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Listening to and engaging with the VOICES OF CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE

by PeakCare Qld on 3rd June 2015

Home -> Articles -> 2015 -> June -> Listening to and engaging with the VOICES OF CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE

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G Force is in the Spotlight

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead.

The g-force acceleration experienced by an object is due to the vector sum of all non-gravitational and non-electromagnetic forces acting on an object's freedom to move. In practice, as noted, these are surface-contact forces between objects.  

However this is interpreted, this is why we have G Force!  Named by young people to ensure a voice for Queensland children and young people with a care experience.

Last week we brought you a blog post about valuing the voice of children and young people.  This week we are focusing on a similar issue - listening to and engaging with children and young people and ensuring they are involved in both individual and systemic processes relevant to them.  G Force is a Queensland workgroup incorporating young people, non-government organisations and Departmental staff across the range of government activities that intersect with child protection and child and family wellbeing.

G Force was formed following the 2004 Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) Inquiry into the abuse of children in foster care as a means of giving voice to the experiences and views of children and young people with a lived experience of the child protection system. Since then, the Carmody Child Protection Inquiry has been conducted and G Force has continued to operate with many of its activities now influenced and informed by recommendations of this most recent Inquiry.  

What is unique about G Force is that young people with a current or previous care experience are active members of the group and help to drive its focus and work.  Chaired by the CREATE Foundation, G Force offers a rare opportunity for community and government stakeholders to come together to discuss key issues that impact children and young people with the voices of children and young people being paramount to the group.  This includes the CREATE Young Consultants taking leadership in: setting agendas, key discussion points and making decisions about how to progress such discussions. 

“Despite the ups and downs in my own life I always feel good coming to G-Force because I have always wanted to help people and this is one way I can do that.” Caitlin, CREATE Young Consultant and G Force member.

Young people are a really significant and powerful force in all that G Force does. They recount real stories and poignant examples of their own experiences whilst providing guidance for practitioners and policy makes to ensure improvement in direct service delivery and systems enhancement by sharing their insights and views about what works well. They also offer advice as to what doesn’t work so well and ways in which we as a sector can improve practice, intervention, policy, legislation and systemic responses.

G-Force as a state wide work group aims to share knowledge, practice, linkages and advice with practitioners and policy makers. Participation of children, young people and workers in the child protection system is vital to ensuring that children and young people have a say in the decisions that affect their lives.

G-Force is focused on achieving best practice regarding:

·      the active participation and inclusion of children and young people in out of home care in their community and in decisions that affect their lives, and

·      quality support options for young people in out of home care transitioning from out of home care to independence

Transition to Independence (T2I) Month is organised and co-ordinated by G Force.  Each November is dedicated to focusing on the significance of quality practice, policy and research with regard to young people transitioning from care to independence.

The work of G Force in achieving improved outcomes for young people transitioning to independence is notable through recent government changes as prescribed by the Carmody Inquiry.  The recently funded hotline 1800 Next Step in association with the Next Step Program is a major milestone.

Whilst the work of G-Force is grounded in the opinions of young people with an out-of-home care experience themselves, with CREATE Foundation Young Consultants participating directly and indirectly in the group, many government and non-government members also make significant contributions.  These include: CREATE Foundation as Chair and facilitator for children and young people in care, Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services, Department of Housing, PeakCare Queensland, Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak Ltd, Foster Care Queensland, Queensland Family and Child Commission, Office of the Public Guardian and various Non-Government Organisations (NGOs).

Lucas Moore, Chair of G Force is enthusiastic about the opportunities inherent in G Force as a group: “I think G-Force offers a positive example of stakeholder engagement and collaboration where children and young people’s voices are front and centre.  Despite the challenges associated with collaboration and youth participation I think the dedication and the goodwill of all G-Force members has created a vibrant group which continues eight years after its inception as a force for positive change in the sector”.

G-Force seeks to support those working with young people in out of home care by sharing practical information, practice wisdom and useful tools.  G Force has developed several resources and professional development tools for practice. The group also provides stakeholders with opportunities to provide feedback about systemic changes that could lead to better outcomes for children and young people in out of home care.  Whilst G Force has focused over the last few years on processes to ensure systemic change and the development of resources to support sound practice for those engaging directly with children and young people, CREATE Young Consultants suggested that 2015 could incite a differing strategy.

As such, this year G Force decided that many resources had been developed including video presentations by young people sharing their care experiences.  Whilst resources are important, in 2015 G Force is intent on joining with partners and stakeholders across the sector in a content driven manner to ascertain what it is that we need to know in order to holistically support children and young people with a care experience through shared forums noting the relevant research and the individual experiences of children and young people.

These discussions led to the STAYING CONNECTED forum.   This is the next piece of work G Force is undertaking.  A discussion that originally began as conversations around It’s Ok to Stay with regard to foster care post 18 years of age became a broader discussion about the significance of connection for children and young people and led to the up-coming forum – STAYING CONNECTED. Staying Connected is significant for all children and young people in terms of their life long wellbeing.  It’s also a key issue G Force is focused on. 

For more on the STAYING CONNECTED FORUM:

What: Staying Connected Forum – a chance for a diverse range of stakeholders throughout the care sector to come together to identify barriers to connectedness, innovative approaches in practice and policy and identify what changes need to be made to practice, policy and legislation to ensure better connections for children and young people in care.

When: Tuesday 30th June, 9 for a 9:30am start-12.30pm.

Where: QFCC, Level 17, 53 Albert Street, Brisbane City

Why: A chance to share sound practice and inform the direction of sector development in this area.

 

For further information on the forum, please click here

To attend the STAYING CONNECTED FORUM or to find out more about G Force please contact Lorraine Dupree:

 

A sample of Resources developed by G Force:

Children and Young Peoples Participation Strategy

This document outlines the Queensland’s child protection sector’s commitment to involving children and young people in out of home care in decisions that affect their lives.

Tips for overcoming barriers to participation

This resources for workers in out of home care features feedback from young people about how barriers to facilitating youth participation can be addressed.

Complaints Banner

This is resource highlights the different avenues for children and young to raise concerns or complaints about their care and is intended for use in newsletters and on websites

Emergency contacts

This template can be used by workers assisting young people transitioning from care to highlight key local services that can provide them support post care.

Reconnecting with Family in a safe way

This resource for young people contains tips from young people who have transitioned about reconnecting with family in a safe way.

Participation meme

Young people developed and designed this resource with the aim of increasing young people’s awareness of their right to participate and to who they can go to for assistance.

Are you in care? Has Child Safety made a decision you don't agree with?

This information sheet has been developed by G Force to raise awareness and understanding about QCAT - the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal - amongst young people in care.

How to make a complaint – a form for young people

Young people can use this form when they have a problem, or when they feel unhappy or worried about something that has happened or is happening to them in care, but they are not ready to talk to someone in person about it.

Participation forum mini-manual

This resource provides a guide on organising your own forum/training event looking at the engagement and participation of children and young people in care, based on an actual event organised by G-Force in March 2012.