Safety is Not Enough
Ensuring that children and young people who have experienced abuse and neglect are kept safe from further harm is a must. But it is not enough. We must ensure that their rights to education, good health, life skills and stable relationships are realised.
As a community we want the best for all children. We want all children and young people to enjoy the best start in life, enabling them to grow, develop and thrive; to have time to play and explore their world safely, to benefit from education and opportunities to participate in sport, recreation and the creative arts; to form lifelong bonds with family and friends that will support and nurture them; to discover and develop their unique strengths and as young people to find their niche in the world from which they can shape and contribute to that world.
Children and young people who have experienced abuse and neglect have the same rights and needs as all other children and young people. But they confront bigger obstacles as they strive to reach their full potential. Many of these children and young people have unresolved trauma, chronic health issues and are moved from place to place and in and out of care. Their connections to friends, family and community have been broken, their education disrupted, their voices drowned out and their hopes for the future undermined. If left unresolved, the disconnectedness this creates impacts on the mental health and lifelong opportunities for children and young people.
Things that most children and young people can rightfully take for granted have been missing from their lives. Ensuring that children and young people who have experienced abuse and neglect are kept safe from further harm is a must. But it is not enough. Organising a roof over their head but nothing else is just another form of neglect.
Berry Street has worked with and for vulnerable children for over 100 years. We, and many other agencies, have worked to keep rooves over the heads of these kids but more has to be done. As well as keeping children physically safe we have to ensure their rights to education, good health, opportunities and stable relationships are realised.
Key Areas of Advocacy and Action
- New models of foster and kinship care to ensure carers receive the financial and other supports that will enable them to meet all the needs of the children and young people in their care
- Support for young people leaving care (to age 25) to prevent youth homelessness
- Development of an’ education and service passport’ for all children and young people who have been within the OOHC system to ensure they have lifelong priority access to all forms of public education and support services
- Development of therapeutic teaching and learning approaches that respond to and enhance the learning capacity of children affected by trauma, abuse or neglect.