Good Samaritans get Catholic awards

Catholic Social Services have presented Marist Br Geoffrey Kelly with the 2006 Perkins Award for his role in leading the Marist Youth Care service with other awards going to Ballarat Centacare and Mercy Family Services in Queensland.

Br Kelly, who has been involved in the social welfare work of the Marist Brothers for 29 years, received the Catholic Social Services Australia (CSSA) award at a dinner on Monday night for his commitment to residential cared for disadvantaged young people.

"Residential care for adolescents is extremely demanding. Over a period where many agencies have abandoned residential care, Geoff has led Marist Youth Care in developing a professional approach with a sound theological base," the CSSA citation for Br Kelly says.

"Geoff has been an advocate of 'tough love' and clear boundary setting in the day-to-day management of problem adolescents.

"In his years as Coordinator, Geoff developed a reputation of being able to work with the most difficult young people, to survive insult and aggression without allowing it to take a personal toll."

Centacare Ballarat won the Norma Parker Award for organisations for its Carer Respite Program which provides access to low-cost, short-term "time out" for people who have a family member or friend who is experiencing a psychiatric problem.

The award for most innovative program went to Mercy Family Services from Banyo in Queensland for their Working On program which is described as "a unique response to the prevalent drug problem in our society".

"The program, which has been running for six years, has successfully changed the lives of over a hundred young men and women in recovery from substance abuse through a training and employment program that helps people to break the cycle of addiction and crime and to realise their full potential. By achieving their goals and realising their dreams they are able to feel valued, connected, strengthened and hopeful for the future," the CSSA award citation says.

Still in Canberra, CSSA chair, Fr Joe Caddy, addressing a Parliamentary Breakfast yesterday, recalled Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan in what appears to be a veiled criticism of government social services policy.

"Two thousand years ago, Jesus told the story of a man who fell upon bad times travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho," Fr Caddy said, reminding his audience that Jesus was answering the question "Who is my neighbour?"

"Under the social and political arrangements of the day, the man was not in a target group that had been identified for intervention.

"A Priest and a Levite - symbols of the religious and political forces of the day - passed the traveller by as they made their way along the highway. Then came a Samaritan - an outsider - and he stopped and helped.

"He received no outcome payment for his intervention.

"There was no Job Seeker Account to pay for the wine and oil he poured on the traveller's wounds.

"No receipts were required when lodgings were arranged at the local inn.

"No service agreement was invoked when he offered to pay any additional expenses incurred on his return trip through the area.

"Jesus' telling of such a story was surprisingly political act at the time," Fr Caddy said.

Jesus answer to who is my neighbour suggested "that it is in this communion and not in rigorous compliance to the religious rules of the day, that people would discover the true identity of their loving and creator God".

Also speaking in Canberra, CSSA executive director, Frank Quinlan, called on the Federal Government to provide more support for farm-related businesses in rural areas.

"There comes a time when tradespeople shut up their shops and move on, you know drought hits farmers initially but the flow-on effects into the broader communities are felt by those other parts of the community," Mr Quinlan said.

"And so those people, once they leave, are very hard to bring back into the rural communities."

CSSA Awards (Media Release, 17/10/06)
Church and State: A Meeting Place (Fr Joe Caddy, Speech to Parliamentary Breakfast, 17/10/06)
Welfare group urges more support for rural businesses (17/10/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Social Services Australia
Marist Youth Care
Centacare Ballarat diocese
Mercy Family Services

Catholic Social Service calls for award nominations (CathNews, 13/9/06)
Catholic Welfare awards Edmund Rice lobbyist (24/10/05)
Catholic Welfare Australia seeking nominations for Awards (CathNews, 18/8/05)
Catholic Welfare award to Marist Youth Care (CathNews, 16/9/04)
Call for Catholic Welfare Awards nominations (CathNews, 20/8/04)
Victoria dominates Catholic Welfare Awards nominations (CathNews, 29/9/03)

18 Oct 2006