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Lanai

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I’m an orphan.  My Mum committed suicide when I was seven and my Dad had a heart attack when I was 16.

Thankfully, I wasn’t living with either of them at the time. I was removed from my mother’s care at age five and my relationship with my father was estranged since before I could remember.

I’m now in my twenties, have completed high school, been to university and am living my dream career.
At times it has been really, really hard. But in the end, I made it through what is unquestionably an out-of-touch and over-stretched child welfare system.

I don’t have all the answers, and I’m not going to pretend I do. But I’ve lived through the system. I’ve seen it from the inside, and I know what helped me get to a point where I can be here today, writing this.

I was in kinship care with my grandparents for most of my infant years. At 14, I was placed back in out-of-home care. My grandparents and I were fighting all the time and the situation was explosive for all parties involved.  This was one of the hardest times for me, and the time I needed help the most.

Most of my years in out-of-home care were spent with the support of a non-government agency called The Burdekin Association.

Burdekin gave me one of the best caseworkers in the world. Someone who spent time every week with me, and was always there to help when I needed a guiding voice.

She made a real difference in my life and I believe she was able to do this in part because the caseloads for agency workers are often a lot lighter than their FaCS equivalents. These organisations often target a smaller area of the community and as a result, there are fewer children to spread their time across.

Often kids in care just need the right emotional support and guidance in order to turn their lives around.  Smaller community-based agencies can and do provide this level of support better than FaCS.

This was my reality. My FaCS caseworker touched base with me on average once every three months.  My Burdekin caseworker was there every week.  In a troubled life, this can make all the difference.

I am currently working for The Australian Newspaper as a journalist and writing articles for The Punch.

I survived. I was one of the lucky ones. But I shouldn’t have to be.