Kids-in-care focus of national recordkeeping summit

Record keeping

A National Summit convened by Monash University, in Melbourne today, brings together leading advocacy groups for the first time to focus on the information, memory and evidence needs of children in out-of-home care and care leavers.

The summit, titled Setting the Record Straight: For the Rights of the Child, sees Care Leavers Australasia Network (CLAN), the Child Migrants Trust, Connecting Home, the CREATE Foundation, and researchers from Monash University, Federation University and the University of Melbourne come together to plan how to transform recordkeeping and archiving in childhood out-of-home care.

More than 40,000 Australian children are currently experiencing out-of-home care, while an estimated half a million Australian childhoods have been impacted by past generations of child welfare and protection systems.

Convenor of the Summit, Dr Joanne Evans, said that those who experienced out-of-home care needed accessible and trustworthy records and archives to develop and nurture their sense of identity and connectedness to family and community; and good recordkeeping is needed to account for their time in care and play its part in preventing, detecting, reporting and seeking redress for abuse and neglect.

“Rethinking current systems in partnership with those who have experienced or are experiencing out- of-home care could make a significant difference. We’re very proud to be working with community partners CLAN, the Child Migrants Trust, Connecting Home and the CREATE Foundation to begin to solve this wicked problem,” Dr Evans said.

CLAN CEO Leonie Sheedy said the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, inquiry reports and community advocacy have highlighted the lifelong importance of childhood records to care leavers.

“Yet, in inquiry after inquiry, testimony after testimony, care leavers have highlighted the enormous difficulties they have faced in finding and accessing records.”

At the Summit, care leavers, advocacy groups, out-of-home care agencies, government bodies, watchdogs and other key stakeholders will develop a 10-year plan to transform recordkeeping and archival frameworks, policies and practices focusing on both the immediate needs of children in care and their lifelong needs through the creation of a Lifelong Living Archive of the Child.

“Children currently in out-of-home care want their records to accurately reflect their care experience, including their achievements and records of incidents.  They want to participate in creating organisational records about their time in care, be supported to make their own records, and access them all when they have left care,” CREATE Foundation CEO, Jacqui Reed, said.

“From this Summit, we hope to develop child-centred recordkeeping and archival systems that are at the forefront of ICT, and support child-centred welfare and protection services,” Dr Evans said.

Background information

  • The Summit Setting the Record Straight: For the Rights of the Child will be held in Melbourne from 8 – 9 May. It will be facilitated by Jenny Brockie, well known for hosting SBS TV’s weekly program Insight. Keynote speakers include Muriel Bamblett AM, CEO of Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (https://www.vacca.org), Margaret Humphreys CBE, OAM, founder of the Child Migrants Trust (http://www.childmigrantstrust.com), and Commissioner Justice Coate, Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. More information is available at https://rights-records.it.monash.edu/.
  • A pop-up exhibition featuring a variety of art, interactive exhibits, and video works will be on display at the Summit. The exhibition showcases work by young people with experience of out-of-home Care, including the VACCA Aboriginal Youth Art Collective, and will also include contributions by Forgotten Australians and older Care Leavers.
  • Dr Joanne Evans is a Future Fellow of the Australian Research Council.
  • Dr Evans is also leading a collaborative, three-year project to design a Lifelong Living Archive of the child - a secure, distributed, networked archive, populated and controlled by the children, accessible to them throughout their life, and containing copies of all the records created by their care givers, case workers, teachers and health professionals.
  • Leonie Sheedy is CEO of CLAN, a support, advocacy, research and training network for people who grew up in Australian orphanages, children's Homes, foster care and other institutions (http://www.clan.org.au).
  • Jacqui Reed is CEO of the CREATE Foundation, the national peak consumer body representing the voices of children and young people with an out-of-home care experience. (create.org.au).