Sector’s High Achievers Honoured at ACWA Awards Ceremony

The NSW child and family welfare sector came together last night to celebrate the inspiring work that is being done to improve the lives of vulnerable children, young people and families at the Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies’ (ACWA) 2018 Achievement Awards.

Minister for Family and Community Services Pru Goward joined ACWA CEO Andrew McCallum to announce the winners during the awards night in Sydney, hosted as part of the NSW peak’s 19thnational conference.

Now in their fourth year, the accolades recognise excellence in leadership, innovation and service provision, as well as the outstanding efforts of young people who are making a difference in their community.

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, innovation and empowerment for those it serves.

“I extend my deepest congratulations and thanks to not only the award recipients and nominees, but to all the hard working and dedicated people in our sector who are helping every day to make a difference to those most in need,” Mr McCallum said.

The 2018 awards recipients are:

The Lifetime Achievement Award
This award was posthumously awarded to the late Linda Mondy, a social welfare innovator who dedicated more than 50 years of her life to preventing child abuse, helping families break the cycle of disadvantage and promoting better outcomes for children and young people in care. Linda, who passed away in August last year, was a proud social worker who believed passionately in the values and ability of social workers to challenge issues and propel social change. She was admired and respected by all who worked with her over the years, and is missed enormously.

Innovation Award
The Live, Learn, Grow Program
Developed by the University of Newcastle’s Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education, the Live, Learn, Grow Program supports care leavers to overcome the barriers that prevent them from engaging with higher education and, in doing so, is giving this group the best chance to reach their full potential. This is facilitated through supported, subsidised on-campus accommodation and a university-based Navigator role designated to assist students make the transition into higher education. Up to 30 on-campus participants have come through the program since it commenced in 2016, while a further 1000 children and young people in care, caseworkers and carers have also been reached through a range of on and off campus awareness raising activities.

Commended: The Wesley Mission, Property Industry Foundation and Lendlease partnership project
For developing purpose-built accommodation for young people to enable a safe transition from out-of-home care to independence.

CommendedSettlement Services International
For leading collaborative practice with FACS to design a tool to measure and improve cultural and spiritual wellbeing outcomes with children and young people from multicultural backgrounds.

Service Excellence
Stepping Stone House
Stepping Stone House (SSH) has demonstrated outstanding work in assisting homeless and disadvantaged youth to achieve responsible independence through its unique service mix of mentorship, outdoor education, learning and personal development programs. SSH provides secure medium to long-term accommodation and development for children and young people aged 12-24 years, who are then supported in an after care program until they turn 30. An independent survey conducted in February 2018 of former SSH residents reveals the lasting positive outcomes the service is achieving for its young people: 33% are now home owners; 45% are renting private accommodation; 78% are currently employed; 89% have gone on to complete higher education qualifications.

Highly commended: The Benevolent Society’s Post Adoption Resource Centre
In recognition of its work supporting children, parents and families affected by adoption through groups, support, counselling and advice.  

Young Person’s Award (18-24 years)
Winner: Jack
Ambassador, mentor, advocate and aspiring ‘change maker’, 18-year-old Jack has achieved many things in his young life – most of them associated with supporting others and giving back. Having overcome significant personal obstacles in his past, Jack has dedicated himself to advocating for change in the out-of-home care sector to ensure young people can find a voice, have their needs heard and become more self-determining. An articulate public speaker as well as a respected leader and role model, Jack is a Rotary Ambassador and plays a key mentoring role in his local community’s weekly Boys Becoming Men Club for other young men in out-of-home care.

Young Person’s Award (12-17 years)
Bassam Maaliki
Bassam is a rising young community leader who is determined to share his vision for an inclusive society.  The 15-year-old is creator of the #uBelong project, which is dedicated to ensuring that refugees, asylum seekers and migrants feel a sense of belonging in Australia. He advocates for respect and inclusion and is often called upon to speak at public events, including a powerful turn at the Federation of Ethnic Community Council of Australia’s national leadership forum in 2017.