CatholicCare Wollongong's 'School, Student & Family Program' was awarded a Merit Award for Organisational Service Excellence at the 2015 Catholic Social Services Australia Awards in Canberra on October 20.
The program, delivered by CatholicCare and funded by the Catholic Education Office and Campbelltown Catholic Club, currently supports over 17,000 students, teachers and families across the Diocese of Wollongong.
The program provides critical counselling services for school students as well as innovative classroom programs to support children and youth in developing respectful, healthy relationships and positive self-esteem.
The judges were impressed by the programs' strong focus on the dignity of the person and the significant impact of the program for individual students and their families.
Strong data collection has allowed counsellors from the program to provide invaluable information to schools about the issues affecting students, as well as to shape the therapeutic approahces used to suit the students' ongoing needs.
In 2014-2015, data showed that the most common presenting issues are family breakdown, family and peer relationships and anxiety in primary schools. In high schools the presenting issues are similar with the addition of stress, depression, trauma and suicide ideation.
"Supporting at-risk children is a fundemental part of this program and we focus on the child in the context of the family and school community. It is a true collaboration with the schools, and our counsellors play an integral part of the school's overall pastoral support system", said Mr Michael Austin, CatholicCare Director.