Former foster care child opens up about life in the system
SINCE he was three, Rockhampton's Michael Easter has been in foster care.
Growing up he protected himself by creating a "wall of hatred", keeping his emotions bottled inside.
Now, aged 21, the hatred is gone and he couldn't be more excited as he prepares to become a loving father.
Michael's fiancé is expecting the couple's first child next year.
Yesterday he opened up about his past to The Morning Bulletin in the hope others who find themselves in the same situation as him do not "make the same mistakes".
"I want to help them (kids) gain more confidence, to learn from my mistakes, to have a bright future," Michael said.
He said throughout his time spent in out-of-home care he had "met some good people."
"My foster carers that I had a while ago, I've gotten close to that family, I'm still in contact with them - I pretty much classify them as my immediate family," Michael said.
Michael recently attended one of the CREATE foundation's focus groups to share his experience and advice with young people who have experienced similar hardships.
"The focus group went really well, I connected with a lot of people and especially with the commissioner (Commissioner of The Child Protection Commission of Inquiry, Tim Carmody)," he said.
"The commissioner and I are probably going to meet up again to have a longer chat because I was more experienced than the people and kids who turned up."
Michael is hoping for a Rockhampton office where kids can come and feel safe and "know that they are not alone."
He wanted children to know there was not a problem with expressing feelings and bottling them up was the worst thing you could do.
"That's where I failed a lot, I kept it bottled up, and I kept up a big wall of hatred," he said.
Michael said years of emotional baggage had held him back, but he was able to overcome these feelings.
He would recommend the CREATE foundation to anybody, "it's a very good program, its well worth it, the support people need is there."