In a life threatening emergency dial Triple Zero (000)

In a life threatening emergency dial Triple Zero (000)
ACT Public Hospitals

Canberra Hospital

5124 0000

Calvary Hospital

6201 6111

Mental Health

Call Mental Health Triage on

1800 629 354

(free call except from mobiles or public phones) or

6205 1065

Poisons Hotline

For a poison emergency in Australia call


Drug and Alcohol Help Line

The Drug and Alcohol Help Line is available 24-hours, 7 days a week on

5124 9977

Health Protection Service

For after hours urgent public health matters including environmental health, radiation safety, food poisoning and communicable disease management phone:

(02) 6205 1700


24 hour health advice

1800 022 222

ACT State Emergency Service

Emergency help
during flood or storms

132 500

Messages from key people

Ministers message

Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith MLAMinisters message

Every child growing up needs and deserves the love, care and support of a family. For children living in out of home care, this is no different. Many of our children and young people in the ACT grow up healthy and strong because kinship and foster carers like you believe in them, care for them and give them the support they need.

As a carer, you play an important role in supporting the development and wellbeing of children in need in our community. The ACT Government recognises the commitment you make when taking on this role, and your generosity of providing a secure and stable home for children. We also know that in order for you to perform this important role you need to be equipped with the right information and support to help you care for children who may have experienced trauma, and to strengthen their connections to family, culture and identity.

The ACT Government through CYPS, in partnership with ACT Together and kinship and foster carers, has developed this carer handbook to provide you with valuable information about your role. It will help you understand and navigate the ACT child protection and out of home care system, and provides critical information about supports available to you and the children and young people in your care.

I would like to extend my sincere thanks to every one of you for your commitment, compassion and hard work in supporting the children and young people in your care.

Rachel Stephen-Smith

Minister for Children, Youth and Families
ACT Government

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Message from the agencies

Dear Carer

Thank you for your decision to become a kinship or foster carer.

Some of you actively chose to take on this role, while for others, this role was asked of you, perhaps with little notice. Whichever path brought you here, we greatly appreciate your generosity, commitment and dedication to care for children who, for various reasons, are unable to live with their parents.

Caring is rewarding, but it can also be hard work. With it comes times of happiness and fulfilment, but also times of pressure and uncertainty. We recognise the sacrifices you are making to open your home and heart, and we understand it is not always easy for everyone involved.

Your role as a carer in our community is vital. We are providing you with this handbook to support you in this important role. It contains useful information for kinship and foster carers, to help you better understand how the ACT out of home care system works and what to expect. It has been developed with input from kinship and foster carers as well as carer advocacy groups to ensure it covers topics of most value to you.

We understand caring for a child cannot be learned from a handbook alone. There will be many things about being a kinship or foster carer you will learn along the way, and as the saying goes, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. We therefore encourage you to tap in to the supports and services around you to further support your role. A list of local services is provided in the back of this handbook. If you have any questions or concerns, or simply want to explore relevant opportunities available to you and the child you are caring for, please do not hesitate to reach out to them.

Again, we thank you for providing loving, safe and nurturing homes for children who need our support the most, and we look forward to working with you throughout your carer journey.

Rebecca Cross

ACT Government
Community Services Directorate
Deirdre Cheers
Chief Executive Officer
Barnardos Australia
ACT Together lead agency

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Message from one carer to another

Dear Carer

Thank you for joining the kinship and foster carers of the ACT and for taking on such an important role in our community.

Being a carer can be overwhelming at times, trying to navigate through a child’s trauma, attachment and cultural and identity issues, but it is also very rewarding in a special way that only a carer can understand.

As carers, we are dealt the short-end of the stick when it comes to the child and have to rebuild a traumatised human being that is challenging to say the least, but, when you have this person look at you with absolute gratitude for what you have done for them no words can express the feeling.

One person cannot do this job alone, and nor are they expected to, which is why we all must have strong supports around us that can include friends, family, workers, services, directorates and even pets to hold us up and help when needed, after all, carers are only human themselves and true to the saying, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’, we need the community’s help to help our children.

This handbook has been developed to help guide you on being a carer and is filled with lots of useful information, tips, facts and advice.

So from one carer to another, stay strong, ask questions, ask for help when you need it, understand a traumatised child is very different to a non-traumatised child and enjoy the journey.


Selina Walker
Kinship carer

Carer Wellbeing Sub-committee member

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