Stories from children & young people

Caitlin’s story – Mental health and kids in care

CREATE Young Consultant Caitlin talks about her experience with mental health as a young person in care. This is part of the Our stories, Our voices series curated by GForce.

Ben’s story – No special treatment

"Everyone knows one of the things that most teenagers hate is being made to feel different from everyone else; however this was exactly my experience of being a young person in care at school.

"I remember going to a meeting at a new school at the start of the year with my new principal, deputy principal, year coordinator and the school guidance officer – this meeting was intended to welcome me to the school and discuss expectations of behaviour etc…

"At the meeting I stressed that I did not want ‘special treatment’ because I was in care and I also didn’t want other teachers and students at the school to know about my personal situation.  The principal even stressed to me: ‘What’s said in this room stays in this room’.  I walked out of the meeting thinking we had an agreement but I was wrong because within 2 days everyone at the school knew my situation.  For me it wasn’t so much the students knowing that I was in care, it was the teachers – always bringing it up, mothering me, always over my shoulder…

"Sometimes the ‘special treatment’ had its advantages; extensions to assignments came in handy even when not needed! But at the end of the day, my trust with the school was broken and I didn’t really have what you would call a ‘positive’ relationship with the school from then on.  I graduated, but looking back, perhaps I could have got more out of the situation…

"This isn’t just my issue. I have heard other young people raise it and I think it’s something the education system and the child safety system needs to be more sensitive to."

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Chantel's story - Youth Parliament residential week

“Queensland Youth Parliament. Three words that can honestly change your life,” says Chantel Sustic. 

The QFCC sponsored Chantel to attend the YMCA Youth Parliament residential week in September 2016. Youth Parliament members wrote Bills on topics including driverless vehicles, drought management and genetic innovation. 

Our Principal Commissioner, Cheryl Vardon, addressed the Youth Parliament members and encouraged them to continue with their passion for enacting change in their communities. The QFCC would like to thank Chantel for sharing her highlights and for confirming Youth Parliament is a whole lot of fun too.

She says: “I came across this program on Facebook through a friend from university, and I thought that it looked interesting and a new way to meet people. It really seemed to be something different to me, as a lot of these kind of programs or camps are physically driven like rock climbing or abseiling kind of activities, but this one jumped at me because it would actually interest me in an intellectual, eye-opening way.

“I would recommend this youth parliament to everyone I could that I know in that age bracket. It might be seen to be a sort of ‘nerd camp’ but it is far from it. Yes, there is the side of the program that you have to work with others and write a Bill and go to Parliament House, which sounds serious and all. However, that is not all there is to the program. 

“The program is full of fun, laughter, lifelong friends and memories and simply just a sense of belonging, it is a program for anyone and everyone. We have themed nights such as a jungle dance night, we have full-on karaoke moments in the bus every morning and afternoon, and we have those conversations that are meaningful to us.

“Residential week with youth parliament was absolutely an amazing week, so it’s hard to put my highlights into a few words. I’ll tell you my 3 top highlights of the week. 

“Firstly, it would be to be able to speak in Parliament House, particularly being able to do my Private Member Statement which can be done on anything you’re passionate about. I did mine on inaccessibility of public places or services for those with disabilities. 

“Secondly, it was the late nights sitting with other fellow youth members writing speeches (or pretending to at least) and just getting to really know each other and have a few laughs (and gummy bears). 

“And my last highlight was more of a personal highlight that was being proud of myself for pushing myself to follow this opportunity and realising that people can lift us up, if we surround ourselves with the right ones.

“I don't intend to leave Queensland Youth Parliament behind me just yet. I am going to apply next year for a second year in the program. I then intend to become a mentor or a member of the executive team in the following years after. 

“It has become a second family to me and I want to continue with it to make a difference in other young people's lives, as that's what's truly inspiring - inspiring others, and that's Queensland Youth Parliament.”

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10 September 2018