My Forever Family NSW has launched a new campaign focusing on the need for more carers, particularly First Nations carers, for First Nations kids in out-of-home care.

Currently, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, one in 18 Aboriginal children are in out-of-home care, which is ten times the rate of non-Indigenous children.

My Forever Family NSW’s campaign features two familiar faces, Rabbitohs player, Braidon Burns, and proud father and actor, Luke Carroll.

Both ambassadors have had their own experiences with care and are stepping up to encourage mob to take on the role of carer for children unable to live at home.

Born in Dubbo in western NSW, Burns was raised by his grandmother and recently stepped up to become his younger brother’s legal guardian.

“I didn’t grow up with my parents … my grandmother took me, my little brother and cousins … in and raised us up. I’m in the situation now where my little brother hasn’t got anyone around him because our grandmother passed. I’ve taken on that role and taken him in as his legal guardian,” Burns said.

Burns has a strong sense of family, which has connected him to his cultural identity.

“It is a different sort of feeling, it’s not the same that everyone else has experienced because, you know, for me myself, I’ve been a part of a lot of different families,” said the Rabbitohs star.

“It is important I stay connected to culture, I feel I’ve tried to surround myself with people that allow me to do that and I feel like that is where my values are really entrenched in that culture. It’s where I feel … I’m safest and happiest.”

A Wiradjuri man whose mother was a kinship carer, Carroll has recently become a My Forever Family NSW ambassador.

“My mother was a kinship carer back 20-30 years now. She took in my cousin; my cousin’s mother couldn’t take care of her in the way that she would have liked to. So, my mum took her in, and she became part of our family,” the Play School actor said.

“I’m excited to be working with an organisation that advocates for foster and kinship carers and strives to achieve the best possible outcomes for children in care. I know my mum would be looking down from above and she’d be really proud of this collaboration.”

Both Burns and Carroll are strong promoters of the importance of having Aboriginal kids in Aboriginal homes.

“I think from the get-go, Aboriginal kids are behind the eight ball. The effects of stolen land and everything over the past years has really, and still is, showing,” Burns said.

“I think we need to stay really connected to our culture. If we don’t stay connected to our culture, kids will lose that sense of identity.

“Growing up I really struggled with my identity until I went back to culture and got connected to Elders … I think it is so important people step up and be leaders in our communities.”

“I’m excited to be with an organisation that works with and fosters Indigenous carers and strives for the best possible outcomes for our children out there who need the help. There is a critical shortage out there at the moment of Aboriginal carers, but an overrepresentation of Aboriginal kids in out-of-home care,” added Carroll.

“We need more foster carers out there, if anyone is up for it, come forward and help out and help them kids in need. Get them into a loving, safe and caring home.

“We want Aboriginal kids in Aboriginal homes, and that continues their culture [and] their connection to culture in that loving and safe home.”

Australian not-for-profit, Adopt Change, facilitates My Forever Family NSW. Adopt Change CEO Renee Carter said the organisation is dedicated to encouraging people to become carers.

“With almost 40 percent of the kids living in [the] out-of-home care system [being] Aboriginal, locating more Aboriginal families to support community, is a matter of urgency,” Carter said.

“Anyone wanting to understand more about becoming a foster or kinship carer should contact My Forever Family NSW. The team are able to answer any questions and provide you with information about how to become a carer.”

For more information about My Forever Family NSW or becoming a carer, visit: https://www.myforeverfamily.org.au.

By Rachael Knowles