An inspirational father who has shown unconditional love to more than 70 foster children for over 15 years.

On Friday 2 September 2022, Michael te Wierik was named the 66th Victorian Father of the Year. 

The 46-year-old Narre Warren father was nominated by his wife Fiona, for the profound impact Michael's love has made to the lives of their foster children. Together the couple has supported, cared and loved more than 70 foster children for over 15 years.

Michael is also an amazing father to their biological 10-year-old autistic son, Lochie. When Lochie came into their lives, Michael and Fiona adjusted how they would approach fostering, so Lochie could always be the older brother.

Michael was honoured at at a special ceremony held at Melbourne Town Hall, surrounded by his family, friends and supporters. This included his adult foster children Nicholas and Charlie, parents Theo and Judy, and representatives from foster care agency Life Without Barriers.

The 2022 award was presented by YMCA Victoria in partnership with the City of Melbourne. The Y's CEO Carolyn Morris hosted the event and the Lord Mayor Sally Capp introduced Michael as the winner.


Event photos

Providing unconditional love for their children is expected for most parents, but how do you do that for over 70 foster children? Michael and his wife Fiona know how.

Their journey to becoming foster parents began when Michael and Fiona, sponsored a World Vision child. Whilst rewarding, they felt they wanted to do something local, more connected to the world they lived in, and investigated becoming foster parents. 

This led the family to welcome foster children into their lives and open up more opportunities for children to live their best lives. Michael always has a positive outlook,

"Fostering gives me the energy to show our kids the love and care they deserve".

There can be challenging times as a foster parent. "Some of the things that we've heard about our kids and what's happened to them is very confronting. It's traumatic. It may not be personally traumatic, it's traumatic by proxy. We're traumatised by hearing that these kids we love have been through this stuff." Michael said.

The opposite is also true "There's lots of stuff that is rewarding about it, seeing young men grow and start families of their own to young kids gaining confidence to feel socially accepted".

"We treat them all the same and love them with our whole heart." 


Watch highlights from the 2022 award ceremony 

Award Ceremony

Our partners City of Melbourne traditionally host our annual award ceremony at Melbourne Town Hall.

The event is hosted by YMCA representatives and the sitting Lord Mayor is invited to announce the award winner.

Virtual ceremonies were held in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 restrictions in place at the time.

In 2022 we returned to an in-person event. Watch the highlights from this ceremony.

Father figures like Michael are changing the lives of Victoria's children, who are facing a very vulnerable stage of their life through no fault of their own.

Unfortunately, with an increase in the average number of children requiring a safe and stable home every year, the need for foster carers continually grows. A representative from foster care agency, Life Without Barriers, highlights the urgent need for more foster parents to come forward. "There are so many babies sitting at hospitals at the moment that just don't have homes".

A great parent like Michael and a stable home can make all the difference to a young child. Fiona te Wierik shared that,

"These children now know how to do simple things, from giving a hug to holding down a job or being kind."

Seeing Michael's positive impact on the lives of some of their ex-foster children is inspiring. "Some have now finished apprenticeships, brought their dream car or are studying to be a nurse. One of the older kids once told us that they could still find happiness in life regardless of the adversity they'd experienced and the pain they felt." 

Michael succeeds by making himself easy to communicate with. He has a self-described 'mind of a 16-year-old' and always maintains a positive outlook on life. Staying up to date on popular culture and exploring similar interests to his children has allowed Michael to connect on their level.

Being a foster parent is an act of volunteering, and adjusting when a child leaves their care can be challenging, however they know it's always for the best

"When one child leaves, it means another child needs us more".

It's an attitude that reflects why Michael is genuinely deserving of the 2022 Victorian Father of the Year award.

About the Victorian Father of the Year award 

YMCA Victoria (The Y) conducts an annual state-wide search to find Victoria's most deserving dad or father figure. 

Since 1956, the award has recognised inspiring father figures who have made a profound and positive impact on the lives of young people.

When the Y became involved in 2006, the award focused on celebrating everyday father figures whose extraordinary efforts often go unnoticed.  

DNA alone doesn’t make a dad. The award aims to recognise the amazing work that both traditional and non-traditional fathers do to support young people.

Learn more about the awards history or view a full list of past winners.

  • Support acknowledgments for the 2022 award

    City of Melbourne

    The City of Melbourne has has supported the award since it's earliest days in the 1950's.

    In 2022, they hosted our award ceremony in the Council Chambers of Melbourne Town Hall and provided morning tea afterwards.

    The Y is grateful to the Lord Mayor Sally Capp and her team for their ongoing support of this award.

    Zoos Victoria

    Zoos Victoria is a world-leading zoo-based conservation organisation, dedicated to fighting wildlife extinction.

    A long time partner pf the Y, Zoo's Victoria generously donated two unique experiences for the winning family to enjoy at Werribee Open Range Zoo.

    YMCA Action Sports

    YMCA Actions Sports runs skate, scoot and BMX programs for young people across Australia.

    They have generously donated a 10-person skateboarding lesson to be held a Y managed skate park. 

    Michael te Wierik plans to share this with a group of foster children from within their peer network.

    Life Without Barriers

    Life Without Barriers is the foster care agency used by the te Wierik family.

    They supported the public promotion of Michael te Wierik winning the 2022 award.

    Fostering Connections

    Fostering Connections is Victoria's state-wide foster care recruitment service and advocacy group.

    They supported the public promotion of Michael te Wierik winning the 2022 award.

    NAB (National Australia Bank)

    NAB supports the banking needs of customers in Australia, New Zealand and globally. Michael te Wierik works for NAB as a Quality Engineer.

    They supported the public promotion of Michael te Wierik winning the 2022 award.

    YMCA ReBuild

    ReBuild is a social enterprise that supports young people involved in the justice system with a pathway to employment and reintegration back into the community.

    The ReBuild Workshop team designed and built the wooden trophy plate awarded to Michael te Wierik in 2022.

Return to the full list of past winners