Anglicare in Wagga Wagga recently farewelled an incredible foster carer, Kath Withers, who has served as a carer for more than 100 children over the past several decades. Kath also works as an artist, casting a calm and quiet presence in the artist studio of her home surrounded by paintings, sculptures and clothing through which her Wiradjuri heritage is beautifully evident.
She approaches her art in the same way as she approaches her care for children; as a natural extension and expression of who she is.
“I was quite young myself when I first started caring for young people,” explains Kath. “I had only recently married, and one night I remember walking through town and seeing a teenage girl sleeping on a bench in the park. I spoke to her and invited her home for a feed and somewhere safe to sleep. I guess that’s how I started foster caring.”
Kath grew up in an Aboriginal area of Wagga Wagga colloquially referred to as Tin Town; a reference to the tin shanties of its residents. Despite the difficulties of poverty and very little formal education, Kath showed deep intelligence and empathy, and spent much of childhood caring for other children.
Kath overcame the challenges of her childhood to become a well- respected Aboriginal Elder and award-winning artist, dedicating her time to being a mother for scores of children. “We need more Aboriginal carers and kinship carers… These children need someone to love them unconditionally,” says Kath.
After battling cancer, Kath made the difficult decision to cease foster caring following the 18th birthday of a young person in her kinship care in order to focus on her health.
Anglicare honours and thanks Kath for the significant impact she’s made in the lives of the children in her care, and across the Wagga Wagga community.
To find out more about becoming a foster carer with Anglicare, CLICK HERE.
Pictured below: Aunty Kath with one of her artworks.