12 April 2024

Life Without Barriers is guided by the views of young people at the Youth Consult Day in Tasmania.

Image: Four young people are sitting outside on the grass and talking.

Sam, David, Anton, Alexia and Richelle* arrived at 9am at the Fusion Ropes Course for a Youth Consult Day and the place was buzzing with activity. Life Without Barriers staff were signing in attendees as excited young people turned up at the Course Centre.

“What I like about coming to these events is making new friends,” said Anton, who attended a Youth Consult Day last year.

The Youth Consultation Days are run by the Life Without Barriers Tasmanian Child, Youth and Families team and are held during the school holidays. This year, 22 young people aged five to 16, who engage in Life Without Barriers programs, attended the event.

The day gives young people a chance to meet their peers who are also in care, learn new skills, participate in fun activities, and importantly, share feedback about their out-of-home care experiences.

An icebreaker activity helped everyone get to know each other before the young people were split into two teams to complete rope activities. The two teams worked together to complete each activity with some of the older kids helping the younger ones.

Following the rope activities, the group played giant outdoor games, including Jenga, snakes and ladders, Quoits, and cricket.

Image: Young people are playing outside at a distance.

After a morning of fun, making new friends, and a BBQ lunch, the young people settled in to begin an important part of the day. They were going to share their thoughts about how Life Without Barriers can improve the lives of all young people in out-of-home care.

A room was set up in five ‘stations’. At each station, there was butcher paper with a question on top, sticky notes, and pens for people to write their responses. The young people, in small groups and sometimes with their support workers, made their way around the tables to write their answers.

When asked what he liked about Life Without Barriers, Sam wrote “Youth consults” while Kylie, another participant responded, “Being with other young people I know.”

The attendees shared their thoughts on how Life Without Barriers can do better when working with young people.

“More home visits and more support,” was Anton’s response.

Life Without Barriers is committed to being guided by the views and perspectives of children and young people, and we are always on the lookout for new carers across Hobart and Tasmania who think the same way.

Image: Three foster carers wearing black t-shirts with pink text which reads: Tassie Kids Needs Foster Carers.

"We want to ensure that every time a decision is to be made that affects a child or young person they are involved in that process, they feel heard, and their views will be given due weight,” said Paul Cairns, Tasmanian Director, Child, Youth and Family.

"Young people have a right to be involved in decision-making that affects them."

“The Youth Consult Days are one way we are seeking, validating, and recognising the voices of children and young people. From these events, we have learnt and continue to learn how young people are experiencing their service and what they want changed," said Paul

"The feedback the young people give us will shape the care they and others will receive.”

Life Without Barriers staff have already drawn valuable insights from the day.

“I was surprised that when asked how they liked to be communicated with, a few said that they liked receiving letters. I thought, ‘oh really? I can implement that',” shared Steve, Child and Family Practitioner.

The young people expressed why it was important to them to be listened to.

“I really like it when I know adults are listening and hearing my point of view,” said David.

“I think it is really important to have a platform to share our feedback when it comes to our care, as we are the ones who experience it firsthand,” Richelle said.

“There are a lot of adults in my life who make decisions about my care, it makes a difference when they include me in the conversation,” said Alexia.

Image: Handwritten ideas on colourful post-its from young people for the next 'Youth Consult Day'.

The important task of sharing their views aside, the children enjoy the day because they have a really good time.

“We have been friends now for ages, I met him through here,” said Anton referring to his friendship with another young person he met on an earlier Youth Consultation Day.

Sam added that he had a good day and loved that “everyone has been smiling.”

When asked what they would like to do for the next Youth Consult Day, the attendees came up with a wide variety of ideas, indoors and outdoors, including mountain biking, Laser Tag, water activities, Escape Rooms and movies.

“A holiday in Queensland!” one young person piped up hopefully. We are hopeful too!

*Names and images have been changed to protect the children in this story.

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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