2016 Compassionate Empolyer Recognition Award

Fighting for your Family

A good ol’ chat at the heart of happier families in the Framlingham community

An innovative Aboriginal program that aims to strengthen family relationships in the Framlingham community has won a national award.

The “Fighting for your Family” program, developed between the Kirrae Health Service and the Centacare Warrnambool Family Relationship Services, won the 2012 Catholic Social Services Australia Excellence in Service Award.

Centacare south-west family services manager Lorri Chandler said the program had been initiated by Kirrae Health Service manager Nonnie Harradine. Its aim was to build on the important role that extended families already played in Aboriginal communities.

Mrs Chandler said the program aimed to improve communication between family members and develop honest and respectful relationships.

She said Framlingham community leaders, through the health service, identified families and women who were struggling with family issues and changes, such as the separation of parents.

Difficulties around communication were identified as a key factor in family misunderstandings and arguments.

The program held weekly group sessions which allow conversations and activities to help participants to manage their family issues positively.

Up to 20 people took part each week, sharing a meal and activities such as creating artworks that focus on understanding emotions.

Mrs Chandler said eating together gave participants an opportunity to address tough family issues and show quiet respect and acknowledgement for each other. The awards ceremony in Canberra attracted a swag of politicians keen to learn what made the program successful, she said, adding that the key was to keep the participants talking to each other.

“We talked about expressing emotion,” she said.  “Conflict does not go away without talking about it. Fighting for Your Family was a great example of the importance of working hand-in-hand with Aboriginal communities.”

The national award recognised the importance of cultural collaboration and set a benchmark for future family-centred programs, she said.

On March 22, 2016 Kirrae was awarded a Compassionate Employers Award, presented by The Compassionate Friends Victoria Inc. and the Rotary Club of Geelong Central. 7 staff were able to attend the lovely presentation in Melbourne. The presentation was very moving, with a little of the story of how each workplace had supported their staff upon the death of a loved one shared. Beautiful pictures of those who had passed away were displayed. 7 awards were presented with recipients ranging from the National Australia Bank to the Royal Melbourne Hospital to Kirrae. In all of the ups and down in life, it’s a wonderful thing to receive an award for Compassion.

The award recognised the following qualities:

1. Employer who has personally supported an employee through their bereavement

2. Employer who has arranged for additional time off, beyond the familiar three days bereavement leave

3. Those who have provided support services and/or time off, to obtain counselling or seek a support group

4. Caring attitude and ability to empathies demonstrated by the employers entire workforce

5. Those who have showed flexibility in work assignments and evaluation of job performance during stress and personal strain associated with the death of a loved one