Kathryn Schmidt is a practising solicitor, young person and advocate for inclusive social policy.
She has extensive experience working with young people; particularly in the context of environments where young people require special assistance or support. From 2014 to 2017, Kathryn held the position of Convener of the Bond Sony Foundation Children’s Holiday Camp, an annual volunteer-run residential program for children with disabilities of all types. Kathryn’s experience working with a variety of profound physical and cognitive conditions has enabled her to develop an interest in drafting accessible and adaptable safety policy for persons who require additional or alternative consideration during risk assessment processes.
Kathryn is currently a member of the Executive Committee of YMCA Queensland Youth Parliament. YMCA Queensland Youth Parliament is a non-partisan youth engagement program which is designed to facilitate parliamentary education, encourage community engagement and assist in personal development for young people across Queensland. Kathryn and the Executive Committee are responsible for the facilitation of the yearlong program and the care of over 100 young people during the residential aspects of the program. Kathryn’s role on the Executive Committee is as the Mentor to the Child Safety, Youth and Women Committee.
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.