Summa has only one sister but while she was growing up in Armidale, NSW there were always plenty of other kids around the house.
“That’s because my mother had an open-door policy of welcoming our cousins and friends to stay for long periods of time,” recalls Summa, who today lives in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs.
Now 26 and a single parent with one daughter, Summa realised she wanted to carry on her mother’s open-door policy and raise children other than her own.
At one point, she saw an advertisement in The Koori Mail for more Aboriginal foster carers and this spurred her to train as a foster carer.
Joining her at the training sessions was her mother, now living in Sydney as well, who wanted to use her vast child-rearing experience to benefit the wider Aboriginal community.
“We desperately need more Aboriginal foster carers to help our kids develop a sense of belonging and acceptance. They can get love and stability elsewhere, of course, but I’d love to see more Aboriginal carers come on board for these kids to provide loving homes and a connection to their culture,” says Summa, who is Anaiwan, the traditional owners of the NSW Northern Tablelands.
In 2009, Summa welcomed a three-year-old Aboriginal foster daughter into her home for a long-term placement. She took a year off work to devote herself to the children and to make sure the transition went smoothly.
“I didn’t want to rush it.” The transition has gone well and the little girl is now thriving, talkative and very fond of ‘mum’ and ‘sissy.’
There is a sizable Aboriginal community in the suburb where Summa lives and she is now busy spreading the word amongst the community about the urgent need for Koori foster carers.