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It’s over two years now since the I have the Right flashcards for young people with disabilities were first distributed. In the intervening time hundreds of packs have gone to the adults who work with young people in care in foster homes, residential care and youth justice.

Rebecca Munn, Program Coordinator – Children’s Therapeutic Accommodation Service at CARA, is one who has made use of the cards in her work with young people in CARA’s residential care facilities and emergency respite care.

‘They have been useful to me in starting conversations with young people about difficult issues like safety and personal space.

‘We refer to the rights in the Charter of Rights all the time but the written language doesn’t have much meaning for young people with limited literacy. The symbols and the faces on the cards can be cues for a good one-to-one discussion about a young person’s rights.

‘The Charter of Rights posters are displayed but sometimes we might take out a single right from the long list and make up our own poster specially for one young person, perhaps with a photo of the young person themselves.

‘We can also use the cards to talk about how to raise issues with other people. The right to nutritious food can help us talk about how they may ask for a change in the menu or the right to private space can look at ways to ask someone not to keep coming into your room.

‘Many of our young people have a good idea of their own rights but are less able to see how their behaviour can affect the rights of others. We are trying to help them live together with other people while they are with us and when they move on into other social situations. Discussing the rights of others can be a good way to tackle behaviour that is not appropriate.

‘We mix up the various ages and genders of the cards to suit our needs. Using the cards designed for older ages with the younger children can be useful to talk about their futures and what they will be doing when they are older.

‘From the ages of 14 or 15 we are talking with our young people about transitioning to the adult world or to other care situations. Issues like mobile phones, going out, social media, how you present yourself to the world, typical teenage stuff, are coming out. It would be good to have another set of cards for teenagers and young adults that we could use to start talking about these kinds of issues.

‘We use a lot of techniques like exploring social stories or enacting situations in role plays to create a space to work with our young people, but rights are often the key and the cards are a good tool for discussing rights.’

CARA food poster

CARA create their own cards for particular issues and young people, like this one on food.

The Guardian’s data graphic Aboriginal children in care data report June 2014 on Aboriginal children in state care is now available from the Guardian’s website.

Australian Children’s Commissioners and Guardians (ACCG) today released a Model Charter of Rights for Children and Young People Detained in Youth Justice Facilities.

The model charter is based on international agreements to which Australia is a signatory, and is designed to provide children and young people in custody with an easy to understand guide to their rights, and what they are entitled to while in custody.

Further details are in the next edition of the Guardian’s Newsletter and will feature in a post in these pages in forthcoming weeks.

image of report

The Guardian’s Report Children and Young People in State Care in South Australian Government Schools 2007-2013 tracks trends in school enrollment, attendance and literacy/numeracy of children in care in government schools.

There has been a decline in the proportion of children under guardianship who attend government schools, but a rise in the actual number. There has been a decline since 2009 in the rate of suspensions for children under guardianship, though it is still three times the rate of the schools’ population as a whole.

There was good attendance overall by children under guardianship, with absence rates equivalent to the absence rates of the government schools’ population.

The Office of Schools in the Department of Education and Child Development will be concerned about the significantly lower rates of children under guardianship reaching the minimum standard in literacy and numeracy, as measured in NAPLAN testing.  While the gap overall has lessened since 2008, it is still wide.  This is not about the ability of the children but about educators paying attention to the learning needs of this group.

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Real recurrent expenditure in SA on child protection services, 2012-13 for all children, not limited to those receiving services

Real recurrent expenditure in SA on child protection services, 2012-13 per child (for all children, not limited to those receiving services)

Expenditure alone is not a good indicator of how well or how poorly we are looking after children in need of protection but it is important. Some of the present weaknesses in child protection can be traced back decades to decisions about expenditure.

This state’s net expenditure, comparisons on out-of-home care and intensive family support services and the historical trends are in the Guardian’s Expenditure on child protection, out-of-home care and intensive family services 2012-13 paper, available for download.

link to GCYP twitter