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Heather Bieman, Kim Hill and Val Stewart have all been recognised for their services to community receiving the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) as part of the King’s Birthday Honours.

The three women from Camden and Wollondilly are among many to be acknowledged in the awards under the name of the newly crowned King.

Of the 1,191 Australians acknowledged – 919 received the General Division of the Order of Australia awards – six AC, 46 AO, 246 AM and 621 OAM. Since the awards were established in 1975 – this year the number of women recognised has reached parity.

Keeping families together: (left to right) Odyssey House NSW CEO, Julie Babineau; philanthropist Peter Wiggs; NSW Health Minister, Brad Hazzard; Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Emma McBride; Odyssey House NSW chair, Doug Snedden AO.

Families recovering from drug and alcohol abuse will stay together thanks to a $4.5 million centre that opened at Campbelltown this week.

The Family Recovery Centre located at Odyssey House NSW, Eagle Vale in Campbelltown, already has an extensive waiting list, according to its CEO, Julie Babineau.

Federal Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Rural and Regional Health, Emma McBride and NSW Health Minister, Brad Hazzard, jointly opened the centre.

It is one of a handful of rehabilitation centres in the country that allow men and women, experiencing adverse effects from alcohol and/or drugs to undertake treatment whilst their children (0-12 years) live with them.

It can house up to 16 families – single fathers, mothers and couples, including pregnant women and those seeking restoration of care.

It avoids the need to find temporary care for children and offers a range of services including parental training, reconnecting First Nations clients with culture as well as supporting people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

“It’s been quite a journey to get here, but we are so excited to be welcoming our first families,” Ms Babineau said.

“It’s so important to keep families together, if possible, while parents take the challenging journey of learning to live without drugs or alcohol.

“Evidence shows when families stay together, clients are far more motivated to complete treatment, and children can stay where they belong – with their parents.

“Children are supported by our dedicated team of staff who work with the parents to ensure a good understanding of the child’s needs and provide child development and wellbeing support.

“Our family services help clients develop a safe home and effective parenting skills to

raise happy, resilient children who engage positively in our communities.”

Parents in treatment will also be provided with an exit plan for a smooth transition back into the community.

In 2021/2022, 152 parents were supported; there was also an increase in single fathers using the service.

“For more than 45 years Odyssey House has been a valuable provider of rehabilitation services for people dealing with the challenges of alcohol and other drug use, and this new $4.5 million centre will provide vital support to those in need, and their loved ones,” Mr Hazzard said.

Odyssey House NSW chair, Doug Snedden AO, acknowledged the federal Health and Aged Care, NSW Health, a major philanthropist and private donors – who have all helped in the project.

Updated: Feb 22, 2023

Former TRD editor awarded OAM

As a journalist and former editor of The District Reporter, Christopher Holcroft, could always sniff out a story – but the tables were recently turned when he found himself to be the subject as a recipient in the 2023 Australia Day Honours List.

Lieutenant Colonel Holcroft, RFD (Ret’d) from Liverpool, was recognised for his services to youth and the community with an Order of Australian Medal (OAM). Mr Holcroft has received several awards over the years, particularly while in the Australian Army Reserve where he served for 43 years in Australia and overseas. The latest has been a game changer.

“It means a lot to me,” Mr Holcroft said.

“The Australia community has recognised the work of people like me for the services that we do.

“It’s not service for self, but service for others. I believe in that and I am so thrilled I was recognised.

“It shows that anyone can be recognised, but also it also recognises the work we do for others.”

Mr Holcroft, has worn different uniforms throughout his life – either as a member of Scouts Australia, NSW State Emergency Service, Illawong Bush Fire Brigade, the Australian Army Cadet and more recently heading up the communications and media unit of the Australian Naval Cadets as a Commander.

He joined the Scouts Australia in 1968 and eventually held different adult roles since 1974 that saw him become a leader. Since 2014 he has led the Canterbury Vale District Venturer Unit and 1st Burwood Unit.

In 1974 he enlisted in the Australian Army Reserve and in 1980 he became a commissioned member until 2015. During that time he headed the Australian Army Public Relations Service for Australian Cadets.

Since 2021 he has been the Director of Communications and Media, Australian Navy Cadets.

“My whole work in my life has been to look after youth and to guide them through all sorts of adventures and that’s mainly in scouting…I have been guiding teenagers for a very long time.

“I love to help push the boundaries with youth and show them they can excel if they try.”

Mr Holcroft and his wife Yvonne raised their boys, and was more than familiar with the challenges of teenagers.

He has written six fiction novels – three aimed at boys.

“So often I have seen teenagers, mostly boys not knowing how best to utilise their time.

“I wrote three adventure books for them using an unlikely teenager as the hero he never wanted to be, but the hero a nation needed.

“My hope is the books ignite a fire in youth to have more fun and adventure in our great outdoors.”

His direction in writing fiction was prompted by the centenary of scouting in Australia.

He penned ‘Only the Brave Dare’ and ‘Canyon’ in 2008 to mark the centenary.

“That was my contribution,” Mr Holcroft said.

“I am the only Australian scouting leader to write books on scouting.”

He has been a Venturer Scout leader for more than 35 years in both NSW and Victoria. He also was the creator of the annual Dragon Skin camp for NSW Venturers. Today, it’s become an international Easter camp with scouts from New Zealand taking part.

Mr Holcroft’s affinity with writing, seems to be in the blood.

“One could say I was born for it…my grandfather, M.H. Holcroft, was an author and editor from New Zealand, he wrote 37 books.”

His grandfather’s son from another marriage, Anthony Holcroft, continued with the tradition, he wrote 26 books.

“I have another 27 books yet to beat him.”

Mr Holcroft has juggled many interests including working as a journalist and editor. He worked for several metropolitan daily and community newspapers. He also played an integral role as the founding editor of The District Reporter, which was launched as a weekly on June 17, 1998.

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