16 December 2020

Community, partnership and water safety along the Tasmanian coast.

Carer couples Tim and Sarah, and Ben and Olivia, all live in a beautiful coastal community in Tasmania, where they care for four siblings between them.

Like many families living close to a beach or waterway, water safety education is a must.

“As a child it was drummed into me the importance of being safe in and around water,” said Sarah.

With a family-first mindset, Sarah and Olivia had often discussed how difficult it was to carve out regular catch ups for the siblings. So, when their local surf club had an open day for families to join the local water safety program, Sarah and Tim saw it as a unique opportunity to build on the sisters’ water safety and social skills and spend quality time with their other two siblings living with Ben and Olivia.

“We knew it was a great opportunity for the children to create shared memories of summers spent together playing and swimming at the beach. From experience, the children’s past trauma often meant catch ups have triggered heightened emotions. However, we knew all four kids would hugely benefit from a structured and supportive environment,” said Sarah.

Beginning the program has been a raving success and Sarah happily reports.

“The girls look forward to seeing their siblings at each training sessions twice weekly, in addition to developing new community connections and environmental and water safety skills; skills which includes beach ecology, how to read the tides, what to do if you get stuck in a rip and basic first aid.”

This unique carer arrangement is living proof of how grief can be reduced in children and young people in care, if the sibling connections can be maintained and encouraged on a regular basis.

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