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On Wednesday 17 August Better Chances Forum members met to connect and reflect on this questions. Together we viewed a video about children and young people’s experience in out of home care. We then met in groups to discuss, how we can enrich our practice by supporting children and young person to speak their lived experience, either in individual decisions or in organisational or system-level change?  

Reflections from our conversation included:

 

·       We need to acknowledge that listening to children and young people is part of our work, and build in frameworks to state how we are doing this.

·       For children and young people to have a voice they must be given safe spaces to tell their story (ensure everyone is aware of what safety means, legislation protecting them, complaint processes, and agreement about how they will work safely together)

·       There are existing tools/frameworks to support voice, such a family lead decision making, family group conferencing and cultural support plans. However, some feel they need to advocate for these tools to be used in our organisations. Implementation of the NSW Aboriginal Case Management Policy may strengthen this for some programs.

·       Ensure that we are creating spaces for a families, children and young people to tell their story once, and for their story to be truly heard. We are exhausting our children, young people and families making them retell their story.

·       We are working within [20th Century] historical perspectives where children were to be seen not heard. Culturally Jarjums’ voice is central to decision making.

·       Importance of play for children, young people, families and professionals. Making play part of how we set up space.

·       Place and space in our organisations’ practice frameworks which shows how a child and young person’s voice has been documented and what is important for that child. This includes in our case notes, and how we capture data/information so if there is change of staff this voice is still reflected.

·       Check in on our bias about what we may think is best for a child and let them tell us what they want and need.

These conversations support us to work on our practice and support children, young people, their families and communities better.

BCF will meet online again on Wednesday 21 September, 10am-12pm.

Better Chances Forum (BCF) is convened by Social Futures. People from organisations or groups working with children, young people, their families and communities are welcome to join BCF. Please contact [email protected] to connect.