October Advocacy Wrap-Up

Minister for Children appointed in Victoria  

CREATE welcomed the announcement earlier this month that Minister Blandthorn would become Victoria’s first Minister for Children in Premier Jacinta Allan’s new cabinet. The new portfolio will take on the Best Start, Best Life early childhood education reforms as well as continuing to drive improvements to Victoria’s child protection system in an effort to provide a whole of government focus on child development and wellbeing. CREATE sees the creation of this new portfolio as a critical step forward to elevate children and young people voices and provide meaningful solutions to the issues they face, especially those with a care experience.   

SNAICC Conference wrap-up 

Voices at the Top was the theme for this year’s SNAICC conference on Larrakia Country in Darwin. Dr Elise Hilder (CREATE Research Officer) and CREATE SA Young Consultant Brooke Oliver, a proud Kaurna woman, presented a snapshot of a recent inquiry into First Nations removals and placement in South Australia. 

Brooke initially took part in the inquiry through submission discussion groups in which she helped facilitate and create a safe space for CREATE’s young people to have a yarn. The voices of young people at these sessions then directly informed CREATE’s submission.  

Read the full conference update here: https://create.org.au/snaicc-conference-wrap-up/  

CREATE’s Media Statement following outcome for the Voice referendum  

CREATE released a media statement following the disappointing outcome following the Voice referendum.  

View statement HERE 

VCOSS Voices of Victoria: Listening Tour report released!  

The Victorian Council of Social Services (VCOSS) released their second Listening Tour report which is about listening to Victorians who don’t often get a seat at the table. The report highlighted the need for improved support for kinship carers in Victoria, especially around clearer and consistent information:  

“One person will tell us one thing and another something completely different. They don’t talk to each other.” (Kinship carer cited in VCOSS, 2023) 

CREATE joins the chorus of voice advocating for increased support for carers especially in light of the findings from VCOSS’s Listening Tour report.   

Read the report here: VCOSS-Listening-tour-2.pdf 

Source: VCOSS. (2023). Voices of Victoria Listening Tour 2023. VCOSS-Listening-tour-2.pdf  

Preliminary Report released for the Inquiry into the Application of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle by the South Australia Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People 

CREATE welcomes the release of the Preliminary Report of the Inquiry into the application of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle (ATSICPP) in the removal and placement of Aboriginal children in South Australia. The Inquiry under way is examining how the Child Placement Principle is being implemented and pointed out that current practices are inadequate. The Preliminary Report makes 17 legislative recommendations to be included in the upcoming reform of the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017, and CREATE’s media release calls on the South Australian government to accept all the recommendations, and urgently take action to reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in OOHC.  

In fact, the preliminary report  provides an insightful analysis on the over-representation of First Nation children and young people in out-of-home care in South Australia, and the data trend reveals that by 2031, the rate of over-representation will be close to that of the Stolen Generation. Read the report here: https://cacyp.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/CACYP_Preliminary-Report-2023.pdf  

‘Read to Me:’ Literacy project in South Australia 

The South Australia government has announced investment into a literacy project of OOHC called ‘Read to Me’, which involves reading resources being sent to young children in care, such as age appropriate books. CREATE looks forward to the see the launch of the program and recommends that all states in Australia invest in innovative and effective education projects for young people in out-of-home care. Investing in literacy for children in care | Department for Child Protection 

Western Australia commissioned OOHC services to 16 organisations, 6 ACCOs 

The Western Australian government has completed the commissioning of OOHC services and awarded contracts to 16 organisations, 6 of which are Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations. This has been part of a reform of out-of-home care to provide better responses to the needs of young people in care. CREATE congratulates the newly appointed organisations and welcomes in particular the appointment of new ACCOs. 

Office of the Children’s Guardian annual report tabled in Parliament  

The Annual Report 2022–23 of the Office of the Children’s Guardian was tabled this month in New South Wales Parliament. CREATE was particularly concerned by statistics released in the report that showed that there were 40 children under the age of 12 placed into residential care in New South Wales in 2022-23. This is a significant increase on the number released in their 2021-22 Annual Report which indicated that 29 children under the age of 12 had been placed into residential care in New South Wales.   

The report also highlighted a significant decrease in the number of carers on the New South Wales Carers Register from 17,960 carers in 2021- 2022, down to 17,121 carers 2022-23. These statistics highlight the need for urgent reform to address increasing demands on the New South Wales child protection system.    

Read the report here: Working for better coordination and partnerships – annual report | Office of the Children’s Guardian (nsw.gov.au) 

Health Navigator Pilot Program

CREATE in Western Australia proudly contributed to the Department of Communities HealthyWA Health Navigator Pilot Program (HNPP) initiative. The HNPP helps young people in care receive the support to look after their health when they need it. As leaders in the out-of-home care sector, CREATE supported young people with a care experience to develop both a young person meeting statement and a young person friendly brochure as part of the project. 

Update on CREATE’s consultations 

CREATE’s annual consultations are underway in the following states: 

  • Victoria (Health and Wellbeing for ages 14-17) 
  • Australian Capital Territory (Health and Wellbeing for ages 14-17) 
  • Northern Territory (Health and Wellbeing for ages 14-17) 
  • Queensland (Caseworker support for ages 12-17) 

If you are a young person with a care experience in one of these states and would like to participate in one of our consultations, please get in touch with your state team: https://create.org.au/state-teams/  

If you would like to know more about CREATE’s consultations please check out our website: https://create.org.au/consultations/ 

CREATE’s submissions 
  • Submission to the Queensland Residential Care Review: the consultation phase for the Review of the residential care system in Queensland has now closed, and CREATE has contributed through a submission that highlighted a detailed plan of reform while focusing on young people’s own perspectives. While the review has otherwise focused more on providers, talking to young people at a YAG raised distinctive issues, such as concerns around safety, respect for young people’s rights, relationships with staff, and the impact of everyday management on health and wellbeing. Therefore, CREATE demands that young people’s voices are incorporated in the next stages of a residential care reform in this state. Read it here: https://create.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/Residential-Care-Review-Submission-updated-CREATE-Foundation-final.pdf 
  • Submission to the Commonwealth Housing and Homelessness Plan: CREATE’s submission called for a range of specific measures to prevent and eradicate homelessness for young people with a care experience across all Australian states. The submission addressed the housing barriers that care leavers face in securing homes whether in the private market or through social housing, the specific needs and supports they needs both in terms of financial packages and services, and recommended the introduction of a housing guarantee. Read it here: https://create.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/National-Housing-and-Homelessness-Submission-2023-CREATE-Foundation-final.pdf 
Consultation opportunities  
  • The Office of the Advocate for Children and Young People (ACYP) in NSW is conducting a Special Inquiry and wants to hear from you! If you are a child or young person in NSW who is currently in an alternative care arrangement (ACA), or has previous experience of being in an ACA in the past 10 years, the Advocate would like to hear from you. ACAs can include hotels, motels, caravan parks, serviced apartments, and other similar places. To make a submission or find out more, visit their website: ACYP | Special Inquiry (nsw.gov.au) 
  • Have you accessed communities services in the past 12 months? ACOSS has developed a short survey for people who have used or accessed community services in the past 12 months. This is an opportunity to inform ACOSS’s submission to the Department of Social Service’s consultation and importantly puts the voices and expertise of people with lived experience of poverty, disadvantage and hardship at the centre of policy-making. Complete the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CSAG2023 
  • South Australia has opened for consultations to develop a State Disability Inclusion Plan. This would be an opportunity to have your say on how disability is affecting young people in out-of-home care, and what could be done to improve outcomes for them. To get involved, answer to a survey or send a submission in your preferred format here: Consultation on the State Disability Inclusion Plan | YourSAy 
  • Your last chance to contribute to the Western Australia Youth Action Plan: submissions are open until 17 November to tell the Western Australian government what young people want to see happening in the state. Join here: https://www.wa.gov.au/organisation/department-of-communities/new-action-plan-young-people-western-australia 
  • Ministerial Youth Advocacy Council (MYAC) in WA is seeking young Western Australians to join the youth advisory council. The MYAC provides advice to the Minister on topics that are important to young people or that the State government is working on, based on their own experiences and their unique perspectives as a young person. If you are aged between 15 and 25 years old (as at 1 July 2024, when your term would commence), living in Western Australia and interested in making a difference and having your voice heard, apply here to join: https://forms.digital.wa.gov.au/231998656522065 or visit https://www.wa.gov.au/organisation/department-of-communities/ministerial-youth-advisory-council for more information 
  • Get involved in this petition to introduce legislation in Australia to end child poverty: Thousands of Aussie kids are living in poverty. We need a Child Poverty Reduction Act now. – Action Network