Terry is an awesome CREATE Young Consultant, who has gone on to achieve amazing things! We talked to Terry about his experiences with CREATE, his job and his goals for the future.
So Terry you’ve been pretty influential in your time at CREATE over the years. Can you tell us about some of the things you are most proud of being involved with?
I remember sitting on a couch in a residential home playing Modern Warfare on the Xbox 360 with another young person, when one of the workers approached us to see if we would like to be involved with CREATE.
In all honestly it didn’t initially appeal to me, what can I say I was ‘to cool’ to be involved. However, we had a good relationship with the worker, and the worker had developed their practice well. The worker used the competitive nature of my relationship with the other young person to get me on board.
So I went along to a camp and even though I didn’t want to admit it out loud, or even to myself for that matter… I LOVED IT!!!
Since then I have had my hand in many projects led by CREATE. I participated in training, which gave me the skills I needed to lobby for change, speak in public, actively participate in meetings, confidently speak about my experiences in the face of adversity, advocate for the voices of children in care and much more.
The opportunities that flowed on from my relationship with CREATE are opportunities I can positively say changed my life. From assisting in the development and testing of apps like oneplace, Sortli and Kickbox, co facilitating meetings and forums like GForce, CSO training, CREATE your Future Training and Speak Up training. Having the ability to sit in a room of professionals and influence decision makers, working in the T2A space, advocating for support for care leavers to be extended to 21, public speaking events, the list goes on.
At one stage I was employed by CREATE, this gave me so much corporate knowledge and put me in circles with specialists that know the sector – I was able to NETWORK! This led to employment and training/education opportunities that otherwise would not have been available to someone in my position.
CREATE served as a major part in my life, so as much as I have done for them, they have done for me. I would recommend their service to any young person that has any interest in improving the quality of life for emerging children and young people in the child protection system. That’s why I stayed. That’s what made it ‘cool’.
During my time at CREATE I have done too much to remember, too much to write down and I will and have continued to be involved because they are an awesome organisation that opened so many doors for me and other young people alike.
Congrats on the new job! Can you tell us a bit about it?
After CREATE I went to Government and worked in the Ministerial, Parliamentary and Executive Services, then I went to Child Safety as an Administration Officer. My role evolved and I had the opportunity to work on the children’s charter of rights, I assisted in the CPA 1999 reform, helped develop the CSPM, provided feedback for the Redress Scheme, provided input into Next Steps after care and so much more!
I worked for the Department for 2 years before accepting a role at both CofCQ and UCC. At CofCQ I am the Child and Young Person Engagement Strategy Officer. I work in Engagement and Inclusion within CYF.
My role has really been about whats the best practice when engaging young people, how can we increase participation over-all, so that’s participation in meetins, planning, case files/notes, cultural strength plans etc – how do we embed culture into the forefront of our work was a big question! So I have been assisting in the development of strategies, tools and resources frontline staff can use when working with children.
At UCC I am a residential worker at the same houses, with the same workers at the same company I was with as a young person. Truly never would never have pictured myself as a residential worker, but I have to say that those kids are so special and they deserve all the love and care I and other workers can offer. I have no regrets and I am grateful for the opportunity to help change lives.
How does it feel to be continuing your work with children and young people in care?
Working with young people was never a path I saw myself going down. But as I continue to work in child protection I continue to grow and heal, I am able to reflect and have self realisations about the trauma I have experienced, the coping mechanisms I use and the feelings associated with my thoughts and behaviours. In terms of personal development I have come along way. It was never the system that helped me, it was just some really incredible people along the way. I just want to be that incredible support person for someone else that is going through a hard time. I know what it feels like, and that’s what makes me so passionate. I was born into this life, I did not ask for it. I spent nearly 18 years in care and have dedicated my life since leaving care, to improving the outcomes for ALL children in care, whatever that looks like. This is a sacrifice I am proud of, and I see myself working in this sector for the rest of my natural life.
What are your plans and goals for 2021?
2021 is another year, but with it comes great potential. I hope to start my own company to help youth in the next couple years, I would like to do things differently. In the meantime, in terms of professional development I want to develop my practice. I want to continue to learn and experience new things, I want to continue to implement change and participate in projects that positively impact thousands of lives, I want to continue to work in culture to reduce the over representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people, but most of all I want to make some major changes to policies and legislation where possible.
What advice do you have for other young people with a care experience?
I think the world is your oyster and anybody that tells you otherwise is just afraid of your potential or doesn’t want to see you succeed. Listen to your heart, follow your gut and keep your mind free. Doubt is the biggest killer of dreams, not failure. People doubt themselves to the point they don’t even try, don’t be THAT person. You are young, you have been through a lot, so focus on you. Give yourself some time and some self-loving. Build relationships, network, put yourself in places with company doing things that is out of your comfort zone. This is how we grow. As I said I didn’t choose to be where I am, when I was 15 I would never, NEVVEERRR of thought this is where I would be.
I just stayed true to myself, I was open minded and I reassured myself that no matter what happens I will be okay, even if okay isn’t the same type of okay I wanted to be. IT’S OKAY!
You are incredibly strong and resilient, your life is a testimony to that, you are loved, you are wanted, you are not alone, you are truly an amazing individual if you can go through the experience of being taken into care and come out on top.
A role model in my life once said: you can decide whether your trauma transmits or transcends. The choice is yours.
That is my advice to all of you. Choose wisely and reap the benefits.