contact visits and support the young people in her care to maintain a connection to her family. Sandra has been supporting children in care for over 30 years and maintains contact with many of the children she has cared for, some of whom now have families of their own.

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

Rhiannon is the Area Manager for Northern Services in Victoria. Throughout her seven years with MacKillop she has demonstrated a deep commitment and care for her staff and the children in their care. She frequently visits residential homes in the northern region and is constantly encouraging staff to develop innovative strategies to deliver better outcomes for children and young people. This year, Rhiannon has led the implementation of the Cradle to Kinder program in three regions and has introduced new residential care and foster care programs in Bendigo. In addition to her frontline work, Rhiannon has demonstrated outstanding leadership in supporting the implementation of new initiatives such as the Critical Incident Management System, which are fundamental to ensuring the safety of the children and young people in our care.

Edmund Rice Award for excellence in practice for a team
Community Engagement
The Community Engagement team is responsible for generating revenue from individuals, philanthropic organisations and government, and sharing the stories of the outstanding outcomes delivered across MacKillop each and every day. Over the past two years, the team has grown independent income by 69 per cent and reinvigorated the narrative of MacKillop in a way that acknowledges our history, while positioning the organisation for future growth. In 2018, the Community Engagement team undertook a significant project to reshape our approach to foster care recruitment which has resulted in a significant growth in foster care enquiries across MacKillop. The team also encompasses the Heritage Service, which has helped almost 800 care leavers to fill in the gaps in the stories of their lives over the past year and supported a number of care leavers to bravely share their story with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Mary MacKillop Award for ‘Courage in Life’ – Family
Smith Family

In October 2017, the three Smith brothers moved into a MacKillop residential home. Their mother, Suzanne, was determined to be reunified with her boys and courageously worked with MacKillop to achieve this goal. Suzanne spent most days at the home parenting, cooking family meals, cleaning and supporting her sons. She ensured the home was culturally safe, sharing quotes, artwork, family photos and happy memories to display around the home. During their time in the home, the boys re-engaged with education and remained focused on their goal of reunification. The Smith family have now left the MacKillop home, and with the support of a targeted care package, have moved into their own family home.

Mary MacKillop Award for ‘Courage in Life’ – Individual Joint recipients:
Jayne* and Mark*


Jayne has been living in a residential home for the past two and a half years and has worked hard to turn her life around. When she arrived at MacKillop, she was isolated from friends and family, not attending school, and engaged in substance misuse. Jayne is now attending counselling, in detox, engaged in education and has built positive relationships with her carers. She has gained a casual job which she attends 3-5 days each week and is building new skills and experiences as she prepares to leave care. She has demonstrated great courage and achieved incredible outcomes.


When Mark first came into care in 2016, he had minimal school participation, was disruptive, known to the Police, verbally abusive and refused to cooperate. Mark now attends school full time. He has developed positive relationships with his Principal and teacher and this year was nominated as House Captain. Mark is to be admired for the willingness he has displayed in trying new ideas and accepting the supports offered to him. His is supported by a wonderful carer family, who have included Mark in all aspects of their life. Mark loves spending time with the carer family and their extended family. His carers and care team are very proud of the Mark and everything he has achieved.

*Names changed to protect identity