Shining a spotlight on the incredible work of foster and kinship carers across Australia.
Image: Two young children at the badge-making tent. The photo is from above of their colourful bucket hats.
Foster and Kinship Care Week is an annual celebration and this year Life Without Barriers was at the forefront of the festivities, showcasing the dedication and compassion of foster carers and kinship carers.
Amidst the festivities and heartwarming moments of Foster Care Week, we had the privilege of speaking with some of the remarkable foster carers who are changing the lives of children and young people across Australia. Their stories of love, resilience, and unwavering support left us inspired, and we hope they inspire you too.
Among the celebrated carers, Andrea and Chris Walsh were honoured with a Years of Service milestone certificate for their incredible commitment to caring for a sibling group since 2015. Kyllie Smith, a long-time primary carer, received a heartfelt gift, symbolising her dedication over the years. Dee Peters and Alison Hoskins, both respite carers, were recognised for their invaluable contributions to the foster care community.
Jane French, Deputy Chief Executive for Child, Youth and Family (CYF), shared the following message to cares across Australia.
“Your dedication and selflessness in providing a safe, nurturing home is nothing short of remarkable. Despite the challenges and sacrifices that come with foster care, you continue to demonstrate an unwavering commitment to our children’s well-being and positive development."
Image: Long-term carers Tania, Ahlyss and Vili stand in the sun and smile at the camera. Tania is wearing a green shirt, Ahlyss is wearing a grey dress and Vili is in a black jacket.
Kinship and foster carer morning tea
Life Without Barriers hosted an event for carers in the Newcastle, Maitland and Lake Macquarie areas to celebrate the work they do every day. The morning tea was a great opportunity for carers to share their experiences and insights with each other and provided a platform for carers to provide valuable feedback on how to better support their needs in the future.
Staff and carers came together at the Adelaide Pavilion to celebrate Foster and Kinship Carers Week. All carers received a hand-painted serving board at the event as an appreciation of all the amazing work they do with a gift card and gold heart chocolate. Years of service certificates were also presented for 1, 5 and 10 years of service as carers.
Image: Carer and staff at Foster and Kinship care luncheon standing together.
Child Protection Week's Children's Picnic in the Park
In a collaborative effort, the Townsville CYF team, along with other foster and kinship service providers such as Churches of Christ, Althea Projects, and TAIHS, organised a Children's Picnic in the Park. This event brought young people and their carers together for a day filled with exciting activities.
The Life Without Barriers team, led by Donna, Education Specialist, provided bubble blowing, animal crown making, giant connect four, and balloon animal making. The enthusiasm of the young people was contagious as they enjoyed getting hands-on. Some young volunteers lent a hand in serving Nutella sandwiches and fairy bread to the crowd.
Image: Morning tea in Newcastle, three women are together.
A Foster and Kinship Care Picnic held at the Penrith Showground was filled with laughter, adventure, and camaraderie. Children and carers from every agency in the region came together to enjoy a day of fun in a welcoming environment.
One of the highlights of the day was Life Without Barriers carer team's badge-making stall. Children of all ages, including the "kidults," had the opportunity to create their own special artwork and have it turned into a badge they could proudly wear.
Sharon Pieterse, Audrey Jones, and Pamela Partridge were the creative forces behind the stall, and they were amazed by the heartfelt and imaginative artworks on display. Additionally, Audrey Jones prepared football team badges, sparking spirited discussions among the children.
Image: Wesley workers at the badge-making tent.
Kylie Drummy, Director of CYF in Victoria put the call out to Geelong locals
As the need for foster carers continues to grow in the Geelong region, Life Without Barriers is reaching out to the local community for support. Life Without Barriers provides comprehensive training and ongoing support for individuals interested in becoming carers. Kylie Drummy emphasised that fostering is inclusive and welcomes people from all walks of life, including singles, couples, those with or without children of their own, and individuals with various work commitments.
Foster care Association Brunch in WA
Life Without Barriers, along with other not-for-profit organisations, sponsored a lovely brunch hosted by the Foster Care Association WA. 300 people came along including staff and foster carers from across the sector with Minister, Sabine Winton opening the event.
Celebrations in Kalgoorlie
Foster carers and the CYF team in Kalgoorlie were treated to a high tea afternoon with the Minister Sabine Winton. Minister Winton spent time with each carer and young person as well as handing out certificates of appreciation as well as gifts, to all of the foster carers at the event.
Image: Foster carers and the CYF team in Kalgoorlie with Minister Sabine Winton.
Celebrations at the Berry Patch!
In Tasmania, some of our carers got together and we celebrated some big milestones including some of our wonderful carers hitting the five-year mark!
“What a joy coming together yesterday with our Foster Carers celebrating and acknowledging the amazing work they are doing day in and out." Said Anna Wild, Operations Manager - Family Based Care Tasmania said.
"It was great to see new and long-time carers mingle and having the opportunity for a cuppa and a yarn between themselves and with us Practitioners and Carer Assessors - we all go through a lot together."
"Yesterday showed how important and fun it is to create a Carer Community feeling.” Anna Wild.
"And a special thank you to Rocky Gardens a local, jam and sauce company for providing some gifts!"
Image: Five people sit together and celebrate 'Years of Service milestones'.
Tasmanian Foster Carer, Katie Wells, encouraged her fellow community members to explore fostering, emphasising its diverse and inclusive nature. She noted that fostering can be a rewarding experience for those who feel they have more to give.
Spilling the details on care!
Life Without Barriers continues to partner with Ashgrove Dairy to shine a spotlight on the pressing need for foster carers in Tasmania. Over 200,000 milk bottles were adorned with special packaging throughout the first three weeks of September, aiming to raise awareness about fostering opportunities in the region.
Paul Cairns, Director of Child, Youth, and Family Services in Tasmania for Life Without Barriers, expressed pride in the ongoing collaboration with Ashgrove Dairy, now in its 5th year.
The labelled milk bottles, distributed to local supermarkets such as Coles, Woolworths, and Hill Street, serve as conversation starters within Tasmanian communities. Paul Cairns hopes to encourage a diverse range of individuals, including families, single parents, working professionals, and same-sex couples, to consider becoming foster carers.
"Foster care is for children who need time away from their family, providing a safe and supportive environment for healing and growth, whether for a night, a week, a year, or until adulthood," Paul said.
Image: Three women holding Ashgrove milk bottles for foster care recruitment.
The timing of this initiative aligns with Foster Carer Week from September 11th to 17th, and Life Without Barriers' sponsorship of the National Foster Carers Conference in Hobart from September 21st to 23rd. They aim to inspire more Tasmanians to open their hearts and homes to children in need.
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