During our Voices in Action: Empowering young people for positive change Conference held at the ICC Sydney 10-12 August 2017, CREATE hosted a panel exploring models which aim to make child protection everybody’s business. The session was full of energy with forthright panelists and insightful comments by the large audience present.
The topic of this session stemmed from the experience of CREATE’s Chief Executive Officer, Jacqui Reed who, in 2015, visited Scotland and learned that the government there had implemented new legislation to broaden the support base for children and young people in care.
The model ensures government departments and various related organisations are held responsible for working together to assist children and young people in care in the role of “Corporate Parent.” Each government department and designated organisations are required to develop and implement an action plan that outlines how they will support children who have been in the child protection system. This could include organisations employing young people with a care experience, funding scholarships, providing cheaper or subsidised public transport, subsidised health services, or promoting positive news stories about children in care. This support is intended to stem from and relate to the organisation’s usual activities.
The Conference provided an opportunity to host a panel bringing together corporations, stakeholders from the sector, and young people with a care experience to discuss possible strategies for extending community support within child protection here in Australia.
The following panelists were present:
• Cheryl-Ann Cruickshank, Director for Innovation and Development from Who Cares? Scotland;
• Simone Czech, Executive Director, Design, Innovation, Safety & Permanency from the Department of Family and Community Services, NSW;
• Jon Comino, Fundraising Committee Member at AMP Capital;
• Stevie Kirby, A/Executive Leader Support and Sustainability from AbSec;
• Andrew McCallum, Chief Executive Officer from ACWA;
• Hayden Frost, previous CREATE Young Consultant.
The session began with Cheryl-Ann outlining the concept of Corporate Parenting, the cultural shift within the community over time for concern with child protection, and the framework of support required, e.g., at school and within the workplace. Each panelist subsequently provided case studies and discussed possibilities of Corporate Parenting within their respective organisations. The audience was not short of questions and it was great to witness a constructive dialogue unfolding between all stakeholders in order to tackle the poor outcomes that many young people with a care experience face.
There were many takeaways from this session, including: the need to co-design programs with input from young people, engage further with schools and corporations to think as “parents,” and be mindful of how initiatives should be considerate of diverse cultures, and the needs of young people. Young people must be involved in every part of the design and development of initiatives. It is important not to approach issues expecting a “one size fits all” outcome; there are many possibilities, and solutions or initiatives should be designed to meet the specific needs of young people in different locations around the country.
We would like to thank all attendees, each panelist, and moderator Dr Joseph McDowall, Executive Director (Research) at CREATE, who made this session so engaging. We hope to continue this important conversation, and should you have any ideas for, or examples of Corporate Parenting, we would love you to share it with us on social media with #childprotection4everybody