Rocky's fostering story
When children and young people in care experience a positive connection to their culture, community, and identity, they then have greater opportunities to thrive during their care experience and in their future. Rocky shares he and his wife’s story fostering children from different cultural backgrounds.
Tell us a little bit about yourself...
I am a proud Wiradjuri man from Condobolin in Central West NSW. In 1981, I was driving through Dareton in NSW near the Victorian border, when our car got a flat tyre and I have been living in Dareton ever since! I absolutely fell in love with the place.
My wife and I have been fostering with Mallee Family Care for 12 years now and in that time, we have fostered almost 60 kids. I have three adult children of my own who are now living across all different parts of the country. Now we have three kids in our care, two are brothers that we’ve had since they were very young, and a girl from a very young age as well.
Why did you become a foster carer?
I had family friends who worked in fostering with Mallee Family Care and asked me and my wife if we wanted to become foster carers. We did the training and 12 years later we haven’t looked back. I spent time in care as a kid and from that experience I knew I wanted to help these kids out. I foster kids from all backgrounds whether Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal.
What’s been the best experience as a foster carer?
I share my knowledge of my Aboriginal culture and supported the children with their culture, the Wiradjuri culture. I take them to places they have never seen before and the best thing is seeing the smile on their faces. I take the young kids in my care out bush. I show them scar trees and teach them about what they mean to us. I teach them about canoe trees and how we used to them to get around.
Mildura has a high Aboriginal population and so I am well known in the community. We have strong connections with the parents and families of the kids in our care and go and visit them when we can. When they are old enough to understand they are in foster care, then we talk about their families and where they came from and show them pictures of their families.
What advice would you give to people thinking about fostering?
If you are thinking about it, just do it. We were a bit unsure ourselves at the beginning because we didn’t know what to expect or what the kids would be like. But just go into it with open eyes and open ears.
The agency you foster with will support you every step of the way. The support Mallee Family Care has given us is unbelievable. All the support gets wrapped around you and the kids. They support you right through everything. We treat the kids in our care as our own and the agency is there to support us in what we do. If you need help, then they’ll jump in.
You might be helping a young person who might have lost their male role model. They need someone to look up to, someone they can admire.
What should people know about supporting children’s connection to culture?
You don’t know what kids will come into your care or what backgrounds they’ll come from. But no matter where they are from, it’s important to help teach them about their culture, so that they don’t lose that connection while they are in care. Culture is very important to my partner and me. The kids that come into my care are from different tribes to me. I learn about their culture and their elders.
For non-Aboriginal carers, it’s important to find as much information you can about where these kids have come from. The best advice for foster carers is to talk to a lot of people in your community and get advice. Think outside the box and find a local Aboriginal organisation to get more information. Take the kids to cultural events in your community.
One of the young girls in my care is part Hungarian, so we feed her Hungarian food and help her learn about that culture too. Trying to learn how to cook Hungarian food has been a challenge! But we are always trying to help open up their eyes to their culture and new experiences.
Learn more about caring for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children here.
Interested in becoming a foster carer?
Fostering Connections welcomes carers from all cultural backgrounds. Children and young people in care benefit from being supported by diverse carers who can ensure their experience in care is welcoming, inclusive and culturally safe.
To find out more about becoming a foster carer, call 1800 013 088 or enquire today.