Adopt Change releases the ‘National Commitment Plan for Children and Young People to Thrive’, addressing the urgent need in Australia to provide enough safe and stable homes for children and young people and ensure they are supported to thrive

Following a successful fifth National Permanency Conference (NPC #THRIVE2021) on
 13th and 14th October 2021, Adopt Change released its second National Recommendations Paper containing eight recommendations forming the National Commitment Plan for Children and Young People to Thrive. The paper has been provided to Federal, State and Territory Community Services Ministers as well as other child welfare government representatives, outlining eight key recommendations aiming to address the critical need for more safe and permanent homes for children and young people along with supports for them to heal from their trauma and thrive. Speakers and conference delegates, including those with lived experience, provided input during the conference that informed the document.

This year’s National Permanency Conference was the first with speakers and/or support from all federal, state and territory governments. 455 registrants including fifty-five speakers and hosts including international trauma specialists, sector experts, government ministers from both sides of politics, children’s commissioners, government representatives and lived experience advocates presented and participated in roundtables across the two days, garnering insights from participants.

International speakers included Dr Bruce Perry, author of What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience and Healing with Oprah Winfrey; Dr Gabor Maté, author of In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction; Adopt Change Founder Deborra-lee Furness; and Global Paediatrician Dr Jane Aronson. Local speakers included those with lived experience of the child welfare system, as well as key professionals working in or with the child protection system.

With the recommendations sent to government after last year’s conference informing parts of the new National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2021-2031, Adopt Change is both honoured and relieved the government and the child welfare sector are listening and responding, and the annual permanency conference is making a positive impact for the 46,000 children currently living in the out of home care system, who too often have experienced impermanency and a lack of supports to heal from their trauma.

Adopt Change CEO Renee Carter said, “In a year that has been difficult for so many, we are very mindful of what this is like for children who don’t have a stable and safe home. We are encouraged that with our conference, through our incredibly strong line up of speakers and participation of delegates, these important topics are being addressed. We are pleased that our National Permanency Recommendations paper presented to government last year was received so well and we hope that our recommendations for 2021 will continue to make positive change in the lives of children and young people across Australia.”

Key Recommendations for 2021

While there has been public discussion about the out of home care system in Australia, there have been few platforms allowing the views of a broad cross-section of stakeholders to be recorded and submitted to government for consideration. As an outcome of the 2021 National Permanency Conference, including the National Round table discussions, the following recommendations have been prepared.

In the context of two years where the COVID environment made life even more difficult for children who are already at risk, there is a continued focus on the need to urgently provide safe and permanent homes for children who need them. There is also the ever increasing need to recognise the trauma they have experienced and to provide supports across their communities to assist them in healing.  Deborra-lee Furness stated in the interview she conducted with Dr Bruce Perry, “There is so much we as carers, as parents, need to know what it is to look after a child that comes from a hard place”. 

Dr Perry offered a message of hope, “You can overcome the things that happen to you when you’re young” and went on to explain the impact of “what happened to you” and what is needed for healing.

Link to the full interview here

The eight recommendations are summarised to form a National Commitment Plan for Children and Young People to Thrive.

  1. That policy makers and practitioners integrate the voice of children across service delivery to inform practice and promote healing.
  2. Jurisdictions implement strategies to improve timeliness in permanency decisions.
  3. A national focus to commit to coordinated action in the area of trauma-informed practice within all key sectors including family and community services, child-care, education, health and disability services.
  4. Establish a national framework to promote standards of support and training for carers, and expand the uptake of carer support groups, mentoring and trauma-informed training for carers in jurisdictions
  5. Build capacity for Aboriginal-led solutions – designed, developed, led and locally implemented by Aboriginal community-controlled organisations in association with health services
  6. Improve and increase commitment to family preservation through early intervention and support services to keep families together and supported within community
  7. Implement a service guarantee for care-leavers and adoptees to thrive
  8. Work together to address the gaps and barriers to better data and information sharing

Please note above is a summary of the recommendations only.
To see the recommendations in full please see the separate PDF document.