A team of case managers who worked with the Victorian Department of Human Services (DHS) following the Black Saturday bushfires were recognised in Benetas’s annual staff awards.

The team was seconded to the Victorian Bushfire Case Management Service (VBCMS) for 18 months following the devastating fires that occurred in February 2009.

Helen Brightman, who accepted the Health Super Outstanding Partnership Award along with four colleages, said it was a challenging experience for everyone involved.

“All our case managers were given a list of names and a phone number and they had to ring the people to find out what they could do for them,” she said.

“DHS was working as fast as it could to put in the procedures to help us work with them but we were pretty much operating blindly for a couple of months until all the systems were put in place.

“Each individual family or client we worked with had their own story. Some were affected less than others but many of them had quite tragic circumstances, such as the loss of family members. It was a full on, life changing event.”

Other award winners included Barbara Debowski, a personal care worker from Benetas St George, who received the Sharp Innovation Award and Brian Humphries from Benetas@Home who received the Cleaner World Exceptional Client Service Award.

Staff members who reached long service milestones during 2010 were also recognised and thanked for their dedication during the evening, which was attended by 380 staff members.

CEO Sandra Hills congratulated the organisation’s staff members on their efforts throughout the year.

“I am inspired by and truly appreciate your dedication,” she said in her opening address.

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