20 December 2022

Congratulations to Caroline, Case Manager Next Steps Plus, who has received the Australian Human Rights Young Person Award.

Caroline holding a framed award and a clear trophy smiling at the camera.

The Human Rights Awards are held annually to recognise and champion the work of human rights advocates across Australia. The awards are a chance to acknowledge, congratulate and share the important work of organisations, businesses, and individuals across a variety of sectors.

At the Human Rights Awards, Caroline Fletcher, Case Manager in the Life Without Barriers Next Steps Plus program, was awarded the Young People’s Award, recognising her work and achievements in advocating for children and young people living in out of home care.

Five recipients of the Human Rights Awards standing together as a group in front of a stage, smiling at the camera.

Image: from the Australian Human Rights Commission.

As a result of her own journey in the care system, Caroline uses her lived experience to be a strong advocate for children and young people in care.

“When I started my journey into youth advocacy, it wasn’t just about creating systematic change for children and young people in out-of-home care. It was about working towards making sure all children had the right to feel safe, loved, and respected,” Caroline said.

“Throughout this journey, I have advocated for young people transitioning into adulthood to have the same opportunities and outcomes as our peers because it was the right thing.”

When asked how she felt about receiving the award, Caroline said she was still in shock but was excited to have received this award for her advocacy.

“Receiving this award really highlights the need for change in the care space. But it also highlights that there is advocacy happening in this space and that the efforts of the advocates and young consultants aren’t going unnoticed.”

Through her work as a youth advocate, Caroline has made significant contributions to legislative reform in Queensland to extend the supports for young people in foster, kinship, and residential care from 18 to 21.

“I was there when the campaign was launched. I was actually homeless at the time, and I remember crying to Paul afterwards because his speech, it was really emotionally driven, and it was momentous to be part of launching this big campaign to help kids that were in my position,” Caroline said.

“I welcome Queensland’s Support To 21 movement as a foundation. It is important that we build off the voices of young people with lived experiences and listen to them.

"The system has let down so many young people. They have walked the journey no young adult should have. So now we need to learn from our mistakes to ensure that this change really makes a difference.”

Another piece from Caroline’s advocacy journey that stands out is her role as a Youth Researcher for the Rights, Voices, Stories: Our Rights Matter project.

“I'm really proud that I was part of the Rights, Voices, Stories: Our Rights Matter project. This work really highlighted that young people and children have the right to feel loved, that they need to be able to have their own identity and feel safe and secure.”

Teena Ingram, Director of Child Youth and Family Queensland, shared that she was proud of Caroline for receiving this award.

“Caroline has been a passionate and strong advocate for young people in out of home care.”

“Caroline was there from the beginning of the Home Stretch campaign in Queensland to extend support to the age of 21. Caroline is a valued member of our team, working directly with young people leaving care. Well done, Caroline.”

On behalf of all of us at Life Without Barriers, we would like to congratulate Caroline for being recognised with the Australian Human Rights Young Person award. Thank you for all you have done for young people in care – we are very happy to have you on our team!

What is Next Steps?

Next Step Plus is a support system for young people aged 15-25 in Queensland. With Next Step Plus, you can get in touch with people who will try and help you sort out the things you’re having trouble with, no matter how big or small. How involved we get is totally up to you. So don’t be shy – reach out to your nearest provider, and we’ll see what we can work out together. If you know someone who you think could use some extra support, you can call us to work out how to help them too.

Child, Youth and Family

Our Foster Care, residential care and after care services provide a safe and supportive environment where they can heal and grow.

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