Leading child welfare agency, OzChild celebrates Foster Care Week with the release of a series of videos aimed at providing insight into life as a foster carer
In the leadup to Foster Care Week, OzChild sat down with some carers to ask them the tough questions, the obvious and not so obvious questions, questions some people have always wanted to know but never found the right time, or the right carer to ask.
You Can Ask That takes an honest, real and light-hearted look at what it’s like to care for a child or young person. Hear from those who know only too well the realities of foster care – carers themselves.
These real-life accounts of personal journeys, experiences and anguish provide great insight into what to expect when deciding to travel down the foster care road.
“Being a foster carer for the first time is daunting, there are many questions, many unknowns. And for those thinking about becoming a carer there are even more questions, that’s why this video series is so exciting. This is an innovative way for people to get those answers, hear from foster carers who have been on the journey, who are already caring for children and young people,” says Dr Lisa J. Griffiths, Chief Executive Officer, OzChild
You Can Ask That will be released on Sunday 8 September, to mark the start of Foster Care Week 2019 and whilst the series is aimed at educating and informing new and potential carers, those in the accreditation stage who are looking to learn more and current foster carers would certainly benefit from and most likely enjoy from other carers sharing their own stories.
In Australia close to 50,000 children and young people are currently placed in out-of-home care. The reasons are often complex and varied, but the challenge of recruiting foster carers remains, it is hoped this series will shine a light on the rewarding role of foster care.
OzChild congratulates foster carers after well-deserved recognition at the Victorian Protecting Children Awards overnight
The 2019 Victorian Protecting Children Award winners were announced last night, recognising dedicated teams and individuals working within government and community services who make protecting children their business every day.
OzChild foster carers, Nicole and Ross Mackay were recognised for their tireless dedication to providing care for more than 27 children since 2009. In addition, Emma Stirling and Anthony Denahy were awarded the Minister’s Award for Innovation for the CaringLife platform they developed which provides a platform for children in foster care to keep memories like photos, videos, school reports, artwork and much more, ensuring special moments are captured when more often than not these things are lost when a young person moves through different placements.
“I was delighted to see Nicole and Ross awarded the carer award, their dedication and commitment to the children in their care is second to none. Not only have they cared for 27 children since becoming foster carers in 2009, Nicole and Ross are passionate about ensuring the children in their care remain connected to their culture, community and extended family,” says OzChild Chief Executive Officer, Dr Lisa J. Griffiths.
Nicole and Ross are also passionate about maintaining strong relationships with local elders to ensure the siblings in their care have a strong sense of belonging and connection and have been asked to contribute to the planning of carer forums to help strengthen the foster care sector.
“Last night was a double celebration, not only were we proud to see Nicole and Ross receive the carer award - Emma and Anthony winning the Minister’s Award for Innovation was the icing on the cake,” adds Dr Griffiths.
“Emma and Anthony realised, while caring for their two foster children, that children in out-of-home care often don’t carry with them photos, or mementos from their lives. Sadly, the keepsakes we all take for granted from our childhood are lost when children are placed in care. The CaringLife online platform is a creative, fun and easy way for children and carers to ensure these moments are captured. I applaud Emma and Anthony for their forward thinking, this will absolutely have a positive impact on children in care.”
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children's Day is celebrated each year on August 4 and is a time for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to celebrate their children, and for all Australians to learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.
This year’s theme is We Play, We Learn, We Belong, focuses on the importance of early years education and care and the critical role family, community, country and culture plays in a child’s development.
Over the past year, OzChild has embarked on a learning discovery to address the very real need for support programs and services which meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, children, young people and their families.
“By increasing our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander work force, it’s allowed us to work with the local Mob to keep our families healthy, our children at home and our Mob strong, black and Deadly”, says OzChild’s Aboriginal Cultural Advisor, Kylie Bell.
Established in early 2019, our Bridging Cultures Unit, Dhiiyann Mirri, which in Kamilaroi means Family of Stars, has ensured the organisation is actively meeting its responsibilities in honouring our First Nations Peoples as we work towards reconciliation and self-determination through knowledge, practice and by growing our partnerships with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations in each State and Territory.
“It’s important to keep Koorie kids at home with their families so they grow up strong, black and Deadly”, says Kylie. “But if we can’t, we must ensure they are connected to family, community, country and culture, that is their birth right,” Kylie says.
As an organisation, we understand that in order to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children later in life, it is critical that the support programs and services we deliver are culturally sensitive, are backed by evidence, and meet the real needs of local Indigenous communities.
That’s why this Children’s Day, we will be celebrating with our children in the hope that the work we do today, will lead them to a better tomorrow.
Learn more about National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children's Day.
A message from our Chief Executive Officer, Dr Lisa J Griffiths
NAIDOC Week is a wonderful time for all Australians to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. I am pleased to see the celebrations now taking place not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life, right across our beautiful country.
The theme of this year’s celebration is Voice. Treaty. Truth. Let's work together for a shared future. Voice. Treaty. Truth were three key elements to the reforms set out in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which represent the unified position of First Nations Australians.
With 2019 being the International Year of Indigenous Languages, it gives us further cause to celebrate the unique and essential role Indigenous languages play in cultural identity, linking people to their land and water and in the retelling of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, spirituality and rites, through story and song.
Some 250 distinct Indigenous language groups covered the Australian continent at the first European contact in the late eighteenth century. And if you consider several dialects for each language that means the total number would have run into the many hundreds.
In OzChild’s journey to cultural competence through our Reconciliation Action Plan as well as our Bridging Cultures Unit, Dhiiyaan Mirri, we are committed to working alongside our Aboriginal colleagues to learn all we can to support self-determination and ensure we develop our practices in line with these learnings to achieve better outcomes for Indigenous communities and reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children being placed in Out-of-Home Care.
As an organisation we are committed to understanding and sharing the issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities as we focus on ensuring those children who come into our care receive care that is both safe and culturally responsive.
Throughout NAIDOC week there are many events you can attend. Your participation not only demonstrates your support for reconciliation but support for those organisations and communities working hard to improve our understanding of the history of our Nation.
At the heart of reconciliation is the relationship between the broader Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. To foster positive race relations, our relationship must be grounded in a foundation of truth.
I encourage everyone to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.
As an organisation it is important to learn from our mistakes as we are in a position to influence and make positive change for our Nation’s First Peoples.
I thoroughly enjoy celebrating NAIDOC Week each year, if you haven’t taken part in the celebrations before I urge you to do so. Immerse yourself in the culture, history and traditions, I personally gain so much from participating in these very special events and I hope you do too.
Carer Dinner 2019: A night to celebrate OzChild’s foster and kinship carers
On Wednesday 19 June we celebrated the positive outcomes being achieved for children and young people by thanking the people who are making an incredible difference in their lives – our foster and kinship carers.
Foster and kinship carers from Melbourne’s south joined with OzChild staff, board members and supporters to celebrate and get together for one of the most anticipated events of the year.
OzChild carers are extremely important to the organisation, their dedication to the role of carers sees them working 24/7 to ensure better outcomes for children in Out-of-Home Care. In fact, in their volunteer role, collectively OzChild foster carers contributed to almost one million volunteer hours given in 2018.
When you consider the time carers are investing in their roles as carers, it’s not surprising positive outcomes are being achieved for children and young people.
The annual carer dinner provides us with an opportunity to thank our foster and kinship carers and acknowledge the wonderful difference they are making. OzChild President, Helen Maxwell-Wright looks forward to catching up with OzChild carers at the dinner each year.
“It truly is a highlight on my calendar," said Helen. "I am encouraged and inspired by the stories I hear and know that our carers are really making a difference in the lives of vulnerable children and young people.”
During the night long-time OzChild carers were also recognised with five-year kinship carers, 10 and 15 year foster carers acknowledged for their ongoing commitment and dedication.
Guests were treated to a presentation on Strengths Based Parenting by Dr Lea Waters, giving carers and parents alike a terrific insight into ways they can build resilience in children, helping them to thrive.
Also in attendance was The Hon. Luke Donnellan, Minister for Child Protection and Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers. Minister Donnellan addressed guests and thanked the carers for their commitment to improving the lives of children and young people.
“More than anything else, I’d like to thank the 240 carers in the room," Minister Donnellan said. "Individually you make a marvellous contribution to our community. You’re beautiful, loving and caring individuals who do so much work for us as a community”.
Minister Donnellan went on to say, “You’re part of an organisation that is forward-thinking, and paving the way for new ways to work with families, carers children and young people”.
Nights like this not only provide an opportunity to thank and acknowledge our carers but to catchup with old friends and make new ones. We look forward to next year’s event.