Lucas Moore, Queensland Coordinator of the CREATE Foundation, talks about the innovative ways they are working with and for children and young people with an experience of out-of-home care.
These include programs that connect children and young people in the care system to understand and participate in the case management processes they experience, as well as empowering them to contribute to the policies and practices that affect them.
My name's Lucas Moore, I'm the Queensland Coordinator of the CREATE Foundation.
CREATE was set up in the nineteen nineties as a voice for children and young people in out-of-home care, so we represent children and young people's experiences of the system and their ideas for how the system can be improved. Our mission is to increase opportunities for children and young people in care and give every child in care the opportunity to reach their full potential.
Our motto is Connect-Empower-Change, so firstly we're about young people and children in care knowing that they're not alone in care - we have something called Club CREATE, it's a membership service and children and young people join up, they get a bimonthly magazine, they get invites to events that we do. That's another way that we connect, we actually have events, whether it's a party in the park or something in Wet n Wild, or taking people bowling and to the movies and that kind of thing, so people who are Club CREATE members get the heads up about that stuff. We do giveaways and competitions with those young people and they also get a card on their birthday that our corporate volunteers in Sydney sign.
Empower - that's the second part of our motto, that's really about making sure that children and young people have self-confidence, have the skills to stand up for themselves and to take control of their own lives and be active participants in their own lives - as children and then as adults. Some of that's the information that we put out through the sector to young people about processes to do with being in care, whether it's a family group meeting or a case planning process - trying to explain those processes to young people in a bitmore of an accessible way for them, so they can understand those processes and then obviously participate in them more. We get the information out in lots of different ways, whether it's straight to our members or through our NGO and government contacts.
Another way that we empower children and young people is through our speak up program and that's a program that has three different levels of complexity. Essentially it's about advocacy and how does the care system work and once someone's completed that training with CREATE they become what we call a young consultant. We go by the thinking that as people who have an experience of care they are in a way an expert of the system, and so as a consultant would use their expert knowledge these young people use their expert knowledge to advise the system on how it could improve, what it's doing really well and ideas for maybe changing our practice, our policies, or our legislation to better meet the needs of young people who have a care experience. Because we work with people up until the age of 25, so anyone from a baby to 25 can be a Club CREATE member and access CREATE programs.
It's Connect-Empower-Change, so Change that's our advocacy, it might be at a statewide level, meeting the minister and taking young people along - some of our young consultants who are passionate about a few issues along to meet the minister. It might be training child safety officers as part of their entry-level training which we do on pretty much a monthly basis, it might be getting resources out there to the sector that highlight here's what young people are saying about their issues or here's some examples of young people's stories and that kind of thing.
In Queensland there's a bit of uncertainty, or quite a bit of uncertainty and a lack of specific programs targeting young people who have a care experience or have been in care through till 21 - our legislation does allow some discretion on behalf the director-general to help, but it's not very specifically stated, and other states have programs and services for people 18 to 21, 18 to 25, in this space. Queensland has had a real lack of that - we've done a lot of advocacy over a number of years about that, saying look there need to be something that means that there's not just a drop off in support at 18 - not that everyone experiences that, some kids can stay with their foster carers and that definitely does happen and that's fantastic - but some young people are left without a lot of supports when they turn 18. You know they're under the care of the state up until that day and then they're not, so obviously with the lack of funding and support you can see how that would happen without specific programs.
There's a future for CREATE in a number of different areas, and that is sticking to the idea of having young people's voices heard in the system. It's still for some people a bit of a strange idea or an afterthought, so we really want to have young people's voices out there throughout the system and into the ears of decision-makers at every level. I think that we've still got work to do with that, and we'd like to have a regional presence in Queensland. We go out and run events regionally but we'd like to have a regional office.
In some parts of the state, there's people in the care system looking at mentoring between people who are high-profile sportspeople or in business with some younger people, which is not a necessarily new idea but it's about those links. We've got to the stage where, whilst business or corporate Queensland is involved with this stuff and gives, having a broader community awareness and maybe having them involved in different ways as well - it's not all about just donating finance, which, sure, everybody from a non-government organisation would like so that's great and that's a really important way to help - but it's also about bringing those young people into their community a bit more and that involves building their trust and sharing information with them about these processes that you're asking them to be a part of, and it involves giving them feedback and then a chance to engage in that process in a co-design way. It's not just a consultation, it's sitting down and working things out together. So I think there's a lot of potential in that space for some more meaningful work to be done - I think there is meaningful work being done but I think there's the potential for more to be done.