In October and November two exciting things have occurred in the National Carer Counselling Program. The first is the program being recognised and showcased in the community services sector, and the second is the 2017 Carers SA Counselling Forum.

In October Carers SA’s National Carer Counselling Program featured in a resource developed by the South Australian Council for Social Services (SACOSS) and SA Health entitled Promoting health and wellbeing: Case studies from the South Australian community services sector.

The purpose of this resource is to showcase some of the diverse work within the sector and to provide inspiration to all agencies, particularly at a time of challenges and change. The resource was launched at an event during Carers Week with approximately 55 representatives from community and government organisations attending.

Carers SA is grateful for this important recognition of our ongoing support for unpaid carers and congratulates the staff and Counsellors who support carers in this program.

Carers SA’s National Carer Counselling Program provides carers with access to up to six free counselling sessions with a qualified Counsellor, Social Worker or Psychologist in their area who are experienced, passionate and skilled in working with carers. Counselling is predominately delivered face-to-face by Carers SA Counsellors on staff and by sub-contracted Counsellors located across the State.

An important component of this program is maintaining our close relationships with our sub-contracted Counsellors and ensuring they are kept up to date with relevant carer related information.

In order to do this Carers SA provides ongoing professional development and training workshops for Counsellors regarding issues related to carers and caring roles, resources and services available, and facilitates Counsellor peer networking and support opportunities.

Each year Carers SA hosts an Annual Counsellor Forum for in-house and sub-contracted Counsellors which provides professional development and an opportunity for networking, capacity building, evaluation, resource sharing and ongoing quality service improvement. This year’s forum was held on 9th November and 18 of our in-house and sub-contracted Counsellors attended from across the state including Counsellors from Mount Gambier, Berri and Nuriootpa.

It was a great day which commenced with introductions and welcoming 3 new sub-contracted Counsellors that have been brought on to the program during the last 12 months due to bi-lingual ability, and condition specific expertise as well as experience with carers.

After a networking lunch the focus turned to Young Carers and Counsellors heard from 3 speakers on this topic to get them thinking about the work they do with Young Carers. The first speaker was a young carer sharing her experience of caring for her twin brothers with disabilities and what assistance has been helpful and not so helpful for her. This presentation struck a chord with Counsellors who asked questions and commented on the courage of the young carer for sharing her story. Feedback from the Counsellors on this speaker included the following comment: “Really enjoyed hearing Jess’ perspective of her role as a young carer. Very enlightening, very confronting but very inspirational.”

Counsellors then heard from one of Carers SA’s regional Young Carer Workers about her role supporting young carers. This presentation provided Counsellors with an awareness of the type and level of support Carers SA and other carer organisations in SA are providing to young carers.

The third speaker was Carers SA’s Senior Policy, Projects and Carer Engagement Officer, Marianne Lewis, who spoke to Counsellors about a specific Young Carer Service Model that was designed and piloted recently at Carers SA. Her presentation demonstrated the philosophy behind the development of the model and shared the learnings from the pilot.

The aim of the presentations were to increase Counsellor knowledge of the work Carers SA does and to promote working in collaboration to support young carers in a multifaceted way whereby counselling is one of the services young carers can access, and subsequently counsellors can refer young carers back to Carers SA for further information and support via programs such as our regional Young Carer Programs.

Overall Counsellors provided great feedback on the 2017 Carers SA Counselling Forum and found networking and further insight into the effect of caring on young people to be the most useful part of the forum, as well as the opportunity to step away from the provision of counselling to spend time considering impacts and approaches.

Katrina Easton, Program Manager – Carer Advisory & Counselling Services