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Unlocking Transition. A local initiative intent on reaching out across Queensland is In the Spotlight

by PeakCare Qld on 13th April 2016

Home -> Articles -> 2016 -> April -> Unlocking Transition. A local initiative intent on reaching out across Queensland is In the Spotlight

Traditionally transition from care has been seen as a process of supporting young people from the age of 15 until 18 years and offering significant input as they prepare for adulthood. Whilst this process has been critiqued for various reasons including the extent of the support, the capacity to engage young people at this stage of their care experience and the length of time support is offered, further considerations with regard to transitioning young people from care to independence have become evident.

Since some of the recommendations of the Queensland Child Protection Inquiry report: Taking Responsibility: A Roadmap for Queensland Child Protection June 2013, have been implemented, young people exiting care in Queensland now have access to support opportunities until they are 21 years of age through the Next Step After Care Service. This shift was the result of significant advocacy by a number of peak bodies and organisations as well as recognition that the majority of young people in society live with and receive continued support from their families well beyond the age of 18.

Whilst the introduction of ongoing supports to young people post 18 years of age is significant, many in the sector are clear that transitioning young people from care to independence still requires more discussion and much more work. Many argue that transitioning children and young people from care to independence is a life long journey and needs to begin when a child or young person enters the care system. The Mt Gravatt Child Safety Service Centre’s focus on transition has strongly articulated this point. Such was their conviction about the importance of focusing on transitions for children and young people in care that they established the Transition Alliance by inviting a multitude of government and non-government organisations and child protection peak bodies to join with them. Their belief being, that through a collaborative approach it is possible to garnish and build upon the work of practitioners to really enhance and share what is happening across the sector to ensure and promote continuous practice enhancement.

Nathan Gallagher, Mt Gravatt CSSC’s Transition Child Safety Officer states: “Our aim was to enhance the way in which our team worked with children and young people from their beginnings in terms of experiencing an out of home care environment to their experiences of transitioning from care to independence. We believe strongly that a care experience is about continuously preparing children and young people for independence, just as childhood and adolescence is a preparation for adulthood. Independence is another vital part of this continuum”.

This service centre formed the Transition Alliance with a view to begin locally and then share their information and resources as far and wide as possible to ensure that innovation would be beneficial to all young people. Sharing the Alliance’s collective information with colleagues in other regions is the intent of this group.

The Mt Gravatt team acknowledge the disconnection for many young people between transitioning from care and equality within normative social outcomes. Current literature points to themes regarding the relationship between young people transitioning from care and poor social outcomes. These are the result of:

  • A lack of core relationships (including familial, cultural and community based) available to children and young people
  • The ending of formal ‘care’ experiences at 18 years of age
  • Inconsistent or ineffective eco-maps
  • The over-representation of grief, loss, trauma and attachment issues
  • The link between transition, behaviour and practitioner understanding.

The overarching vision of the Mt Gravatt Child Safety Transition Alliance is: Every child in care is provided the equality of opportunity and the equity of participation that helps them to develop identity, belonging and acceptance.

The Transition Alliance is a partnership and acknowledges that government and community share common goals for children in care and need to work towards these goals in unison. This alliance works both with local organisations to build relationships with those intent on improving opportunities for children and young people in care and those transitioning from care to independence. It also focuses on work across Queensland as all children and young people require improved services whilst in care as they journey towards adulthood and independence.

The agreed upon actions for the Transition Alliance are to:

  • Promote service opportunities of mutual interest to transition stakeholders, families and young people;
  • Identify partnership opportunities for ideas, initiatives, events, projects and research;
  • Provide an opportunity for information sharing and create a transition newsletter for services and practitioners;
  • Identify areas of unmet need and provide recommendations for addressing those areas as a collective partnership;
  • Establish, plan and maintain a yearly transition calendar of events, activities and opportunities on two levels:

1. As a priority the transitions group is committed to offering social, psycho-social and emotionally targeted opportunities and experiences for young people.

2. Secondly, for practitioners and all those who care for children and young people they aim for professional development, networking and training.

The Alliance believes that “If we really want to make major inroads in enhancing practice and ensuring the improved capacity of young people when they transition from care to independence, we absolutely need to focus both on young people and all those who support them. That includes the professionals, carers, volunteers and other key people in their lives who assist and care about them.”

The Transition Alliance has hit the ground running and are intent on remaining focused on new ways of articulating and responding to children and young people with a care experience as they transition from care to independence. They are on this journey from the beginning of their care experience and their developmental, connection, attachment, trauma and holistic needs are all part of the jigsaw puzzle that practitioners and all involved in child protection need to piece together. The hope is that piece by piece, with knowledge, understanding and tenacity children and young people in care will flourish as transition through care.

The following organisations are members of the Transition Alliance:

  • Brisbane Emergency Response Outreach Service
  • Brisbane Youth Service
  • Buranda Housing Service Centre
  • Child Safety – Stones Corner
  • Churches of Christ
  • Create Foundation
  • Evolve Behaviour Support, Mt Gravatt
  • Evolve Therapeutic Services, Brisbane South
  • Indigenous Family and Child Support Service
  • Kyabra Community Association
  • Legal Pod
  • Life Without Barriers
  • Mercy Community Services: Residential care & transition
  • Mt Gravatt Police Citizens Youth Club
  • Next Step After Care
  • Peakcare Queensland
  • Platform 18 (LCCH)
  • Queensland Police Service
  • Student Services, Metropolitan Region (DET)
  • Youth Advocacy Centre
  • Youth Housing and Reintegration Service
  • Youth Justice – Brisbane South

Should you require further information please contact Nathan Gallagher