Colleen and Steve
"I wish I'd done it years ago. I'm enjoying every minute of it"
Meet Colleen and Steve
Colleen and Steve are a gentle couple who were inspired by Colleen's brother, a foster carer of many years, to become carers themselves.
"I wasn't able to have children," Colleen explained. "I've always had love and care for children – friends, family – but never considered fostering. The more that we would visit my brother – their house is filled with foster children... I'd think there is probably something missing, we've got something to give but we didn't know what road to take."
Steve described how a young man in his brother in law's care inspired him. "He had a few issues, he'd get a little bit angry, but the other side of him, he was very smart and he was willing to listen to me."
After a while, Steve convinced Colleen to sign up with Life Without Barriers. "I haven't looked back," Colleen said. "We knew we could support a child financially, and we had a lot of love to give us as well." Now, three years later, Colleen and Steve have their hands full and are enjoying the challenges of caring for two girls with a big age gap.
Of the 17 year old girl in their care, Colleen said, "She wants to take the right road and she just needs somebody to guide her. She gets all As and Bs and is an A class student in Italian, and was even able to go on a school excursion to Italy last year!" Colleen proudly boasted.
Steve explained that he loves being a positive male model for their 17 year old. "I've done a few home projects with her and she's loved it. We built a chicken coop together and laying quarters (where they lay the eggs)," he said.
As with any teenage girl, Colleen and Steve have certainly had their challenges. They explain that the 17 year old in their care wasn't shown any empathy from birth and has had trouble dealing with her emotions, but through the love and care of Colleen and Steve, she is growing and is even learning about herself through the development of her three year old foster sister.
"One of the hardest parts is [managing] their social media," Colleen said. No doubt many parents and carers of teenagers these days would agree with that!
And with a three year old, they are also going through the trials and tribulations of having a toddler in the house. Steve explained how he loves "just being around and teaching her different things. And we're learning from her too – how she picks up things. She's pretty independent, so she likes to do it her own way!"
Steve said that there are tough times, but what has worked for them is that they are able to support each other through it. "With Colleen and myself, it's good to have a bit of time where you can talk things out for stuff too," Steve said. "We both help each other out."
"I wish I'd done it years ago. I'm enjoying every minute of it," Colleen said.
Andrea and Colin
Long term care for kids with complex needs
With three boys having flown the nest, carers Colin and Andrea felt like they still had a lot of love to give. They now care permanently for two primary school age children.
Long-term care for kids of all ages
Barbara is an Aboriginal woman who has a background in disability and mental health nursing. Barbara has been a long-term foster carer for a young person with disability.