Lutheran Care was delighted to send a group of Foster Carers and three staff members to the National Foster and Kinship Care Conference, held from September 22-23 on Nipaluna Country, Hobart.
The keynote speaker on day one was Anne Hollands, the National Children’s Commissioner. Anne highlighted the importance of ensuring children and young people are known, loved and cared for, presenting research that 50% of adult mental health issues emerge before the age of 14.
Anne summarised that relationships are the most powerful tool for wellbeing, which deeply resonates with the pillars of therapeutic practise upholding the Foster Care Program, and reinforces Lutheran Care’s campaign messaging Be the Village, drawing on the well-known proverb, it takes a village to raise a child.
On the second day, Emerging Minds presented the inspiring keynote with a focus on seeing the individual child as a whole. Children’s mental health cannot be separated from the broader contexts of their lives. There are many interacting influences that impact on infant and child mental health, not least of which is children’s relationships with their parents and their immediate family environment. Emerging Minds amplify the holistic view of children’s social and emotional wellbeing and challenge policy makers, decision makes, systems and practitioners to continue to seek personalised supports that recognise individuals in their context.
Two full days at the National Conference saw Lutheran Care carers and staff participating in electives about Berry Street’s therapeutic life story work, mentoring programs, foster family plans honouring biological children of carers in the home and peer-led Foster Carer connections. There was also a powerful virtual reality experience, where participants gained insight into the inner voices of children and young people at different stages of development, drawing on the power of technology to increase empathy for their stories when told from their perspective.
The travels to Tasmania provided Lutheran Care carers the cherished opportunity to establish and strengthen existing peer connections with each other, to sleep in big beds undisturbed, share many belly laughs, learn about Tasmania’s turbo chickens and return home with refreshed energy. They also left treasuring the perspectives of others around Australia, working within their influence to improve the lives of children and young people, and advocate for change within the organisations and systems around them.
Lutheran Care Southern Foster Carer Kristy was thankful for having the opportunity to go to Tasmania.
“The conference was really fantastic and I learnt so much more than I even expected,” Kristy said.
“I have come away with so many ideas to help (us both) navigate her (foster child) future.”
Lutheran Care is so grateful for the group of carers that were willing and able to shuffle their routines to invest in this learning.
The conference ended with a spectacular gala dinner and opened an opportunity the following day for Lutheran Care Foster Carers to explore some of the beautiful local surrounds before flying home together on Sunday evening.
Be the Village. Find out more about Foster Care here.