Campaign- ‘Leaving Care Plans: Give Foster Kids a Chance’

There are approximately 18,000 young people in foster care in NSW, and about 1100 of these leave care annually. A Leaving Care Plan is something which should be started by a caseworker when a  young person reaches the age of about 15.

The plan prepares the young person for being an adult. It alerts them to adult ideas such as budgeting, education pathways, health supports, learning to drive, setting up a house, and how to cook basic food. Many of these young people leave care between 16 and 18 without any family support and have to manage things on their own. A Leaving Care Plan may help them prepare for this step into adulthood.

A study by the CREATE Foundation shows that:

  •  only 18% of young people leaving care get a Leaving Care Plan (LCP),
  • 35% of young people are homeless in the first year they leave care

These young people are not getting vital support and information which can direct them to better social outcomes.

The legislation says the Minister is supposed to ensure that all young people are getting their LCP- however this is not happening.

Jan Barham has spoken in Parliament on this issue and currently has  a Motion on the Notice Paper in Parliament about the importance of supporting these young people. Jan also has a campaign to raise awareness about this vulnerable group of people in our society.

Leaving Care Plan brief for more information,

Go to:Leaving Care Plan petition to download the petition.Get it filled in and send it back to us at:

Jan Barham MLC  
The Greens
Legislative Council, Parliament House
Macquarie Street, SYDNEY 2OOO
Ph: 02 9230 2204   Fax: 02 9230 2766

 

Hearing Services for young people

Extended eligibility for Australian Hearing Services – from 1 January 2012, young Australians with a hearing impairment will be eligible for services from Australian Hearing until the age of 26, extending the previous cut-off age of 21. Australian Hearing has released a new website for young people to help them reconnect with their services – www.ahyoungadults.com.au/

Leaving Care Kits for young people in NSW

LEAVING CARE KIT

Recently Jan was presented with a Transitioning from Care Kit by the National Youth Advisory Council (NYAC) delegates Kimberly and Chris, and CREATE Foundation representative, Bianca Edwards.  This kit will be shown to MPs to gain their support for a Motion that has been placed on the Notice Paper to seek a stronger commitment from the Government to fulfil its obligations to provide young people with Leaving Care Plans. 

CREATE Foundation is the peak body representing the voices of all children and young people in out-of-home care. As an advocate for children and young people in care CREATE ensures that their voices are heard by key decision makers in government and out-of-home care sector stakeholders. CREATE believes that consultation and participation is the cornerstone of good practice and fulfils this commitment through the development and support of NYAC.

NYAC provides a national forum for young people with a care experience to have a voice about issues in the care system, in order to improve the system and the lives of children and young people with a care experience.

CREATE hosts a NYAC summit each year which brings together the NYAC delegates from each state across the country with a focus on developing plans that address key issues impacting on children and young people in care.

One of NYAC and CREATE’s goals is to increase support available to young people and adults who are transitioning from care by developing a Transitioning from Care Kit. These kits include state specific information to enable young people to have access to relevant information and resources.  It has been developed in consultation with young people who have a care experience and who understand the need for the resources.

The kit provided has information specific to Queensland as there has been no funding allocation from the NSW government towards these Transitioning from Care Kits.  In Queensland the Government has provided a budget allocation of approximately $70,000 for the production and distribution of these kits.

In Budget Estimates Committee, the Minister for Family and Community Services, Pru Goward was asked if NSW would be funding the production and distribution of the kits. The response was:

“While Community Services is aware of the QLD Transitioning From Care Kits they are not being considered in NSW”

The Greens are committed to raising awareness about the importance of supporting young people in their transition from care and a petition is available on the website to provide support for improving the delivery of this important resource. To help with this important campaign download the petition here, or call Ella Buckland on 9230 2204.

Notice of Motion “Leaving Care Plans”

On the 22nd November 2011 Jan put a Motion on the Notice Paper in NSW Parliament about the importance of Leaving Care Plans. Jan has called on the government to fulfil its legislated obligation of providing leaving care plans to all young care leavers. Currently the government only provides plans to 18% of young people leaving foster care.

Leaving Care Plans assist young people who have none, or limited support, with information on what services they can access and how they can access them. The plans are intended to empower young people in their journey into adulthood.

For more information on this issue go here:  http://www.janbarham.org.au/?p=87 

To help with the campaign you can download a copy of the petition here.

If you have an inquiry please call the office on 9230 2204, and speak to Ella Buckland or Bronwen Regan.

Fletcher Street Cottage Drop-in Centre

The Fletcher Street Cottage Drop-in Centre is a welcome refuge for Byron’s homeless. The Cottage, on the corner of Fletcher Street and Lawson Street, is a joint venture between the Community Centre, the Salvation Army, St Vincent De Paul and Byron Shire Council and is operated by Darren, Leanne and Katie from the Salvation Army.

The Cottage is open Monday to Friday between 10am and 4pm to provide food and hot drinks, daytime shelter and safe storage for belongings. It offers a caring environment where the needy, lonely and disconnected of our community experience a sense of being valued and supported.

Watch the documentary made about the Fletcher Street Cottage Drop-in Centre here.

Visit the Byron Bay Community Centre here.

Film crew:

Crew –
Lorraine Bell
Grace Larkin
Andrew McGlone
Patrick Spencer
Rani Willis

10th Anniversary of the Arakwal Indigenous Land Use Agreement

On 22 October I was pleased to attend the tenth anniversary of the signing of the Arakwal Indigenous land use agreement [ILUA], which led to the creation of Arakwal National Park at Byron Bay. The ILUA was the first of its kind in Australia and paved the way for other similar agreements around the country. The ILUA and the jointly managed park continues to deliver cultural, economic and environmental benefits for the whole community.

 I had the privilege of playing an active role is the long process that led to development of the Arakwal ILUA, and congratulate all those involved, particularly the Bunjalung Elders who continue to drive the partnership.

 View the National Parks and Wildlife Service photos gallery of the event at http://www.flickr.com/photos/24446199@N08/6275286303/in/photostream/

Byron CSG rally video

Watch the video Sharon Shostak made about the CSG rally in Byron in Oct 2011. Jan was interviewed, along with Ian Cohen. Jeremy Buckingham’s staffer Justin Field spoke at the rally, which is included in the footage. Watch the video HERE.

Some photos were also taken on the day, follow the link to Jan’s Flickr page, or click HERE.

 

CSG rally in Byron Bay

On Sunday the 16th October Jan went along to the huge CSG rally in Byron. Over 2000 people were there wearing blue and carrying signs. At one point there was a “mexican wave” which involved everyone sitting down on the road. Afterwards there were some great speakers inlucing our own Justin Field (works with Jeremey Buckingham), Arj Barker hosted the event and it was great to listen to all the support in the community for saving our precious water.

SEA CHANGE TASK FORCE ADJ

The Hon. JAN BARHAM

The term “sea change” describes the migration of people away from metropolitan areas and larger regional cities to high amenity coastal localities. For many it is a metaphorical change of life, rather than a literal movement to the sea. Although to date, much of the migration away from metropolitan centres has been focused on the coast. Some of those other population movements are known as a tree change. The move to the coast is not a recent phenomenon, with significant population flows to non-metropolitan coastal communities beginning in the late 1960s. In 2001 more than 85 per cent of Australians lived within 50 kilometres of the coastline. Approximately 20 per cent of Australians now live in coastal towns and cities other than capital cities. Much of the population growth along the coast has been within a three-kilometre strip, particularly in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia.

Coastal communities around Australia are struggling to plan for rapid population growth driven by internal migration from metropolitan cities and inland areas. Increased population movements can present threats to the sensitive coastal areas to the environments, the coastal waters, dunes, wetlands and distinctive landscapes. Many coastal communities are surrounded by environments of national and international heritage importance, such as national parks, world heritage areas and increasingly marine protected areas. Those places are particularly vulnerable to inappropriate development that threatens biodiversity, cultural heritage sites, recreational and tourism values.

The social implications of sea change migration are also profound. In spite of new population growth, many non-metropolitan coastal communities are characterised by high levels of unemployment, lower than average household incomes and greater levels of socio-economic disadvantage, along with higher numbers of seniors than other parts of Australia. Therefore, producing ongoing housing stress, high unemployment and increasing population growth and development activity in these areas is not translating to long-term economic gains usually associated with population expansion. Social divisions are occurring between existing residents and newcomers and between wealthier, usually retiree, sea changers and those lower income groups who have been pushed out of expensive metropolitan areas.

Commonwealth, State and local policy and planning instruments addressing the sea change phenomenon focus on biophysical aspects, particularly environmental protection, and to a lesser degree, settlement structure and urban design. Social issues—such as building community cohesion, catering to the needs of ageing populations, housing affordability and cultural heritage—are not well addressed within the scope of current policy or planning instruments. This failure to integrate social and economic objectives and strategies within coastal policies and the land-use plans applying to coastal areas reflects broader difficulties associated with achieving the spectrum of sustainability goals. Given the evidence of social and economic disadvantage in sea change localities, and the likelihood that such disadvantage will continue without effective interventions, broadening coastal policy and planning processes to properly include social and economic dimensions is a priority.

In 2004 the National Sea Change Taskforce was established to represent regional coastal local government areas. This group has committed to fund significant research undertaken by the University of Sydney, Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning research centre. The taskforce holds annual conferences that bring together representatives from coastal councils, academics and interested community representatives to discuss these important issues. The Sea Change Taskforce has been instrumental in making submission to the State and Federal government inquiries and looks forward to the opportunity to comment in the current inquiry into barriers to effective climate change adaption of the Productivity Commission. The work of the Sea Change Taskforce is thoroughly supported by local government. The Hon. Paul Green and I have attended many of its conferences. We are very supportive of, and enjoy membership of, that group.

SOLVING THE JIGSAW ANTI-BULLYING PROGRAM

 Children who are bullied are three times more likely to develop depressive symptoms and have higher levels of stress, anxiety, depression, illness and suicide. Children who are supported, nurtured and empowered have increased resilience, which helps them live fulfilled lives. Many children grow up in a nurturing environment at home. Their views are encouraged and listened to and they feel special, unique and loved. The majority of children find their place and move through school without much hassle from their peers. However, 25 per cent of children and young people experience some form of bullying. This is any kind of abusive behaviour focused on an individual, including violence and other psychological interference.

The Australian Covert Bullying Prevalence Study found that the majority of teaching staff—67 per cent—felt that other teachers at their school needed more training to enhance their skills to deal with bullying. The Solving the Jigsaw Program was developed by Emergency Accommodation and Support Enterprise [EASE], a domestic violence support service based in Bendigo, Victoria. It was launched in 1997 into two local schools as an early intervention program aiming to address violence and bullying at school by changing a culture of violence and creating a culture of wellbeing. The course is now available in 54 Victorian primary and secondary schools and, since 2002, 25,000 children have been empowered by the program. New South Wales has only one fully trained Solving the Jigsaw facilitator, Byron Shire resident Jan Daly. Ms Daly is fully accredited and is implementing the program into a local school, Brunswick Heads Public School.

The program is integrated into school welfare support and policy and enhances the Department of Education’s current initiatives of changing bystander awareness and behaviour. Solving the Jigsaw operates under the assumption that bullying, violence, abuse and other traumatic experiences increase the risk of poor life outcomes. A way to address this is to increase the resilience of our young people and provide them with the time and the tools to reflect and grow. The program builds relationships, trust and understanding through a combination of weekly catch-ups that encourage connection, belonging and intimacy within the group. Structured activities provide opportunities for students to learn about key concepts, values, tools and challenges, and to explore their beliefs and practise problem solving. Although these activities are planned, the program is flexible and can respond to any important issues that might arise.

Solving the Jigsaw deals with bullying and violence by talking openly about violence and about its types, effects and where it occurs. The program explores concepts of the misuse of power, deliberate harming and the use of power to control and belittle. It teaches children, young people and teachers strategies for dealing with violence and bullying. Over 92 per cent of teachers indicated that the program had a significant impact on participating children. The Solving the Jigsaw Program has won many important awards, including the Excellence Award in School Based Programs, the National Association for Loss and Grief Award and the National Child Abuse Award for Community Development, Capacity Building and Strengthening. A documentary showing a group of children and their journey through their school-based Solving the Jigsaw program titled Kids Business won the Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Services media award. It also received a highly recommended commendation in the Human Rights Awards in 2009.

The Hon. Michael Gallacher recently stated in a response to a question by the Hon. Mick Veitch on the effects of cyber bullying on the lives of children that this Parliament and our community “must endeavour to educate our children about these matters in their early years” and “think more broadly in terms of protecting and educating our young people” about the potential damage that can be caused by bullying. Professor Ken Rigby from the Division of Education, Arts and Social Sciences at the University of South Australia stated:

  •  
      … only on rare occasions is education about bullying incorporated into teacher training in a systematic manner.

He advised that the need to provide teacher training was a longstanding issue that had been raised in the National Safe Schools Framework. It identified key elements of successful approaches to address bullying, including ensuring that:

  •  
      … appropriate pre-service and in-service training is conducted for all staff about bullying, violence, harassment and protection issues.

The New South Wales Legislative Council 2009 Bullying of Children and Young People report also recognised that the release of teachers to obtain the training is a resourcing issue. We are all aware of the harm that can be done to children and young people when they are bullied. Instead of managing the emotions of children after they have experienced bullying, we need to provide the training and personal empowerment so that they are able to understand themselves and others better. Providing young people with a platform that they can use to improve their life skills must be a priority. Supporting the implementation of the Solving the Jigsaw Program in New South Wales would be a positive step in changing the culture of violence to wellbeing.

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