As part of the Veritas House #FosterCareWeek celebrations, Di Fenner from Orange has been announced the recipient of the Deb Elsley Memorial Award. The award acknowledges the significant contribution that Di has made in providing a safe and supportive home environment to children and young people in care, and assisting them to grow and develop in a happy and healthy way.

The Award recognises one exceptional Carer who displays the Veritas House organisational values of compassion, innovation, inclusion, individualised care, cultural sensitivity, fairness and honesty. While Di does not believe in awards singling out carers because of her strong belief that every Foster Carer is special, Di was selected for the award in recognition of her role not only as an exceptional carer, but for her role in mentoring and supporting other carers and in encouraging people from across Western NSW to consider becoming a carer for the first time. Di said that she accepted the award on behalf of all Foster Carers who love and care for children and young people every day.

According to Veritas House CEO, Jody Pearce, the awards are designed to acknowledge the significant contribution local Foster Carers make in providing a safe and supportive home environment for children in Out of Home Care.

“Our Foster Carers play a critical role in assisting children and young people in their care to grow and develop in a happy and healthy way and we believe it is important to honour and celebrate the contribution they make to our region,” said Ms Pearce.

Di has been a carer for many years, including the past 4 years with Veritas House; and the award acknowledges the understanding, compassion and commitment to nurture and support every child and young person that has come into her care that Di has demonstrated throughout this time.

Veritas House remains in urgent need of new Foster Carers, with 2,100 children and young people entering Out of Home Care in NSW in 2017-18. The Foster Care Week activities follow a host of community awareness activities undertaken by Veritas in the last 6 months to increase awareness of the need for carers, including information sessions in Bathurst, Orange, Lithgow, Blayney and Cowra; an advertising campaign featuring the winner of the 2018 Deb Elsley Memorial Award and local staff; and information displays at the Bathurst and Orange Shows and local community events.

“We urgently need local families and individuals to put up their hand because children and young people taken into care deserve to feel special and worthy and loved,” said Ms Pearce. “We hope our Foster Care Week activities celebrate the contribution our Carers make to the lives of children and young people in our community and are also the first step towards becoming a Carer for other people in our community.”

A wide range of Carers are needed including respite – which can be as little as a weekend a month; emergency; long term; extended family or kin; guardianship and adoptive parents.  To become an authorised Foster Carer, Carers must be over 18, an Australian citizen or permanent resident, in good health and meet probity requirements including a Working with Children Check. Carers can be single, married, in a de-facto or in a same sex relationship.