Stories, photos, written records, language, songlines, mementos, artworks are all ways by which young people develop a sense of who they are, where they fit in the world, and how they are connected to family, community, and country. For young people in out-of-home care, their story-tellers include those connected with their life in-care (e.g., caseworkers, carers, residential care workers). CREATE talked to 26 young people with a care experience about their views on accessing their records.
What did we find?
All young people thought their records should contain many different types of documents and information. In particular, more than 50% stated they wanted their records to contain their placement history, the reason for their being in care, and their medical history.
Further, more than 50% of those who identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander wanted information about their cultural history and mob documents.
Young people valued good quality records as they helped them:
- navigate and participate in the world (e.g., apply to university, get a job, get a driver’s license);
- to know their story and what happened in their life;
- to maintain good health and wellbeing (e.g., be able to answer questions about their medical history; communicate with medical professionals); and
- to remember.
Barriers to accessing and reviewing records included:
- not being aware of their rights;
- unclear or complicated application processes;
- duplicate application processes for records from inter-state or another agency;
- incorrect information or a lack of support from caseworkers; and
- documents that were unclear, confusing, inaccurate, long, or heavily redacted
Young people wanted to be informed of their rights, have access to clear and accurate information, be able to access their records at any time, and apply for them using a process that was quick and easy. When reviewing their records, they wanted practical and emotional support from trusted sources that met their individual wishes and needs.
What did we do?
CREATE sent a report to the Queensland Government about what young people with a care experience in their state were saying about accessing their records.
We urged the Queensland Government to:
- Enshrine record-keeping rights in legislation and policy;
- Ensure ALL young people are informed of their rights;
- Ensure caseworkers and Departmental staff are well informed so they can implement good practice.
Good practice includes:
- Writing good quality, accurate, meaningful, and appropriate records;
- Involving children and young people in writing records in an age-appropriate manner; and
- Supporting access to records.