CREATE is lucky to have Youth Facilitator positions at some of our offices around Australia. The Youth Facilitator position is reserved for young people with a care experience and can often be ideal for CREATE Young Consultants wanting to take the next step with us.
Jayden is CREATE’s Youth Facilitator in Townsville and recently wrote this moving article;
Today I write just after a very special holiday period called Christmas. This is a time we can come together, laughing over the freshly cooked roast, passing gifts to each other having a grand time. For a small amount of people in this world though, that sadly isn’t the case. Christmas is just another day.
I want to talk about the trauma that follows these people around like a bad fart. It is not something that can just be shaken off with a hug or a “You will be all good mate”. Trauma to me is something that is unconscious; as soon as I meet a new person I am already suspicious, thinking in my head what does this person want from me? Why is this person being nice to me? Does this stranger want to kidnap or rape me? These are some of the thoughts a young person with trauma from the child protection system may have when interacting with people everyday.
We are sadly people who cannot trust easily, always on edge, waiting for something bad to happen and often detached from any emotion that brings in love. It can get tiring and there were times where life could have been cut short, but this was just the everyday norm, something you had to just cop on the chin and keep stepping forward.
This is why I want to propose a new method in tackling the mental health problem we have right now. Mental health is terrible in general at the moment – one indication of this is the amount of deaths we see in young people whilst still at school. The ones who are strong enough to get past childhood and the teen years do not always have the strength to say no to drugs. I am not saying everyone turns into a drug addict after leaving the care system; I am saying that there is a lot of hidden pain in these young adults that isn’t obvious to everyone.
This is why I do not think the current mental health plan for ten free sessions addresses the trauma young people with a care experience suffer as children. While some young people do get more ongoing mental health support than just 10 sessions, often this is because of luck – it shouldn’t be that way. I believe that state governments should provide funding for a specific mental health worker who would provide individual support to young people with a care experience from the age of 18 until 25. This worker would be focused not just on the mental well-being of the young person, the worker would also be a kind of friend in a way for the young person. Someone the young person knows they can go to if something bad really does happen. This would help immensely with healing trauma, as it would be addressing of the six R’s that renowned psychiatrist Dr Perry says is crucial in healing trauma: relational, relevant, repetitive, rewarding, rhythmic and respectful. This new proposal I believe should be the responsibility of the state government. From my perspective a parent is responsible for their child and for young people in care these parental duties fall to the state. In Queensland for example, the Child Protection Act 1999 s. 7(2) states children in care means children in the Chief Executive’s custody or guardianship. The legislation states that the Chief Executive’s function is to provide, or help provide, services that encourage children in their development into responsible adulthood. There is similar legislation in states and territories across Australia but from my experience state governments do not always adhere to this.
I experienced abuse and neglect before and during my care experience. If governments around Australia truly care about the children they take in, then they must provide funding for ongoing mental health support, so that the broken hearts of many can be healed and that the next generation coming through can bring a light with it that will shine with hope for the next generation after them.