Last month over 100 kinship and foster carers joined together at the Southern Golf Club for OzChild’s annual carer dinner.
The event acknowledges and celebrates the invaluable support foster and kinship carers give to over 9000 at-risk children and young people in Victoria each year
Guests were joined by carers and staff from the southern branch of the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) and representatives from the Foster Care Association of Victoria and the Department of Health and Human Services.
Recognising the significant contribution foster carers and kinship carers make to Australian children, young people, families and the wider community, OzChild Chief Executive Officer, Lisa Griffiths paid tribute to the carers.
“Carers are the driving force of OzChild’s vision to ensure all children are safe, respected, nurtured and reach their full potential,” Ms Griffiths said.
“And because of these amazing people who open their homes and hearts to children and young people at risk, they have a place to call home, a family to depend on, and all the love and encouragement they need to thrive.”
With some carers marking milestones of 10, 15 and 30 years of foster care, the evening was a chance to connect with other carers, share stories and enjoy a child-free night out of the house.
Well-known Australian comedian and performer Colin Lane had the room in fits of laughter and some very brave participants dancing on the stage!
A highlight of the dinner each year is the awarding of the prestigious Elizabeth Tudor and JC Butler prizes. Given in memory of the proud legacies of their namesakes, the recipients demonstrate selflessness and extraordinary commitment to helping children and young people reach their potential.
Lisa Griffiths and OzChild President Helen Maxwell- Wright presented the 2017 Elizabeth Tudor Award to Joan Graham. Providing foster care for over three decades and supporting more than 300 children in short-term and long-term placements, Joan was a popular recipient.
For Joan, the children and their needs always come first whether it be welcoming sibling groups into her home to keep them together, or recruiting them to help her run sausage sizzles for the Lion’s Club.
Joan has formed life-long relationships with many of her former foster children, staying in contact with her. Joan also provides support to her fellow foster carers through the Foster Care Focus Group and is a Carer Buddy to new foster carers.
The 2017 recipient of the JC Butler award for kinship care was Jane Ross.
Jane became a kinship carer in 2013 to her two grandchildren, both of whom have significant disabilities and medical issues. Jane has worked extremely hard to ensure her grandchildren have a support network of carers and medical professionals around them, fighting for their right to education and funding.
June is also a valued member of the Kinship Carer Support Group.