Shauna has been a registered carer for over 4 years. She is experienced in restorative care, short-term, part-time, emergency and long-term care. Her passion for caring for children and inspiring others has seen her win a Carer Recognition Award.
“My littlest love is my son who I have Guardianship orders for, I remember the first time I saw him, he was 3-months-old and gave me the biggest smile. He is just over 3-years-old now and is the most beautiful boy,” says Shauna.
As an only child, Shauna always dreamed of having a busy house with lots of children. She grew up in a big extended family, and as the eldest grandchild she started babysitting her younger cousins when she was about 11-years-old.
Shauna is a Gamiliaraay woman whose lifelong dedication to nurturing children was inspired by her grandmother who opened her home to many children and provided a safe loving place where they were welcomed in.
“Growing up at my grandmother’s house, her back door was always open. If you came in through the front door we didn’t know you. So you came through the back laundry, opened the fridge and you sat down at the table.”
She continues, “I grew up around that feeling of everybody is welcome, you come and go and there’s a place for you. I’m a Gamilaraay woman and I feel strongly about how we can grow as a nation and include everyone by acknowledging the truths of Aboriginal Australian experiences. There are a lot of opportunities for us to be more open-minded in how we go forward.”
Shauna’s passion for nurturing infants and children has deepened over the years, and she is dedicated to learning all she can to support children of diverse backgrounds. Her drive took her overseas as a young adult to work in an integrated kindergarten with children with disabilities. She says, “I have no official qualifications, but I just have had a lot of children around me for a long time. I gain more than what I give when it comes to being a carer.”
Shauna shared a special moment she experienced with two little girls who were in her care short-term. “I cared for a couple of active, energetic little girls for a little while. One of them would run away if something happened. I would say to her ‘I can’t keep you safe if you run from me, run to me and I’ll keep you safe’ and I just kept repeating that over the time she was with me.” The last day the little girls were in her care one of them fell off her scooter, “She ran to me. She was crying because she’d grazed her knee… and that was a massive moment for me, when I knew I was doing what I should be doing.”
A commitment to providing safety and stability to infants and children is underpinned by Shauna’s dedication to skills development and knowledge sharing with other carers in her community. She believes a willingness to be open to new ideas and perspectives will have the best outcomes for the children and place potential carers in a confident mindset.
“Learn as much as you can. I know you can read so many books and then when it’s in practical form you’re stumped. But I really try to learn a lot about trauma-based parenting and I recommend anyone becoming a carer learn what their boundaries are around what you can take on and what suits you, your home and family. Learn as much as you can about things that have happened with trauma.”
Along with life-based experiential learning Shauna has also completed carer training with My Forever Family NSW and connects with fellow carers regularly.
“With COVID and the floods we’ve had a bit of a disconnect but My Forever Family NSW runs the Carer Support Group up here and that is amazing having regular connection with other carers. As it’s a different way of parenting, it’s a different conversation. We can talk more freely and connect with people about therapies and placements that are really helpful.”
As an Aboriginal woman and experienced carer Shauna wants better outcomes for children in care and systemic change. She strongly believes that more people becoming carers or supporting those who do will make shifts through adding diverse perspectives to the system.
“Everyone says oh I couldn’t do that, but I really think that more of us could. Maybe in a different capacity to the way I do it. A lot more people could step in even if it was part-time or emergency care, or sometimes just helping a carer when they first get a little person. I’ve got wonderful friends who say what do you need? Reach out instead of being afraid that it’s too hard.”