The new Direct Experience Group, comprising families and parents with direct experience of the Child Protection and Family Support system, has met for the first time.
The group was established to provide an opportunity for care leavers and parents and family members of children in care, or engaged in the child protection and family support system, to have a voice in system improvement.
Members of the group, who will meet on a quarterly basis, will collectively use their experience to contribute to reform.
Members were on Monday greeted by Minister for Child Protection, the Honourable Katrine Hildyard MP, who thanked members for their courage and generosity in being involved and discussed priorities for the group, which then went on to establish a work plan and terms of reference.
The Government recognises the important of listening to those with experience of the system and is committed to supporting the group’s establishment and work to bring together knowledge from diverse sources to inform a strong child protection and family support system.
Life Without Barriers in partnership with the Reily Foundation have been engaged to support and facilitate the group.
The Reily Foundation is a community organisation providing practical support, education and advocacy for parents who are navigating the child protection and family support system.
The newly-formed Carer Council, which advocates for foster and kinship carers, also met for the first time on Friday.
NB: Members of the DEG will not be sharing their identity.
As put by Katrine Hildyard
Parents and others who have been engaged with the child protection and family support system have often gone through some really complex and difficult issues.
Listening to them is a crucial part of our drive to help advance change across the child protection and family support system.
A number of these people have worked really hard, with resilience and courage, to tackle issues they have confronted and be reunified with their children; they should be applauded for their efforts. They will provide unique and valuable insights into areas for system improvement.
Their voices must be heard and will be.
The establishment of this group symbolises recognition that family members, and those who may have experienced involvement with the system themselves, have a wealth of knowledge to offer.
I wholeheartedly thank them for their willingness to be involved.
Their goal is the same as mine; to keep children and young people safe, loved and nurtured.
As put by Lucy Wade, Director for Child, Youth and Family Services in SA for Life Without Barriers
The knowledge that comes from lived experience is critical for long term change in child protection.
We thank the parents who participated and who offered invaluable contributions and reflections which will directly inform policy development and practice in SA.
When the views and knowledge of people with lived experience of the child protection system are heard, we see better outcomes for children in relation to their rights to family, community and country.
Ultimately, we want to ensure families are strengthened and that the response system is built in a way that is informed by the voices of people with lived experience.
Life Without Barriers is very supportive of this approach and we look forward to the outcomes we and the sector will learn through the process.