The mother of two first signed up to become a foster carer 14 years ago after a young girl confided in her about being sexually abused by a relative.
Taking the 13-year-old girl under her wing after she ran away from home, Louisa wanted to be part of a solution and registered to be a foster carer with the Department of Children and Families in 2000.
“If one child can confide in me about those sorts of horrible things, then obviously I must look safe and feel safe to a young child,” Louisa said. “I became a foster carer so I can help more children, even if it is just giving them a safe home for a night or two."
“There was a lot of domestic violence in my family between my parents, so if I can give a child respite away from domestic violence then that is one way I can help.”
As one of 12 children, Louisa has experienced the trauma of domestic violence and has herself been put into foster care as a young child.
Louisa and three of her brothers and one sister were placed in care at the Retta Dixon home in Darwin in 1974 after her mother and father separated and her mother was unable to cope.
Louisa said she has always wanted to help vulnerable children and she has done just that for a brother and sister that she fostered when they were only two years and one month old respectively. Now teenagers, the pair still live with Louisa and have come long way from their traumatic past.
“The most I enjoy about being a foster carer is when a child smiles when they didn’t smile before, or they say ‘I like living here’,” she said. “When you get a cuddle from your foster children it is very rewarding. It took my eldest foster child that I have now, four years before he cuddled me.”
Louisa and Ian have provided respite and emergency care for countless other children in need in their time. Louisa said her own Aboriginal culture and heritage helps Indigenous children feel more comfortable in her home and help heal their emotional wounds. Louisa, and her husband Ian, have two of their own children, Jade and Luke who have helped care for their foster children.
Louisa, who is a member of the Foster Carers’ Association NT Board, said having an organisation to help work on behalf of foster carers was good. She has also helped mentor new foster carers.
Louisa said there was a big need for Indigenous carers in the Northern Territory. And she urged Territorians to “open your hearts and arms to help families”.
I would encourage people to sign up to be a foster carer because it is a very rewarding thing to do, children are our future,” she said. “Even our children who are very disadvantaged, if you can help one of those children, you might be looking at another prime minister.
“I can see that we have helped break the cycle, and if we can help with that, then we can help the next generation. Becoming a carer could be helping all of Australia, not just one child.”