Anglicare SA

Donna Marie and Andrew desperately wanted to start their own family but health issues prevented them from having children.

The couple endured some tiring years pursuing overseas adoption, before realising that many children in their own South Australian community were in desperate need of love and care.

After talking to friends and debunking myths around foster care, they applied and registered as foster carers, and the rest is history. Their household has since blossomed into their now beautiful family of four.

“We desperately wanted to have a family and we had been on a Chinese adoption waiting list for ages,” Donna Marie said.

“A friend pointed out an AnglicareSA Foster Care newspaper ad – we went to an information session and it just snowballed from there.”

The couple are the first to admit they went into the process nine years ago simply “wanting a family”. It completely changed their world.

“Our priorities suddenly flipped to being all about the children,” she said.

“Our first was so vulnerable and just seeing her in the cot, we knew we were faced with a huge responsibility to love her, keep her safe and give her the best start in life.”

Donna Marie and Andrew’s eldest foster child, now aged nine, came to live with them at four months old. Despite living with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, her young age meant the couple could provide her with a great start to life.

“She really opened our eyes – sometimes we live in our own bubble without realising there are children in care that need love and support,” Andrew said.

“We decided to come off the adoption register in China. We thought why are we trying to adopt from another country when there’s more children in our local community we could be helping?”

Coping with Challenges Through Love

The children came to live with Donna Marie and Andrew at four months and 16 months of age and the challenges for each have been completely different.

“As foster carers you’re constantly asking yourself is it trauma or natural personality? Our girls are still young and we’re still getting support on these things,” Andrew said.

“We can only do our best to give the solid foundation of love and support they deserve, and make sure they can look after themselves independently in the future.”

The couple have made a conscious effort to ensure they are there for the children at all times.

“One girl’s trauma was from her time within the womb which makes it easier to parent, whereas the other was waking up to different carers every day,” Andrew said.

“Routine and bonding are vital for development in the early years – so we make a conscious effort to ensure we’re always there for them, whether it’s bedtime or school drop-off and pick-up.”

‘We’re Just Like Any Other Aussie Family’

Like any other parents, the couple are kept busy with their “very active” girls.

As a family they’ve been on trips interstate and overseas; the girls have even been bridesmaids at family weddings.

“They go to dance classes, yoga, swimming, roller skating – they do everything that children should be doing to have a happy memory-filled childhood,” Donna Marie said.

While the couple considers themselves just “your ordinary Aussie family”, they constantly remind the girls about the importance of self-identity and individuality.

“We’ve said to the girls that no family is perfect and family comes in all shapes and sizes,” Andrew said.

“We don’t all have to be peas in pods.”

Being a Foster Carer

The couple said they’ve “been blessed” with support workers from AnglicareSA and the Department of Child Protection (DCP) who have supported their decisions.

“All the shows AnglicareSA and DCP put on at Easter, Christmas … it’s amazing and the kids absolutely love it,” Andrew said.

“The support we receive is so important so we can give our children what they deserve, because it’s not their fault they’re in this predicament.”

The couple said if they had been younger or had a bigger house, they would have taken on more foster children.

They encourage those considering becoming foster carers to “go for it”, but be prepared to be adaptable, flexible and committed to the challenges.

If you are considering becoming a foster carer like Donna Marie and Andrew, we would love to hear from you.

For more information on becoming a foster carer call (08) 8131 3456.

AnglicareSA Home Care Services customer, Viv Samuel is celebrating his 100th birthday in January 2019.

Viv served with the British Army during World War II as a member of the tank regiment across Europe and North West Africa. 

In 1951, following the war, Viv and his late wife Lorna moved from England after Viv was offered a job in South Australia. 

Viv and Lorna made ‘many beautiful friends’ in South Australia and were married 68 years before she sadly passed away in 2013.

Viv and his late wife Lorna began receiving home care services around eight years ago. Since Lorna’s passing, Viv has continued using our support services.

We would like to thank our living legend Viv for his service, as this Remembrance Day we also recognise the soldiers who lost their lives at war.

This amazing man will be celebrating his 100th birthday on January 26, 2019. 

How hard is it to find an affordable private rental home in metropolitan Adelaide?

It’s almost impossible for a single person on income support according to Anglicare Australia’s most recent Rental Affordability Snapshot.

Of more than 3,200 private rentals advertised on the day of the Snapshot, not one was affordable or appropriate for a single person on income support.

In fact, the National Snapshot revealed that there wasn’t one rental property affordable for a single person on Newstart or Youth Allowance in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide, Darwin or Perth when the research was performed on March 24.

Source: Anglicare Australia

Like around the rest of the country, affordable housing in South Australia is drying up, while long waiting lists increase.

For many years now, stats have clearly shown low-income earners are unable to afford to rent privately.

So how does this property shortage affect our state?

The severe shortage means families are left homeless – often put up in marginal housing such as hotels or forced to sleep rough.

Without safe crisis options available, it creates a cycle of homelessness difficult to break.

Being unable to afford a home for any length of time can disconnect people from their schools, communities, and important support networks such as family and friends.

It can negatively impact physical and mental wellbeing, as a stable home and job are vital in securing healthy livelihoods.

Without these important factors, people lose a healthy sense of belonging and meaningful participation in the community.

This causes exclusion within society – for which we all end up paying the price.

In response to the shortage of appropriate crisis housing in Northern Adelaide, AnglicareSA has developed the Turning Point program.

Turning Point provides safe and stable crisis accommodation for single parent families with young children, and young pregnant mothers experiencing domestic and family violence, for up to three months.

Providing a house rather than a motel room enables spaces for children to play, a kitchen and laundry, so daily life can continue with greater self-sufficiency and normality for the family.

Since December 2016, AnglicareSA has partnered with the Wyatt Benevolent Trust, private donors and partners Beyond Bank to source and furnish seven properties and support 37 families (43 adults and 77 children). And according to Michelle Gugenhuber, General Manager Housing and Homelessness Services AnglicareSA,  the Turning Point program is proving incredibly successful.

“AnglicareSA has long advocated for a Housing First response where the homeless, or those at risk of homelessness, are quickly moved into independent and permanent housing with additional supports and services provided as needed,” said Michelle.

“With 84 per cent of Turning Point participants going on to access permanent housing, this approach clearly demonstrates that safe and stable housing during crisis mitigates the risk of prolonged homelessness.”

Demand for services is increasing

We are experiencing an increase in the volume and complexities of people presenting across our AnglicareSA services.

More than 2,500 families seek support from AnglicareSA’s Northern Homelessness Service annually.

Of these, 38 per cent are fleeing domestic and family violence, 25 per cent are Aboriginal, and many are involved in the child protection system.

Domestic and family violence is a major cause of homelessness nationally. It can contribute to ‘severe social and personal disruption, poorer housing conditions and financial disadvantage’ for women and children.

We must address the social and affordable housing crisis in Australia in order to tackle the issues of homelessness.

Despite the challenges, we remain committed to addressing the urgent need for improved availability of homes.