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John Curtin Medallists

Fay Alford (2018)

Fay Alford - 2018 John Curtin Medal recipient Fay Alford - 2018 John Curtin Medal recipient

For more than 35 years, Fay Alford has dedicated her life to Western Australian children and families in need of foster care and advocacy services. She is now one of the State’s most knowledgeable, well-respected and active leaders in the out-of-home care system.

Having herself been a child in care when she was just eight years old, Fay’s early experience of the out-of-home care system was traumatic. However, it also gave her the knowledge, commitment and vision to flourish throughout a lifelong career in the foster care sector.

After working on a volunteer basis for many years, Fay became the Director of Foster Care Association of Western Australia more than 14 years ago. As leader of the State’s peak body for the support and advocacy for out-of-home services, Fay worked to enhance services, advocate for the rights of children and families and, ultimately, create the conditions that allow families to be strong and to stay together.

During this time, she contributed to State Government policy on frameworks for care and the roles of foster carers. Under the Hon Minister Helen Morton MLC, she was adviser to the Minister for the Department of Child Protection and Family Support.

With Emma White, then Director General of the Department of Child Protection and Family Support, Fay helped to promote the Foster Care Partnership Policy, which emphasises a collaborative process for setting effective policy in WA and, importantly, includes the Aboriginal community sector.

 

Fay also served as a member of the Out-of-Home Steering Group as part of the State Government’s Out Of Home Care Strategic Plan 2015–2020. The plan is currently in the midst of a staged five-year roll-out. Fay is also a board member for Kinship Connections – an initiative to help Aboriginal families heal and reconnect.

Western Australia currently has around 5000 children in foster care and a shortage of foster carers. Alcohol addiction, rising drug use – particularly of methamphetamine – along with increasing mental health issues and family breakdown, continue to have devastating impacts on families.

Fay’s career has directly addressed these social issues facing our State, through her enormous contribution to recruiting and training carers, preparing foster families, building community awareness, and advocating for progressive and effective models of care.

Living her own life by the principles to which she has committed, Fay and her husband David have welcomed more than 90 children into their home over the past three decades, while raising their own biological daughters. Fay and David have also adopted three of their many foster children.

Through more than three decades of leadership, courage and self-sacrifice – Fay Alford has committed to a cause that is close to her heart and significant for Western Australia.

She is a most worthy recipient of the John Curtin Medal for 2018.