Transition to Independence (T2I) Month 2017 was launched this morning in Yeppoon with 16 years old Kylie at the helm. Recent child protection legislative amendments mean that there is a greater reason to celebrate young people’s transition from care to independence this month.
Last week, it was announced that the Queensland Parliament passed the Child Protection Amendment Bill. The Queensland Government will now support young people after they leave care up to the age of 25 years. The changes also clarify the department’s responsibility for planning for a child’s transition from out of home care to independence from the time they turn 15 years of age.
Master of Ceremonies, Kylie, in beginning the official launch, introduced Nyoka Hatfield from Darumbal Enterprise who offered the Welcome to Country. Caitlyn Hughes then performed the national anthem in her traditional language.
As a young consultant with the CREATE Foundation, Kylie outlined why T2I Month occurs each year: November is Transition to Independence month across the state of Queensland and is held each year to focus on helping young people make the journey from the child protection system to independence and achieve positive life outcomes. It makes me happy to see so many young people and their supports come together to celebrate the work that we’re all doing in ensuring young people transition in a safe, happy and successful way. After all it takes a community to raise a child, therefore it takes that community to assist children to become adults. Today is also about seeing some young people embark on an adventure to Great Keppel Island later this afternoon. A trip that is about young people beginning their journey to transition to independence, one which we should all help in celebrating.
Each year, over 500 young people exit statutory care to live independently. Assistance for these young people often comes from family, carers and community members, as well as government and non-government service providers. However, a number of young people make this transition without a formal or informal support network.
Transition to Independence Month is coordinated by sub-committee of G Force, a sector-wide working party, chaired by the CREATE Foundation. As Kylie said, G-Force, is a really awesome group of young people, workers and leaders from a whole heap of organisations that have committed to working together to make the system better.
Kylie acknowledged key representatives in attendance:
Mick Shearer, Central Queensland Regional Executive Director.
Emma Heillier and Ben Ravi representing Cheryl Vardon, Commissioner of the Queensland Child and Family Commission.
Councillor Jan Kelly, Livingstone Shire Council.
Mark Lewinton, Rachel Meehan, Nicole Dendle and Debra Fitzgerald from the Office of the Public Guardian.
Child Safety Service Centres across the Central Queensland region: Rockhampton, Gladstone,
Emerald, Maryborough, Bundaberg, South Burnett, Kingaroy and Cherbourg.
Partner agencies who assisted in planning the event.
She also thanked those who had travelled far to attend as well as all the young people in the midst of their care journey and those who have exited care.
Kylie noted the importance of CREATE’s role in young people’s lives. She applauded its achievements since the early beginnings in aiming to give a voice to young people in the system and ensuring that their voices were heard. From small beginnings, CREATE is now a National organisation, with two offices in Queensland, one in Brisbane and one just about to open in Townsville.
She spoke about CREATE’s passion for improving the care system to ensure that plentiful opportunities are available for young people with a care experience to reach their full potential. She highlighted that T2I Month is about celebrating the achievements of young people in care and raising awareness in the system and out there in the community that young people need support to reach their goals and dreams… We do things like T2I month because alone we can’t make things better, the obstacles young people transitioning from care often face require all of us to come together. It can’t just be a job for Child Safety Officers and carers, it needs to be the broader community, from the small business person who gives the young person a hand up into a business opportunity, to the investors who get behind stuff like Urban Dog Tees, a t-shirt making business on the Sunshine coast that was set up to give employment opportunities to young people in care.
Kylie also noted that T2I month is done in partnership with a region each year to showcase the amazing work being done in the area of Transition to Independence.
When I think of this year’s theme for T2I month ‘Road to Independence … Journey to success’ I think of the many different paths we take in our life and how we don’t ever really finish. And that’s the important thing right. Transition to independence isn’t just a thing that happens, the day someone turns 18, it’s a process, it’s a journey and often when we say ‘independent’ we don’t mean being alone and not relying on anyone because how many ‘grown ups’ are actually like that? What we probably mean is inter-dependence, that feeling like you belong and that you do have a social network, even if it’s small, it’s so important.
Professionals in child protection Mick Shearer, the Regional Executive Director for Central Queensland and Adrian Malone from Next Step After Care then spoke about the importance of the transition to independence process for young people. Cultural Connections Kidz performed their leaving lingo song, followed closely by Darumbal Enterprise’s song and dance performance and Dave Dow Music.
Kylie concluded the formalities by asking all to: take a moment to give yourselves a pat on the back for the awesome work you all do in ensuring young people transition to independence successfully. She thanked everyone for taking the time to come along and noted that the launch was the first of many events throughout the month of November being held across the state. Such events range from professional development days, information stalls, fun days for young people and art exhibitions, to name just a few.
Attendees were then invited to check out the fun activities in Yeppoon post the formalities: crazy hair makeovers, pool activities, yoga and meditation, song writing, a photo booth, a music production workshop and body and face painting, just to name a few. Exhibition stalls were set up for participants to peruse for information and resources.
Following lunch, activities continued until young people heading to Great Keppel Island boarded their boat for their own transition to independence celebratory experience.
For more information on T2I Month:
Information and Resources: