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Opening a door to change a child’s life

It was a Coroner’s Court case involving the tragic death of a child that made Leading Senior Constable Premala Thevar make a life-changing phone call.

That call led to her becoming a foster carer with MacKillop Family Services in 2021.

Originally from Albury NSW, Prem moved to Melbourne and studied criminology before realising her childhood dream of becoming a police officer.

After several years of general duties policing, Prem now works as a Police Prosecutor attached to the Police Coronial Support Unit.

Through her work in policing, Prem has met many vulnerable young people and families. She’s seen firsthand the toll family violence, mental health and addiction issues can have on families and the need for children to have safety and security while their parents get help getting their lives back on track.

Foster care has fitted seamlessly into Prem’s life.

I’m a respite carer and I can work with MacKillop around availability. So I might have a kid for a weekend while their regular carers get some respite, or for a night or two during the week. It works around my other commitments and my lifestyle

– Prem

The young people Prem looks after are generally aged between nine and 14.

“I’m accredited to care for kids aged five to 15, but I’ve found I’m better suited to caring for the older, pre-teen and teen kids as they’re a bit more independent and the type of activities we can do together is broader.”

“I love trying new food places and it’s so much fun to take a kid to their first sushi train or hot pot restaurant. We might go to the movies or off on an adventure to explore a new neighbourhood. I like to make sure they have input in suggesting activities.”

“I’m a single carer, but often when I have a child with me, we’ll hang out with my brother and sister and their families. It’s great that they’ve been able to support me with fostering.”

Victoria Police and Prem’s supervisors have also been supportive of her decision to be a carer.

“Everyone is so understanding, and I have really great managers who work to give me the flexibility I need to do foster care”.

“I’d encourage other police members to think about how foster care could fit into their lives and the type of work we do. We’re already doing this job because we care and to see the difference you can make to a child’s life, even for a little while, makes it so worthwhile.”

There are many different types of foster care including: emergency care, respite care and long-term care.  Foster carers can be single, married, in same sex relationships, work, be retired or study, have children of their own or not. The most important thing is that carers want to provide safety and security for a vulnerable child or young person.

If you are interested in becoming a foster carer, or have any questions, click the button below.