Residential care workers and teams were celebrated at the annual ResiROCKS event hosted by The Centre in October. The Residential Care Learning and Development Strategy (RCLDS) Residential Care Awards are given in recognition of the exceptional work carried out in the field by residential carers.
The aim of these awards is to recognise, celebrate and encourage work of the highest standard in the provision of residential care in Victoria that contributes to positive outcomes for children and young people living in residential care.
Minister for Children the Hon. Lizzie Blandthorn and the Centre CEO Deb Tsorbaris presented seven awards this year and two further education scholarships,
“As it is every year, the stories of work that goes above and beyond shine through in these nominations, and I congratulate everyone in the room for the work you do,” said Ms Tsorbaris.
The winners and recipients were:
Further Education Scholarship
The RCLDS Further Education Scholarship offers financial support for the ongoing higher education of people working in the residential care sector. The aim is to continue to support the improvements in residential care service provision, by supporting residential care workers who have a Certificate IV in Child Youth and Family Intervention (Residential and Out of Home Care) or similar, to obtain a relevant Diploma or Undergraduate Degree.
Jessie Kooper from Masp
2023 RCLDS Further Education Scholarship
This scholarship will support Jessie in studying for her Bachelor of Psychological Science. Jessie has been strongly endorsed as a worthy recipient of this award, for her proactive professional development, and the ongoing sharing of her learnings with her team and the broader organisation. Jessie hopes that gaining a further understanding of the human mind will improve her ability to provide the best, positive and relevant practices in providing support to vulnerable members of the community.
Lisa Gaul from VACCA
2023 RCLDS Further Education Scholarship
Lisa is planning to further her skill set and experience with a Diploma of Counselling. Lisa has been highly endorsed as a worthy recipient of this award, as a team member who is continually seeking out learning opportunities that enrich her work and provide her and her team with a greater therapeutic understanding and support. This additional qualification will allow Lisa to be able to support young people who are ready to engage with therapeutic support for mental health challenges in interim periods, where long wait periods for access to psychologists can often be an issue.
Lifetime Achievement Award
The Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates a journey of dedication and impact in the Residential Care sector and honours over 7 years of service and unwavering commitment.
Frances Schembri, from Anglicare
Joint Winner, Lifetime Achievement Award 2023
Frances has worked in residential care for seven years. During that time Frances has provided a strong mentoring role, passing on her knowledge and experience to others. Her dedication, positive attitude and willingness to continue to learn and adapt are all admirable aspects of her work as a team member and with the often-complex group of young people that she so effortlessly connects with in a professional, warm, caring, and supportive manner.
Jack Chirgwin, from MASP
Joint Winner, Lifetime Achievement Award 2023
Jack first started with MASP as a Residential Care Support Worker in 2013 and was recently been appointed as Team Leader of MASPs Residential Care Program and now oversees three Residential Care homes. One of Jack’s strengths is his ability to coach and support his staffing group preferring to spend all of his time within one of the 3 homes where is available to support staff. Jack’s ability to coach and support his staffing group is well respected within the MASP community.
RCLDS Learning Award
This award celebrates true dedication to learning and development and recognises someone who has demonstrated commitment through regular attendance at training including but not limited to RCLDS.
NICK PRICE from Anglicare
Winner, RCLDS Learning Award 2023
Accepted by Trevor Daly
Nick holds a unique position within Anglicare’s southern program where he is the Prevention and Review Specialist – a role that was developed to best utilise Nick’s extended skill set. Nick started as a residential care worker in the south before progressing to 2nd in charge in the home where he would often initiate internal training opportunities for his team and the wider residential care community to improve practice. Nick was quickly identified as a learning champion and started assisting in the office in a variety of roles associated with risk management, reviewing incidents within the residential care homes and implementing practice improvements. Nick’s commitment to fostering a culture of learning is demonstrated through his hands-on approach. Nick actively facilitates additional training, including through RCLDS, going to great lengths to ensure learnings are embedded in practice. Nick has participated in 24 training opportunities in the last 12 months and actively shares his knowledge with other residential care staff.
The Leadership Award goes to a person who has demonstrated outstanding achievement and innovation in their leadership role which has had a significant impact on residential care systems and outcomes for children and young people.
Dani Jeffery from Anglicare
Winner, Leadership Award 2023
Dani is a Senior Team Leader for Anglicare’s Residential Care, Case Management and Community Engagement Program. With extensive expertise, Dani adeptly applies theoretical approaches, including child attachment, development, and trauma theories, to guide her work practice, which offers vital support to vulnerable children, young people, and families. Dani epitomises leadership through self-development, initiative, accountability, teamwork, and resilience, guiding their team to uphold best practices even amid challenges.
She excels in guiding and managing her teams. She fosters an environment of trust, respect, and collaboration, motivating her teams to deliver exceptional care and support. Her leadership ensures that both houses operate smoothly, maintain high standards of care, and create a safe and inclusive atmosphere for residents.
Gabrielle Thompson from Berry Street
Honourable Mention, Leadership Award 2023
Gabby leads by example. There is nothing she will ask of her team members and colleagues she does not willingly undertake herself. Gabby is always looking to improve her practice and is able to reframe challenges as learning opportunities. Gabby has made a significant contribution to the professional development of her colleagues and has played a key role in adjusting the program’s recruitment practice.
Residential Carer Award
The Residential Carer Award recognizes a person who has achieved significant, positive outcomes for children and young people living in residential care and demonstrated a commitment to learning and development.
Brady Stone from Anglicare
Winner, Residential Carer Award 2023
Through his unwavering presence, calm conduct, and positive role modelling, Brady has created an environment where children and young people can heal, grow, and thrive despite their traumatic experiences.
Brady has focused on the health and care of children, supporting at times challenging spaces of the mental health and physical health care requirements. Brady fosters a learning, safe and resilient caring nature, which is transferable to the relationships they have built with the children.
When a new young person enters his care, Brady goes above and beyond to ensure a smooth and positive transition. Brady recognises that the initial experience of entering a new living arrangement can be overwhelming and intimidating for a young person, especially for those who have experienced significant trauma. As such, Brady takes deliberate steps to create a welcoming and supportive atmosphere.
Anne Ikkersheim from Berry Street
Honourable Mention, Residential Carer Award 2023
Within her practice Anne is astute in recognising important teachable moments for young people in response to their behaviours. She is skilled at providing praise, corrective guidance, supportive teaching and embedding preventive measures and builds warm, personal relationships with the young people in the home.
This year we had two special judges’ awards, which recognize some nominations that were outstanding and deserve to be recognised in their own part.
Judges Award for Initiative and Innovation
Elennah Lino, MacKillop Family Services
Winner, Initiative and Innovation
Elennah’s direct contribution to maintaining a safe, supportive, and nurturing living environment is truly remarkable. She has demonstrated an unparalleled ability to create an atmosphere of trust and understanding and a commitment to using creative avenues to improve emotional well-being. Her work exemplifies her dedication to creating a positive impact in the lives of young people and her peers.
She has contributed to the professional development of her peers, implementing a ‘Support Circle” initiative with the team, and developing a unique storytelling practice where young people could express themselves creatively and connect with their emotions in a safe environment. Through this innovative practice, young people began to find their voices, sharing their experiences and feelings through stories. Families, in turn, have been able to gain insight into their children’s emotions, fostering open communication and healing.
Judges Award for Outstanding Work in the Community
Lisa Gaul, from VACCA
Winner, Judges Award for Outstanding Work in the Community
Lisa is a fierce ally of the Aboriginal Community and goes above and beyond to care for the families of our young people and Elders within the broader Community. This has involved creative methods of engagement, including cooking meals for families, supporting Community Elders during COVID (in her own time), attending Community events and going out for a “cuppa” at family homes, in order to develop strong, healthy, relationships between carers and families.
Lisa has regularly arranged for carers to spend time “On Country” learning from Elders and building competency in working with the Community. Connection to Country and family is imperative to healing and spirit for our young people and Lisa ensures carers keep this concept at the centre of their work and that Child Safety is of paramount consideration at all times.
Lisa is particularly skilled at managing stakeholder relationships and considers our young people, their families and the Aboriginal Community to be central stakeholders in all work that we do.
Residential Care Team Award
This award recognizes a team within a residential house who have worked collaboratively to achieve significant, positive outcomes for children and young people living in residential care.
The Berwick Residential Care Team, Anglicare
Winners, Residential Care Team Award 2023
This team have fostered a cohesive and collaborative team culture underpinned by a shared commitment to achieving positive outcomes for staff, children, young people, and their families.
Berwick has built a safe and trusting home environment – Creating a homely and welcoming environment that celebrates the unique qualities of each young person, and demonstrates a commitment to understanding and supporting the young people. This nurturing atmosphere ensures each young person feels safe and accepted in the home.
Three young people within the home present with diagnosed disabilities, including Intellectual Disability and Autism Spectrum Disorder. With this comes a variety of complex needs and support networks. The team has not only navigated this successfully but supported these young people to ensure their individual needs are met and a stable placement environment for all has been achieved.
The team have implemented several initiatives to support children and young people to engage in education, which has resulted in 2 young people reengaging in education full-time, and a third young person attending school for the first time. The Team have worked closely with schools to prepare adjusted timetables and work closely with teachers and staff to integrate young people back into education.
Watch the Berwick Residential Care team nomination video:
Comans Home from Berry Street
The team’s dedication to ensuring young people have a voice and that they can contribute to the decisions affecting them stands out as particularly noteworthy. They recognise the significance of empowering young people and demonstrate this commitment through their advocacy for young people within the external service system and community. Through their active championing of the rights and needs of these young people, the Comans team has created a home environment built on trust and respect.
To enhance connections to the community, the team actively involves the young people in accessing services that are available. They maintain a display board at the home, highlighting cultural events, community programs, and upcoming activities that young people can participate in. The staff at this home are client-focused, and despite some of the extremely challenging behaviours that have been present within the home they have always remained professional and demonstrated a high level of empathy.
Congratulations to all the individual carers and teams who were nominated for awards in 2023. The stories of the work and dedication to young people in residential care are wonderful and inspiring and the Centre thanks you all for everything you do for our most vulnerable children and young people.
Thank you also to the judging panel for 2023:
- Dr. Michele Lonsdale, Deputy CEO, Director Policy, Research and Advocacy at the Centre
- Judith Rose, A/Manager of Priority Projects at the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing
- Tash Chidgey, LOOKOUT Centre SEVR School Support, at the Division Department of Education