The devotion and dedication of Innisfail carers Rayleen and Fred Barlow have been honoured and celebrated at a special ceremony at Parliament House this evening as part of Foster and Kinship Carer Week (31 July – 6 August).
State Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt said Rayleen and Fred have won the 2011 Foster and Kinship Carer Excellence Award for the Far North Queensland region for their dedication to helping Queensland’s most vulnerable children and young people.
“It was my pleasure to join Child Safety Minister Phil Reeves this evening to recognise the unsung heroes of our communities – foster carers,” Mr Pitt said.
“Carers really are the backbone of the child protection system, providing nurturing and loving homes to children who have been abused and neglected.
“I’d like to congratulate Rayleen and Fred on their win, and offer my heartfelt thanks for changing the lives of children in need.”
Rayleen and Fred have been carers in Queensland for 14 years.
They have six Indigenous children in their care including children with disabilities ranging in age from a toddler to children in their early teens.
Rayleen says she gets a lot of laughter and joy out of caring for the children.
“My advice for anyone who is thinking about caring for children is to go for it. It is a very rewarding thing to do and, not only that, you’re helping little children to give them a better start in life and that’s a very rewarding experience,” she said.
However, her husband Fred quickly added that you have to have a love for children.
“You can’t just go out and do it if you haven’t got the patience and affection for children,” he said.
“You’ve got to have a love for children in your heart and it’s got to be something you really want to do.”
When asked what makes it all worthwhile, Rayleen fondly said whenever the children tell her they love her.
“Our eldest says to me, ‘Mum when I get bigger I’m going to stay at home and look after you and Dad’. Little things like that make it all worthwhile,” she said.
Child Safety Minister Phil Reeves said each year the Bligh Government presents awards to a foster and kinship carer from each of our seven regions.
“I am constantly impressed by people like the Barlow’s who open their hearts and homes to help children and young people reach their full potential in life,” Mr Reeves said.
“As Child Safety Minister, this is one of the highlights and is a great opportunity to personally thank Queensland carers for the amazing job they do each and every day.
“Carers provide safe and loving homes to more than 7800 children and young people in out-of-home care.
“They are truly inspirational people who have volunteered to help change young lives, whether it’s for a few hours, a week or over many years.
“You simply cannot put a value on the nurturing that foster and kinship carers provide the young people in their care and how much of a difference they make to their lives.
“Although this evening’s awards recognise seven regional winners, Foster and Kinship Carer Week is an opportunity to celebrate the commitment of all carers.
“The theme for this year’s annual week – Caring now for tomorrow – encourages families to come together in their local communities to reflect on and celebrate the achievements of carers.”
For more information about Foster and Kinship Carer Week visit: www.childsafety.qld.gov.au. For more information on becoming a foster carer, contact Child Safety Services on 1300 550 877.