17 April 2024

Life Without Barriers partners with Brisbane City Council to get locals thinking about foster care!

Image: Life Without Barriers staff and carers in pink shirts and with two people dressed up as unicorns at a pop-up foster care recruitment event at Captain Burke Park.

Brisbane’s Story Bridge turned pink in recognition of #SharingIsCaring, a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of Life Without Barriers foster care and kinship care services.

As the bridge lit up the sky, Life Without Barriers staff and carers were out in pink droves running a pop-up foster care recruitment event at Captain Burke Park, talking to anyone who was interested in becoming a foster carer in Queensland.

Image: Brisbane Story Bridge with pink lighting.

Kerri-Lee VanOosten, Regional Practice Lead for Child Youth and Family Services in Brisbane, 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,” Kerri-Lee said.

“We want children and families who enter 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.”

Image: Two people dressed as unicorns look out at Brisbane's Story Bridge which is lit up pink.

In Brisbane, about 40% of referrals for carer placements are for sibling groups, and there is a shortage of carers for children aged between 4 and 15. Life Without Barriers is also looking for more carers who can care for children with complex needs and children with disabilities.

“We have a variety of different children needing care, so that means we need different types of people and families to provide that care,” Kerri-Lee explained.

“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, who own their homes or rent, who work full-time, part-time, or casually, and who have and do not have children 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.”

Image: Kerri-Lee and Amy are standing together wearing pink shirts with Brisbane's Story Bridge in the background.

Can I be a carer?

Amy Nelson has been a carer in Brisbane for Life Without Barriers for six years and currently cares for three young people.

“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, being able to laugh, interact, and play, knowing and seeing you’ve made a difference, makes it the best job in the world."

Image: Two people dressed as unicorns, standing in front of Story Bridge, holding up 'Become a foster carer' posters.

At Life Without Barriers, we know that no two children or two families are the same.

“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,” Amy explained.

“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.”

Read more stories from care here.

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