12 April 2024


Life Without Barriers, one of Australia’s most experienced providers of support to children and families in the child protection system has partnered with Brisbane City Council to get locals thinking about how they could help children in their region. The bridge will be lit up in pink in recognition of a nationwide campaign to draw attention to foster care services, with staff in pink shirts running a pop-up foster care recruitment event at Captain Burke Park overlooking the bridge as it lights up the sky.

Kerri-Lee VanOosten, Regional Practice Lead for Child Youth and Family Services in Brisbane for Life Without Barriers said there is a national shortage of foster carers in Australia, including in Brisbane.

“Last year on average, we found we had about a third of the carers we needed to meet all our referrals across the Brisbane region,” Ms VanOosten said.

“We want children and families entering the child protection system in Brisbane to stay within their local community and that’s why we’re encouraging our city to consider how they can provide a home and care for children and young people.

While Life Without Barriers has enthusiastic carers for babies and toddlers, in Brisbane, about 40% of referrals for carer placements are for sibling groups, with a shortage of carers for children aged between 4 and 15 years old. The organisation is also looking for more carers who can care for children with moderate to complex needs and children with disabilities.

“In Brisbane, we have a variety of different children needing care, so that means we need different types of people and families to provide that care,” Ms VanOosten said.

Image: Kerri-Lee and Amy standing together in pink shirt with the Story Bridge in the background

“Many people think fostering is quite rigid, and that’s simply not the case anymore. We’re looking for people who are single, married or in same-sex relationships, people who own their home or rent, people working full-time, part-time or casually and people with and without children of their own to become carers.

“Being a carer can be anything from providing a safe home one weekend a month to a couple of weeks or something longer term.”

Life Without Barriers staff and carers will be out in pink shirts on the evening of the 13th to talk to anyone who has questions about foster care or wants to find out if it’s the right fit for them.

Amy Nelson has been a carer in Brisbane for Life Without Barriers for 6 years and currently has three young people in her care.

“I have a passion for helping children grow into the best they can be. I want to create an environment where kids have no worries, where we create routine and stability,” Amy said.

“These kids haven’t had the opportunities that others have had and at times have experienced upsets and letdowns. We come in to support those children for however long they need during their care journey.

“The rewards of being a foster carer are endless. You can be an amazing part of a child’s life, making a huge difference that could influence them forever.

“Seeing a child go from being anxious and uncertain to letting go of those worries, and being able to laugh and interact and play, knowing and seeing you’ve made a difference, it makes it the best ‘job’ in the world.

“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to being a carer, you just need to be kind-hearted and empathic with a willingness to adapt and learn on the go as all children are different.

“Life Without Barriers is amazing at connecting children and families that would suit each other. I would encourage people who feel like they have more to give to find out if fostering is where their heart is.”

To enquire about becoming a foster carer, contact Life Without Barriers via phone 1300 592 227 or visit https://www.lwb.org.au/foster-care/

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