My name is Claudia and I’m 16 years old. I was born in Queanbeyan and have grown up in the Canberra region my whole life. During primary school I never really fit in, I was diagnosed with mental health issues when I was 7 and missed a lot of school due to my health, this made it difficult to make connections in the schoolyard. Another event at school caused me to feel really unsafe there which complicated things even further. As I continued into high school it did not get easier. I struggled academically due to my dyslexia and was put into a Learning Support Unit, I was bullied by the people in my school year and my mental health continued to get worse. I felt like I couldn’t catch a break until this year I was completely disengaged from school and was referred for the PCYC Booyah program.

By Young People, For Young People – speaking out about safety

Much of the current thinking about and approaches to child safety flow from adult notions of what we would like to protect children from. In this instance, ‘adults’ can mean people working with children and young people or parents and family members. In contrast however, most young people are able to understand the ideas of threat and protective behaviours, even if they are do not always know how to protect themselves. They are also likely to have an individual concept of what ‘safety’ means for them and how this might be achieved. Greater appreciation of the world as it looks and feels to young people and the personal frameworks they use to understand the nature of risk and threat must help us design and implement effective organisational strategies to give young people a ‘safe place’.

This panel session will be facilitated by a young person who will engage other young people in a conversation about their individual perspectives; their concepts of safety, examples of times and situations which have made them feel unsafe and what would have made those situations feel safer and more comfortable for them. Panel members will bring a diversity of personal experiences, study backgrounds, skill sets and cultural heritage. Delegates will gain unique insights into what safety is, and feels like, for these young people and hear in their own words what has and hasn’t helped to keep them safe from abuse in organisations and government systems.

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