Regional visits start for 2024

Earlier this month, the Guardian kicked off the first of her regional visits for 2024 with a trip to Port Augusta.

Alongside Senior Advocate, Hamish, Shona went along to children and young people’s DCP Annual Reviews, visited residential care houses and caught up with local NGO workers.

Here’s what Shona had to say about the visit.

From the Guardian

Whenever I travel to regional communities, my biggest priority is to meet with as many children and young people in care as I can, including meeting with the people who are important to them. 

One of the ways I do that is by going along and participating in Annual Review meetings, where I can observe and play my part in monitoring and advocating to make sure children and young people have the most appropriate team, care needs and supports in place for each of their unique needs. I feel so privileged to have the opportunity to meet children, their  carers, family members and caseworkers. Most of all I like to hear what they have to say about the plans put in place for them, I like to see how they are able to influence the decisions make about their care and I like to take notice of how this is being embraced by the people around them.

The capacity for me to connect with children and young people in family based care is really important and doing annual reviews provides an opportunity to do that. I thank all those involved supporting this to happen.

Further to this, going to Annual Reviews is also another way to share with children and young people, support workers and carers a little about me and my role. It’s important that I am able to communicate with people about my Guardian function and how this can support any child that is living in out of home care here in SA.

On top of Annual Reviews, I also had the honour of meeting a few young people who live in residential care, to check in on how they’re going. For me, that’s about finding out what’s worrying them but it’s just as important to focus on what they get excited and passionate about – whether that’s the food in the house, the best games on their Nintendo or getting ready for the future. These are precious conversations, that I take with me when advocating for their needs and hopes. A big thank you to those young people for letting me join in on basketball, hide and seek and an awesome water balloon fight! …To which it is safe to say I lost.

Before heading back to the city, I also took the opportunity to meet with the kinship and family-based care team at Aboriginal Family Support Services. I am truly appreciative of the work that happens behind the scenes in supporting kinship and foster carers to look after children and young people. I was fortunate to hear about their perspectives on how the out of home care system works, some of the struggles and wins, and what makes them love the job they do.

Every time I visit Port Augusta, or other regional areas, what always stands out is the knowledge, heart and dedication that I see people channelling into caring for their children and young people, and their communities.

The role that community plays in growing children is just so important. It’s a place that I know we must continue focusing our efforts, investing in local solutions for local matters. Our regional communities demonstrate the value of that approach, and we see it in the evidence around outcomes. We have a lot to learn from how every regional community builds unique supports around the children and young people who live in those places – I know I did.

Thanks again for all those that hosted me… and to the children and young people that gave their time, honesty and wisdom to me, thank you and I will be back to connect with you… and to do round two of the water balloon Olympics!

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