MercyCare / News / Community Heroes: Supporting and caring for the next generation

Community Heroes: Supporting and caring for the next generation

At MercyCare we are incredibly proud of all our frontline workers who continue to provide care to those who need them during these challenging and uncertain times.

They are the support workers, the aged care workers and the early learning educators, who continue to show up to work every day to ensure those depending on them get the care they need.  

Here is some insight into the roles these 'Community Heros' continue to play throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 


The support provided to those at Carlow House is not just a roof over people’s heads.

MercyCare Youth Worker Sarah Hopa and her fellow Youth Workers work alongside young people to prepare them for young adulthood.

“In a practical sense, this looks like building their independent living skills, confidence, self-esteem and encouraging strong relationships around them by looking at potential barriers and limitations that may hold them back from achieving what they want and walking alongside them every day to work through these,” she said.

Carlow House is a medium term supported accommodation program for young people from 16 to 19 years old, who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of homelessness.

“A lot of young people have had family and friends give up on them in their past and when they see that we are championing them and we are on their team, they thrive so much more,” Sarah said.

Staff at Carlow House become part of the support network for the young people who stay there.

“We are their safe place and I have a responsibility to remember this and bring my best self every shift so they can continue to grow and thrive with us cheering them on,” she said.

She loves seeing the progress of each young person from when they first come to Carlow House to when they are ready to go into their own private or shared accommodation.

Sarah says continuing her work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic is about being there for the young people she works with, who might otherwise feel alone in the world.


As an Early Childhood Teacher Cherie implements a play-based program to prepare children for formal schooling and life in general.

Cherie subtly incorporates learning into fun activities for the children, so while they are creating, playing and socialising, they are also equipping themselves with the skills that will help them smoothly transition in to more formal education. 

As the children focus on creating shapes and structures in playdough or cutting bits of coloured paper with scissors, they are also building strength in their little hands, so they are able to grip a pencil to draw and write.

Much of the teaching she does involves role playing or is focused on language.

While social distancing is never going to be perfect when young children and babies are involved, she’s been impressed with the efforts of the children to adapt since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

As a result, Cherie’s constantly had one of two tunes in her head lately; Baby Shark or Happy Birthday.

If it’s not a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ coming from the bathrooms when children are washing their hands it is ‘Wash your hands, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo’ repeated many, MANY times through to ensure they are washing their hands for long enough.


MercyCare Housing Support worker Christelle Venaille admires the resilience of the people she works with on their journey towards creating stability in their lives after experiencing homelessness or sleeping rough.

“Our clients are young people and families who are struggling with housing issues due to various circumstances, they may not have had the opportunities some of us may have but they are trying to improve their situation,” she said.

“I’m there supporting them but really, they are doing the hard work to better their lives, so for me it is a real pleasure, I feel privileged to be involved,” Christelle said.

Since starting in her role 13 years ago, she has been part of many people’s journeys to provide more stability and comfort in their lives through ongoing support to find and maintain accommodation.

In order to understand a person’s needs and their individual situation, Christelle usually spends time face to face with her clients on a weekly basis.

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant she now has to connect with clients in different ways.

Christelle’s wealth of experience in the area has helped her be able to keep up good connections with her clients over the phone as much as possible.

“I’m part of a team of people who all have the skills to be able to maintain meaningful and productive relationships despite the situation,” Christelle said.