CREATE Foundation has come a long way from its humble beginnings with its small member base meeting in garages and community halls 20 years ago. Today, the national consumer body which represents the voices of children and young people in care has offices in each state and territory, employs almost 50 staff and has over 19,000 young members.
CREATE was formed with the vision that all children and young people in care can reach their full potential. Its mission is to give children and young people in care the confidence to use their voice, to connect with other young people and to stand up and make change in the care system.
Fabian McPhee, the Community Facilitator at CREATE in South Australia who’s worked with the organisation for four years, said while a lot has changed about the way CREATE thinks about and acts on issues, the founding vision remains.
“The vision, from the beginning, has been the same and that’s been to give every young person the same opportunity that every other young person should have being in care,” said Fabian.
Reflecting on 20 years of CREATE, he says there’s now a lot more engagement with young people in care and a lot more members in South Australia. SA currently engages with its members through its ClubCREATE magazines, connection events, Youth Advisory Groups and the Speak Up empowerment program.
Recently appointed CREATE State Coordinator Amy Duke says they are excited about what the future holds for CREATE in South Australia.
“In SA, I think we have the opportunity to capitalise on some fresh and exciting ideas from other states,” she said.
The Hour of Power is one of these initiatives out of Victoria that allows young people who are no longer in care to stay connected with CREATE. The bi-annual forums provide an avenue for young people with lived care experience to present key issues and share ideas for policy and practice change. The young people set the agenda, facilitate the conversation and share their lived experience with the aim of improving the lives of young people in care and the system itself.
“Having opportunities for those young people to practice the skills and learnings from being part of CREATE will keep them engaged. CREATE provides children and young people with the opportunity to direct our advocacy and have a voice in systemic change,” Amy said.
As for the future of CREATE at a national level, the teams are working towards ensuring the voices of children and young people in care are being heard loud and clear when it comes to being involved in decisions that affect them.
CREATE’s Chief Executive Officer Jacqui Reed noted in the latest annual report that “young people are telling us overwhelmingly that they want to be involved in decisions that affect their lives, and want to have plans for their future that they are involved in developing.”
“Our team are prioritising the need for the sector to plan appropriately, and more importantly to ensure that children and young people’s views are heard during the planning process and reflected in whatever planning documentation is developed,” Jacqui said.
For more information about CREATE visit their website at www.create.org.au.