CatholicCare: keeping people together through COVID-19

18 April 2020

At a time when coronavirus is keeping people apart, a church counselling service is bringing people together – virtually.

The move to online counselling has been so well received, the Diocese of Parramatta CatholicCare’s could introduce video services permanently.

Executive Director for CatholicCare Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains Peter Loughnane said video contact was offering new ways to keep in touch with clients.

“As the impact of COVID-19 emerges, we need to look at ways to continue to support people other than traditional face-to-face,” Peter said.

“Counsellors say it’s increased our contact with clients and this is particularly important at the moment.”

The free service offers mental health, gambling, financial and relationship support. The Church’s family relationship unit helps around 600 people in a six-month period.

Family Relationship Services Manager Natalie Vlies said people are struggling to cope.

“One of the main problems is uncertainty,” Natalie said “How long will this go on? At first people are in crisis mode, and just get on with it. Then things can start to show themselves; it’s a delayed affect.

“There’s a growing need to check in with people as they try to adjust in this new world, facing loss of income, home schooling, working at home and so on.”​

The family unit employs 10 counsellors who between them can speak English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Farsi and French.​ They care for people of all ages, from children to the elderly.​


CatholicCare Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains services remain open and operational during the current COVID-19 outbreak. Individual offices have been closed to clients, but the service continues to operate with care and support offered via phone, video conferencing/telehealth and online. Some programs are continuing to run groups via video conference.

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