The lunch was held at Salas Function Centre and began with a welcome to country by Out of Home Care casework manager, Ian Eggins and then continued with a heartfelt address from CatholicCare Director, Helga Smit. Ms Smit spoke to carers about how some of the world’s greatest minds spent their childhood being cared for ‘by people like you’, explaining that Steve Jobs, Nelson Mandela, John Lennon and Pierce Brosnan spent some of their childhood years in foster care. Ms Smit concluded with her vision for CatholicCare which is one of Unity, Quality and Sustainability.
The keynote speaker for the luncheon was Simone Walker, Executive Director, Design, Innovation, Safety and Permanency at FaCS, who explained the ‘Safe Home for Life’ child protection reform program. Ms Walker captured the carers’ attention with her obvious passion for the industry.
With child-minding provided in the adjacent room, carers were able to unwind, enjoy a lovely meal and make connections with other carers. A Q&A panel which included Ms Smit, Ms Walker, Kim Creigh (Out of Home Care carer recruitment and support manager) and Marg Bailey (foster carer for over 30 years) concluded the event. The panel gave carers the opportunity to ask questions and learn from others. When the panel was asked of a moment that has stood out for them, Ms Bailey told a story about a ‘gold nugget changing negative into positive’ that left many in the room touched.
The purpose of the lunch was to say thank you, but it had a much deeper meaning than that. For me, it was a moment to appreciate further just how blessed we are in this community to have people give so much to change a child’s life for the better.
Ms Smit concluded her talk with a poignant statement, ‘We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he or she is someone today… thank you for caring today’.
To all foster carers who give selflessly and wholeheartedly, thank you.