Nestled in a suburban street in North Parramatta is a warm and welcoming cottage behind a white picket fence. It is the new home of CatholicCare’s counselling and therapy services, and it is open to anyone seeking support during a difficult period in their life.
“We’re here to help people get through the tough times,” says Karolyn Ellis, CatholicCare’s Manager of Family Relationship and Solo Parents Services.
The office was previously located in Villiers Street, North Parramatta, but the move to 13 Buller Street, North Parramatta has placed these crucial services squarely within the community setting.
“It’s wonderful to have something that’s specifically CatholicCare in the local area,” says Karolyn.
“So far we’re getting really positive feedback about the good ambience of the cottage building, as well as the good parking and disability access. It has got a lovely feel.
“Plus, we get a lot of foot traffic passing by and there’s a park across the street, so more people are stopping by and reading our sign, which lists the services we provide, and coming in and asking questions. It’s wonderful.”
CatholicCare Parramatta is staffed by highly qualified and trained counsellors and psychologists who have experience working together with people of all ages and cultural backgrounds.
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Their services include personal counselling, support for major life transitions, relationship counselling, mental health support, couples counselling, gambling counselling (for both gamblers and affected families), grief and loss counselling, family counselling, separation and divorce support, anxiety and depression support, and financial counselling.
“Advocacy is also a big part of what we do,” Karolyn says.
“For example, one of our staff who often works therapeutically with Arabic speaking refugees experiencing trauma, has also been able to support clients through letter writing, approaching utilities and government organisations to help the client get what they need.”
CatholicCare is also starting to move some of their counselling services into the parish setting, with St Bernadette’s Parish, Castle Hill currently offering parishioners the opportunity to take part in the Solo Parent Bereavement Support Programme.
“We had been getting feedback that this is what parishes wanted and so far it’s been received well. It provides an opportunity for bereavement support within the parish setting, which allows people to get to know one another and to give each other ongoing support and friendship after the programme ends,” she says.
Karolyn says one of the distinctive features of CatholicCare is the warm welcome that people receive when they enquire about accessing their services.
“We are very flexible in who we see,” she says. “There are no limitations or restrictions. We try to be welcoming to all people as they are when they come in, regardless of their and we try to offer them the best support we can for whatever it is they’re going through.”
People do need to make an appointment to see a counsellor, but Karolyn says CatholicCare tries to make an appointment for them as soon as they call in and aims to have limited wait-list where possible.
The hours are flexible too, with CatholicCare Parramatta offering services three evenings a week – Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday – through till 8pm. CatholicCare Blacktown can also offer Saturday appointments.
“We work with people from all cultural backgrounds and have counsellors who speak Farsi, Mandarin and Cantonese as well as Vietnamese. And we have access to a free interpreter service as needed for any language,” Karolyn says.
“In the past we’ve also drawn on the expertise of the people from the Ephpheta Centre to help us communicate better with deaf or hearing impaired clients, so we’re very supported in this area.”
Karolyn says the staff at CatholicCare are committed to working within the culture of Catholic Social Teaching.
“So for us, that’s about looking at justice and compassion, and helping those who are most vulnerable and disadvantaged,” she says.
“I think it comes through in the respect we show to people, regardless of their circumstance.
“And it’s also visible in the staff themselves, many of whom are really devoted to their Catholic faith and see their work as part of their faith commitment.
“They love what they do, and when I experience working with committed staff then I can be confident that their clients have the best opportunity to flourish as well, and that’s why we’re here.”
CatholicCare Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains
13 Buller Street, North Parramatta
For appointments call 02 8843 2530.
For more information about other CatholicCare services, visit www.ccss.org.au.