Life is Beautiful

Local Foster Parent, Janet Smith of Murray Bridge, is convinced that life is beautiful, when it’s about family and giving.

The World Champion Master Powerlifter believes that family means no one gets left behind or forgotten - born in Mannum and growing up in Bow Hill, Janet can’t think of anything more pleasing that making a positive difference to a person’s life, at a time when it’s most needed.


Powerlifter, Janet Smith of Murray Bridge, taking a well-earned rest during her gruelling training routine at Anytime Fitness 24/7, Murray Bridge.

“It’s a wonderful feeling when you’re offering a child a safe, nurturing environment,” Janet said. “And it’s great watching them grow and develop their self-esteem and confidence – it’s truly heart-warming when you know you’re making a difference.”

Janet’s passion for caring started with on-the-job training at 15 years of age, when she moved to Adelaide from Bow Hill, leaving a factory job to work in Aged Care.

“It was the best thing I ever did, and the Matron at the Aged Care facility really took me under her wing, mentoring me and giving me some practical fundamental tools in caring for people.” “I think I’ve always had a nurturing soul and deep down, I’ve always wanted to help others.”

Janet’s 30-year career was shared between caring for the aged and people with disability. “I’ve always enjoyed helping vulnerable people have a better chance, a better life,” Janet said. “I also did a lot of in-home support, some relationships lasted for over six years.” “However, I had one too many bad experiences – sadly three work-place assaults took their toll on me, and I felt that I didn’t have it in me anymore.”

“Those events are never going to leave me, they put me into a deep hole for a while before I crawled out - they depleted me and now I’m back better than ever, working once again as a full-time foster carer.”

It was while recovering from these traumas, Janet met Gabrielle Mackenzie the founder of Genuine Support Services Australia.

“We met at the gym, she’s such a special caring person and we have remained friends ever since. Our paths crossed many times. I honestly felt like this was the end of my life, I was so sad, the last assault ripped my heart out, it was horrible.”

“With support from Workcover and working out in the gym, I slowly began to recuperate, and I remember telling Gabby that I’d really like to work for her and maybe run some craft and fitness workshops or something.”

“But as life would have it, my precious Foster Child came along. There's no denying that children fill your home with energy and life, but sometimes, for various reasons, some need time away from their family to heal and grow.”

Foster Care is about providing a safe and supportive home for fostered children. It may be for one night, a week, a year or until a child reaches adulthood.

“He was just nine when he came into my life, weighing in at just 16 kgs and just two years later he now weighs 57 kgs – and is turning into a teenager before my eyes. He’s going to school; I’m still going to the gym – we don’t think we could be a better match.” “And recently he has been able to stand on his own, well with us keeping a close eye on him for balance, but this is a brilliant move forward.”

“Now, Gabby’s company, Genuine Support Services Australia in collaboration with another local provider, supports my Foster Child with after school care, they collect him from school and keep him entertained until 5.30 pm until it’s just him and me. It’s the best part of my day, we’re so lucky to finally have the GSSA team supporting us, they’re such a caring group of people.”

Janet’s Foster Child has not been medically diagnosed yet, but she is told that he suffers from Cerebral Palsy, Autism, and several fetal issues.

Cerebral Palsy is a group of disorders that affect a person's ability to move and maintain balance and posture, cerebral means having to do with the brain, Palsy means weakness or problems with using the muscles – and autism spectrum disorder is a lifelong developmental disorder that affects how people behave and interact with the world around them.

“He will require specialised in-home care in the future and his own permanent accommodation. I would love to see him speaking, he could really do with an iPad or Tablet with picture prompts,”

“I’m extremely excited about the future for him and believe it or not, my aging. I can’t wait to witness my daughter Steph’s, progress within SAPOL and maybe a few grandchildren in the future - I strongly believe you need to lead by example and develop a philosophy in life that supports the saying, “Just Do It.”

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