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Facing my fears for foster kids

A couple of years ago we decided to mix it up a little at our Currie Christmas party and headed to Clip’n’Climb in Richmond. Very busy until our Uber arrived, I did not have too much time to project myself into abseiling mode.

On arrival, we were confronted with climbing walls and other structures – in pretty colours, but higher than I thought. Meemee and I exchanged anxious looks. Was it time for the pub yet?

A closer look revealed people half my size flinging themselves off things – and seeming to enjoy it – so I dug deep, tightened my harness and hit the walls. After a couple of false starts I got the hang of it and headed up the big columns in the centre of the room. This was mainly to shut up the young guns in the office who were REALLY SHOWING OFF (you know who you are). It was scary up there but I made it to the bottom with dignity intact, and earned some office cred.

Yes I was scared but it was “fake fear” – the kind you pay for at an amusement park. With my harness in place, I knew there was no real danger. That would be a poor business model for Clip’n’Climb.

Every day as I walk to and from the office, I pass several homeless people. The stories of these poor souls are many and varied, but substance addiction, violence and mental illness are no doubt common.

I suspect another strong theme is lack of a safety harness – no one to catch them as they fall.  If things went radically wrong for me, I know the troops would rally. Family and friends would quickly spread the safety net.

Others are not so lucky to have such support. For the many children in this group, our foster system often becomes their safety net. Yet still they live with fear – of being in a new home, of being apart from family, of the future.

I have had some experience with the foster system both professionally and personally, and it is under incredible pressure. So many kids – often with very complex needs – need help.

For the professionals involved, it’s a hard slog leading to very high turnover which increases pressures on kids and carers.

Carers do a wonderful job but they need extra support too. To meet what is a growing demand, new foster parents must be encouraged.

Organisations like Anglicare Victoria are doing their best to support foster children and their carers. To raise money for their critical work, they are hosting the Altitude Shift Face Your Fears for Foster Care Challenge. This involves abseiling off a 27-storey building in Melbourne’s CBD.

In a rash moment, I signed up to be a part of it with a sponsorship goal of $3000.

Just like Clip’n’Climb, only 27 stories.

If you would like to help foster kids too, please sponsor me as I fling myself off 535 Bourke St on 28 April.

About Gabrielle Sheehan

Gabrielle is the great-all-rounder: manager of consultation and stakeholder relations, writer of strategies and case studies, developer of collateral, passionate traveller and occasional tango dancer. She listens, she writes and she delivers. She’s had extensive experience and knows how to navigate government departments and the corporate world. Read more posts by Gabrielle.

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