Fostering HOPE FOR THE FUTURE
when they move on,” said Julie. “We also have quite a few children that have grown up with us and have stayed in our family. The twins still see me and they are about 29 now. I am also a foster nana to two little children.” The positive stories far outweigh the sad as Julie talks of one of her longest term foster children and the joy he brought to their lives. “One of my longest term foster children was 15 when he came to us many years ago. He ran away all the time and didn’t want to be here. After his family gave us their blessing he was happy to stay with us and became more stable. He lived with us until he was 18 and then moved away to play footy. He got a job and had a baby and calls me mum whenever we talk,” said Julie.
By Melissa Walsh
ulie Campbell has been a foster carer for 20 years and has helped improve the lives of more than 50 children, some of whom still call her “mum”. The Rye woman was introduced to the concept of fostering children when she was just 13 years of age and it was something she never forgot.
The number of children in out-of-home care in Australia is rapidly rising with 46,500 reported in 2015-16, and the Mornington Peninsula is one of the highest areas across the state. In Victoria there has been a 57 per cent increase in the number of children entering into out-of-home care between 2011-2016, and OzChild is in need of more foster carers. OzChild’s Chief Executive Officer, Lisa Griffiths said becoming a foster carer is a rewarding decision.
“Becoming a foster carer is a wonderful thing and can provide many personal rewards as you are able to make a difference in the life of a child,” said Ms Griffiths. “Anyone can be a foster carer if you want “Good family friends fostered kids and I used to help them all the time. I to open your heart and your home to a child that needs support. You knew it was something I wanted to do but decided to wait until my own won’t be alone. OzChild will journey with you every step of the way. children got older,” she said. “I actually didn’t know how to become All children need a positive childhood and foster care can be your a foster carer until I saw an ad for a foster carer wanted for twins in the chance to ensure that children get there and continue to be cared for in paper. It said they were difficult kids and I thought maybe I should try it. a safe and loving home. The work our carers do for the children, young My youngest child was 17 by then so I felt it was the right time for us.” people and families in their care is amazing. Without them they would Since then Julie has fostered 50 children from nine month old babies to not have the opportunity to reach their full potential.” teenagers, and now is a foster carer for OzChild. Prospective carers are encouraged to attend an information session “Most of our kids have been teens or pre-teens but I have had some where they have an opportunity to meet with current foster carers to younger children,” said Julie who prefers having older kids. ”I like get an idea of how foster care works. teenagers because there is a bigger need as a lot of people don’t OzChild’s training program ensures prospective carers are confident to want them. I like teaching them life skills. Straight away you can see support the foster children in their care. Foster carers need to be over they’re learning from you,” she said. “My first foster child was one the age of 21, and OzChild welcomes applications from individuals, of the twins who didn’t have any life skills. He stayed with us for two and families with or without children and supports applicants from years and when he left he would say to his brother ‘don’t buy that, Julie cultural, religious and sexually diverse backgrounds. says this is better’ which was lovely.” “We need at least 300 additional careers across Victoria and With the number of kids needing foster care on the rise each year, demand keeps rising with a 20 per cent increase of careers required there is a growing need for foster carers Australia wide and on the annually. It can be respite care, short-term care, long-term or Mornington Peninsula. emergency,” said Ms Griffiths. For people like Julie Campbell, the rewards are priceless, and it has only made her family stronger and bigger. “Some of the foster children you may never see again like the younger ones who often go home or to another family from another area. It is sad for us but they need to be closer to their family so we are happy 54
Peninsula Kids – Winter 2017
Call OzChild on 1800 954 550 to talk to the recruitment team or you can register your interest at ozchild.org.au/foster-care.