They may technically be foster carers, but Shayne and Paul Carr simply see themselves as parents.
For the past three-and-a-half years the Carrs have been foster parents through Uniting Ngurambang OOHC.
The couple are currently caring for four children, as well as two of their own kids.
But that’s now how Shayne and Paul see it.
“The word foster doesn’t exist in our home. They’re our kids, we’re their parents, the older kids are their brothers and sisters,” Mr Carr said.
Western NSW needs more than 70 new carers this year across all types of care. In particular there is a huge need for Aboriginal carers to provide emergency, respite and short term care.
Mr Carr said he wished more Aboriginal people would consider becoming foster carers.
“It’s a shame we don’t have a lot more Aboriginal carers. But we can’t put kids with Aboriginal carers just for the sake of it, they shouldn’t do it just to tick a box,” he said.
“You’ve got to have good carers for the kids, you can’t just give them to anyone.”
After dealing with behavioural problems and serious medical issues, the couple know fostering isn’t without its challenges, but Ms Carr said it was all worthwhile.
“We absolutely love it and we wouldn’t want to be doing anything else,” she said.
The foster children were completely part of the family, Mr Carr said.
“We wouldn’t give them back without a fight. They’re fully ours now,” he said.
With relatives having been involved in the stolen generations, Mr Carr said he knew how important family and cultural connections were.
The word foster doesn’t exist in our home. They’re our kids, we’re their parents, the older kids are their brothers and sisters.Paul Carr
“Over the years Aboriginal kids have been pulled from pillar to post,” he said.
While fostering was something the Carrs said they had always wanted to do, they were turned off the experience five or six years ago by an informative workshop. It wasn’t until they saw an advertisement from Ngurambang looking for Aboriginal carers for Aboriginal children that they decided to give it a shot.
When they first signed up, Mr Carr said he was especially interested in keeping Aboriginal siblings together.
Out-of-home care agencies provide foster carers with ongoing support, training and mentorship to assist them in providing the best care they possibly can. Respite care may be part of the support.
Fostering is open to a wide range of people. Foster carers can come from traditional families to single people to same-sex couples.
Those interested in finding out more about becoming a foster carer can visit the Fostering NSW website at fosteringnsw.com.au or call 1800 236 783.