A WOMAN who has devoted the last 18 years of her life to supporting children who need it most has been named the Veritas House Foster Carer of the Year.
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Veritas House held its Foster Care Week Awards ceremony in Bathurst on September 13, acknowledging the work of dedicated carers in the region.
In addition to the main award, multiple foster carers received awards recognising their service.
The Foster Carer of the Year, Sue (whose name has been changed by the Western Advocate to protect the privacy of the children in her care), received the Deb Elsley Memorial Award at the ceremony.
As someone who doesn't like to be in the spotlight, it took a lot of convincing to get Sue to accept the award.
"I've always said to my case workers, 'Don't nominate me for that carer's award', because I don't want the fuss and the attention. Anyhow, after many years, they came and visited me and said, 'We really, really want you to accept it', so I gave in and I did and I felt very, very honoured and humbled about that acknowledgement," she said.
She said she has been a foster carer for about 18 years, in that time offering short-term, long-term and respite care to various children as needed.
She has had two children, who are siblings, in her care since they were babies and they will both be with her until they age out of the foster care system.
Those children share a close bond with Sue and the love they have for her is reciprocated.
While there is no legal obligation to keep them in her home once they turn 18 years old, the children are welcomed to continue to live with her for as long as they need.
"They've just been accepted and absorbed into my family and my extended family. We all consider them my kids," she said.
She has also ensured that the children maintain a relationship with their birth family.
Sue has just one regret about her time as a foster care, and that is that she isn't 30 years younger with a massive house so she can provide assistance to more children.
Foster caring is a "fulfilling" experience, she said, and she would recommend it to other people.
"When you take children into your home, I always talk about the three L's that children come with, and that is living, loving and learning, and then the carer must have the three P's, which are passion, patience and persistence. That's just my personal way of looking at it," Sue said.
"My children are now teenagers and we've flipped roles, and they're the ones with the passion, the patience with me, and I'm the one learning and loving and living with them, so it's quite nice and it's unconditional love."
Anyone considering becoming a foster carer must be over 18, an Australian citizen or permanent resident, in good health and without a criminal record. Carers can be single, married, in a de-facto or in a same sex relationship.
For more information on becoming a Foster Carer with Veritas House, call 6332 3882 or visit www.veritashouse.org.au.
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