In a life threatening emergency dial Triple Zero (000)

In a life threatening emergency dial Triple Zero (000)
ACT Public Hospitals

Canberra Hospital

5124 0000


Calvary Hospital

6201 6111

Mental Health

Call Mental Health Triage on

1800 629 354

(free call except from mobiles or public phones) or

6205 1065

Poisons Hotline

For a poison emergency in Australia call

131126

Drug and Alcohol Help Line

The Drug and Alcohol Help Line is available 24-hours, 7 days a week on

5124 9977

Health Protection Service

For after hours urgent public health matters including environmental health, radiation safety, food poisoning and communicable disease management phone:

(02) 6205 1700

healthdirect

24 hour health advice

1800 022 222

ACT State Emergency Service

Emergency help
during flood or storms

132 500


Identity and collecting memories

In this section: Learn about the importance of helping the child record their time with you, how this connects to their sense of self, and what CYPS and ACT Together can provide to the child when they leave care.

Sense of self

As we grow, our life history shapes our own identity which gives us a sense of who we are as a person. For children in care, their life history can be fractured or disjointed as the child does not have their birth family with them to ask questions about their background or what they were like when they were younger. Our identity is the qualities, beliefs, personality, experiences, looks and expressions that make us who we are.

Case managers will keep an official file of the child and their arrangements, capturing a range of information. This will include:

  • personal information
  • health and education information
  • records of their time spent in care including decisions made
  • plans and assessments
  • personal items – such as photos, life story work and letters.

Under the Children and Young People Act 2008 and the ACT’s Freedom of Information Act 2016, the child has a right to ask for this information once they turn 18 years old. It is one way they can develop a clearer picture of their history and identity.

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Collecting memories

As the carer, you have an important role in helping the child nurture their identity and form a strong sense of who they are. A critical way of doing this is keeping a story of their life while they are with you.

It doesn’t matter if the child is in your care for a short or long time. Their time with you is now a part of their life story and memories and experiences will be formed. Recording these as they happen can be incredibly beneficial to the child as they grow older. Think of this as building a memory box they can look through at different times of their life to remember important moments and people that shaped who they are and depict their life’s history. It is important the child is actively involved in recording their life story to help build their sense of self and identity.

There are many things you can do to record the child’s life story. It is a good idea to:

  • Set up a dedicated a folder or a box to store the child’s important documents and information. Keep it in a safe place and add information as you receive it, like medical records, school information, birth certificate, Care Plans and Annual Review Reports.
  • Start a scrap book or folder for the child’s memories to build on. If the child is very young you may like to start by including photos or writing in special moments or milestones they reach. As they get older, the child could include their own information about special events, favourite things and other information that is special to them.
  • Take photos of the child and your time together. Give them their own copy to keep and add to their scrap book or folder. This can include photos with their friends, you and your family, at school, sports, special events and excursions.
  • Keep a collection of the child’s drawings, school books and things that are special to them.
  • Think about recording your own memories with the child and writing these down, like in a letter or diary, to give to the child when they become an adult.

The Life Story Books developed by the NSW Government, are an example of how you can collect and record information – they are designed to be completed with the child over time. You can use the book itself or take ideas from it to develop your own. Whatever you decide, it is a fun activity that can help ensure the child has recorded memories of their life, which they can look back on as they grow and take with them into independent life. More information on the Life Story BookExternal Link

A Life Story Book specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander childrenExternal Link

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