Alexandra Murphy, Jamie-Lee Evans, Jay Coupe, Amanda Faauga, Fatima Abdallah, Minister Tracey Martin, Lakiesha Cummings, Alchimae Prasad-Khan, Oliver Miller

At the end of November, seven VOYCE National Youth Council (VNYC) members, met for a fourth leadership retreat, the last of 2019, with the added bonus of attending a portion of the VOYCE Annual General Meeting and meeting with Tracey Martin, Minister for Children.

The VNYC started with a couple of hours at Rainbow’s End theme park where they reversed the normal order of “work hard, play hard,” and caught a couple of thrilling rides before settling into the seriousness of representing care experienced youth.

Tracey Martin, Minister for Children, answered questions from the NYC and shared the priorities of her office. The VNYC discussed what they find most pressing for youth in care and shared their leadership process and goals for the council. VNYC members also reported ideas for reaching out and empowering younger tamariki in care and even held a collective economic brainstorm with the minister and her staff on how to potentially fund a summer camp geared towards youth in care.

Following this meeting, VNYC had dinner with the VOYCE Board of Directors where more conversations, brainstorms and visions/intentions were exchanged. The following day, VNYC headed to a beautiful retreat centre in Kaiaua owned by the Dingwall Trust, for the fourth leadership training retreat.

The weekend focused on strategies of how to safely share personal stories, specifically addressing challenges that come with constituent driven advocacy efforts where personal stories can be the most powerful forms of influence. VNYC members, over the course of two days, exercised several strategic techniques through numerous short writing activities. The retreat finished with advocacy speeches on topics of most importance to individual members.

The VNYC is committed to using their voice for VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai and to empower other youth to make a difference in the care system. Everyone looks forward to regrouping again January 2020.