|Glastonbury’s 2013 Advocacy Conversation Series launched last Friday with a series of presentations looking at ways to involve children and young people in decisions about their care, and ensure their voices are heard.
Speakers included Fiona Williams from Save the Children Australia, Child Safety Commissioner Bernie Geary and three representatives from the CREATE foundation (including two ambassadors with a care background).
Fiona spoke first, describing international approaches to empowering young people that Save the Children has coordinated. In addition to practical tips and suggestions, she detailed a number of case studies that demonstrate the value of making the effort to hear the voice of children, and rethink the techniques used to communicate with them.
Bernie delivered the keynote speech, covering a number of lessons he has learnt through his long career working with vulnerable children. He reinforced the point made by Fiona that communication strategies need to be tailored to children who think very differently to adults, and often with vastly different priorities. Bernie went on to emotionally recount examples of cases where he has been influenced by young people offering surprising insights into their own circumstances. This led to a passionate explanation of his desire to see improvements made to residential care, with particular focus on increasing community participation for children and young people in these placements.
The day concluded with a presentation from the CREATE Foundation, with Community Facilitator Brigid Canny describing strategies the organisations uses to empower vulnerable children and young people in care. She then introduced two of CREATE’s young ambassadors, who recounted some of their experiences in the out-of-home care system, and the ways they felt current practices could be improved.
This event was the first in a series of advocacy conversations, with the next to take place on March 22nd. More details are available from Glastonbury.