27 March 2024

Life Without Barriers organised for 15 young people whom we support, and their carers, to attend the CREATE conference.

Image: Two young people stand together with their arms crossed. Their faces are hidden by leaves on a tree.

The Create Foundation’s 2024 Voices in Action Conference brought together young people, carers, and professionals from across Australia who wanted to collaborate on and work through contemporary issues in the out-of-home care system. This year, Adelaide played host to the three-day conference, which included a plethora of activities, from presentations by young leaders to interactive workshops and fun-filled sessions for the attendees.

Life Without Barriers, proud Platinum Sponsors of the conference, actively participated in various sessions and led multiple workshops. Representing the organisation across all three days was Anthony Raitman, Executive Director, Strategic Initiatives Child, Youth and Family, Natasha, Mark, and Phi, Resident Artists and Ellie, peer facilitator for the conference and a previous and long-term Living Arts participant.

Image: Six people standing in front of two Life Without Barriers' pink foster care pull-up banners at the CREATE conference.

Life Without Barriers also organised for 15 young people whom we support, together with their carers, to attend the CREATE conference.

Anthony shared what his experience was like at the conference.

"As a conference participant, I spent most of my time engaging with young people through the advocacy sessions, in the Chill Zone and during the breaks," Anthony said.

"I was inspired by the confidence and exuberance with which young people expressed their thoughts and ideas for a better future for themselves and others in care."

"A highlight for me was when the young people supported by Life Without Barriers gave strong endorsement to the re-establishment of a national Youth Advisory Group. I look forward to bringing this to life with their active participation." Anthony shared.

Throughout the conference, Life Without Barriers emphasised our commitment to listening to the voices of children and young people, recognising them as crucial stakeholders in effecting positive change in out-of-home care.

The team also hosted popular workshops, including the 'Hidden Conversations Flowers' workshop, 'Storytelling through creative writing and poetry' and Anthony and Phi took part in the opening plenary.

Image: Anthony and Phi are on stage at the CREATE conference. There is a screen behind them.

One of the standout workshops facilitated by Life Without Barriers was the 'Hidden Conversations: Giant Flowers, Real Stories' project. Attendees were invited to engage in dialogue by inscribing messages on flower petals—messages expressing conversations they wished to have with the adults in their lives. The initiative aimed to amplify the voices of young people and spark meaningful discussions about their experiences within the care system.

The messages are a powerful insight into the challenges the young people in care are facing in 2024. Some of the messages echoed the most critical issues including transitioning from care, residential care, sibling connection, housing, feeling alone and the cost of living. Young people could also write down, or draw, who they wish they could talk to or something else they want to ask but don’t know how.

Phi is going to build flowers from the word petals and display them in the Life Without Barriers Unley office and during upcoming exhibitions, including the mindshare Exhibition for Mental Health Month in South Australia.

Image: Young people and their carers create art on paper petals.

“The conversation starters shared during this workshop and across the conference have been equally moving and inspiring,” said Phi, the Resident Artist behind this project.

“We are still collating the responses, but the importance of honouring and maintaining connections has been consistent. I was also inspired by petals that encourage us to look beyond the history of trauma these young people experience and call for support to help create a brighter future," added Phi.

The conference wasn't just about discussions; it was about getting creative about actionable solutions. Workshops like 'Storytelling through Creative Writing and Poetry' provided a platform for attendees to express themselves imaginatively while reflecting on their experiences. Meanwhile, sessions on advocacy and making meaningful changes underscored the practical steps needed to drive systemic improvements.

Ellie shared their thoughts on the opportunity to volunteer, their sentiments echoed the sentiment of empowerment and validation that permeated the event—a space where young people felt heard and valued.

“I would like to thank Phi and Life Without Barriers for the amazing opportunity to volunteer as a peer facilitator at the CREATE Foundation Voices in Action Conference 2024,” Ellie said.

“I have enjoyed the work I have been able to do over the course of the conference and have met and connected with so many amazing young people who deserve to have their stories heard.”

Image: A photo of the 'Hidden Conversations' petals with words and art on them.

As one of Australia’s largest social purpose and not-for-profit organisations, we are proud to sponsor and attend conferences such as Voices in Action, it is for a cause that is close to our heart.

In 2023, Life Without Barriers’ Child, Youth and Family team walked alongside 5,148 children, young people and families to help provide a safe and supportive environment where children and young people can heal and thrive. But, key statistics about out-of-home care in Australia paint a stark picture of the current landscape.

Key statistics like:

  • 30% of young people who have left care or preparing to leave care are unemployed.

  • 36% of children and young people in care do not live with any of their siblings.

  • 35% of young people in care have five or more caseworkers during their time in care.

  • 67% of young people in care over the age of 15 do not have a leaving care plan.

  • Young people in out-of-home care are 16 times more likely to be under a youth justice order than the general population.

  • About one-fifth (21%) of young people with Youth Justice experience have been in out-of-home care in the last five years.

CREATE believes meaningful improvements for the 44,000 young Australians growing up in care can only be made in partnership with children and young people who have experience with the care system. CREATE brings together young people, carers and professionals to collaborate and provide an in-depth exploration of key issues identified by children and young people with a care experience to discuss solutions to improve the care sector. We continue to walk beside them.

Youth Advocate Program

YAP provides intensive support for up to six months for young people transitioning within out-of-home-care.

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