Meet Gary and Chel
When you walk into the magnificent, tranquil and picturesque home of Chel and Gary you are immediately greeted by Heather Trott (the family pig), six horses, five dogs, the sound of singing birds and the smell of an apple pie and scones baking in the oven. This is truly a home bathed in warmth and love.
Gary and Chel have been Foster Carers for Life Without Barriers since 2014. Currently in their care they have four children in long-term placement and one in respite care - who range in age from 3-years-old to 12-years-old. They also have three grown-up boys of their own.
When the Chel and Gary were asked why they decided to be foster carers they responded, "We have always been unofficial carers. It was just right the time in our lives when we could give our all as official carers, with the goal of keeping the whole family together and involved.
It is clear that as a family unit they value honesty, authentic love and the approach of both an open heart and mind above all else. Gary says that as a foster carer you should, "Never say anything you are not going to do! Even little things will make the difference."
The couple also believe that respect is paramount as experienced foster carers and Chel adheres to the old saying ‘you only get back what you are willing to put in' when it comes to being effective and loving carers.
When asked about the happiest moments they have shared with their foster kids, their response is unanimous and simple, "Everyday! Like the simple times we spend in our little boat catching flatheads, go swimming at the beach or feeding the animals on our little farm. We love to share adventures and experiences that bring us all together as often as possible."
When asked what advice Chel and Gary would offer to others wanting to become foster carers they said, "It is very educational. We thought that we had it all covered, but NO! There is a lot to learn and that is ok because looking after these vulnerable little angels and giving them stability is all that really matters at the end of the day."
"If you have ever thought about fostering, and have the time and patience, it will be the best thing you ever do for yourself and the lives of these little ones."
Long term care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
Julie is a long term carer for a primary school aged child and is passionate about maintaining children's connections to their Aboriginal culture.
Long-term care for 6-11 year olds
Grandmother and respite carer Elaine believes the relationships with the children in her care hinge on trust and respect.