By Jen Willis, Communications Consultant, Berry Street – Take Two
Not much is known about Elle’s* first year. Her Mum has severe mental health problems and has lots of problems with drugs and drinking.
Elle was removed by Child Protection services from her mother around the time she turned one.
Her father immigrated from Asia. Growing up we suspect he experienced significant trauma during the long civil war in his country. Elle’s father didn’t know about Elle until after she was removed and placed into foster care. When he found out, she went to live with him together with his new partner Trisha.
We were thrilled with the success of our inaugural The Good Childhood Conference. I know you can’t judge success by numbers but here are a few statistics:
Over the 3 days of the conference (starting with the pre-conference workshops) we had 1000 people in attendance;
During the two day conference there were 64 presentations & activities, including: 8 keynote addresses, 10 keynote presentations, 40 concurrent sessions, 2 performances, 1 youth panel, 1 youth led workshop, 1 football skills drill, and 1 book launch;
63 young people and 25 foster carers attended the conference on scholarships;
There were 18 displays and exhibitors, as well as a street artist creating a work in front of our eyes;
We were supported by 7 sponsors, 22 supporting partners and many friends of the conference who provided scholarships for young people and carers.
Presenters and delegates alike have been very positive in their feedback and we thank you for your encouragement.
In holding the conference we were seeking to explore what sustains a good childhood and how we can best support those who have not experienced a good childhood and we are keen to understand whether we met this aim.
We are currently analysing delegates’ evaluation forms and will be sending out a survey to those who attended to obtain further information to assist us with future planning. Watch this blog to find out about some of the themes from this feedback.
What happens now? One of the unique features of The Good Childhood conference was the presence of young people from SYN Media who attended all of the keynote and a range of other sessions, commenting on conference themes on twitter and drafting blog posts which we will share over the coming weeks.
This blog is going to become a permanent fixture for the Berry Street Childhood Institute as we encourage you all to engage in this conversation about what we want for children in Australia in the 21st century.
Why don’t you enter this conversation right now by commenting here? Otherwise get involved on Twitter at @ChildhoodInst.
Thanks to all of you who participated in any way at our conference!
This is a first for me as I join the blogging community!
At Berry Street, we believe that all children should have a good childhood, growing up feeling safe, nurtured and with hope for the future. Sadly, evidence and our experience over 136 years tells us that this is not a reality for far too many children.
I think there is a lot for us to learn and share about what sustains a good childhood and how we best support those who have not had this experience. One of the key ways forward is bringing together parents’ experience, the knowledge of practitioners and different disciplines.
There are a wide range of terrific speakers lined up for our inaugural The Good Childhood Conference, designed to appeal to different audiences. Some will be controversial. That’s part of the intention, because we really want to start a broad conversation about childhood.
We hope to have a large contingent of young people at the Conference – as both presenters and participants.
Like the work of Berry Street, our Conference will appeal to people from many different disciplines. 50 workshops will cover areas such as child protection, education, early years, wellbeing, place-based initiatives, family violence, the impact of technology and Out of Home Care.
We couldn’t be doing this without our Sponsors and Supporting Partners. We are especially grateful to the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, who describe their role as helping to build a strong and fair society for all Australians and developing social policies to:
Increase opportunities for all Australians to participate in our society and work
Promote cohesive and connected society
Support basic living standards
Support individuals, families and communities to build their capacity
So, please spread the word and I look forward to meeting you at the conference.