As a paramedic with Ambulance Victoria for eight years, Matthew has – like all paramedics – seen a lot in his time on the job. But one case, in particular, stood out for him and changed the course for his family forever.
“I remember one case where a 14-year-old kid was packing an overnight bag for his siblings, as their home environment wasn’t safe. His mum had some mental health concerns, and as he packed those bags for his siblings, I just remember bearing witness to the sense that his childhood was over,” he recalls. “It stuck with me.”
“In our work, we see this kind of thing up close. It’s not uncommon to leave a job wishing you could do more.”
Matthew and his partner Abbie, also a paramedic at the time, found themselves considering how else they might be able to help kids feel safe and supported, long after they’d completed a job.
“I decided to do a little bit of research, and have a chat with Abbie. As it happens, she’d been thinking along the same lines.”
After some research and enrolling in training, the pair stepped into the world of foster care. With different families requiring different care options, the pair explored the option where they could make the biggest difference, while juggling with their busy schedules.
Starting out with short term care, the couple has welcomed a diverse range of kids and teens into their home over the past 3 years.
“For the past 2.5 years, we’ve had Bailey* in our family. It’s almost as if he’s always been there, we absolutely adore him,” Matthew explains.
“The goal is to make a difference in his life, and, it’s maybe a bit cliched but true, caring for Bailey has meant the world for all of us.”
With the COVID crisis placing strain on many families, Matthew says “the reason we’re sharing our story is in the hope that someone considers whether fostering might be a good fit for them too.”
“COVID has it’s complications for all of us, but I think everyone really has something to give. When you consider how much it can mean- it’s certainly worth thinking about.”
If you’re interested in learning more about foster care, please visit Fostering Connections. Matthew and Abbie foster through OzChild, who have shared more of their story here.
*Please note, names have been changed to respect privacy.