Adelaide respite centre plans to fill mental health gap

A new respite centre for the intellectually disabled and their families officially opened the doors of its new premises north of Adelaide yesterday.

Run by Catholic welfare agency Centacare, Auricht House will provide much needed respite care in Elizabeth North for up to 10 children each day.

"One of the most pressing needs for families in South Australia who have a member with an intellectual disability is the provision of respite care," said Centacare director Dale West.

"Across South Australia there is a grave lack of respite for families caring for someone with intellectual disability," said Mr West.

Centacare-fundraising over the past year, including skydiving challenges and abseiling down the face of the Adelaide Hilton, and State Government funding has enabled the building of Auricht House.

The respite house was opened by Families and Community Services Minister Jay Weatherill and blessed by Archbishop Philip Wilson. It is named after the late Mark Auricht, who dedicated his fatal 2001 Mount Everest summit attempt to Centacare and, in particular, to supporting the establishment of the new respite service.

Auricht House will allow Centacare to expand its northern support care program, which assists over 100 families and has been operating day respite care services from temporary accommodation. Auricht House will allow for the service to expand so that it will eventually include overnight respite opportunities.

"Respite provides opportunities for parents or carers to have a break from caring to spend time with other family members and to recharge energy levels," said Mr West.

"Respite can allow parents and carers to maintain the caring role for longer, and can increase the overall quality of family relationships. For the individual with an intellectual disability, respite provides opportunities to socialise, try new things, and be independent from their family.

Meanwhile Queensland University of Technology (QUT) graduate Beverley Watkinson (pictured) has been recognised in this year's QUT Outstanding Alumni Awards for her work with Brisbane's Centacare Catholic community organisation.

Ms Watkinson is the director of Brisbane Centacare's Community Support Services and the winner of the 2005 QUT Alumni Award for Humanities and Human Services.

The annual QUT Outstanding Alumni Awards were handed out on Wednesday at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre to recognise QUT alumni who have achieved outstanding results in their careers and communities.

Ms Watkinson, a former nurse, gained a Bachelor of Social Science from QUT and has been been director of Centacare Community Support Services for the past five years. She has developed and implemented a range of programs tailored to the needs of carers and designed to encourage independence in clients.

The organisation runs community-based programs for the aged, frail aged, young disabled and their carers at 38 locations in south-east Queensland.

This year Ms Watkinson has also been volunteering in the East Timor village of Laho, where an Australian-funded silk farming project has been established.

And in Wollongong, the Diocese has celebrated the 25th Anniversary of its Centacare agency, with more than 100 people attended a mass held to mark the milestone at St Francis Xavier's Cathedral on Wednesday.

ABC Illawarra reports that Bishop Peter Ingham said there is a high demand for Centacare services in the region.

"The counselling and the family services, the reach out to unemployed people, the reach out to the disabled, elderly people, aged care packages, there's a lot of work done that you never see, it's all very quiet...behind the scenes, but yet it makes a difference to the lives of those people," he said.

Respite centre helps fill mental health gap (Centacare Adelaide 28/7/05)
Centacare director wins QUT alumni award (Centacare Brisbane 28/7/05)
Centacare gets praise for 25 years of work (ABC Illawarra 28/7/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Centacare Adelaide
Centacare Brisbane
Centacare Wollongong
Catholic Welfare Australia

Jesuit Social Services Submission to the Senate Inquiry into Mental Health (Jesuit Social Services)
2005 QUT Outstanding Alumni Award Winners (Queensland University of Technology)

29 Jul 2005