Marie’s push to keep kids off the street

OPEN HEART: Indigenous foster carer Marie Clear has provided a safe home for more than 12 Riverina children over the past two years. Picture: Laura Hardwick

OPEN HEART: Indigenous foster carer Marie Clear has provided a safe home for more than 12 Riverina children over the past two years. Picture: Laura Hardwick

FOR MORE nights than she could remember, Wagga grandmother Marie Clear saw the same kids again and again outside on the street.

Their troubled parents had problems with drugs or alcohol and brought their children out with them at night.

“I wanted to help those kids, because a lot of the time it was midnight or 1am,” Ms Clear said. 

“I’d see it regularly on at least a fortnightly basis … one of them was only two years old.” 

Concerned about what was happening to other children in Wagga, Ms Clear decided to open up her house and become a foster carer.

Fast-forward two years to the present, and Ms Clear has fostered 10 Indigenous Riverina children who needed a loving and caring home.

“If you think you don’t have resources you do,” she said.

“Just love and listening and things like that are the resources.” 

Ms Clear’s story comes as foster care provider Wanggaay Koori Out Of Care Service say there are in dire need of more Aboriginal adults to open their doors to a child.

Back row Nathan Wells, Eddie Whyman, middle row Melissa Clear-Jones, Barbara Gillen and Tangerene Ingram. Front Marie Clear and Max Fellows. Picture: Laura Hardwick

Back row Nathan Wells, Eddie Whyman, middle row Melissa Clear-Jones, Barbara Gillen and Tangerene Ingram. Front Marie Clear and Max Fellows. Picture: Laura Hardwick

Coordinator Tangerene Ingram said they anticipate more Riverina children over the next two years will need a temporary home.

The organisation needs to at least double its current number of foster carers, she said. 

“Currently we have 16 foster carers,” Ms Ingram said.

“We are looking at the growth of the service, so possibly 80 more children within the next two to three years.

“Over the next three years that could be 45 to 50 kids coming to our service a year,  so that is a lot of carers that we will be needing.”

The 2008 Wood Royal Commission into Child Protection determined at risk Aboriginal children should be placed at all costs with other local Indigenous families. 

“It’s from Aboriginal children being removed and taken out of country away from where they are from and losing their culture and identity,” Ms Ingram said. 

“The government now recognises that Aboriginal children need to be placed with Aboriginal carers, Aboriginal families who make sure they are educated around their culture so they know who they are and where they are from.”

To volunteer as an Indigenous foster carer phone 6927 0400 or 6937 1555. 

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