Wow! What an amazing 3 days at the CREATE Youth for Change conference in Brisbane this long weekend.
A big thank you to our sponsors, AMP Capital, Churches of Christ Care, Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services QLD, Department of Social Services and Life Without Barriers for all of their support to make our conference a huge success.
Our Youth for Change conference involved young people, carers, sector workers and academics who all came together to learn, share experiences and participate in the conference activities and sessions.
Our keynote speakers Todd Sampson, Professor Nigel Thomas, Dr Michael Ungar, Associate Professor Richard Roylance and CREATE’s own Dr Joseph McDowall all presented interesting and captivating keynotes which was no mean feat with an audience spanning from young people to sector workers. As always, we were proud and impressed with the comments and questions from the young people in the audience who were keen to participate.
Friday kicked off with a captivating Welcome to Country, a welcome from Children’s Commissioner Megan Mitchell, the Hon Shannon Fentiman, Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, and Minister for Child Safety and of course, the very excited Jacqui Reed, CREATE CEO.
The day involved plenty of sessions for young people including art workshops, song writing workshops, cooking sessions, dance classes, a walking tour, a ‘Have Your Say’ session, a Headspace session and even a circus workshop. All the young people involved were energetic and all participated with some inspiring comments and suggestions about the care system as well as having heaps of fun along the way. A lot of talent was uncovered in the art, song writing and cooking sessions also!
Friday was jam packed with great sessions from organisations such as SNAICC, OPG, Life Without Barriers and Tracie Shipton from Dingwall Trust to name a few. It was great to see young people attending these sessions and getting involved also. The Panel Discussion at the end of the day ‘Snap that Stigma’ was fantastic, involving a panel including (among others) CREATE Young Consultants Naomi and Carlatina. Naomi and Carlatina raised many good points and definitely made an impression on the other panel members. CREATE Board member Reeny Jurczyszyn hit home with a lot of young people, sharing her story and experiences of growing up in care, leaving them with the message that your years in care are only a quarter of your life so not to let those years define your future.
One session that was enjoyed by all was the captivating Todd Sampson with his session ‘Brain Power’. Todd explained that we all have the ability to improve our brain at any age and capable of more than we realise.
Friday also saw the launch of the Youth for Change 4 key messages:
Saturday was another day packed to the brim with young people activities and more break out sessions from organisations including PeakCare, Foster Care Association of Victoria, a panel discussion on overrepresentation in care and we also heard from the Royal Commission. Commissioner Robert Fitzgerald left us with the honest but powerful message – “I don’t know what it’s like to be in care, I don’t know what it’s like to turn up to the door of a new foster placement, I don’t know what it’s like to be in the eating area of a resi home while chaos is unfolding around me, I don’t know what it’s like…so tell us. Tell us your experiences and I promise you we will listen, we will believe you and we will support you.” – Commissioner Robert Fitzgerald, the Royal Commissioner into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Saturday night was the big conference dinner which saw a lot of happy and excited faces. The dinner began with a purple carpet entrance and media wall for everyone to take a few selfies! There were some great snaps!
CREATE Young Consultant Cody Shanahan was our very own MC who as usual was outstanding and a born presenter, keeping the crowd entertained. We experienced some absolutely outstanding talent from 3 CREATE young people performing the national anthem, followed by an inspiring welcome from the Governor-General, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC who was more than happy to oblige with a few selfies with young people. The Members of the Queensland Show Choir were up next performing a few well known songs, then CeeCee from Adelaide got the crowd up on their feet and on the dance floor cheering for more with her amazing self-written and composed songs. Terry aka Razor Rap was next with his jaw dropping raps which were from the heart and up there with the pros! Then to really get the dance floor going, Dillon aka DJ Hamilton hit the decks and had the whole crowd jumping around to his beats. The dinner was an absolute buzz of energy and a night not to be forgotten.
The dinner also was the foundation to launch CREATE’s brand new fundraising campaign ‘Paint it Purple’! Everyone got involved, painting their nails purple with the nail polish we had on the tables and posting on social media with the #CREATEpaintitpurple
Now we need you to help and spread this fundraising campaign! Paint your nails purple, post your photo on social media with the hashtag #CREATEpaintitpurple and donate (or get someone to donate on your behalf) to help kids in care at https://create.org.au/support-us/paint-it-purple/
Sunday morning, the last day of the conference, the auditorium was still buzzing with energy. We had 2 key note speakers in the morning followed by some fantastic young people get up on stage and have their say. The breakout sessions included speakers from Foster Care QLD, Mercy Community Services Bravehearts Inc just to name a few. In the last sessions, we saw young people perform their song that was written and perfected during the song writing workshops over the last 3 days which was amazing! You would never know it had been whipped up in only 3 days, a fantastic effort and the whole crowd got involved singing along. CREATE CEO Jacqui Reed closed with some inspiring words and ensured it was a conference not to be forgotten. To follow the 3 days of the conference, just search the hashtag #CREATEY4C2015 on Facebook or Twitter. We hope all who attended had a wonderful time, learnt a lot and made some life long friends. We thank all our sponsors and those who registered for the conference and as well all our volunteers who helped the 3 days to become a huge success.
YOUNG PEOPLE’S QUOTES ABOUT THE CONFERENCE
Confidence is the first thing that comes to mind when I think about what I got from the conference. I am currently at the end of my school year and since the conference I have said. If I can speak up and talk to a room full of strangers about my foster care experience I can do anything. It was great to get the opportunity to inspire so many young people in care, meet people my own age with a foster experience because I don’t get the opportunity to do so and also it was so good for my health and wellbeing to have some fun and take a break. I recommend people attend the next conference and I was grateful to have had a grant to attend
– Carlatina, age 21
I was lucky enough to be one of the many who got the chance to attend the create conference. For me, it was an eye opener. It made you realise there are a lot more people in the care system which means more stories. I got a chance to have a say in what needs to be changed in the care system, as a young person in care, you rarely get this chance, to me this won’t make a change to my life, and that doesn’t matter, because we will be changing and making it a more positive experience for other young people who may come into care. Changing something in the care system will always be my passion, as I’ve lived it and i want to change it, and the conference definitely gave me the chance to have a say
–Female, age 17
We hope to see you all again in Sydney in 2017 for the next conference and don’t forget in the meantime to help spread the word about #CREATEpaintitpurple!