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Australian political journalist, Lanai Scarr (b. 1988), was in foster care and kinship care as a child.  

Lanai entered foster care at the age of five when life at home became too chaotic due to her mother’s mental illness. Lanai later went to stay with her maternal grandparents after her mother committed suicide in 1995. As a teenager Lanai was estranged from her father, who died when she was sixteen. 

When her relationship with her grandparents broke down, Lanai lived with her paternal grandmother in Sydney. She then had seven different foster placements between the age of fourteen and eighteen.  

Lanai was awarded a fee waiver from Stella Maris College, a Catholic high school in the Northern Beaches area of Sydney. She received a high-quality education while boarding at the college. This prepared Lanai for a competitive journalism career. 

I know now that this was one of the major things that turned my life around… I was with children who had normal families who had higher aspirations for their children than the ones my temporary foster carers—or even my biological family—had for me (Her Canberra).

Lanai also credits her success in life to having an incredible caseworker between the ages of fourteen and eighteen. 

Anneliese was my rock and my constant… Despite many different placements during that time she was there to pick me up from school and take me to appointments when I needed. She is still there for me and a close friend and has been present at many significant events in my life (Her Canberra).

Now Lanai Scarr, the former ward of the state has been working in the federal parliamentary press gallery for over a decade. As Political Editor of The West Australian newspaper, Lanai co-moderated the first leaders’ debate to be televised live during the 2019 federal election.  

Lanai uses her public platform to advocate for better outcomes for Australians. She was instrumental in boosting mental health media coverage resulting in the 2010 Labour government’s record commitment of a $2.8 billion funding package. Lanai is also an official ambassador for Adopt Change, an advocacy organisation promoting permanency for Australian children in care and international adoptees. 

Lanai and her husband James have four children: a daughter, Molly, and a set of triplets named Jim, Nate and Edy. Lanai credits the adversity she experienced in childhood to giving her the resiliency needed to balance motherhood with a demanding career. 

I wouldn’t change anything that’s happened to me, because it’s all led me to be the person that I am today (The Daily Telegraph).

Lanai contributed her wisdom about motherhood to a best-selling anthology, The Motherhood (2018), comprised of letters of advice for new mums. Lanai hopes that by sharing her story she can help others to pursue their dreams. 

If I can show that it is possible to break out of the cycle that a foster child so often finds themselves entrenched in, and to make a positive life for myself and to create my own beautiful family, then sharing my story is something I want to do to help others know their past does not have to define them (Her Canberra).


Hannaford, Victoria. “From foster child to super mum: Future looks bright for Lanai Scarr’s triple delight.” The Daily Telegraph, 27 August 2016.

Macdonald, Emma. “Free from the past.” Her Canberra, 11 January 2019.

Lanai Scarr.” ABC Q and A.

Image available here.