Barbara and John Watt’s business ventures in real estate and a youth sports centre have given them a window into Brisbane’s disadvantaged socio-economic neighbourhoods. They have seen the heart-breaking effects of family breakdown, child neglect and on one occasion, Barbara witnessed brutal domestic violence when visiting tenants.

“We have seen the brokenness of society and as the Church we must be at the coalface of this brokenness,” says Barbara.

Barbara and John couldn’t bear to turn a blind eye on families who had it tough. They do what they can to assist people experiencing debilitating social challenges through their philanthropic support to Centacare and other programs.

It was through their experiences at their own sports centre that they began to understand the benefits of strong community programs and local initiatives.

John says with a smile, “When we owned our sports centre I think it was broken into 18 times – it was always the local kids. They were neglected or hungry and they would get in to steal things like Mars bars”.

They discovered that the best way to keep the local youth out of mischief was to involve them in squash and tennis and foster positive interactions with local police officers through sport at their centre. Sweeping the courts as punishment for theft was a far more beneficial than the alternative.

A favourite memory from recent times involved one young man catching up with Barb and John at a parish event – he introduced his young family and said “see this woman kids, this is Barbara and she’s the one who kept your Dad out of jail.”

With the support of people like Barb and John, Centacare can look forward to creating more stories of hope and a better future for families.

Feature image: John and Barbara Watt

In 2015, a total of $505,728 was given to Centacare to directly benefit its pastoral ministries. Your generous contributions to the Annual Catholic Campaign made this possible, combined with a further $273,386 donated through other fundraising activities.