Rich heritage guides Centacare director
Newly appointed director of Centacare Catholic Family Services, Leanne Haddad, will be guided in part by the values embedded in her cultural roots.
Leanne credits her Australian Lebanese heritage for her strong sense of community, family and social justice.
“What I love about the culture is the resilience of the Lebanese people and their hardworking nature but what I hold dear more than anything else is the sense of family and community,” she says.
“I’ve always wanted to help people. I think my sense of social justice stems from Mum and Dad’s teachings – doing the right thing and standing up for yourself and others. That comes from being in a big family and having to find your voice.”
Her father Elie Haddad (known as Lewis), one of eight children, was aged 15 when his family migrated to South Australia from Lebanon.
In his early 20s, Elie returned to the Middle East where he met Leanne’s mother, Souad.
“They were married within two weeks,” Leanne says.
“Mum was only 16. She left her family and school to come to Australia, but they feel like it’s been really good to them. They mainly speak English in the home but are both fluent in Arabic.”
Leanne is thankful for the influence of former St Maroun’s parish priest, Fr Shora Maree, who encouraged her to embrace her Lebanese culture as a teenager in the late 80s.
“Fr Shora was new to Adelaide and he went around to all the Lebanese families, knocked on doors, and started a youth and dancing group. It was fantastic,” she says.
Educated at Woodville Primary and Woodville High, Leanne attended Sunday school at Mater Dei Church, Woodville, and Mater Christi Church, Seaton.
She says the Catholic Social Teaching principles she grew up with align with those of grassroots social work which is where she began her career after completing a Bachelor of Arts majoring in psychology and anthropology at UniSA and a post graduate degree in Social Work at Flinders University.
“My 26 years in community and social services has provided me with the privilege of working with vulnerable children, young people, and families, and I am carrying the lessons they’ve taught me into this role,” she says.
Leanne has worked in both government and non-government services across operational child protection positions, policy and planning, learning and development, contract management, service design, leadership and executive roles.
She joined Centacare in 2017 as executive manager of Children’s Services and turned at-risk contracts into highly successful programs which exceeded key performance indicators and outcomes, and increased service scope and funding.
In recent years, Leanne has established therapeutic family support services and led numerous child protection initiatives and successful tenders, including the $20.7 million RESTORE Intensive Family Services – the largest service of its kind in South Australia.
She helped grow Centacare Foster Care from a handful of carers into one of the state’s leading providers of in-care support for children aged up to 18 years.
Most recently, Leanne has led Centacare’s corporate restructure and administration review to implement staffing and program efficiencies.
The mother of three girls, Leanne is married to Robert Caporaso, creating a blended household of Italian and Lebanese culture.Jump to next article
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