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Hear our Voices! CREATE advocacy during COVID-19

Written on April 2, 2020

If you’re finding things hard and need some support, or you need information about services or coronavirus, visit our COVID-19 update blog. If you’re wondering how this will impact you as a child or young person with a care experience, visit out COVID-19 FAQs. If you’re looking for ideas of what you can do at home visit our ideas to get you through being stuck at home blog post.

CREATE’s advocacy and policy work continues through the COVID-19 pandemic. We are very concerned about children and young people, and the impact that the isolation and worry about the current situation creates for us all. CREATE has received some feedback directly from children and young people through our social media channels and through speaking with them. We’d love to hear your thoughts too, so to share them please get in contact with jessica.newell@create.org.au.

Over the past couple of months, CREATE has sat down with Young Consultants from a few different states via Zoom to talk about how they have been coping with the big changes happening as a result of COVID-19. While each of our conversations have covered a range of different topics including mental health and challenges connecting with people and culture during the pandemic, our Young Consultants have also discussed some of the key issues and solutions for children and young people with a care experience at this time – including the need for all state and territory governments to extend support and placements for those young people turning 18

We are really concerned that young people about to exit care (turning 18) will be facing new challenges to secure employment, housing and equip any form of accommodation they might receive. We believe it adds an additional burden and creates uncertainty for young people especially now with COVID-19. So, CREATE has been writing to all Directors General at the Department in each state and territory to ask that the transition process is extended for at least 6 months and this is to include all forms of care such as resi, foster and kinship.

So far (as of 30/04/2020) here are the responses we have received:

  • The NSW, QLD, VIC, TAS, SA, WA, ACT and Northern Territory governments have told us they are all committed to making sure young people transitioning from care get the support they need at this time.
  • In Victoria the Department of Health and Human Services has committed funding to give young people turning 18 years old before December 2020 the option to remain with their kinship or foster Carer. Young people turning 18 can also transition to independent living arrangements with an allowance to cover costs associated with housing. Case work support will also be provided to these young people and their carers during this period. For more information about what’s happening in Victoria you can go to this statement from the Victorian Premier.
  • For young people in residential care, because of legal issues around young people over 18 living with those under 18 in a residential home, you might not be able to stay where you are living but you should be receiving extra support during this time with finding a new place to live.

 

For some information about what’s happening with residential care and transitioning in NSW, please see this Department of Communities and Justice COVID-19 information for residential care services.

 

All states have very clearly stated that any extension of placements or living arrangements is voluntary for young people and carers.  The department’s recognise the young person’s legal standing as an adult in that process and choice and rights they have

For help with transitioning, young people should contact their caseworker, who will be able to talk to them about help that is available, including the After Care service in their state: http://createyourfuture.org.au/after-care-services-across-australia/.

We’ll keep you informed as we know more.

As well as writing to all Department leaders, CREATE has been active in the media, to ensure the needs of young people are being acknowledged. The message from CREATE and young people is that those transitioning from care at this time urgently need additional support. To read some of the articles that discuss the support of young people leaving care check out this article from the Sydney Morning Herald, or this article from Bayside News. To listen to an SBS interview featuring our CEO, Jacqui Reed, and two of our Young Consultants, head here.

CREATE has also heard from young people that birth family and sibling contact is now not occurring face to face in most states and territories. This is understandable in this situation as we all want to be safe and healthy. However, we do realise how challenging that this might be for everyone. Remote contact over the phone, or Skype and other means is not quite the same. We’d like to know more about how young people are feeling about this aspect, and are very keen to share any ideas that you might have to make this experience more positive.

We’ve also engaged our Cultural Advisor to assist us to explore ways in which we can connect with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people digitally. We realise that Indigenous young people in some states live in quite remote areas and sometimes there are challenges with internet so we are very interested in learning other ways that we can engage with young people who may be really isolated. If you have any ideas, we are all ears!

 

CREATE teams have been busy across the country working out virtual ways of connecting with children, young people and the decision makers who need to hear your voices! Above is a snap of some of our South Australia Youth Advisory Group members on a Zoom meeting. WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER!

 

CREATE has also been providing information to children and young people about various aspects of the COVID-19 situation and to know more about what we are doing head to our website: www.create.org.au and social media.