Young people speaking with the Minister

Following a commitment to host young people who are, or have been in care, at Parliament House, the then Minister for Education and Child Development, the Hon Grace Portolesi extended two invitations to our Youth Advisors and other young people during the later months of 2012.

Keen to hear the views of, and connect with other children and young people in care to further inform the advice they provide to the Guardian, our Youth Advisors extended the invitation to the CREATE Foundation, the Mt Barker Guardianship Council and residents in Families SA transitional accommodation.

During visits to Parliament House in September and November, young people spoke about their individual and shared experiences of accessing independent housing, transitioning from care, the use of respite care, emergency care, as well as the sense of belonging, identity and the use of life story books.

Benita said

…it was pretty cool (to visit Parliament House ) and that the Minister heard from young people first-hand about their views and experiences.  Ministers will say things and make decisions but often without the benefit of direct experience.  This should be done more often.

Some comments made by young people:

– respite can be seen as punishment for a child or young person; that they are being sent away for bad behaviour

– where respite is needed, consider the opportunity to secure long-term regular arrangements so that a child or young person has the potential to develop an extended care family. One young person spoke of visiting the same respite carers on a monthly basis for six years and how she considered them to be family

– always seek the child or young person’s views about their experiences – particularly of experiences of changing placements, going to, and being at respite and contact with people of significance to them

– community and school life is disrupted when children and young people are placed into emergency care

– it is taking too long for young people to secure independent housing when they are approaching adulthood. One young person spoke about being on a waiting list for three years.

A worker attending one of the visits provided the following feedback to our Youth Advisors following a visit:

…It was a great afternoon with the Minister and our young people were very energised by the conversations.  They asked when they could go back…

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