Sonja speaks out against the stigma of having a care experience

Sonja is a CREATE Young Consultant from South Australia with a drive to change the out-of-home care system. Like many children and young people with a care experience, she’s experienced the stigma of being a young person with a care experience. We asked Sonja some questions about stigma as part of our #snapthatstigma campaign.

Tell us a bit about yourself – your age and what you are doing at the moment?

Hey I’m Sonja and I’m 24 at the moment I’m looking in to studying to become a Youth Worker.

What are your interests?

I’ve always loved doing anything creative so photography and drawing. I like listening to music and reading as well. I’ve always been in to advocating for young people or human rights.

Are you involved in any advocacy or any kind of work where you contribute to the community? If so – tell us about these!

I’ve been involved with The CREATE Foundation since I was 16. I’ve done a lot of advocating with them throughout the years. I’ve recently joined the Connecting Foster and Kinship Carers board as a Shadow Member which is a monthly meeting discussing ways to improve lives for children and young people in care.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

I want to become a Youth Worker or working with in the care sector because the system needs to be improved and with my experience in care I have a better understanding of some of the struggles that young people face as to someone that doesn’t have a care experience.

Do you think there is stigma in the community about children and young people with a care experience? If so, where did you experience stigma (e.g. school, work etc) If so, what do you think should be done to address this?

Sadly, there is stigma I suffered it during primary school. I had a lot of anger about being put in care, I was told I had Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD) but it was trauma from being taken from my mum at such a young age. I wasn’t the best student because of that so teachers treated me differently and other students picked up on that. I was put in that box of “she’s trouble” and “she’s too much”. I got kicked out of a few schools because of it. But I was lucky I had a support worker in one of my schools, she had the patience and understanding to help me understand what was happening with me. I think having someone willing to support and understand what was going on helps more than being treated differently.

What’s your advice to other young people who might be experiencing negative attitudes from others because of their care experience?

The media only ever looks at the negative side of children and young people in care they never see the positives we can become anything we set our minds too. If you want to become a social worker do it. You want to become a doctor got for it! No one is holding you back. We aren’t part of the statistic.

Do you know a young person in care achieving amazing things?
Help CREATE snap that stigma and share a positive story over social media, just hashtag #snapthatstigma or email