Regional Service Award Winner

Local charity A Better Life for Foster Kids won the Nectre Regional Service Award at the Australian Community Achievement Awards for Victoria. Member for Eastern Victoria, Melina Bath (bottom left) is pictured congratulating A Better Life for Foster Kids' Heather Baird, Leonie McCann and Evonne Baird. Photo: Contributed

LOCAL charity A Better Life for Foster Kids has been recognised at the Australian Community Achievement Awards for Victoria, winning the Nectre Regional Service Award.

A Better Life for Foster Kids was founded in 2014 by Heather Baird, who herself grew up in foster care.

The well-known charity supports children and carers in the out-of-home-care system through essential items and advocacy.

Long time supporter and Member for Eastern Victoria, Melina Bath was part of the nomination process and celebrated with A Better Life for Foster Kids at the award ceremony.

“Last month I arranged for Heather to have a face-to-face meeting with the Minister for Children, Lizzie Blandthorn to share her perspective on why so many carers are leaving the system and the need for mental health triage for children entering care,” she said.

“I was delighted that Heather Baird, and her ABLFK team were recognised for their outstanding support of children in out of home care.

“Heather has worked tirelessly to support and advocate for our most vulnerable children – she is an inspiration.

“The physical and emotional support ABLFK bestows on children in out-of-home care and their carers is invaluable.”

ABLFK has a voluntary board of management and operates with an extensive network of volunteers who deliver support throughout Gippsland and statewide.

Ms Bath said volunteers power the ABLFK charity with more than 450 community groups across the state handmaking or donating clothes to the charity.

“ABLFK has created an impressive network that assists the child and the foster family,” she said.

“Navigating through the state government’s complex out-of-home and child protection system is often stressful and challenging for those individuals and families who find themselves in it.

“Heather Baird has consistently been a fierce campaigner for children in out-of-home care.

“The award is due recognition of the years of hard work that a ABLFK has put into supporting vulnerable children and I sincerely congratulate Heather, the board and all volunteers for their recognition.”