Brighter Futures – the beginning
In July 2018, the Out of Home Care Funders Group – with Anchor as the lead agency and 11 other partners; provided an opportunity to test a theory of change through the Brighter Futures Outer East pilot:
If young people with a care experience feel they belong in their community and have networks and people who can support them to realise their dreams and aspirations, they will ultimately navigate their way to adulthood more successfully.
This theory was ambitious, but everyone involved was determined to test what this theory, if put into practice, could achieve.
As a consortium of agencies supported by the collaborative efforts of tiers of government, we realised early on that a systems change was required to achieve our goals. We took the approach that the focus for change would be needed in four key areas:
- Youth Voice – listening to what young people wanted and what would need to change
- Practice the Change – supporting practitioners to view young people differently and use an Advantaged Thinking Approach
- Collective or Collaborative Governance – across a wide range of organisations, levels of staff seniority and with a view to all being motivated to change the system
- A service offering that underpinned all of the above – Community Connection for young people aged 15-23 years with a care experience.
While the pilot was carried out over two years (2018 – 2020) there are some learnings that will remain with all the community and interested stakeholders involved:
- The importance of Youth Voice
- How great things can come from professionals and the sector listening and feeling accountable to those who have had an experience of our care system
- A new narrative is needed that young people with a care experience are valuable and have much to offer our community
- Changing the system is possible – it can be messy and complex – but is absolutely worth the effort.
Since June when Brighter Futures officially ended, we have been seeing an ongoing ripple effect and lasting impact beyond the pilot.
Senior leaders of DET and DHHS have recently engaged with a number of our youth ambassadors and are very committed to continue the conversation about what should be changed for young people in Out of Home Care and their experiences in education.
We have seen the community and local government advocate and remain involved in Brighter Futures, with many young people still in contact with the organisations and individuals they connected with.
Whilst we saw practice change amongst all practitioners being relatively new and in early stages at the end of the pilot, we have seen promising signs that longer lasting change using Advantage Thinking is strong in the roll out of Better Futures.
Brighter Futures – a thank you
We would like to congratulate all agencies, partners, young people and community members for their commitment to the pilot and to ensuring the voices of young people are heard throughout the sector.
To find out more about Brighter Futures, you can visit the website or read the below resources:
- Brighter Futures Impact Report
- Brighter Futures Evaluation Report
- Brighter Futures Summary and thank you