Giving them a Seat at the Table Makes a Difference

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Create Foundation represents over 46 000 children and young people who are in out-of-home care, making a real difference in their lives by giving them a voice.  Through their commitment to connect, empower and change, Create Foundation is living their vision of ensuring all children and young people with a care experience reach their full potential.  With a focus on advocacy, services and support, Create Foundation has been able to have the voices of children and young people be heard.  Now, in 2024 the Create Foundation is once again giving children and young people a seat at the table with their Voices in Action Conference.

The conference, scheduled to take place in Adelaide from March 21st to 23rd, is anticipated to draw hundreds of registrations from the Out-of-Home sector. Delegates will include children and young people, carers, non-government organisational leaders, and Departmental leaders representing various levels of Government.

Held every two years, the Voices in Action Conference theme for 2024 is “Your Stories; Stronger Together” focusing on the key issues of sibling connection, residential care, transition from care and the cost-of-living.  “What young people say about these important issues informs CREATE’s advocacy”, according to Chief Executive Officer Jacqui Reed in a recent interview with Infinity Community Solutions Ltd (ICS).

She continues to add “The three-day program is full of presentations, workshops, panels and interactive gatherings reflecting what the children and young people have been telling us are key issues for them.”

Previous conferences by Create Foundation has led to tangible action for children and young people.  With the conferences giving a platform for landmark policy change.

“We are really proud of past achievements, with 2019 being a great example. The issue of supporting young people in care to the age of 21 was unpacked by young people at the conference and real change came from this.” Says Ms Reed of the Voices in Action Conference impact. “All Australian States and Territories now support young people in care to the age of 21 after CREATE shared the voices of young people on this issue, along with the incredible advocacy efforts of our sector partners”.

Create Foundation Youth consultant, Gemma McGann agrees that the Voices in Action Conferences really make a difference.  “By being part of the Voices in Action Conference, I’ve learned that my voice matters and that my experiences have power.  I’ve seen the impact first hand; the voices of children and young people are driving change. It’s proof that when we come together, we can achieve anything”. Says Ms McGann.

Among the pressing challenges facing young people transitioning to adulthood, the lack of comprehensive support and information looms large. Many young individuals in care find themselves ill-prepared for the complexities of adulthood, navigating a daunting journey without adequate guidance. Addressing this challenge requires a collaborative approach, wherein young people’s voices are central to the solution. By bridging the gap between knowledge and support, Create Foundation strives to ensure a smoother transition for all young people leaving care.

“Transitioning out of care is tough. We need better support and better information, to make it smoother” says Ms McGann, “The Voices in Action Conference will be a great opportunity for young people to share what they believe they need for transitioning and how they can connect to the right supports during this time”.

A key topic to be addressed at this conference will include housing and the current cost-of-living impacting the financial support for young people.  “As in previous years, we will be developing advice for governments and the sector out of the sessions with children and young people. These sessions will culminate in a statement for change at the end of the conference which has helped us to achieve the tangible outcomes we have seen in previous years.” adds Ms Reed.

Ultimately, the overall agenda for the conference is about improving the care system for children and young people by amplifying their voices and experiences.  And for young people, like Ms McGann who has experienced life in out-of-home care the Voices in Action Conference holds personal significance. It provides a platform to share experiences, connect with like-minded individuals, and advocate for meaningful change in the care sector.  Ms McGann sums up the conference well when she says “The conference is a place where I get to share my story and journey in care with others who want to make a difference in other young children and young people’s lives now and for the future. And this is an event I look forward to being part of, a the movement that has such a positive impact”.

By empowering young people to amplify their voices, Create Foundation fosters a sense of agency and belonging, driving positive outcomes for all.  As a boutique organisation working with the out-of-home care sector and a conference sponsor, we at Infinity Community Solutions Ltd are looking forward to seeing the difference that this year’s conference will have.

Will you be attending the Create Foundation Voices in Action Conference?  Visit the conference website to register to attend.