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Broken Hill Children’s Contact Service delivers for separated families

CatholicCare Wilcannia Forbes’s Broken Hill Children’s Contact Service team members Colette Carnie and Kristy Parker provide a valuable service in far-western NSW. Photo: Stuart Walmsley.

Children from separated families are renewing bonds with the parent they don’t live with at the Broken Hill Children’s Contact Service (CCS).

The safe, nurturing and impartial centre launched by CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes has marked 12 months of providing a much-needed service to the remote NSW city.

Prior to its opening, Broken Hill families wanting the help of a CCS either had to travel hundreds of kilometres, with the closest CCS being at Mildura, or they missed out.

The launch of the Broken Hill CCS in February 2023 has enabled children to stay connected with both parents and other significant people in their lives, in situations where separated families are unable to manage their own contact arrangements.

It provides a safe, neutral and nurturing place for children to spend time with the parent or family member they do not live with, in supervised visits, or for children to move from one parent to the other.

CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes Healthy Relationships – CCS delivery leader Mark Braes says the child’s needs are the primary focus of the service.

“Children of separated parents deserve relationships with the family they do not live with and our Broken Hill CCS is delivering this outcome,” he said.

“We are seeing bonds between children and their parents being reestablished during visits.

“We have seen parents travel to Broken Hill from interstate for visits with their children.”

In its first 12 months the Broken Hill CCS has built up to steady service activity as the community’s awareness and understanding of what it offers has grown.

“We have seen an increase of court-referred visitation and are regularly offering video link visits,” Mr Braes said.

CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes senior child contact worker Kristy Parker said the Broken Hill CCS rooms were colourful and full of resources and toys, set up with children in mind.

“Our space has been very popular with the children who have used it,” Ms Parker said.

“We have something for everyone, and the children often don’t want to leave.”

The Broken Hill CCS offers supervised visits on both weekdays and weekends and to find out more, call 08 8087 3477.

CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes received $2 million in Australian government funding over four years to establish the Broken Hill Children’s Contact Service.

CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes supports communities in challenging year

CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes Financial Stability senior support worker and Broken Hill-based financial counsellor Steffi Purdue (pictured) and colleagues across western NSW negotiate and advocate on behalf of people who are experiencing hardship or are at financial risk.

CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes delivered more hours of support and assisted more clients in 2022-23 as natural disasters and rising financial stress caused strong demand for social services.

A total of 4590 people across western NSW received support from the organisation in the 12 months to June 30, a 7.5 per cent increase from the previous year.

The hours of support delivered by CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes jumped by 14 per cent to 15,159 hours in the same period.

CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes serves the Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes, which spans the western 52 per cent of NSW and 414,398 square kilometres.

Statistics demonstrating the organisation’s impact have been published in its latest annual report.

CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes mobilised to provide support in the wake of flooding at Eugowra and communities along the Lachlan catchment in late 2022 that caused great loss and hardship.

“With the unprecedented flood disaster, our financial counsellors met a new community need as events unfolded,” CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes chief executive officer Anne-Marie Mioche said.

“During November and December 2022, we assisted 199 residents affected by flood, and in many cases, resulting trauma. Our disaster recovery support sessions at Eugowra and Forbes continue.”

The cost of living swelled[1] and the Reserve Bank of Australia lifted interest rates 10 times in the 12 months to June 30.

CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes has seen increased financial stress across all demographics.

“Our financial counsellors negotiate and advocate on behalf of people who are experiencing financial hardship or are at financial risk,” Ms Mioche said.

“People who have never accessed our services before are reaching out for support.”

CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes also launched new services to meet community needs.

“We established the Broken Hill Children’s Contact Service in February 2023, after securing funding from the Australian government,” Ms Mioche said.

“By April 2023, our Men’s Behaviour Change Program groups were meeting at Forbes, Parkes, Condobolin, Narromine and Bourke. This program works with men to develop strategies to help them be accountable for their actions, and work towards non-abusive relationships.”

Ms Mioche paid tribute to CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes team members.

“Our team is our strength,” she said.

“Our team members are the reason we are able to make such a positive difference for our clients.”

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Some highlights of the 2022-23 year:

  • CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes’s Kids Youth Club at Bourke has been a great success. Kids Youth Club provides activities and support to young people aged 12-18 to help them develop a positive lifestyle at a crucial stage in their life. It engages, supports and provides nutritious meals to young people three evenings a week in a safe environment. In 2022-23, the Kids Youth Club was attended by 3060 young people and it provided almost 3000 meals and more than 400 hours of support. It is a collaborative venture and is held at the PCYC Bourke.
  • We launched affordable hair salon Cooee Cuts at Wilcannia in September 2022. The social enterprise puts hairdressing within reach of the remote community. Cooee Cuts operates four days a month. An appointment at Cooee Cuts is as much about positive wellbeing, self-care and social connections as it is about a new hairstyle. We partnered with Mildura-based hairdresser and former Wilcannia resident Juliann Mutch to deliver the professional and affordable service.
  • We deliver Specialist Homelessness Services to Parkes, Forbes, Cowra, Condobolin, Lake Cargelligo, Cobar and Bourke. The program provides homelessness support for women, men, young people and families. This is done through a range of initiatives, among them a women’s refuge at Forbes and a women’s safe house at Bourke for women escaping domestic and family violence. In 2022-23, our Specialist Homelessness Services supported 591 women. Together our women’s refuge at Forbes and our women’s safe house at Bourke accommodated 110 clients.
  • Through the Family and Carer Mental Health Program, we provide education, individual support, support groups and advocacy to people caring for someone with a mental illness or mental health challenges. The Family and Carer Mental Health Program covers all towns in the Western NSW and Far West Local Health Districts. In 2022-23 the Family and Carer Mental Health Program supported almost 400 participants, provided 1520 hours of support and held 16 community events.

[1] Australian Bureau of Statistics data, https://www.abs.gov.au/media-centre/media-releases/cpi-rose-08-cent-june-2023-quarter

 

Two paintings win 2023 Aboriginal art prize

2023 CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes Aboriginal Art Competition judges Bishop Columba Macbeth-Green of the Catholic Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes (right), CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes CEO Anne-Marie Mioche (centre) and Red Bend Catholic College visual arts teacher Tracie Axton (left) with the two paintings awarded first prize.

 

Two exquisite paintings have tied for first prize in the 2023 CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes Aboriginal Art Competition.

Artists Raymond Thorpe of Forbes and Pamela Bugmy of Dubbo have both been named winners and will each receive the $2000 first prize.

Mr Thorpe’s painting Trackers and Ms Bugmy’s painting God’s Country were two of 14 stunning entries this year.

The competition was judged by Bishop Columba Macbeth-Green, CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes chief executive officer Anne-Marie Mioche and Red Bend Catholic College visual arts teacher Tracie Axton.

In the intricate God’s Country, Ms Bugmy depicted her hometown, Wilcannia.

Mr Thorpe’s Trackers is an impressive artwork of more than one square metre in area.

“The winners bring you out to another level, a spiritual level, they draw the viewer into both of those paintings, and that’s one of the things I think is really, really powerful that I’m not just an objective viewer, I get drawn into the actual artwork,” Bishop Macbeth-Green said.

The judges were impressed by the depth of talent displayed in the competition.

“The entries were so strong that we had to have two first place winners this year, and I think apart from the beauty of the actual paintings, the symbolism in both of those was really powerful,” Ms Mioche said.

“One is called God’s Country, and the symbolism, particularly the link between Aboriginal spirituality and Christianity in that painting is just amazing.

Trackers is the six seasons and a father and son tracking during those six seasons, so that’s really beautiful as well, it teaches us something about Aboriginal culture.”

Ms Axton remarked on the use of colour and said she enjoyed the symbolism of the artwork.

“I can understand it’s trackers, because I can actually follow the journey that they’ve created in Trackers,” she said.

Second prize of $1500 was won by Carmen Hutchison of Cobar with Swim (Bambinya).

Third prize of $500 was won by Mark Curry of Wilcannia with Old Man Roo.

The judges awarded a special junior prize of $250 to Hannah Thorpe of Forbes for her painting, Seasons.

The 14 entries came from a diverse range of locations across the Catholic Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes, which spans 52 per cent of NSW.

Store opens at Wilcannia to offer affordable quality clothing locally

CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes’s Cooee Clothing opens with social enterprise assistant Merica Kerwin and CCWF manager delivery and safeguarding (Healthy Relationships – SistaCare) Christine L’Estrange ready to serve customers.

Residents of the small town of Wilcannia can now shop locally for affordable and stylish clothes at the town’s new recycled clothing store.
CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes has established the social enterprise within its branch office in Reid Street.
The Wilcannia fashion store Cooee Clothing had its first trading days earlier this month and attracted residents needing a wardrobe refresh.
The social enterprise stocks recycled clothing for women, children, and men, as well as a small selection of accessories and gift items.
CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes chief executive officer Anne-Marie Mioche said the organisation had started the recycled fashion store to meet a community need.
“Clothing is an essential item but until now there’s been no local shop selling clothing,” Ms Mioche said.
“We have started this store within our branch to make quality clothing available at an affordable price.”
The recycled clothing store complements another CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes Cooee social enterprise.
Cooee Cuts is an affordable hair salon that operates one week every month from the CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes branch office.
The Cooee social enterprises are funded by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Office for Women and Catholic charity Mary Ward International Australia.
The initiatives provide training for women and girls in the areas of life skills and job readiness, in communities that often lack those opportunities.
“In our first days of trade we have received great feedback about the quality, range and pricing of items for sale,” Ms Mioche said.
“Community members have also had the chance to say hello to our social enterprise assistant Merica, who has been recruited for the fashion store.”
Cooee Clothing is open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10am to 4pm in normal weeks, and during the Cooee Cuts week of each month, Cooee Clothing will open four days a week.

Client numbers show shape of homelessness in western NSW

A CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes team has worked with 256 clients who were homeless or at risk of homelessness in two western NSW shires in the past year.
CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes provides Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) in the Bourke and Cobar local government areas (LGAs).
The program supports people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, including those experiencing domestic or family violence.
Under Specialist Homelessness Services, CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes operates a safe house at Bourke for women and children escaping violence, providing intensive support.
CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes has released key Specialist Homelessness Services statistics for the most recent financial year ahead of Homelessness Week, August 7-13, to bring awareness to the struggle to find safe and sustainable accommodation in the regional communities it serves.
Through the program, the organisation provided 322 nights of short-term accommodation or emergency accommodation.
Of its 256 clients who were homeless or at risk of homelessness in the Bourke and Cobar LGAs, almost two-thirds – 65 per cent – were female.
CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes Safe Homes portfolio manager Kimeaka Bermingham said in metropolitan areas, homelessness often took the form of rough sleeping and was therefore visible to the community, but in regional and remote areas if was often more hidden.
“Forty per cent of our clients in the Bourke and Cobar LGAs were living with relatives rent-free, or couch-surfing when presenting to our service,” she said.
The goal of the Specialist Homelessness Services program, which is funded by the NSW government, is for people to have safe, secure, sustainable and long-term housing, with resources that supports and enables and maintain independent living.
This is achieved through case management and case coordination, for example, assistance in completing rental diaries, helping clients understand processes and understand some of the jargon and requirements from housing providers, educational sessions, for example, how to manage or maintain a tenancy or safety sessions, and advocacy and awareness.
CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes will team up with other service providers at Bourke to host a Homelessness Week event, and encourages the community to attend.

Homelessness Week event
CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes and other service providers are teaming up to host a community social lunch to mark Homelessness Week.
It will be held on Friday August 11, 2023 from 11am to 2pm at the Bourke PCYC and for more information, people can contact CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes on 1800 067 067.

Client numbers show extent of homelessness in central-western NSW

A CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes team worked with 621 clients who were homeless or at risk of homelessness in central-western NSW in the past year.
CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes provides Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) in Forbes, Parkes, Lachlan, Cowra and Weddin local government areas (LGAs).
The program supports people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, including those experiencing domestic or family violence.
In Forbes, the program also operates a women’s refuge for women escaping domestic or family violence, and other program supports across locations include short-term or emergency and transitional accommodation.
CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes has released the program’s statistics for the most recent financial year ahead of Homelessness Week, August 7-13, to bring awareness to the struggle to find safe and sustainable accommodation in the regional communities it serves.
The 2021 census recorded 117 people homeless across the Cowra, Forbes, Lachlan, Parkes and Weddin LGAs, but CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes Safe Homes portfolio manager Kimeaka Bermingham said homelessness was often underreported in the census.
“Our SHS team provided support to 621 people who were homeless or at risk of homelessness in the 12 months to June 30 in the Cowra, Forbes, Lachlan and Parkes and Weddin LGAs,
demonstrating the extent of the issue,” Ms Bermingham said.
Homelessness has a variety of forms, including rough sleeping, as well as the less visible couchsurfing, short-term or temporary accommodation, and severe overcrowding.
“Only one person identified in the 2023 Department of Communities and Justice Annual Street Count of people sleeping rough in the Parkes LGA, proving how much of a hidden issue homelessness is, in so many of our communities,” Ms Bermingham said.
Natural disasters had made the past 12 months a difficult time in western NSW. “During this time, floods affected many of our clients leaving a proportion of them homeless and without safe and secure accommodation,” Ms Bermingham said.
“Some local rental properties were also affected during this time, limiting options for people to secure safe accommodation.”
The goal of the SHS program, which is funded by the NSW government, is for people to have safe, secure, sustainable and long-term housing, with resources that supports and enables and maintain independent living.
This is achieved through case management and case coordination, for example, assistance in completing rental diaries, helping clients understand processes and understand some of the jargon and requirements from housing providers, educational sessions, for example, how to manage or maintain a tenancy or safety sessions, and advocacy and awareness.
The theme for Homelessness Week this year is ‘It’s time to end homelessness’. CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes will host events to mark Homelessness Week at Condobolin, Cowra and Forbes, and encourages the community to attend.
Homelessness Week events
• Morning tea at Condobolin: Tuesday August 8, 2023, 10.30am, CatholicCare WilcanniaForbes Condobolin office, free morning tea, lucky door prize for attendees
• Morning tea at Cowra: Wednesday August 9, 2023, 10.30am, Cowra Information and Neighbourhood Centre, free morning tea, lucky door prize for attendees
• Family fun day at Forbes: Thursday August 10, 2023, 11am-1pm, Nelson Park, jumping castle, coffee van, free barbecue, popcorn, children’s activities, information and resources, lucky door prize for attendees

Entries open for 2023 CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes Aboriginal art prize

CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes has launched its 2023 Aboriginal Art Competition to discover Aboriginal artists in western NSW.
Opening in the lead-up to NAIDOC Week, July 2-9, a total prize pool of $4000 is on offer for the best original paintings.
It is the third time the biennial competition has been held and the closing date for entries is Monday August 28, 2023.
CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes chief executive officer Anne-Marie Mioche encouraged Aboriginal artists living in the Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes, or in communities where its services are available, to enter.
“At CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes we are passionate about creating opportunities for Aboriginal people and empowering all to succeed and this competition will generate opportunities and recognition for three aspiring artists,” Ms Mioche said.
“We know there is a lot of unrecognised talent in this region and we hope this competition will showcase these artists.
“This is the third time we have run the competition and this year we hope to attract even more talent from our communities.”
Raymond Thorpe of Forbes won the inaugural CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes Aboriginal Art Competition in 2019 with his painting, Platypus Waterholes.
In 2021 Robert Sloane of Condobolin claimed top honours with his artwork, Mirri (dragonfly).
The competition offers a total prize pool of $4000 to encourage emerging Aboriginal artists to create and share meaningful artwork that shows the rich Aboriginal culture and artistry in our diocese.
First prize for the winner is $2000, second prize is $1500 and third prize is $500.
Artists living in the Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes, or in communities where CatholicCare WilcanniaForbes offers services, including from Broken Hill, Wilcannia, Cobar, Bourke, Brewarrina, Nyngan, Warren, Narromine, Dubbo, Parkes, Forbes, Bathurst, Orange, Cowra, Lake Cargelligo, Condobolin or elsewhere within the Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes are encouraged to submit an artwork.

CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes Aboriginal Art Competition – Information Pack for Entrants

Information Pack for Entrants – 2023 ENTRIES

Paintings (and completed entry forms) can be accepted at any of our CatholicCare
Wilcannia-Forbes offices by the competition closing date Monday August 28, 2023.
Our offices are located in Bathurst, Bourke, Brewarrina, Broken Hill, Cobar, Condobolin,
Dubbo, Forbes, Lake Cargelligo, Narromine, Nyngan, Orange, Parkes, Warren and
Wilcannia. Office addresses are available on ccwf.org.au.
If you require assistance to complete this form or for any questions relating to this competition,
please call 1800 067 067 or email info@ccwf.org.au.

See Full Publication for Entry Form

Works progress on safe place for women and children leaving domestic violence

Builder John Adams, CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes business development manager Mark Noonan, Catholic Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes Bishop Columba Macbeth-Green, Condobolin parish representative Helen Atkinson, Condobolin parish priest Father Getulio Gonclaves, and Condobolin parish representative Tony Broadley at the project site.

An emergency accommodation project to support women and children leaving domestic violence is reaching major construction milestones at Condobolin. Bishop Columba Macbeth-Green, CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes and the Condobolin Catholic parish have united to transform a church property for the new purpose.
This project received grant funding from the Australian government.
The planned facility will bring much-needed support to the Lachlan local government area (LGA), which ranked 14th highest in the state for domestic violence assaults in 2022 in NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) data.
BOCSAR figures show the LGA recorded 54 reported incidents in 2022, but its largest town, Condobolin, is 100 kilometres away from the nearest women’s shelter at Forbes.
Project manager CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes secured $800,785 from the Australian government’s Safe Places Emergency Accommodation Program for the capital works.
The Catholic Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes has made a generous in-kind contribution of the land and building at Condobolin.
Renovations are on track for the church property to start its next chapter within the coming months.
Bishop Columba Macbeth-Green, parish priest Father Getulio Goncalves, and representatives from CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes and the Condobolin parish visited the property in March to view progress.
Local builder John Adams was engaged to lead the capital works.
“Women and children experiencing domestic violence in western NSW need and deserve access to safe emergency accommodation, which is what this new facility will deliver,” CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes chief executive officer Anne-Marie Mioche said.
“From office space on site, our team members will provide wraparound support to the families staying in this safe place.”
Through the Condobolin project the Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes seeks to welcome and care for the vulnerable and promote peace, the life and dignity of the human person.
“We are called to reach out to those in need, and share hope and light in the world,” Bishop Columba Macbeth-Green said.

CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes Board Member wins top women’s award

CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes CEO Anne-Marie Mioche has congratulated Board Member Lynda Edwards who has won the prestigious 2023 NSW Premier’s Woman of the Year Award.
Ms Edwards was also named NSW Aboriginal Woman of the Year at the NSW Women of the Year Awards presentation in Sydney on Thursday morning.
Ms Mioche said the organisation was thrilled the important work of Ms Edwards had been recognised on the state stage.
“Lynda, a proud Wangkumara and Barkandji woman, is a dedicated advocate for First Nations people in the financial sector,” Ms Mioche said.
“Her work has contributed significantly to fairer financial outcomes for First Nations people.
“Her valuable contribution to our community in western NSW also includes serving in the voluntary role of director of the CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes board.”