2019 National Foster and Kinship Care Conference

12 September 2019

‘Walking Together’ was the theme for the 2019 National Foster and Kinship Care Conference, which saw over 600 attendees including carers, service providers and industry experts, gather in Perth’s beachside suburb of Scarborough, with a shared commitment to child protection.

Image: Presentation at the 2019 National Foster and Kinship Care Conference.

Proud descendant and Elder of the Whadjuck/Barlardong Noongar people, Marie Taylor, welcomed the crowd with a beautiful Acknowledgement of Country. Her warm words paid respect to the Noongar people, in both her native language and then in English. She proceeded to encourage the crowd to repeat the phrase "I am, we are, all solid Australians." The voices of hundreds echoed across the Rendezvous Hotel’s grand ballroom, filling the air with an eminent sense of solidarity, setting the tone for what undoubtedly would be a fantastic, collaborative and inspiring few days ahead.

Image: Noongar Elder, Marie Taylor.

Set against the backdrop of Western Australia’s beautiful coastline, the sun rose to a day of engaging and thought-provoking workshops ahead. As crowds shifted from room to room, the commitment to putting children first became increasingly prominent as eager ears lined up to hear the latest in research, models, products and skills around foster care.

Life Without Barriers presented several talks from ‘Implementing a Trauma Informed Crisis Intervention System’ to the topic of ‘Connect and Restore: Building Bridges to Safely Connect Children to Their Families’.

However, the audience was particularly abuzz following an introductory talk on MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™, presented by Life Without Barriers’ Child Youth and Family Practice Advisor, Chris Skinner and MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™ Hub Home Provider, Stuart Combes.

Image: MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY presentation by Life Without Barriers’ Child Youth and Family Practice Advisor, Chris Skinner.

This evidence-informed product aims to build a constellation of support for carers with shared experiences. MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™ struck interest amongst carers who undoubtedly saw the benefits of connecting carers into a community, which meant access to planned and emergency respite, the coordination of monthly constellation meetings, quarterly social activities and a range of practical and emotional supports to the families involved.

An influx of information and hors d'oeuvres aside, there was a clear consensus that the highlight of the conference was seeing such an engaged cohort of carers under one roof, exchanging experiences, advice and learning from each other. Industry experts and service providers were also delighted to meet and speak with a wonderful array of people working in frontline support, sharing priceless anecdotes.

The conference culminated with the official Gala Dinner, which cemented the sense of comradery and support between all attendees, as everyone left with new skills, knowledge, contacts and of course, friends.

Image: 2019 National Foster and Kinship Care Conference in Scarborough, Western Australia.

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