Meet VOYCE - Whakarongo Mai
VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai or ‘Voice of the Young and Care Experienced – Listen to Me’ began on 1 April as the independent connection and advocacy service for care experienced children and young people.
Pictured left to right: Andrew Hobbs, Communications and Stakeholder Engagement Advisor, Gabrielle Banks, Engagement and Participation Coordinator, Somā Ankers, Office Manager and Executive Support, Tim Baldwin, Practice Advisor, Lui Poe, Engagement and Participation Lead, and Brendon Crompton, Service Delivery Manager. Missing from the photo: Jo Mika-Thomas, Organisational Development and Business Manager
Advocacy service is up and running
VOYCE - Whakarongo Mai helps us at the Ministry put children and young people at the centre of everything we do, by ensuring their voices are heard.
Over the past few months the team has been working to co-design the development of the service with care experienced children and young people. This includes working on setting up processes, the advocacy model and the Youth Council.
Children and young people help evolve the service
Brendon Crompton, Service Delivery Manager, says the partnership VOYCE has with care experienced young people is key, and their views, experiences and ideas are the building blocks in establishing a service to best meet their needs.
“Our focus is to provide an independent voice from children and young people to the care system, rather than an adult voice for them,” he says.
In addition to the co-design work, the VOYCE team have been busy running connection events up and down the country.
Connecting at events
White-water rafting, Auckland Zoo night safaris, Hamilton’s Trampoline Park and Megazone are cool places to take a bunch of kids and show them a great time – right? Right!
But for VOYCE - Whakarongo Mai and care experienced young people, these ‘connection events’ mean so much more.
Lui Poe, Engagement and Participation Lead, says for tamariki and rangatahi attending these events, it’s really making a difference.
“We know that young people can be a great source of strength for one another, so creating these opportunities to come together has been really valuable."
"Meeting others who are experiencing much of the same as you, helps to develop your identity. It makes you feel less isolated and it provides you with the opportunity to give and receive support from your peers,” says Lui.
“At the Hamilton event a couple of weeks ago, one of the girls said ‘today I’ve met two others from my school who I had no idea were in care!’ and you could see it really gave her something, to know she wasn’t alone.”
"Young people can be a great source of strength for one another, so creating these opportunities to come together has been really valuable"
Talk to VOYCE
Over time, a large part of the service will be connecting tamariki to trusted adults to further support them and bring their voices to the care system.
VOYCE Whakarongo Mai is advertising for advocacy workers in Auckland, with plans to deliver face-to-face, online and phone advocacy services from late 2017.
“These services will first be piloted from our national hub in Auckland, with a plan to expand them to other parts of the country, along with the establishment of regional hubs, from 2018 onwards”, Brendon says.
If you're working with children and young people in care, make sure you tell them about the service using these touch points: