A frequent visitor to northern Victoria, Care Connect's Graham Custance recently won a national award for his work supporting indigenous elders to achieve better health and wellbeing.RENEE THOMPSON AND GRAHAM WILLIS December 7, 2013 4:35am
Gaining the trust of members of the Aboriginal community, including those in Echuca and Kyabram, has been a guiding light for Care Connect community development manager Graham Custance.
Care Connect is a major community care provider in Victoria, NSW and Queensland which helps people live independent lives at home and in the community.
Last month, Mr Custance was named Aged and Community Services Australia’s national 2013 employee of the year for his work supporting elders in Aboriginal communities.
The award is the second for Care Connect in as many months, with Mr Custance’s colleague Leanne Cruse awarded the 2013 Powercor Australia Campaspe Murray Business Awards’ employee of the year in October.
In Echuca on Wednesday, Mr Custance told the Riverine Herald he was thrilled about the recent recognition.
‘‘The awards are wonderful because then people know that Care Connect’s doing this (work),’’ he said.
Mr Custance said his work involved caring for and building relationships with elders.
‘‘We help them with all their day-to-day issues so they can actually give back to their community, which is what they always want to do — to help the younger people, to look after grandkids, to pass on culture and to organise the community,’’ he said.
‘‘If an elder’s health is down, if their house isn’t functioning, if they can’t afford power and electricity, or they can’t get enough food or pay for their medication, how good are they going to be for their community?’’
Mr Custance said Care Connect had been working with Yorta Yorta and other indigenous communities and their service providers in the region since 2010 and would continue to do so.
‘‘I know the communities up the Murray where I have visited, they’ve still got desperate needs that need to be met,’’ he said.
He said Care Connect’s work with these communities was important.
‘‘As the word gets around, people realise we’re there to do the job, not just to get the kudos,’’ he said.
‘‘All we want to do is to find the best way possible to help the community without making them dependant on us.’’
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