7 September 2022

Foster Carer, Michael te Wierik’s dedication to children in care was acknowledged with the 2022 YMCA Victorian Father of the Year award.

Mike with his wife and child smiling at the camera.

Mike and his wife Fiona started their journey to becoming Foster Carers when they sponsored a World Vision child, which inspired them to help children in their own community.

Over the past 15 years, they have provided a safe and loving home for over 70 foster children whilst raising their biological son, ten year old Lochie, and three-year-old foster son, who has been with them from four months of age.

“We just wanted to give these kids the love and care they deserve,” Mike said.

“Providing a stable home can make all the difference in the world to a young child, and we see enormous rewards from what we do.

“Over their time with us, we see our kids learning to do simple things, like giving a hug and being kind. Those things make it all worth it.”

Michael was recently honoured at a special ceremony held at Melbourne Town Hall, with the City of Melbourne's Lord Mayor Sally Capp announcing him as the YMCA Victorian Father of the Year winner.

This award is an annual celebration of the important role father figures play in the lives of young people. This year, however, the award also served as a wonderful acknowledgement of the difference Foster Carers make in the lives of young people in care.

Mike, Fiona and another woman standing in front of a red background smiling at the camera. Mike is holding his award.

Mike and Fiona know just how important a stable home and supportive parental figures are for a child. They have seen the long-term difference that the support provided by Carers can make.

Some of their now-grown foster children are now studying at university, doing apprenticeships, and have had families of their own.

“One of them recently told us that he could still find happiness in life regardless of the adversity he’d experienced and the pain that he’d felt. That’s just about the best thing we could hear,” Mike said.

Mike’s story also highlights the importance of inclusive and supportive workplaces for Foster Carers. Mike works as an Engineer with NAB and shared that their support has been instrumental in enabling them to care for so many children over the years.

“My leaders have been 100 per cent behind me the whole way, giving me flexibility and space to make it work when we are bringing a child into our home,” Mike said.

“There is a lot of support and respect from my colleagues for what we’re doing, which is wonderful.”

Mike is standing with a group of people in front of a red wall smiling at the camera and holding his award

Life Without Barriers extends our congratulations to Mike for this wonderful acknowledgement of his commitment to children in care.

Panos Massouris, Director, Immigration Services and Children Youth and Families, shares his congratulations and reflects on the impact that Foster Carers like Mike can make on the lives of young people in care.

“Mike’s contribution is an important example of how one person can make a real difference in children’s lives.”

“While raising their son and juggling a career at NAB, Mike, along with his wife Fiona, opened their hearts and home to provide foster care for over 70 children in the last 15 years.

“So many children grow up in challenging circumstances, but role models like Mike assist them in breaking the chain and accessing opportunities to create positive impacts on themselves for their loved ones and the community around them.”

Story originally published on NAB News.

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