"It's pretty simple - If you give respect you will get it back."
At 81 years young, Margaret is a proud Aboriginal woman who has devoted most of her life to caring for others. Growing up in a family of eleven children, Margaret began caring for her baby sisters and other children at 11 years old. "Becoming a foster carer seemed a logical step after I retired from the workforce," Margaret said.
Margaret has four children of her own and now boasts of being a grandmother to 15 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren—what a woman! With this much on her plate you would think she wouldn't have a moment to spare. But Margaret likes to keep busy and it was this drive that made her take the leap to foster caring.
Since being approved to become a carer, Margaret hasn't looked back and now has devoted the past 15 years of her retirement caring for approximately 60 children.
She also loved the idea of continuing to actively make a positive contribution to her local community in the Mid-north Coast of NSW where she has lived since 1959. "Becoming a foster carer seemed like an obvious thing I can do." she said.
At first, Margaret's main concern about becoming a foster carer was getting rejected because of her age. At her time of applying she was 61 years old. Soon after completing the foster carer application process, Margaret's fears were dismissed when she learned she was indeed eligible.
Margaret points her ongoing success as a foster carer to the unwavering support she receives regularly from Life Without Barriers. Children placed in foster care may come with complex needs as a result of trauma. Life Without Barriers offers ongoing training to all foster carers so they can understand how best to support children in care. On-call support is also offered around the clock for advice, support and direction in difficult situations.
Margaret knows the ups and downs that come with growing up. She also understands the important role love and support play in a child's development. Above all, she is a firm believer the key ingredients of building trust and positive relationships with children in her care are based on instilling the value of respect. "It's pretty simple," she said. "If you give respect you will get it back."
Carers often report the most rewarding part of being a foster carer is when you get to see the children go on to live happy and productive lives.
Currently, Margaret has a 16-year-old boy who has been in her care since the age of nine and a 22-year-old who is about to move out and into his very own apartment.
When asked what she thinks the hardest part about being a foster carer is, she promptly replied by saying "Saying goodbye to the little ones".
With Margaret showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon, she is a shining example that age is not a barrier if you want to become a foster carer. We're looking for foster carers who can offer love, support and a family environment for a child who is unable to live at home.
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.