27 February 2024

One of Australia’s largest providers of out-of-home care services, Life Without Barriers is highlighting its support for carers in the LGBTQI+ community this Mardi Gras. The thirty-year-old organisation has been public in its support for the LGBTQI community for over a decade.

This year, Life Without Barriers will support over 50 people to attend the 2024 Mardi Gras parade, including foster carers, people with a disability and their support workers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and staff and allies who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Craig Entwistle and Samuel Shorthouse have been foster carers with Life Without Barriers for 12 months and during that time have been caring for Max* who remains in their care long-term.

“When we decided we wanted to grow our family, we first looked at adoption but learned that can take 2-3 years, so we decided to do the training to become foster parents and try short-term care in the meantime,” Craig said.

“Our first placement Max was a great match for us and our family. We had the privilege of getting to know this wonderful, kind, and joyful little kid and understanding what caring for a child would mean and how it would develop our own relationship.

“Foster care has been such a positive experience that we are not considering adoption anymore – if anything we will look at caring for another child.

"Parents do not go into parenthood for fame and spotlighting, and foster carers are no different. Fostering a child was about creating a sense of family and a home for us as well as a child who may be in need of a safe, nurturing and loving environment, where they have the chance to succeed and grow. Max has certainly brought us so much joy and love and we hopefully are providing that to him as well."

“We have built a strong connection with Max’s Mother who is absolutely a part of Max’s life. If anything, I think being a same-sex couple has benefitted our relationship with Max’s family – his mum loves that Max has two dads.

“That’s why when the opportunity came up to join Life Without Barriers at the Mardi Gras Parade, we thought, “why not?’”.

“There are more young people out there who need care than there are people putting up their hands to become carers so why would you ever shorten the pool of people with love in their hearts and space in their homes to care for a child?

“It’s important LQBTQI+ singles and couples see that foster care is a fantastic option and a great experience. We don’t often see those stories of families like ours, so we wanted to represent who we are, what we have done in becoming carers and advocate for others to do the same.”

Mark Leigh, Chief Operating Officer at Life Without Barriers said Life Without Barriers has been an ally of the LGBTQI community and has participated in Sydney Mardi Gras for many years.

“We are avid and firm supporters of the LGBTQI community and we welcome carers from all backgrounds and walks of life, including same-sex couples or singles,” Mr Leigh said

Life Without Barriers is actively recruiting same-sex couples and singles to become carers across most of the country and encourages LGBTQIA+ employees to bring their whole selves to work.

“To deliver them the best service we can, we need carers who bring that same diversity of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, working or not in work, age, ability, cultural beliefs, life experience and ideologies,” Mr Leigh said.

“If you are a part of the LGBTQI+ community and have ever thought about if fostering is something you may want to do, we want to hear from you.”

*Name changed for privacy

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