Mark has worked for much of his career in the area of children and young people’s services and policy development. He is a committed advocate for the rights of children and young people. Having commenced his five year term in October 2014, Mark’s focus is on the rights and interests of children, and the laws, policies and programs that impact on them.
Mark has had extensive experience in issues facing children and young people, having worked with children from all types of backgrounds, including undertaking significant work with vulnerable children. He has practical expertise in child protection, child development, juvenile justice, children’s services, child care, disabilities, and early intervention and prevention services. Mark is a strong advocate for the importance of the social determinants of health and wellbeing as a critical factor and consideration in the development of policy and service delivery.
The Commissioner’s functions and powers are set out in sections 79 and 80 of the Children Young Persons and Their Families Act 1997. The role of the Commissioner is to advocate for and raise awareness of the rights, interests and wellbeing of children and young people aged under 18yrs throughout Tasmania. The Commissioner has an important role in raising awareness on matters relating to the health, wellbeing, care, protection and development of children in Tasmania and provides advice to the Minister for Human Services on these matters. The Commissioner can also make submissions to government and to inquiries; the Commissioner may be asked to comment on draft legislation and on proposed policies, including those of a national character where the matter in question does or has the capacity to affect children and young people in Tasmania. The Commissioner can investigate some matters relating to the circumstances of individual children but only if requested to do so by the Minister.
The Commissioner has a strong focus on advocacy for all Tasmanian children, with a particular focus on, but not restricted to, children who by virtue of their circumstances, are in particular need of strong advocacy, such as children involved with the Child Protection System and/or the Youth Justice system. The Commissioner is an official advocate for young people who are detained under the Youth Justice Act 1997. In fulfilling this function the Commissioner regularly visits Ashley Youth Detention Centre to meet with the young people who are detained there. The Commissioner regularly consults with a wide range of children and young people across Tasmania. These consultations inform the Commissioner’s advocacy work and also inform his advice to government. The Commissioner hears from members of the public about a range of issues concerning children. Information received in this way is used to inform the Commissioner’s systemic advocacy work.
If asked to do so by the Minister, the Commissioner may enquire generally into, and report on any matter relating to the health, welfare, care, protection and development of children.
Australia ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CROC) in 1990. CROC sets out a framework of rights for children and young people essential to the promotion and safeguarding of their interests and wellbeing. Since ratification of CROC, independent Children’s Commissioners or Child Guardians have been established in all States and Territories and at the national level to represent and promote the rights of all children, including by providing them with a voice about decisions that may affect them.
The role of Commissioner for Children in Tasmania is set out in the Children Young Persons and Their Families Act 1997. The first Tasmanian Commissioner was appointed in 2000.
The Commissioner is an independent, statutory officer responsible to the Parliament of Tasmania.
The Commissioner is committed to actively seeking out children and young people’s views, experiences and aspirations. Children and young people are experts on their own lives and we can be responsive to their needs if we facilitate their participation in decisions that affect them.
We believe that all children and young people, regardless of their circumstances, have the right to a safe, full and happy life.
The Commissioner is required to act independently, impartially and in the public interest.
The Commissioner for Children is supported by a small team of staff.
We strive to have a workplace based on collaboration, mutual respect and recognition of the unique skills and expertise that each team member can contribute to the work of the Commissioner.
The Commissioner for Children’s Advisory Group consists of senior representatives of community service organisations which provide services and support to Tasmanian children and young people. The Advisory Group advises the Commissioner on issues, needs and service gaps that are impacting on the health, welfare, care, protection and development of children and young people in Tasmania.
The Commissioner for Children’s work is informed by the views of children and young people across Tasmania. The Commissioner consults regularly with children and young people through two groups:
The Commissioner also consults with children and young people involved with specialist organisations or services to ensure that a diversity of experiences and perspectives are gained.
Section 81 of the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act 1997 requires the Commissioner to establish a Children and Young People’s Advisory Council.
The Commissioner for Children has established a Children and Young People’s Advisory Council which meets in the North, North West and South of the state. These small groups of children and young people, aged between 8 and 18 years, meet regularly with the Commissioner to:
Children and young people under the age of 18 from selected schools across the state are regularly asked to share their views with the Commissioner for Children on particular issues affecting them.
Participants in the Commissioner’s School Consultations are selected from primary and secondary schools in each of the regions: North, North West and South.
Consultations generally use existing structures such as Student Representative Council meetings. Participants may be asked to consult on particular issues with their wider school communities and to provide feedback to the Commissioner.
To ensure that the views of a range of children and young people are captured, the Commissioner selects different schools to take part in consultations each year. The aim is to gather views from as many children and young people across Tasmania as possible.
In 2015, children and young people from 10 school groups are involved in the Commissioner’s School Consultations.
Every Australian state or territory has a Commissioner and/or Guardian for children and young people. There is also a national Children’s Commissioner. Each of these roles is slightly different and depends on the legislation of each jurisdiction.
The Commissioner for Children meets with the Australian Children’s Commissioners & Guardians (ACCG) twice yearly. ACCG aims to promote and protect the safety, well-being and rights of children and young people in Australia, and ensure that the best interests of children and young people are considered in public policy and program development across Australia.
While not a member, the New Zealand Children’s Commissioner has a standing invitation to attend ACCG meetings.
The Commissioner for Children and staff are committed to promoting and protecting the rights, wellbeing and safety of the children and young people we engage with.
To that end, we have developed a number of policies to guide our interactions with children and young people.
Level 1, 119 Macquarie St.
Hobart, TAS 7000
GPO Box 708
Telephone: (03) 6166 1366
Country Freecall: 1300 362 065
Fax: (03) 6233 4515
Catherine Clemens -
Mobile: 0427 008 268
Concerned about the current safety of a child or young person?
Contact Child Protection Services on 1300 737 639, or use their online form:Child Protection Notification Form