Appeal for gay foster couples

GAY couples in the Ipswich region are being specifically targeted to sign up as foster parents for vulnerable children in care.

Foster agency Life Without Barriers is so keen to recruit same-sex couples that it is even planning a recruitment drive at a drag night in the city next weekend.

The agency is hoping to sign up 20 gay and lesbian carers from the Ipswich region.

Carer support officer Sally Sharman said same-sex couples made good foster parents because they were part of a wider and closely-knit community.

She will address the audience at the Lashes Drag Queen and Comedy Show at Banjo's Bar, in Bell St, next Saturday night to uncover new willing foster parents.

"We looking for carers who are part of a community," Ms Sharman told The Queensland Times.

"We find our most successful placements are with carers who are linked to a community.

"That could be through church or broader community. Part of our plan is to target people within the gay and lesbian community.

"We currently have carers within this community who are fantastic and we would like more."

Ms Sharman said the organisation, which already has gay and lesbian carers fostering children in Ipswich, had never received any negative feedback about the idea.

"We want people to know there are no barriers to who we accept as carers," she said.

"We often have gatherings for our carers where people from a diverse range of groups mix together and I've never seen any discrimination."

However, Family First candidate for Ipswich Tim Stieler said he was opposed to encouraging fostering by same-sex couples.

"The gay community have been talking about their human rights for years, but what about the human rights of the children?" he said. "A child has a right to a mother and father. A traditional family, from my point of view is the best way to raise a child."

Mr Stieler said the gay community was not the only tight-knit group in Ipswich.

"Any father and mother are part of the Australian community. You don't need a gay couple to have community support for children."

A spokesperson from the Department of Communities said there were no restrictions on gay couples becoming foster parents.

Life Without Barriers said it will also target other community groups in Ipswich to ensure they find enough suitable families to house children in need.

The new recruitment drive is in its infancy with the process of approving new carers expected to take months. Foster carers will be asked to provide safe and secure homes for children requiring everything from short term crisis care to long term placements.

People wanting to inquire about becoming a foster carer with Life without Barriers can visit www.lwb.org.au.



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