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Communicating with young people

Positive relationships with young people are built on trust, respect and empathy. Empathy is key to understanding a young person’s world. To support a young person, engage with them and earn their trust.

Consider the following approaches:

  • Show them they are important and that they are worth getting to know. Be curious about what they enjoy, what they like and the people who are important to them.
  • Understand their perspective and their values. You don’t have to agree with them, but it is important you understand where they are coming from.
  • Many young people feel that adults don’t understand them or that they tell them what to do. You may need to do more listening than talking.
  • Young people have the right to participate in developing their case plans and in decisions that affect their lives. Give them opportunities to speak up and make choices for themselves. Consider different ways to engage with them.
  • Do what you say you will do.
  • Expect that the young person has the capacity to change. When caring adults show young people they believe in them, they are more likely to believe in themselves and achieve better outcomes as a result.

Practice prompt

Consider cultural consultations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or culturally and linguistically diverse young people—be curious and ask, or seek guidance from others.

Advising young people of their rights

An important part of engaging with young people is ensuring that they know and understand their rights. These rights relate to their involvement with decision making, but also their rights after a decision has been made.

If a young person has been reunified with their parents, speak with them about what this decision means, and what their views are and check that they understand. Provide the following information:

  • If they have worries in future about their safety, they can contact Child Safety Services.
  • If they want to talk about worries and speak to someone, they can contact kidshelpline.

If a child protection order granting long-term guardianship order to a suitable person has been made, speak with the young person about:

If a permanent care order has been granted, speak with the young person about the following information:

  • Talk them through the handout: Permanent care order: Information for children and young people
  • Ensure they clearly understand that Child Safety will not have ongoing involvement with them. Seek their views and understand any worries they have about this.
  • Let them know that if they have worries in the future about their safety, they can contact Child Safety Services.
  • Also let them know that they can also contact the Child Safety complaints unit if they have worries 1800 811 810 (freecall).
  • Clarify that they understand what to do if they have any future worries or concerns about the care that they are receiving.
  • In addition to the formal channels, encourage them to speak to people they trust in their safety and support network.

When providing information to young people, check they have understood the message. Helpful ways to do this include:

  • reframing what has been said, saying it a few different times in different ways
  • providing them with something physical—drawing the message or printing a brochure
  • providing them with alternative avenues to contact people (by phone, email or websites)
  • asking them to explain back what has been said or what they understand
  • reviewing their safety and support network with the and ensuring that they feel comfortable to speak to their network about concerns or worries in future.

Further reading

For additional information, see procedure: Support a child in care

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