Tuesday, August 31, 2010

BBQ fundraiser at the Overflow!

I think the following video footage tells the story completely!
We had such a great time, raised money and ate our sausage quota for the next 11 years.

Monday, August 30, 2010

QCWA Rocks!!!

It was my absolute pleasure to be invited to speak at this years regional QCWA conference at Kurramine Beach (about 40 mins from where I live). There were ladies there from Mackay out to Sarina and up to the Cape!

The local divisions of the QCWA have been wonderful supporter of Backpacks 4 Aussie kids since I started the project last year. The ladies have made blankets, teddies, dolls, cushions and all sorts of other things for us to include in the backpacks and nappy bags.

What can I say about these women? Well, let's see . . . for a start, not one of them was over 25 (mentally!), they were all passionate about being members of their divisions and helping their communities, yet realised that we are all part of a bigger community - from town, to state to country!

This group of highly motivated women of all ages and walks of life really know how to come together and support each other and the more needy people in their areas.

The meeting this year covered everything from proper protocols to follow at meetings, to a self esteem workshop and a Tai Chi training session.

A beautiful woman called Terri was waiting to greet me as I pulled into a car park. The very first time we met I discovered that she was the daughter of my 'Brown Owl' from when I was a littley in the Brownies!

Terri has always made me feel so welcomed to the meetings, as have all the ladies. I feel no age difference, except I think that some of these women have more energy than me!

I was treated to a coffee before my talk and of course I had scones with jam and cream afterward! You can't go to a QCWA thingy without having scones, it just wouldn't be right! (I think it's actually illegal)

I was only a little bit nervous about this presentation and I felt it went well, with lots of questions after and some really generous ladies who sneaked cash donations into my hand. As well as this the ladies loaded up my car with lots and lots of donations for the backpacks.

Several women came up to me and confessed they had tears in their eyes while I was talking about how little these kids in care may have. Some have experienced it first hand, having cared for neighbours kids and other kids not in 'official care', or growing up in a house where their parents cared for other peoples children.

I had such a lovely time chatting with the ladies, as I always do, that I was sad to leave. Hopefully I will get the chance to go to one of their craft mornings soon.

Anne from Babinda Div

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dr. Phil!

Former Dr. Phil logoImage via Wikipedia
I was watching Dr. Phil for a little while yesterday and on it were these people who had adopted a child from an overseas (ie, not American), orphanage. There were three women on the stage and a few more in the audience who were sharing their experiences.

It really struck me that these people were dealing with issues that we as carers deal with all the time, except we get training and support (if you know where to look and who to ask!). So the gist of the show was that children who are not given that initial love and bonding opportunity with an adult, be it parent, carer, nurse or worker in an orphanage all seem to have trouble forming long lasting suitable relationships with others as they grow.

The label for this is 'Reactive Attachment Disorder'. Very basically the child is unable to form appropriate social relationships. From being completely withdrawn, violent and angry to being overly familiar with complete strangers. For example, going into a strangers house, whether it be a carer or a carer's friend or family friend they haven't met before and just making themselves at home. Checking out the fridge, helping themselves to food, turning the tv on and flicking through the channels. Or they may hug or talk to strangers in the street or sit on strangers laps and think nothing of it, (which brings up the whole Santa Clause issue, but that's for another time LOL).

Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) is described in clinical literature as a severe and relatively uncommon disorder that can affect children.[1][2] RAD is characterized by markedly disturbed and developmentally inappropriate ways of relating socially in most contexts. It can take the form of a persistent failure to initiate or respond to most social interactions in a developmentally appropriate way—known as the "inhibited" form—or can present itself as indiscriminate sociability, such as excessive familiarity with relative strangers—known as the "disinhibited form".

This disorder can stem from not receiving appropriate adult contact during infancy and early childhood. This basically means, not enough cuddling or responding to cries of hunger or loneliness, not because the workers in the orphanages don't wants, they just can't give all the kids in their care the attention they need.

Mother and Child watching each otherImage via Wikipedia

As a teacher I've seen plenty of kids who have been unable to form appropriate relationships with their peers and with adults alike. Most of the kids we've shared our house with have been very, very comfortable to be here and showed no signs of stress. However, I now realise that this lack of outward stress can indicate something more going on inside. You think they are ok and settled and then without warning there is a tantrum or a crying fit or something that seems to come from nowhere.

And then I got to thinking, yes, as a carer and a teacher I do have access to training but what about the parents of kids with severe behaviour issues? Do they have access to respite? Do they even realise they need respite or what is going on with their child (biological or not)?

You probably all know at least one family who has a 'problem child' or a 'black sheep of the family'. That's the kid no one really wants to invite to the birthday party or have for a sleepover. I totally understand and can relate!

Imagine how their parents feel. Oh, they'd probably never admit it because they 'cope' and make the best with what they have.

I'm not saying these kids all have a some sort of disorder, not by any means, just that it's nice to be supportive of other parents in our community. You all know my little motto by now . . .

It takes a village to raise a child

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Overall Being Shopping Disount

I want to announce something very special that Overall Being is doing .....Head over too the website and see how YOU can help Backpacks 4 Aussie Kids raise funds to help children who go into Foster care and Kinship care. 

You can help Backpacks 4 Aussie Kids fill backpacks and nappy bags for kids going into foster and kinship care just by purchasing an item from this page! You know you will get a quality product from Overall Being and at the same time a % of the profits will go to our non profit group.  So go ahead . . .  shop till you drop!
Any ZOOBIE / GAIA product from the range listed on this website 20% of profits will go back too helping Backpacks 4 Aussie Kids fill much needed and important Backpacks and Nappy Bags for children of our future going into foster and kinship care.
So how do you order? Overall Being  likes to personal online shopping. So once you have worked out which items you would like.....email Lisa with the following code B4AK's Order. This will alert her that 20% of the sales goes directly to us.
OR if you already know what you would like click on the following link and an email will automatically open up for you to place your order.........Let's go SHOPPING!

Friday, August 13, 2010

One Chance at Childhood

Arcadia Child My photos that have a creative c...Image via Wikipedia
One Chance at Childhood was supposed to provide a stable home environment for kids in care under the age of 4 years who were on long term orders or in their second and third short term placements.

It would have meant that these kids would have had a place and a family to call theirs. They would have known where they were going at the end of each day and who they were going home to.

When the One Chance at Childhood (OCC) initiative was announced by former Child Safety minister Margaret Keech in February 2008, she said if families involved with the new unit failed to address their parenting issues within 12 months, the department would cease reunification plans, recognising the importance for children of a stable, safe home environment and a loving relationship with a carer.

Courier Mail 6/11/2009

But the program has been scrapped.

Too hard basket I think.

How do you tell a parent that they can never have their kids back?

Who supports that parent through the permanent loss of  a child that they love, (yes they do usually)?

Communities Department director-general Linda Apelt and current Child Safety Minister Phil Reeves said there was no 12-month deadline applied to parents, who through the OCC program have access to intensive specialist support and remedial services.
"Child protection is complex and it would be inappropriate to attempt to restrict families' opportunities for reunification where they are clearly working with departmental officers to ensure the safety of the child," Mr Reeves said.
 Courier Mail 6/11/2009

This policy was developed after a lot of consideration and much research and thought. Why dump it?
How long is long enough for parents to get their act together and be considered suitable parents again?

I can tell you, the amount of paperwork and screening as well as household safety checks and psychological profiles that my partner went through to be carers was just nuts. But, I understand it was necessary to see that we were 'fit' to look after someone else's child. Bruce (my parnter) did point out however, that he's already raised two of his own kids and wasn't required to go through any screening process!

How long do you think parents should be given?

How many short term placements is too many for a child under 4? (a short term placement is anywhere from one month to two years)

How many times should the child be placed back with the parent and then taken into care again before enough is enough?

There is so much research out there to say that children develop appropriate emotional responses to situations and people in very early childhood. Moving them around delays or prohibits this entirely!

My grandparents fostered two boys. The boys were 7 and 9 I think when they came to them. They received the same love and care that their own kids would have got. They were in care till age 18 and always welcomed home whenever they turned up. They were assisted financially and emotionally during their first years away from home, (which was only when they needed something). I'd like to say this story has a happy ending, but it doesn't. I don't even think these two people know their carers (my grandparents) are dead.

I'd like to think these kids would have had a better chance of forming a bond with their foster parents if they had been able to be adopted or been in care at a younger age.

Who knows though?

Love to hear some of your thoughts in the comments section about this post. I'm tempted to say that all kids who have been in care for a certain amount of time under the age of 4 need to be adopted. But I have my doubts.


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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Backpacks project gets more backpacks!

40 backpacks donated by local shopping center in Cairns FNQ


New kid on the block, Backpacks for Aussie Kids is a local charity working to give foster kids an easier transition to a new foster home by providing each child with an age and gender specific backpack with life’s little necesseties.

Raintrees Shopping Centre recently learnt of the charity and leapt at the opportunity to donate 40 backpacks left over from a previous promotion to such a worthy cause.

“We’ve had these backpacks sitting here and thought of various ways to give them away but none of the ideas we came up with married up as well with the centre’s philosophy which is Community, Value and Convenience. Backpacks for Aussie Kids ticked all the boxes, the one of primary concern being Community. We see it as being a highly valuable cause and it’s convenient because we can give them all to the one organization ” said Centre Manager, Russell Mitchell-Smith with a wink.

Backpacks for Aussie Kids was recently established in Innisfail by two ex-school teachers who regularly saw the plight of children placed into foster care without anything of their own until their new carers had an opportunity to get to the shops.

“If we can get a backpack to each child that is placed into foster care, we can be sure they have the necessities that they deserve, things such as a toothbrush and clean underpants. We think it’s important to give these children something to call their own when quite often everything they ever knew has been left behind in disarray. A torch helps them get to the toilet in a new house, a teddy gives them something to hang onto. Clean clothes to wear to school, it’s important for self esteem you know” says Despina Parakas,, founder of Backpacks for Aussie Kids.

(this press release written by Fleur Warner)

Raintrees Centre Manager, Russell Mitchell-Smith presented the backpacks to Despina Parakasa and Jo Klein at the centre.
Jo and Center Manager Russell

B4AK supports Kids in the Community

Sponsored by Backpacks for Aussie Kids
Recognising our childrens involvement in the community!
The KidsZone@FC Community Hero Awards encourage nominations from the community of Kids doing their bit for the community. 
Weather it is their involvement in a community group, helping the elderly, school work, charity involvement  or something else that adds value to the community if you know of kids or a friend involved we want to know about them!
Each month the nominees for be profiled on the Family Capers Forums and the Family Capers Community will vote for the KidsZone@FC Community Hero. Winners will receive a prize and qualify for our annual KidsZone@FC Community Hero Presented in January 2011 at the Family Capers Family Convention and Awards Dinner.
Children who are encouraged to shine in areas that interest them might go on to build a career in those pursuits. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to know the recognition they received as a child via Family Capers helped set them up for the future?

Family Capers is contacting schools and community groups throughout the country to send in their nominations for Kids in Community. Join us in celebrating what our children can do.
Let the Family Capers Team know about what the Kids in our Community are achieving by nominating them or submitting article or artwork for the KidsZone@FC Mag by emailing kidszone@familycapers.com.au
Like to sponsor a Kids in the Community Award with prizes please contact linda@familycapers.com.au
(written by Linda Enever of FC) 
 Backpacks 4 Aussie Kids is pleased to be involved in this community program. We supply the monthly winner with a backpack filled with age appropriate goodies just as a 'thank you' for being you! 

It's so important to let people know when they are valued and sometimes it's really easy to overlook the kids in our lives. When we are going through a hard time, so are they, just by the mere fact they are watching what's going on with us. Kids cope with lots more than we realise and I think we have mostly forgotten what it was like to be a kid.
This program has such a positive focus. You could nominate your own child for making gains in areas only you would normally see. If you are a foster carer, nominate your biological kids for this award! They are helping kids in care too.
Can't wait to see who is nominated next!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Inspiring People

It's been a whole week since Tracy and I got home from the Connect2Mums conference in Brisbane and I'm still inspired! That says a lot about the people that were there and the orgainisation of the whole thing.
The project had been nominated for 'Best Service Site' award and I filled in the forms and sent them off, just in the nick of time mind you, because I live on the edge baby.... and because I was procrastinating!

I realise that I've been telling everyone who asks, that the conference was 'amazing, inspiring and so completely awesome!' Which doesn't really tell anyone much about what happened.  The problem is, that even though we were only there for a couple of days, the whole thing felt like much longer, in a really good way.

I got to meet people in real life who until now had just been logos or icons on various networking sites. My best friends Tracy and Amanda were able to meet these people that I'd been talking about for the last year and understand why I'd been ranting about how wonderful they were.

These women, (yes, mostly women and about 3 guys were in attendance), had all started their own businesses from scratch. Some of these ladies had been through the most traumatic and soul crushing experiences, near death experiences and life changing moments that I was stunned and relieved to know that not only was it possible to move forward in your life after these events, it was imperative.

I won't relay the stories here, that is something for their personal blogs and sites, but lets just say that if you needed to find some motivation to get your life moving in an upwards direction again, the conference was the place for you to be.

Initially I was a little skeptical about going to an event like this, but I'd been invited to do a presentation and getting the word out about the backpacks is very important to me. So I went. I listened. I participated. I cried. I laughed (a lot!) and I learned.

So very many of the people we met offered words of support and encouragement and told me that I was an inspiration . . . me? I don't think so, not after hearing other life stories and seeing triumph over adversity in many different ways. But still, I thank those people, without those kind words I wouldn't be here typing this, I'd still be in bed with the cat wishing the day away.

Below are just a few of the people we met in Brisbane!

Congratulations to the winners and all the nominees.

I received the 'Connect2giving' award for my work with the Backpacks 4 Aussie Kids Project along with Dr. Lucy Burns who gives all profits from her online store Better Than Flowers to the muscular dystrophy foundation, (she has MS herself).

Connect2Mums was pretty much my first point of contact for social networking and I'm so happy to be involved and have the opportunity to know these kind and generous group of women, (and a few fellas as well).


Quote at Acura dealershipImage by eszter via Flickr

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