Meet Michael – Canberra Children’s Family Centre Manager

My name is Michael Dunne and I’m the Centre Manager here in the Canberra Children’s Family Centre. I’ve been at Barnardos for 12 years.
A common misconception about Canberra is that it’s boring and always cold. Canberra is a very welcoming community. It is quite the opposite of boring, it’s a great community to raise children.

I came to Australia in 2012 and started with Barnardos. When I moved to Australia, my children were very young and I’d come from a career where I was on call seven days a week, 365 days a year. I worked nonstop. I found that Barnardos was an incredibly family friendly organisation that allowed me to actually be present for my kids and to see them grow up, which is what I missed with my eldest daughter. The support at Barnardos has always been fantastic. It’s what’s kept me here for 12 years.

When I was a child growing up in Ireland, I wanted to be a vet. I started off my career as a butcher, then worked in the building construction for years. I was also a prison officer and then I managed a children’s detention centre secure unit in Ireland for the Irish Justice Service. My background was in criminology.

In the last 60 years, the greatest impact by Barnardos on the Canberra community is probably the fact that we move with the needs of the community. The Children’s Family Centre in Canberra has been for focal point for the community. We’ve always been here and will be for the next 60 years hopefully. In an ideal world, children and families wouldn’t need the support of Barnardos. But if they do that, it’s accessible, it’s easy to find and easy to resource. Here, there is always an open door for families who need support.

Our Canberra Centre is a great training ground for young people starting out in this type of work. We’ve got many dedicated staff who have been here for many years and probably couldn’t see themselves working anywhere else. My proudest achievement working in Barnardos is probably the Intensive Intervention Service which I set up when I started. It provides fantastic support to young people, children and families across the ACT and is still going strong today.

The links we have with the other community services are really strong. We work hard on collaboration and we see that as one of our strong points. It doesn’t matter whether we’re competitors, we all work for the same goal. Barnardos Canberra wants to work with other people. We can’t do it all on our own. To give the best community, we all must work together, and we live and breathe that on a daily basis.

The other thing love about Barnardos is that we never give up. Whenever other services walk away, we stay, and we keep knocking on the door. We work really hard to build relationships with all the people that come to us and strong relationships with a cornerstone of everything we do. When the going gets tough, we don’t go. We stick in there.



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