Natasha is a proud Torres Strait Islander woman, who was born and raised on Yorta Yorta country in Shepparton. She works with the Foster Care team at VACCA’s offices Victoria’s north.
Being able to work with her community and support local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children is a key part of what attracted Natasha to join the Foster Care team. “The most rewarding part of my role is being able to work with the carers, and be part of their journey” she says. “Watching them go through training, getting to know them quite intimately during the assessment process, and getting to know their family is something that I really enjoy.”
Natasha’s role is critical in the support and recruitment of carers to support Aboriginal children to be safe, loved and connected to culture.
Natasha reflects about a carer who, with VACCA’s support, was able to wrap all her resources around the child in her care in order to lift him up and strengthen him by connecting him to culture, community and family. “Carers are very important to the children in their care for many reasons – one is their ability to be an advocate, being able to keep them connected to their family, supporting the reunification process, and keeping children connected to culture.”
A big challenge for Natasha and her team is being able to find carers in a rural setting. “Finding carers up in Ovens Murray can be really difficult” she says. Part of that is changing people’s perceptions of who can become a carer.
“Some people think that they don't have time for it, some people think that they have to have their own home. Some people think that they have to be married. But we want all different types of carers” she explains.
Foster care at VACCA is not a one size fits all approach, and we encourage people from different backgrounds, experiences and family types to consider becoming a foster carer.
“Anyone can become a foster carer with VACCA. The only requirements that we do have is that you're over the age of 21, that you have a passion for Aboriginal culture, that you are passionate about keeping children and young people connected to their culture and their community as well” says Natasha.
“Being that soft place to fall for children when they're unable to live at home while their family, and get that help and that healing” is what’s most important, she says.