Community Services News

New resources to help Aboriginal carers raise kids “strong”

Celebrating at the launch of the Raising them strong

Hail, hail the gang’s all here! Celebrating at the launch of the Raising them strong resources are (back row): Eric Murray (foster carer), Tracey Murray (foster carer), Lesley Trindall (foster carer), Allan Trindall (foster carer) and Cheryl Purchase (Senior Project Officer, Operations Systems, Community Services). In front: Helen Freeland (Deputy Chief Executive Operations, Community Services), Ian Clarke (actor), Leanne McKinnon (foster carer), Maralyn Sadler (foster carer) and Elly Chatfield (actor).

More than 3,500 Aboriginal carers across NSW are set to benefit from new resources, including a compelling DVD of real carer stories and experiences, which were unveiled in early July during NAIDOC Week celebrations in St Mary’s, NSW.

One hundred people gathered at St Mary’s Memorial Hall in Sydney’s west to see a screening from the DVD, listen to a performance by talented Indigenous singer Emma Donovan and hear some important words by experienced foster carer Eric Murray about the value of support and training.

The Raising them strong resources were created by Community Services staff in consultation with Aboriginal kinship and foster carers around the state, Aboriginal caseworkers and the Aboriginal Child, Family and Community Care State Secretariat (AbSec).

Raising them strong features a booklet, topic cards and a DVD with accessible information on topics like health, education, attachment, grief and loss, family contact and where to go for help.

Helen Freeland, Deputy Chief Executive Operations, said the new resources were a very practical tool for supporting Aboriginal carers.

“There are currently 5,947 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in care in NSW. With this number continuing to rise, the need for Aboriginal carers is rapidly increasing and we need to ensure that they are properly supported in their role.

Emma Donavan

Heartfelt song: Indigenous singer Emma Donavan wows the crowd with her soaring vocals at the Raising them strong launch.

Raising them strong is a timely and helpful resource to help Aboriginal carers to nurture and manage those children who come into their care.”

Real voices of carers

The resources feature the “voices” of real carers and caseworkers. The DVD storyline and characters are based on the experience of carers in Taree, western Sydney, Bourke, Armidale and other locations where groups of carers shared their stories with Community Services staff last year and talked about the kind of help and support they most needed.

The DVD was produced by production company Real Play Media and features talented Indigenous actors such as Kylie Coolwell, Ivan Clarke and Elly Chatfield.

aising them strong resources

New for Aboriginal carers: A DVD, booklet and topic cards make up the Raising them strong resources.

“The DVD format works because it gets around barriers to training like access, literacy and geography because people can simply watch the DVD in their own home. It doesn’t matter where they live,” says Helen.

The new resources are in keeping with the Community Services commitment to improve support and training for Aboriginal carers. They also reflect the division’s philosophy to keep Aboriginal families together wherever possible and maintain children and young people’s ties to their heritage and culture while they are in out-of-home care.

Aboriginal kinship and foster carers across NSW will be mailed copies of the DVD and booklet in late July and early August while out-of-home care teams and Aboriginal carer support staff will also receive copies of the new resources.