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June 19th, 2024

FCAV's new Carer Ambassadors

"As Ambassadors for FCAV we will act as representatives of all foster carers in Victoria. We will help carers and the FCAV to bring issues that are most important to carers, to the forefront of discussion." Fiona and Mike

Fiona and Mike welcome your emails to share experiences and suggestions for broader foster care advocacy. Mike and Fiona will respond as soon as they are able and, in their busy lives, ask for your patience. Our Ambassadors do not provide specific advice on issues related to placements. If you require particular support regarding your foster care role, please contact the FCAV Carer Advocates.

Meet Fiona and Mike te Wierik

Hi, my name is Michael te Wierik and I work as a Senior Quality Engineer for National Australia Bank, and I am Fiona te Wierik and I work as a Nursing and Quality Improvements Manager for 6 medical practices and we live life as foster carers.

We have been foster carers in Victoria since 2007. During that time we have had long term placements (months to years), short term placements (days to weeks), emergency placements (overnight or part of a day) and respite care (assisting other carers with a much needed break).

Whether the kids have come for a short stay or a longer placement, we have opened our home and shared our lives with over 80 kids over the last 17 years, building relationships with other carers, the children and the agencies we have worked with to provide care.

Our goal has always been to contribute back to our community and provide a safe and nurturing environment for the children in our care.

We are both long time advocates for improvements to the foster care system for carers and those in care. We love being carers but during our time we have often experienced frustration.

That frustration can come in many forms and when we were asked by Foster Care Association Victoria to volunteer as Ambassadors for the carers in Victoria we saw a great opportunity to work with the people and groups that can provide some relief for those stresses.

An ambassador is an advocate for a group, in this case foster carers, so we will be working to establish and maintain context and collaboration between carers, the FCAV and the various child and youth family services in Victoria including the Department.

As Ambassadors for FCAV we will act as representatives of all foster carers in Victoria. We will help carers and FCAV bring issues to the forefront of discussion that are most important to carers.

As we continue in foster care, we feel we can offer valuable insight into the issues faced by Victorian carers and bring their views to discussions and issues being championed by FCAV on behalf of carers.

We will be a voice, not just in the area of Child youth and Family services, but to the state government to effect positive changes for all foster carers.

We have tried in various ways to be a voice for foster carers before, and with the attention we received in 2022 for Mike’s role as Victorian Father of the Year we have been able to highlight some issues and bring some attention where it has been lacking.

What FCAV allows is a more consistent platform from which to help our community and our fellow carers.

To be advocates for improvements to the system, to be a voice for our fellow carers who open their homes and hearts to children in need, and bring first-hand carer views to the conversations that can make a difference to the carer’s ability to deliver ongoing care.

Already, we have spoken on ABC radio, to journalists and 'The Age', to bring awareness to the carer allowance campaign. We have also reached out to local politicians to advocate for carers at a state level. Currently we are establishing a partnership with large organisations to promote this campaign and place pressure on the state government to change carer allowances in Victoria.

I also hope that this role provides you, the foster carers, with an avenue to communicate concerns and real-life issues in foster care. We would like to be your voice and encourage you to communicate your frustrations in hope that we can all effect positive change.

Of course, we would also like to utilise this platform to celebrate carers, the children in our care with the hope to inspire others to become foster carers. We look forward to working with you all.

Michael and Fiona te Wierik, Carer Ambassadors, FCAV

 

As the President of the Board of the Foster Care Association of Victoria and as a carer, I am excited to introduce the te Wieriks as our new foster carer Ambassadors. I am so pleased to welcome Fiona and Mike into this new role for the FCAV. I see it as a marker of FCAV’s independence and carer-led strength, to be appointing representatives who showcase the dedication and passionate advocacy all carers display in the care of children and young people, every day.

As carers we know the kindness, sacrifice, and unwavering care we provide to the children in our care. Fiona and Mike will support FCAV to amplify the voices of carers, advocating for improved support systems, and being the face of FCAV’s push for policy reform and funding, to ensure that every child in care receives the love, care, and stability they deserve from well supported carers.

Their appointment opens the potential to engage the community in foster care, what it means to be a carer, where the needs are and what it takes to improve the way we support carers to take on their incredible role with children and young people.

Through their media appearances and engagements with decision-makers, Fiona and Mike are spreading awareness of the complex and challenging role that carers undertake, they are inspiring others to consider fostering in an era of dire need. They are engaging the community in what it means to be a foster carer to children and young people and how we can better support carers to meet those needs.

On behalf of the Foster Care Association of Victoria Board of Directors, our staff and our carer membership, I welcome and thank Fiona and Mike for undertaking this Ambassadorial role in their already incredibly full and busy lives.

We are excited to harness their dedication and commitment as a driving force behind the FCAV’s advocacy plan to create positive change and promote better support for carers in Victoria from a carer’s perspective.

Megan Sadlier,

President, FCAV Board of Directors

I am thrilled to welcome Mike and Fiona te Wierik to the role of Ambassador with the FCAV. Ambassadors play a crucial role in any organisation, especially not for profits working hard to make an impact in a deprived sector. Fiona and Michael te Wierik exemplify the tenacity and impassioned drive needed to be heard in a challenging role on behalf of the most vulnerable members of our society, our children and young people. Their lived experience as foster carers and as experienced representatives, gives Fiona and Mike a unique perspective and skills set that we hope will resonate deeply with both our foster care community and the broader public.

Mike's recognition as the YMCA Father of the Year Award recipient in 2022 is a testament to the te Wierik’s exceptional work and dedication as carers. Mike is keen to point out that while this was a Father of Year awarded to him, he and Fiona are a team and it is she who is the public face of their caring role and advocacy. Indeed they have already undertaken to represent the carer voice at various events and in the media, raising awareness about the importance of carers in our community, rallying interest in the role and outlining where support to carers should improve.

Fiona and Mike embody the essence of foster carers. With over 17 years of experience caring, they have not only provided love and stability to many children and young people but have also witnessed and experienced first-hand the challenges and stresses that carer households often face within the system.

Their decision to become ambassadors for the Foster Care Association of Victoria (FCAV) speaks volumes about their commitment to making a difference. As ambassadors, Fiona and Mike not only bring their personal experiences to the forefront but also the insight needed to effectively communicate their message. Their ability to articulate the challenges, joys, and rewards of foster care makes them powerful advocates for our community of carers.

To that end we are incredibly fortunate to have Fiona and Mike on our team, we thank them for choosing to lend their energy and experience to the FCAV and our carer membership. We look forward to the days and months to come.

Samantha Hauge, Chief Executive Officer

Fiona and Mike te Wierik are already undertaking public speaking and engaging with media in their role as Ambassadors, highlighting issues faced by Victorian foster carers and creating awareness for change.

You can contact Ambassadors at ambassador@fcav.org.au

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