Mary Jo McVeigh is the founder and director of Cara House, a place for healing, discovery and growth, located in Sydney, Australia.
Mary Jo completed her Honours degree in Social Science in 1983 and worked in the community of North Belfast in the United Kingdom, before returning to university and completing a master’s degree in Social Work in 1986.
Mary Jo is a trained trauma therapist and an accredited mental health social worker. She has a passion for exploring and studying comprehensive bodies of knowledge, bringing this emphasis for diversity of wisdom to her work, creatively utilising it within her therapeutic and leadership practice.
She is acknowledged in her field as an expert in child protection, trauma therapy and leadership coaching. Mary Jo’s expertise has been sought on advisory panels such as the NSW Domestic Violence reforms and the Royal Commission into institutional abuse. She has also presented at national and international conferences.
Mary Jo’s work has been published in professional journals. She has also written numerous training programs for practitioners and managers in government and charitable organisations within Australia. Mary Jo has published three innovative social work resources for working therapeutically with children and young people. The most beloved one, Wrapped in Angels, has received praise nationally and internationally.
In addition, Mary Jo has written two books. Discovering Audacious Love is about her development as a social worker and was published by Balboa Press in 2012. Her first book on leadership from a social work perspective is being published by Busy Bird Publishing and scheduled for release in early 2015. Mary Jo is currently working on her second leadership book for a 2015/16 release.
Mary Jo has been interviewed by Irish and Australian media about her work and life, featuring in magazines and newspapers, and appearing on Irish Television and SBS TV. She has also been interviewed on radio by the BBC, Radio Ulster, 2UE and ABC Radio on Conversations with Richard Fidler.
Mary Jo was named Canada Bay City Council Woman of the Year in 2010 and is a nominee for the NSW Woman of the Year award for her work with traumatised and abused children and young people.
Amanda Boyd is an accredited social worker with 18 years of experience working as a counsellor, clinical supervisor, manager and trainer/educator in the area of trauma, particularly child sexual assault. Amanda works from a trauma-informed human rights model and is committed to social justice and ethical practice. She is passionate about working with children and young people to increase hope and opportunities in their lives, so they can grow and flourish.
She also loves to bring creativity into her work through music, art, literature and film - she has seen the therapeutic benefits of these mediums. Amanda has had the privilege of seeing several young people she has worked with go on to become musicians, actors, writers, artists and social activists. She also loves to sing and has recently completed a Drumbeat course, with plans to bring these skills to CaraCare next year
As a skilled trainer, group facilitator and clinical supervisor, Eleanor Britz BSW(hons) GdipPsych has worked with children and families since 2003. She provides professional consultation, parent coaching and support for foster carers. Eleanor is passionate about healing and growth through rich therapeutic conversations and play, and is enthusiastic about working with young people and adults in therapy.
Eleanor is a trained trauma therapist, an accredited Mental Health Social Worker and Victims Services Counsellor. She is trained in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Narrative Practice, Neurobiology of Trauma, Expressive Therapies and Family Focused Attachment Therapy.
She has experience working in child protection in the United Kingdom as well as Australia. Eleanor has comprehensive knowledge and experience in working with children with developmental difficulties, in particular Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Eleanor is passionate about expressive therapies and group work. She is an experienced ‘Wrapped in Angels’ facilitator and supervisor, receiving enormous joy from supporting children to create their own Angel Blankets. Eleanor believes that putting a smile on a child’s face stays in their heart and that all children deserve the opportunity to explore their hopes, joy, love, gratitude and peace. Eleanor honours children’s stories and expressions, supporting them to make meaning and set goals for their lives.
Eleanor has developed and written Cara BASES, a resilience program for children in school.
Karen is an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker with a Masters of Social Work (Couple and Family Therapy). She is accredited to facilitate and supervise Cara's Wrapped in Angels program.
Over the past 25 years, Karen has worked within the government and non-government sectors where she has held roles as a case worker, trainer and manager. Karen is committed to ethical, professional practice, which supports those who have been impacted by trauma. In combining research, experience and a compassionate approach to the stories of service users she promotes the healing, growth and discovery abundant in those who come to Cara House.
Karen has a particular interest in working with parents and their families in the family preservation and restoration space. She has provided supervision to workers in fields of trauma counselling, domestic violence, early intervention, child protection, homelessness, family support, out of home care, disability services, community development, asylum seekers/refugees, youth advocacy and research, youth mentoring, youth rehabilitation/homelessness. Services offered by Karen include counselling, foster carer/parent coaching, individual and group consultation (ie external supervision), management coaching and group work.
Alys provides front-line support at Cara House through intake and operations management. Alys is a trauma-informed practitioner who has a Master of Social Health and Counselling with a background in Psychology. She has been working with children since she was a teenager herself through creative means such as dance and performance.
Alys has worked in front-line officer and managerial roles in emergency/ crisis settings, adult mental health, and in the child protection sector. Her positions in hospital and NGO settings have provided her with a great understanding of the complex nature of Out-of-Home-Care, trauma and resilience. Alys has a passion for advocacy and enjoys engaging with children through their creativity and imagination in individual or group forums.
Emmanuel (Manny) Kassiotis has a Bachelor of Social Work (UNSW) and a Master of Arts (Theology). Manny has worked in the areas of disability, guardianship, missing persons and child protection since 2000. Manny has child protection experience both in Australia and in Scotland, having worked in child and family teams and the DoCS Helpline. Manny has extensive experience in delivering counselling interventions and planning and facilitating group work services.
Between 2008 and 2013, Manny was the coordinator and co-facilitator of the bereaved sibling group of The Compassionate Friends NSW. Manny has been working at Cara House since October 2013, initially providing group work services, and from February 2015 as a counsellor and group work therapist. Manny has many years of experience in supporting families facing difficult, challenging and life-altering situations. Manny works within a human rights, social justice and child protection framework, with a particular emphasis on supporting those affected by grief and loss.
Manny is on the Board of Directors of CaraCare in the position of Secretary. In this role he is responsible for raising awareness of child protection issues; raising the profile of the charity; applying for funding and grants; and coordinating fundraising events, in particular the annual gala ball.
Liz has enjoyed a rich career spanning more than 30 years working in both the Government and non-government sectors. She has expertise in the field of trauma and resilience practice by providing therapeutic support to children, young people and adults whose lives have been impacted by trauma. Liz employs a range of enriching and fun processes with families - story, painting, beading, music, conversation and play, to support the recovery process. Liz is an accredited facilitator of Cara’s Expressive Therapy Group Work Programs, for children, young people and adults whose lives have been impacted by trauma. This year Liz will focus on facilitating groups, which she describes as providing a process of beauty, joy, safety and connection along the journey of discovery and healing.
Ashley is a Child and Family Therapist who has a Masters degree in Social Health and Counselling with a background in psychology. She has been working with children for the past 12 years in contexts such as childcare, youth work, early intervention and as a counsellor. Ashley’s positions in NGO settings have provided her with great understanding of complex trauma, anxiety, depression, gendered violence, family law, group work, healing and art and play therapy. Ashley has a passion for advocacy and enjoys engaging children and young people through their creativity and imagination.
She has let her commitment to children and healing be known by speaking at various national conferences and forums, developing group programs, and supporting other professionals through training and consultation. Ashley also has a Certificate in Ayurvedic medicine and nutritional therapy and can often be found enjoying the beach, the beauty of food and coffee at local cafes, practicing yoga, or most recently studying a Masters of Social Work Qualifying at Sydney University.