We want your feedback on the draft revised Charter of Rights

For the last few months our office has been working with children and young people on revising the Charter of Rights for Children and Young People in Care, and now we want your feedback.

Every five years we are required to review the charter to make sure it is still relevant and reflects what young people in care want and need today. As part of this year’s review nearly 100 children and young people who are in care or who have a care experience told us what is important to them and what they thought their rights should be while in care. They shared their voices through participating in workshops, online surveys, worksheets and activity books.

With the voices of these young people at the centre, the Charter of Rights working group (which included two care leavers) set about collating the responses and drafting a set of rights that reflected what the young cohort said. Based on their feedback, the revised charter has a strong emphasis on being safe, the right to be heard, being respected as an individual, and of connecting to and being part of culture.

The next step in the review process is to get feedback from you – the adults, carers and workers who care for this young cohort. We want to know if you think these new rights reflect the needs and concerns of the children and young people that you work with and care for every day. Remember these rights are for the young people themselves so they should reflect their voices and what they consider to be important.

How to share your feedback

To have your say, read the revised charter and email your feedback to Mardy McDonald at Mardy.McDonald2@sa.gov.au by COB on Wednesday 30 September.

What next?

Once we have your feedback, we will be sharing the final version of the revised charter to a group of children and young people for endorsement during the October school holidays. The updated charter is expected to be legislated in Parliament early next year, with the roll out to begin soon after.

On behalf of our office and the working group we would like to send a big heartfelt thanks to the people who helped facilitate the activities that enabled children and young people to have their say, and to the young people themselves who were willing to share their thoughts and feelings openly about their rights in care.

Acknowledging great practice

Working in out-of-home care is challenging. We know so many of you are working hard every day to care for and support children and young people in care.

Whether you are working for the Department for Child Protection, non-government organisations or are caring for a child in your own home, we all play an important role in making a positive difference to the lives of children and young people in care.

From time to time, we hear some wonderful stories about people who go ‘above and beyond’ in their work to ensure children in care are safe, nurtured and helped to reach their full potential. These workers are strongly committed to meeting children’s care and wellbeing needs, converting into practice the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Charter of Rights for Children and Young People in Care.

Here are just a few of the excellent practices we have come across in the last few months.

  • A worker in residential care adapted how they presented at work, to help provide consistency to a young person in their placement. The worker adjusted their own lifestyle while working with the young person by wearing the same five outfits while at work, doing their hair and makeup the same way and even eating the same things at the same time! This had a stabilising effect on the young person, resulting in positive behavioural change and reduced times the young person went missing from their placement.
  • A case worker maintained frequent contact (weekly, and sometimes even several times a week) with a young person’s school, therapists, carers and mentor to ensure they were all on the same page regarding the care and case direction of the young person. The worker also contacted the young person at least every two weeks to ensure they knew what was going on and were given the opportunity to make decisions about their life.
  • A school support worker acted as a great Charter Champion, talking to a young person about their rights as a child in care and how the role of our office could help. The worker supported the young person to make a list of thoughts and worries relating to a number of their rights (including contact with siblings, understanding their circumstances, regular contact with their worker, and space and privacy at placement). With the worker’s help, the young person was able to reach out to our office for assistance.

If you know someone who is going ‘above and beyond’ in their work to support the rights of children and young people in care, please let us know so we can acknowledge their good practice and share their story.

Routine semi-naked searches to cease at youth justice centre

black ink hand

Last Friday marked a significant milestone for the dignity of children and young people in SA’s youth justice centre with the commencement of the use of full body scanners and the end of routine semi-naked searches.

Over the last two years our office has worked hard to advocate for the end of semi-naked searches, including the controversial use of ‘squat and cough’. These searches were routinely used when a child or young person was admitted to the Kurlana Tapa Youth Justice Centre, was returning from court or hospital, after visits from their family and friends, or were suspected of being in possession of an illegal or banned item.

The new scanners will be able to detect a broader range of banned items than previous devices and will limit the use of semi-naked searches to be used only as a last resort, bringing SA’s practices in line with other states and territories.

In our latest report, Great Responsibility: Report on the 2019 Pilot Inspection of the Adelaide Youth Training Centre (Kurlana Tapa Youth Justice Centre), data shows that over a 12-month period, approximately 1087 semi-naked searches were conducted, which is an average of three per day. This practice is especially culturally inappropriate for Initiated Aboriginal men.

“As Training Centre Visitor, my staff and I have been working hard to see the use of this humiliating and undignified search method reduced, or abolished,” Penny Wright, Training Centre Visitor and Guardian for Children and Young People said.

“This really is a huge win for the rights and dignity of children and young people detained at Kurlana Tapa,” Penny said.

A young person in detention told us this week it was ‘good news’ semi-naked searches would no longer be routinely undertaken. Some staff also said the new scanners were a positive step in the treatment of the young people. We hope to get more feedback from young people over time as they experience the new technology.

We congratulate the Department of Human Services for introducing the scanners to the justice centre and for having the safety and dignity of the children and young people at the forefront when reviewing the centre’s practices.

Reminder to return Charter of Rights review feedback by next Monday

Thanks to all the children and young people who have been involved in the Charter of Rights review! It has been great to see so many young people having a say about their rights in care.

If you registered children and young people to participate in one of our review activities and have not yet sent their comments and feedback back to us, please remember to do so by next Monday.

Please send feedback using the reply-paid envelopes we sent out with the activity packs. Alternatively you can take photos of the completed activities and email these to Mardy.McDonald2@sa.gov.au.

It’s not too late to have a say!

If you know someone in care who hasn’t had a chance to have their say, we encourage you to get them to participate in our online survey. For children under 16 we do recommend that a carer/worker works with them to complete this.

Take the online survey.

What happens next?

Once we have collected all the feedback from participants, our office will develop the new Charter of Rights. We will be seeking your feedback on the revised Charter in a few months’ time, so stay tuned.

If you have any questions about the review contact Mardy McDonald at Mardy.McDonald2@sa.gov.au.

And remember, all feedback needs to be back to us by Monday 10 August 2020.

Young people in detention speak out in inaugural inspection report

‘Phase 2’ artwork by young person during the inspection.

The children and young people in South Australia’s youth detention centre have spoken. Bullying, dignity, respect and the need for more cultural programs are some of the topics raised in our just released inspection report: Great Responsibility: Report on the 2019 Pilot Inspection of the Adelaide Youth Training Centre (now known as the Kurlana Tapa Youth Justice Centre).

The report is the outcome of our first official inspection of the training centre, conducted in November last year. It represents the culmination of two years of hard work from our team in setting up the Training Centre Visitor program.

The voices of young people and the centre’s staff make for an honest account of life in the centre and are explored in detail in the report.

Our findings delve into whether the rights of the detained children and young people are being met and to what extent the centre’s environment contributes to its objectives of rehabilitation and reintegration of these young people back into the community.

The report contains 10 wide-ranging recommendations on how the centre can better provide for the needs of the young people, including a review as to whether there is an appropriate balance between a model based on security and correction on one hand and one that supports rehabilitation and reintegration on the other.

We give our heartfelt thanks to everyone who was involved in the inspection, specifically to the children and young people and staff who shared their personal experiences about what life in the centre is really like.

You can view the report in full.

We have also produced a child-friendly poster and brochure that offers a summary of what the young people told us and the recommendations we made in the report.

There’s still time to register to be part of the Charter of Rights review!

cartoon circle of children

Have you registered the children and young people in your care to have a say about their rights? As part of the review of the Charter of Rights for Children and Young People in Care, we want to know what matters most to these young people.

We have a bunch of activities for all ages, from being part of a workshop, chatting to one of our advocates, to sharing their thoughts on our online survey. We also have a fun activity book – filled with colouring-in sheets and puzzles to solve – to educate young children about their rights, and to ask them what makes them feel happy and cared for.

If you would like a copy of the activity book, or to register for any of our other activities, just complete the online Youth participation form by 5pm on Friday 3 July.

Don’t miss the opportunity for the young people in your care to have a say about what matters most to them!

If you would like any more information about the activities or the review project please contact Mardy McDonald at Mardy.McDonald2@sa.gov.au.

Register for children and young people to have a say about their rights

We need your help! We are asking all children and young people in care, or with a care experience to have a say about their rights. What they tell us will help shape the revised Charter of Rights for Children and Young People.

Watch the video of Oog and friends asking for everyone’s help. (Please share this video with the children and young people in your care.)

How can children and young people have their say?

Children and young people can have their say by…

  • being part of a workshop*
  • having fun with an activity book
  • telling us what they think in an online survey
  • speaking to one of our advocates.

What you need to do

To help us determine what activity would best suit the children and young people in your care please complete the Youth participation form. Based on the information you give us, we will help you in deciding the most suitable activity. Please register by completing the form by Friday 3 July.

*If you are interested in running a workshop, an existing relationship with the group of young people or experience as a group facilitator with kids in care would be required. If you are unable to facilitate a workshop but think this would suit your group of children and young people, please let us know and we might be able to assist.​

What happens next?

Once we have received your Youth participation form, we will confirm what activity best suits the children and young people in your care. We will then provide you with the materials needed for the chosen activity. Consultation for feedback of the revised Charter closes on Friday 7 August 2020.

Want more information?

If you would like any more information about the activities or the review project please contact Mardy McDonald at Mardy.McDonald2@sa.gov.au.

Art workshops inspiring more than just a logo

Artist and youth mentor Shane Cook

A group of young people in the Kurlana Tapa Youth Justice Centre (formerly the Adelaide Youth Training Centre) recently put their artistic ideas to paper in a series of art workshops.

The workshops gave the young people the opportunity to inspire a new logo for the Training Centre Visitor, as well as providing input into a larger piece of artwork to design and promote the Charter of Rights for Youths Detained in Detention Centres. The added bonus for the young participants was the chance to work with Aboriginal artist and youth mentor Shane Mankitya Cook.

Throughout the workshops, Shane provided the young people, who were selected based on their own interest in art, guidance on getting artistic ideas onto paper and exploring these further. He also shared his own experience of growing up – which he described as ‘full of adversity’ – and how he overcame these challenges through art and connecting with his culture.​

Shane said working with the participants was a great experience for him and everyone involved.

“I’m very passionate about helping others engage in mindful activities such as art, as I have experienced how powerful it can be for our mental health,” Shane said.

“Also assisting young people with an opportunity to create artwork that will then go on to be published is a great accomplishment. The participants engaged with the workshops really well. I am very proud of them and the work they contributed to this project,” he said.

The centre’s Programs Manager Paul Aardenburg was also pleased with the young people’s involvement in the workshops and Shane’s ability to quickly develop a great rapport with them.

“Shane shared his journey with the young people and reinforced to them that positive change is possible,” Paul said.

Shane will now take the ideas created in the workshops and build on these to develop a logo and artwork for the Charter, alongside a graphic designer. This work is part of a bigger project that is currently underway to develop some exciting branding for our office which we hope to launch in a few months.

We would like to thank the young participants, Shane, and Paul and his team for all their efforts in being part of the workshops.

Feedback from all those involved said the workshops were excellent and the young people were especially excited to see the finished product. We couldn’t agree more!

Artwork in the making.

 

Young care leavers tell their story straight up in new podcast

A new podcast made by young care leavers is giving them a space to talk about their life’s experiences and to guide other young people about navigating the world upon leaving care.

With candid conversations covering a variety of topics, from what life has been like during COVID-19, having a child while in care, to a wrap-up of last year’s CREATE Conference, the podcast is aimed at breaking down the social stigma of being in care and creating a community where young people can openly share their stories.

The podcast is part of the GOM Central Project and is led by Relationships Australia South Australia Communication and Development Project Officer Eleanor Goodbourn, backed up by a team of young care leavers.

The podcast team have spent countless hours working through topic ideas, and then finding other young people who are happy to share their stories. With the help of an external consultant, the team has also been getting hands-on learning about the art of making a podcast, from the basic principles of storytelling, to the editing and publishing of the final audio.

Young care leaver Jamie-Lee who has played a large role in the making the podcast said the name Straight Up comes from being as up front as they can be.

“There’s nothing people can’t talk about it. It’s about being real and giving young people the respect to talk about things without being judged,” Jamie-Lee said.

“It’s about young people knowing their rights and us providing resources, breaking down topics, and making the information accessible for them,” Jamie-Lee said.

Jamie-Lee said the podcast enables young people to access information, advice and firsthand stories no matter where they are, especially those people who would prefer to just sit back and listen in the comfort of their own home.

“The podcast is aimed at filling in the information gaps for young people. There was so much we [young people in care] wished we knew,” Jamie-Lee said.

Eleanor agreed that young people often felt they are not provided with enough information to fully understand things, and as a result feel lost and disempowered.

“In care young people are often not given full explanations of things. They feel like they are treated as children with certain topics being avoided [like that of pregnancy and drug use],” Eleanor added.

Eleanor and Jamie-Lee said the project has been a big learning curve, with so much more to learn and explore.

“It’s been great learning about other people’s stories and looking at things from a different perspective,” Eleanor said. “And of course, the process of making podcasts has been a huge lesson.”

Jamie-Lee said the team has only just touched the tip of the iceberg of topics that they can delve into and is looking forwarding to the podcast’s future.

The team are already working on Season 2 which will have a focus on financial wellbeing, and hope that in the near future the podcast will be solely created and produced by the young people themselves.

You can listen to the latest episodes of the Straight Up podcast at the GOM Central website.

If you are a young care leaver or know someone who is and they would like to be part of the next series of the Straight Up podcast, contact the podcast team on 0491 091 702.

New virtual monitoring program is switched on

Hearing the voices of children and young people in residential care will be the focus of a new monitoring program that has kicked off this week. Our team of GCYP advocates will be conducting virtual meetings with children and young people living in residential facilities to find out what life is like for them, especially in the context of COVID-19. Face-to-face visits will follow once COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.

The virtual visits will enable children and young people to share their thoughts about how things are going at their placement, from what they like and don’t like about living there, to how their lives have been affected by COVID-19.

“We’re going directly to the voice of young people to find out what life is like for them in residential care,” Principal Advocate Merike Mannik said. “The real benefits of running the virtual visits with children and young people is that their voice is up front and centre.”

Principal Advocate Merike Mannik

“While these virtual meetings will give us the voice of the child, they will also help our advocates to build relationships with children and young people, as well as increasing the profile of our office and the work we do,” Merike said.

“Prior to COVID-19 we had planned to personally visit residential facilities once we had conducted a review of records and staff surveys. However, over the last few months we have re-assessed how we want the program to run, with the main focus being hearing the voices of children and young people. With the additional stresses created in young people’s lives from the pandemic we believed it was vital that we commence visits sooner rather than later and connect with children and young people online, with the plan to meet with them face-to-face in the future,” Merike said.

Choosing which residences to visit will combine a random selection and a more targeted approach based on feedback from young people, the Department for Child Protection and non-government service providers.

Children and young people will be provided with information about the visit and can decide whether or not they would like to participate. There is also the option for them to call our office, before or after the visit, to raise any private or sensitive matters.

If there are children and young people living in a residential facility who you think would particularly benefit from a virtual visit by one of our advocates, please let us know the name of the facility by emailing gcyp@gcyp.sa.gov.au.