Building strong bonds: the benefits of being an ‘aunty’ or ‘uncle’
Edition 2, 2023
If you’re interested in becoming a foster carer but aren’t quite ready, why not become a Wesley ‘aunty’ or ‘uncle’?
The Wesley Aunties & Uncles program is a mentoring initiative that pairs volunteer adults with disadvantaged children and young people who need positive role models and support.
Recently celebrating its 12th year as part of Wesley Mission, Wesley Aunties & Uncles has matched 100 children and young people in foster care with a dedicated ‘aunty’ or ‘uncle’ mentor.
Why Krisztina became an ‘aunty’
It was a simple chat with a friend that inspired Krisztina to become an ‘aunty’ with Wesley Mission.
“I love children and, not having any of my own, I thought it would be a nice way for me to get to know a little child and hopefully be a positive influence.”
After a thorough screening process, Krisztina was paired with Annabel, then 10. From days at the beach to shopping, making slime and playing putt putt, Krisztina and Annabel built a strong bond.
“I’d pick her up and Annabel would open the door excitedly and have a big smile on her face. It was just gorgeous.”
Now, having been part of each other’s lives for almost six years, Krisztina feels she’s given Annabel stability, love and guidance – and hopes it’ll continue.
“Taking part in the Wesley Aunties & Uncles program takes time and energy, but if you can do it, it’s definitely worthwhile.”
Fostering academic potential
Wesley Mission has provided care to children and young people since 1893. And, in that time, we’ve learned it’s not enough to simply treat issues in isolation. That’s why we provide a variety of services to holistically support every aspect of an individual’s life. We call these wraparound services. And one wraparound service critical to children and young people in foster care is Dalmar Education programs.
What is the Dalmar Education program?
Part of the Wesley Dalmar Out of Home Care service, our Education program is made up of a team of former teachers who work with carers and schools to help children and young people achieve their academic potential.
In some cases, children and young people in foster care can have additional barriers to learning and, often, carers aren’t equipped to provide the level of support required to meet their educational needs.
With the support of Dalmar Education, carers and educators can maintain open lines of communication, develop education plans and build invaluable connections that empower children and young people to thrive.
Supporting ongoing achievement
Dalmar Education also assists in coordinating the Wesley Dalmar ‘Marcus Wilson’ and Honing Empower Scholarships.
These scholarships are awarded annually to young people transitioning from Wesley Dalmar to university or vocational training and assist with fees and other expenses until they graduate.
This year, the young people receiving the scholarships are studying psychology, animal science, nursing, education and midwifery – and we couldn’t be prouder of their achievements!
Read the full stories of some of the young people the Dalmar Education team has supported.
*Stock image has been used to protect privacy.
Wesley Mission now approved as a Work and Development Order provider
Wesley Mission has recently been approved as a Work and Development Order (WDO) provider! This means eligible community members, including young people, can complete approved WDO activities with Wesley Mission to reduce or pay off fines or debts.
What’s a WDO?
The NSW Government’s WDO program allows eligible people to apply to complete unpaid work, take a course or receive mentoring to reduce or pay off a fine or debt. The amount a fine or debt is reduced by is determined by the activity completed, but it can be as much as $1,000 per month.
Completing a WDO with Wesley Mission
To apply for a WDO, an approved sponsor organisation must agree to support the WDO activity. A Wesley Mission chaplain will be the principal administrator and can work with the individual to determine eligibility, choose the activity and help with the application process.
Approved activities with Wesley Mission include:
- voluntary unpaid work
- educational, vocational and Life Skills courses
We’re excited to start assisting the individuals we support with WDOs. It’s just another way we can add value to our connections, deepen our engagement and further express our Word and Deed ministry, to empower individuals to reach their goals or take the next steps in life.
Meet Kylie, ITC-SD Program Manager
If you asked Kylie’s team what her favourite saying is, they’d answer, “If it’s not in writing, it didn’t happen”. And that’s exactly what makes Kylie so good in her role as Intensive Therapeutic Care for Significant Disabilities (ITC-SD) Program Manager at Wesley Dalmar.
“I oversee the case management team for young people within the ITC-SD program. My role involves providing supervision and support to the case managers and the team leader to develop and implement robust case plans and leaving care plans for our young people.”
Kylie and her team work collaboratively with the Wesley Mission Disability team responsible for providing day to day care.
“We work hard to ensure the young people have NDIS plans and therapeutic supports to meet their disability needs. Most of our young people don’t have family to return to when they leave care, so we work to connect them with NDIS disability placements to give them the best journey into adulthood.”
Kylie says the best part of her role is seeing the impact her work has on the young people in her care.
“I enjoy celebrating the small and large milestones the young people achieve. Having seen the ITC-SD program grow and develop is something I’m proud to be a part of.”
In her spare time, Kylie loves spending time with her children and reading, two simple ways to practise self-care when working in a fast-paced, often crisis-driven environment.
Next info sessions
If you’re thinking about becoming a foster carer with Wesley Dalmar, or are curious about getting involved, register for an Online Information Session to find out more and ask your questions.
In the one-hour session you’ll discover:
- Introduction to Wesley Dalmar
- What do foster carers do?
- Types of care
- Why become a foster carer?
- How can I become a foster carer?
There will also be an opportunity after the presentation to ask our friendly team your questions.
Book your spot at Thinking about becoming a foster carer? – Wesley Mission. We hope to see you there.
To learn more about foster care, here are a few resources that you might find helpful.
- About foster care | Family & Community Services (nsw.gov.au)
- Foster care: printable factsheets – Foster carer support and resources | Family & Community Services (nsw.gov.au)
- Foster care: financial support – Foster carer support and resources | Family & Community Services (nsw.gov.au)
- How will my carer application be assessed? – Become a foster carer | Caring for Children (nsw.gov.au)