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Docklanders called upon to help children

30 Aug 2011

By Yasemin Pelevan

Docklands has been identified as an area which could provide foster-care parents and volunteers.

The Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare’s policy and project leader of foster care Josh Fergeus said Docklands had a lot of potential to provide care and support for children who needed foster care.

“Docklands is a new community and I think residents are yet to find this community support and volunteering aspect of their identity,” Mr Fergeus said.

He also believes being involved in the program would help strengthen the community bond between Docklanders.

“Voluntary work is important as it strengthens community support and helps the community form a strong sense of identity,” he said.

“Being a foster carer strengthens

individuals and families and, in turn, strengthens communities.”

The north/west metro region of Victoria, which includes Docklands, has more than 30 per cent of the total need for foster-care placements in the state.

“It’s a huge issue across the state,” Mr Fergeus said. “5500 children are in foster care programs and even more than that require foster care.”

Docklands is well known as an area for younger families, including young couples with no children. But Mr Fergeus said there was “quite low interest” in volunteer programs from Docklands residents.

“There are no foster carers in the Docklands area at all,” he said.

In the last year, only one person from Docklands has enquired about becoming a foster carer.

“For such a well-populated area, this is very low,” Mr Fergeus said.

“Inner city areas like the Docklands have the perception that things like this happen somewhere else,” he said.

Mr Fergeus believes the low interest is because Docklands residents feel they cannot provide foster care due to their apartment living and having full-time jobs.

“It’s important for children to stay engaged in their local community,” Mr Fergeus said. “There are many kids in the area who require the service, but have to go elsewhere and are then consequently removed from their local community.”

There are a variety of ways to help children in need that do not include housing or permanent care. One option is the “respite care” program, which may involve activities like bringing a child to sport practise or taking them on a weekend outing.

Children need foster care for a number of reasons, including parental issues, family crisis and if their parents are unfit for parenting due to mental illness or disability.

An information session will be held for inner-city residents wanting to know more about the program. For details and more information contact Foster Care Hotline on 1800 013 088.

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Comments

  • Josh Fergeus at 10:18am on 31/08/11

    A brief correction - there are over 5,500 children and young people in care at any given time. Not 15,000.

    September is Foster Care Month - an information session will be held on the 29th September at 6pm in Melbourne. Call 1800 013 088 for more details or visit www.fosterabrighterfuture.com.au

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