New resources and a learning game for young people leaving care

A group of young people with care experience boldly reclaimed the term ‘GOM’ (for Guardianship of Minister) with the recent launch of the GOM Central website and the GOM City phone app.

The launch was the culmination of seven months of hard work by project manager Eleanor Goodbourn and the focus group of people who were, or who had recently been, in state care.

‘The need for a project like this had been discussed long before I arrived in April,’ she said.

‘Relationships Australia SA has been providing post care support services for a long time now but were aware that there were some young people who were not accessing service in the current form.

‘Was there a way to support and assist young people who did not access services? In particular, we thought about those who had left care and suddenly found themselves isolated and lacking some of the basic skills you need to get along living on your own.

‘We ran an online survey, testing some ideas about a website and brought the results back to our focus group.  The idea of a game app. caught the imagination of the focus group right away and that became the germ of GOM City.

GOM City

Mighty Kingdom, who are a locally-based but internationally known game developer came on board for the game app.  It was their first venture into social learning games and they were very enthusiastic.

‘Playing the GOM City game teaches some basic skills like budgeting, remembering important events and managing a household.  But the current form of the game could be only the beginning.  There is huge potential in the framework of the game to add in other levels to incorporate other skills.

‘We have made sure that the skills taught in the game align with the Australian Core Skills Framework so those skills can be formally recognised in other domains.  We will be looking for funds to develop this aspect further in the future.

‘You can download the app. free at the iOS App Store or from Google play.

GOM Central

‘The GOM Central website is for all young people in care or who have been in care.  We’ve got a lot of information and links that they can dip into any time when they need it.  We also have a number of videos featuring young people with stories about their time in care, letting them know that they are not alone and they have experiences in common with others. They also share advice and information. One of things we learned in focus groups is how important peer to peer learning is with this group of people.

‘The site also hosts a blog which offers visitors the opportunity to share experiences and knowledge.

‘The young people who have been on this journey with us are the real heroes. They generously shared their ideas and experiences and trialled the games – and you may see some of them on the videos!’

 

Programs for young people should be evaluated – by them

a group of young people at the Royal Commission consultation
An interview with Isabella Daziani from the Department for Child Protection Evaluation Unit

‘In evaluating programs for young people, we think it is fundamental to start with the young people themselves’, says Isabella.
‘If we really want to improve services for young people we must recognise they are the foremost experts in their lives – they know what is working for them and what isn’t.
‘And it must be done genuinely, more than a quick tick and flick to check off the “young people consulted” box.
‘But achieving a genuine, respectful and useful dialogue with young people is not always easy and can be made difficult by the circumstances of the young people. They have a lot of adults coming in and out of their lives and some are understandably reluctant and distrustful of yet another nosey adult. Others may have psychological, intellectual or physical disabilities that we need to acknowledge, and provide them with opportunity to contribute.
‘Some young people may be suspicious of the motives of adults or jaded by consultations that take up their time but produce no follow-up and no change.
‘To talk to young people, you may also need to navigate the attitudes of the adults who care for them. Some adults genuinely believe that young people should be protected from discussing challenging issues. Some believe that only adults can understand and legitimately speak on issues for young people.
‘We have found that many young people are very aware of their circumstances and capable of expressing their insights to a degree that would surprise many adults. They are the experts in their own lives. The young people we have spoken to always surprise and delight us with their insights and their directness.

This is part of a longer interview which includes the views of young people, Isabella’s top tips for consulting and some further reading.

Download the full version of Programs for young people should be evaluated – by them

Changes to the Charter of Rights – results of the Charter Champions’ Survey

words chater of rights in a speech bubbleAs well as speaking with over 30 children and many adult stakeholders about necessary changes to the Charter of Rights, the Guardian invited Charter Champions to have a say via an online survey.  There were many specific observations made by respondents to the survey which you can read in the survey report at the link below. The general thrust of comments was very similar to those from other sources, such as:

  • the content of the Charter and the way it was expressed were pretty much OK with some minor wording changes
  • there was need for more age/literacy level relevant material explaining rights to children
  • there was a great need for tools and materials for workers, carers and others to discuss rights with children
  • there was a need for more education material to assist individuals to learn and organisations to inform staff how to make use of the rights in their work with children.

Many thanks to the Charter Champions who were able to contribute and especially to those who offered to be beta testers for future Charter materials.  We will be in touch!

Download the Charter champions Survey results.

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Aboriginal young people speak about culture and community

Shirley for website video postIn this twelve minute video, five Aboriginal young people talk frankly about their history and their connection to culture and country while in state care. The video is a distillation of many hours of interviews by Office staff in February and March in 2015. It was first screened at the Murraylands Community Gathering at Ninkowar on July 24th  2015 and is closed captioned.

View the video now on Youtube.

If you wish, please leave comments on the video in the comments panel below.

Healing developmental trauma

graphic for trauma article9 February 2015

Many children coming into care will do so carrying the burden of traumatic experiences yet sometimes they reject the very warm, supportive and predictable relationships that adults caring for them are only too willing to offer.

This article, written by Advocate Sarah Bishop who has made a study of developmental trauma, looks at its deep and long-lasting effects.  The article helps to find the meaning behind the behaviour of traumatised children and discusses how a team can build a supportive environment to aid the child’s healing.

Rights in pictures

picture of a flash card

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.

link to GCYP twitter

Young people tell social workers ‘Why You’re Important to Me’

The popular video Why You’re Important to Me, formerly available only on DVD, is now on YouTube.  This fun animation reveals the feelings young people in care have about their social workers based on interviews collected as part of the Guardian’s inquiry Quality Contact between Children and Young People and their Workers in 2009.

 

Check out the Why You’re Important to Me resources page for other videos and printed materials that can be used along with Why You’re Important to Me for training or self education.

link to GCYP twitter

New resources for those who advocate for young people in care

 

In a new video advocates Amanda, Melissa and Jodie share some of their insights and experience with the many people, of all ages and roles, who strive to make sure that the voice of a young person in care is heard.

If you would like to consider issues about advocacy for young people in care further, you can also download a transcription of the video and discussion questions.

 

Please feel free to use this video and the accompanying materials in your training and we would be pleased to hear feedback and suggestions.  Just click the ‘comment’ link near the headline of this story.

Find more about advocating for children’s rights in our Twitter feed.

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New practical guide to sharing information

As more agencies shared information in order to flag issues and coordinate services around clients, they found the need for a short practice guide to supplement the ISG decision-making guide.

Early intervention by sharing information – 10 top practice tips is a stripped-down, plain language guide to the major issues and steps in deciding the when, what and how to share information.  Not everything you need to know about information sharing but a useful prompt, guide and training tool to supplement your ISG toolkit.

For all that’s new in ISG, go to www.ombudsman.sa.gov.au/isg.

link to twitter

 

Choosing the right path to University – for young people in care

picture of the university brochureSouth Australia’s three universities combined with the Office of the Guardian again this year to update a brochure to encourage young people under, or recently under, guardianship to think about going to university.

The brochure describes a range of options for uni entry, ways of funding study, the variety of courses available and some real-life stories of young people under guardianship who have made the journey themselves.

The brochure is targeted to young people in their later years at high school and recent school leavers as well as the teachers, school counsellors and carers who can encourage and support them.

You can order copies of the brochure from the materials page of this site and it will also be distributed to DECS school counsellors, through universities and through Families SA social workers.  You can also view a version of the brochure in PDF.