Inspiring efforts to improve the lives of vulnerable children, young people and families have been celebrated with the announcement of the Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies’ (ACWA) 2016 Sector Achievement Awards.
Now in their third year, the accolades were announced last night as part of the NSW peak’s 18th national conference, which has seen more than 700 child and family welfare experts and human service workers converge on Sydney to discuss ways to address the effects of abuse and neglect on the lives of children and young people.
The award recipients were recognised across five categories for outstanding leadership, innovation, service provision, and a new category for honouring the contributions made by children and young people themselves.
ACWA CEO Andrew McCallum congratulated the nominees and recipients for their exemplary efforts, saying their accomplishments are a reflection of a sector that nurtures exceptional commitment, service provision, innovation, and empowerment for those it serves.
“These awards are all about recognising the passionate, dedicated individuals and organisations who are helping every day to make a difference to those most in need and, in some cases, breaking the cycle of generational disadvantage,” he said.
Mr McCallum said he was particularly impressed with the array of talent, courage and determination demonstrated by candidates in the Young Person’s Award category, which received a record 19 nominations from across NSW, Victoria and Queensland.
“The stories of how these young people have either been motivated by a philanthropic focus on the need of others, or heroically overcome their own life barriers to give back to the community are nothing short of inspirational; our future is in good hands,” Mr McCallum said.
The 2016 awards recipients are:
Lifetime Achievement: Posthumously awarded to the late Adele Horin for her outstanding work as a social affairs journalist for more than 30 years. Adele gave voice to
critical social issues confronting our society, highlighting in particular the failures heaped upon our most vulnerable citizens. She wrote with honesty, compassion and consideration and is deeply missed.
Innovation: The Central Coast Multi-Agency Response Centre for its new multi-agency approach to responding to child protection referrals. A first of its kind for NSW, it brings caseworkers from FACS, Health, Education and local NGOs together under the one roof to ensure vulnerable children and families on the Central Coast are getting the right advice, support and action at the right time. This local response may offer scalable solutions to other areas of NSW experiencing similar high levels of demand.
Service Excellence: Challenge Community Services’ Short Term Emergency Placement Program (STEPP) and Immediate Placement Program (IPP), which both offer 24/7 services for children and young people needing crisis and short term placements. STEPP, which operates in Dubbo and Western Sydney, is a residential service that maintains vacancies to accept children and young people at any time. IPP operates on a Foster Care model using trauma informed responses to successfully transition children and young people to stable placements.
Educational Excellence: Department of Education Western Region Out of Home Care Coordinator Anne Nelson, in recognition of her tireless and ongoing commitment over two decades to improving educational support for children and young people living in care in Western NSW. Anne’s systematic efforts have resulted in a steady increase in educational plans completed in her area. These plans are one of the litmus tests of the system’s responsiveness to the needs of children and young people in care who have to move schools.
Young Person’s Award: 17-year-old Marissa, whose courageous journey following a difficult start in life has seen her become a respected leader, role model and young person with clear plans and goals for a positive future. Determined to make a difference not only to herself but also to her community, Marissa is a volunteer with her local Police Citizens’ Youth Club, has been a member of the local Airforce Cadets and has travelled to Fiji to undertake community service in struggling communities there. She is also on track to complete her Higher School Certificate.
The ACWA Achievement Awards were sponsored by Settlement Services International.
The Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies is the New South Wales peak body representing non-government organisations that provide services to vulnerable children, young people and their families.