Supporting our carers during COVID-19
Wednesday 22 July 2020
AbSec’s Aboriginal Carer Support Service aims to improve the information, support and training opportunities for carers of Aboriginal children and young people in NSW. It provides a free telephone advice and advocacy service for carers, along with supporting our member agencies with carer-related enquires.
The past few months have been an extremely crucial time for the Aboriginal Carer Support Service due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The lockdown and social isolation, especially for Aboriginal communities, have kept face-to-face contact to a minimum. Hence, online and over-the-phone services have been crucial for those in need. At AbSec we are dedicated to standing by our carers as we know, it isn’t always easy.
In the past four months, from March to June, the service has been contacted by 83 carers. Between them that amounts to 1,750 minutes of calls, with a significant increase in May. Unsurprisingly these calls have come from all over the state and cover a number of themes ranging from financial matters and issues with agencies to family or cultural problems.
The service encourages collaboration, something difficult in times of social isolation, providing information that is always comprehensive, accurate, impartial, up-to-date and importantly, culturally sensitive. It values and supports both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal foster and kinship carers who care for Aboriginal children and works cooperatively with Aboriginal out-of-home care agencies, the Department of Communities and Justice and other relevant government and non-government agencies. This helps to improve the communication, support and training for all carers.
While some of the calls from the past four months have been consistent with themes that were being raised previously, there were some new issues arising. Carers have enquired about digital learning and seeking support for kids in out-of-home care who don’t have access to computers at home. Along with this, there have also been carers that have been in contact regarding children that have special needs and returning to school was a priority for them due to their learning requirements.
AbSec’s Carer Support Coordinator Vicki Barton manages the Aboriginal Carer Support Service and pointed out how important it has been throughout the pandemic. “Being a foster or kinship carer is an important role. It is not without its challenges and rewards. During COVID, there have been a lot of changes to our way of life, and carers need to remain connected whilst in lockdown and caring for our most vulnerable kids. Being able to talk to someone, to have a yarn, find out important info or seek out support when needed, especially at the moment, is extremely important.”
One of the primary goals of the Aboriginal Carer Support Service is to have a service in place that is culturally sensitive, and the importance of this is not lost on Vicki.
“An Aboriginal Carer Support Service is important to provide a culturally sensitive and supportive service to carers of Aboriginal children and young people within out-of-home care. Having an Aboriginal staffed service helps to break down any barriers that Aboriginal people may face when seeking and accessing support. Aboriginal people want to talk to someone without feeling like they have to explain the cultural significance, someone they can connect with that has an understanding of Aboriginal issues.”
“This is also really important for non-Aboriginal carers who are caring for Aboriginal children as well as it helps provide information about Aboriginal services and events within the community to help keep them connected.”
The Aboriginal Carer Support Service is just another way in which AbSec is supporting Aboriginal children and families involved in the child protection system. If you are a carer or you know a carer who needs assistance, call our free number during business hours on 1800 888 698.
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