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Celebrating Australia’s longest serving foster carer

Lis celebrating 60 years of foster caring.

When Elisabeth began her foster care journey, she didn’t know where it would take her.

But 60 years on, she’s now Australia’s longest serving foster carer – and has picked up an award for the love and care she has provided for hundreds of babies, children, and teenagers across Queensland and New South Wales.

At 81, Lis, from Brisbane’s south, is now a great grandmother, but hasn’t let age stand in her way.

Although she has lost count of the total number of children she has fostered since 1964, in this century alone the count is up to 78 – and she’s still going strong.

“I never had a plan when I decided to become a foster carer, but it all somehow fell into place,” she said.

“There were many times over the years that I thought I wouldn’t be able to carry on with fostering due to health issues, difficult times and upsets, and yet here I am.

“As long as I am passionate and able to care for children, I will continue to do so. Age is not an indicator of ability; it is just a number.”

Today, Mercy Community celebrated Lis’ commitment to foster caring with a presentation at The Glen Hotel, Eight Mile Plains, Brisbane.

Mercy Community’s Regional Director of Families and Young People Services, Kylie Fairhurst, said Lis was an inspiration at a time when the need for foster carers had never been greater.

“Lis’ dedication as a foster carer is an amazing achievement,” she said.

“She is a shining light at a time when the number of foster carers is declining, and she takes everything in her stride with an optimistic spirit and much laughter.

“For Lis, not taking on a child in need of a home when she had the capacity to do so was never an option – she is truly an inspiration.”

The celebration comes as Mercy Community prepares to launch a new campaign later this month – Be the Missing Piece – which aims to encourage more people to become foster carers.

Lis, whose husband died in 2000, is still in touch with many of the children (now adults) she has fostered, and hopes her story will help others to consider opening their homes and their hearts.

“The greatest reward is reunifying children with their families and watching them grow and develop into the most beautiful people, completely unaffected by the system,” she said.

“Then there are those who still call me Mum even today.

“In 1965, my husband and I were living in Sydney and had a baby boy placed with us. He lived with us until he was four years old, and when we moved to Queensland he came to visit every school holiday.

“When he grew up he moved to Queensland to be near us. He is now 58, we are his family, and he rings me six times a day!”

Given her track record, when it comes to advice for potential foster carers, Lis has plenty to say.

“My top parenting tip is to always consider what is in the child’s best interests – then advocate!” she said.

“Each day brings rewards and challenges – enjoy the rewards and learn through the challenges!

“Aim to do the best you can, be gentle on yourself and ask for help when the road is too rough.

“The skills or abilities needed to be a foster carer are many and varied, but above all, resilience and a good sense of humour are essential!”

Anyone interested in becoming a foster carer can find out more here.

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