Foster and Kinship Carer Morning Tea, Government House
I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Ngunnawal People, and pay my respects to their elders, past and present, emerging leaders and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders gathered here today.
Good morning, all.
Linda and I are delighted to welcome you to Government House — finally!
As you know, we had planned to hold the 2020 Foster and Kinship Carer Morning Tea during Foster and Kinship Week in September. But for various reasons, including a State Funeral for John Fahey, we had to put this event on hold.
Holding the event today has proved to be fortuitous as this week is Children’s Week — a time when we reflect on the many ways children enrich our society.
I want to begin with a disclosure.
Last December, Linda and I became grandparents for the first time. Our grandson, Charlie, is 10 months old this week. As any grandparent will attest, a grandchild brings immense joy — not only to grandparents but also to family.
In my speech to launch National Child Protection Week in September, I said ‘if the love poured into Charlie in the first year of his life could be poured into every child, our country would not have any issues with its future.’
It was important at that event to thank the people at the child protection coalface for their outstanding efforts in protecting our children and keeping them safe.
Today, on behalf of the nation, I want to thank all Foster and Kinship Carers, especially those here in the ACT. You too are wonderful, outstanding Australians — selfless to the nth degree, caring, compassionate and supportive.
You epitomise goodness.
We see that goodness in Foster carers Laetitia and her husband, Matthew.
We see that goodness in Kinship carers Geoffrey and his wife, Jillian.
And we see it in the organisations that are represented in the room here today — the consortium, ‘ACT Together’, and its partners, Barnardos Australia, Australian Childhood Foundation, and Oz Child.
Thank you all for the important work you do — for the love that you pour into children.
You — the Foster and Kinship Carers — have put your hand up and stepped in to fill the void when, for whatever reason, others haven’t been able to parent a child.
You have opened your hearts and your homes to children in need of care and protection.
You have, literally, saved lives.
The statistics, as we know, are not good.
Unfortunately and regrettably, the number of children receiving child protection services continues to rise.
In the ACT alone there are currently more than 800 children living in out-of-home care due to issues of abuse and neglect. That equates to one child in every classroom in the ACT in need of care and protection. The safety, security and stability provided by Foster and Kinship Carers is needed now more than ever .
Today’s Foster and Kinship Morning Tea is an opportunity for Linda and me to acknowledge the important roles played by Foster and Kinship Carers in the ACT.
To recognise all of you for the important work you do in caring for vulnerable children in the ACT.
And to thank you for giving love to a child — the greatest gift of all.