Carer Award winners announced at the 2022 Victorian Protecting Children Awards

Foster carers across Victoria play an incredibly important role in our community by creating safe and supportive homes for children and young people to thrive.

The Victorian Protecting Children Awards, held on Wednesday 7 September during National Child Protection Week, recognise practitioners, workers, carers and community members from across all areas of the Victorian child and family services system.

Fostering Connections would like to warmly congratulate foster carers Toni and Paul Gauntlet from MacKillop Family Services for being chosen as the winners of the 2022 Carer Award.

Announced by Minister for Child Protection Colin Brooks, the Carer Award recognises kinship, foster and permanent carers, both past and present, who have made a significant contribution to the lives of children and young people in care.

Toni and Paul currently provide care for two teenagers who presented with significant mental health conditions.

In selecting the winners, the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing commended Toni and Paul’s dedication to ensuring the young people in their care thrive: “Their advocacy and dedication to these teenagers has helped them to thrive far beyond the proposed outcomes…. They have shown exceptional effort and care in every way, providing a safe and nurturing environment and building lasting, meaningful relationships.”

“Toni and Paul’s consistent encouragement has supported the teenagers to be confident in their educational skills, resilience to challenges and increased their motivation to succeed. As a result of their time with Toni and Paul, the teenagers attend school full time and have stable and manageable mental health.”

Toni and Paul’s foster care agency MacKillop Family Services were thrilled to see them recognised for their role as foster carers: “We are incredibly proud to work alongside Toni and Paul and support them in their foster carer journey. We have witnessed first hand the amazing impact they have had on the children in their care.”

CEO of MacKillop Family Services, Dr Robyn Miller said: “To me, every foster carer and everyone working in protecting children deserves the utmost respect and recognition for the work that they do; it makes an incredible difference to the lives of children, young people and families. Without the dedication and compassion of all our staff and carers, we would not be able to support children in care to achieve these great outcomes..."

Deb Tsorbaris, CEO of the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare, who also won the Robin Clark Leadership Award said: “Fostering can be challenging, but as Toni and Paul have shown, that hard work can be incredibly rewarding. Foster carers play an essential role in our community by supporting children, young people and families, and that is why this recognition is so important."

Fostering Connections would like to congratulate the finalists of the Carer Award; Amanda (Ama) Hargreaves from Anglicare Victoria, Brian Taylor and Patricia Cody from Berry Street, Helen Sutton from Cafs, Shokoofeh Azar, and Vanessa Michel and Hamish Millar from MacKillop Family Services.

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Victorians from all walks of life can play a part in their community by becoming foster carers. To get started, give us a call on 1800 013 088 or enquire online.

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