ACCG Meeting Communiqué and Statement of Key Priorities 23 – 24 May 2017 Hobart, Tasmania The Australian Children’s Commissioners and Guardians (ACCG) comprises national, state and territory children and young people commissioners, guardians and advocates. The ACCG aims to promote and protect the safety, wellbeing and rights of children and young people in Australia. The ACCG strives to ensure that the best interests of children and young people are considered in public policy and program development across Australia. The ACCG: promotes the rights of children and young people, including their right to participate in decisions relating to them, as articulated in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child; ensures the best interests of children are considered in the development of policies and programs; gives voice to the views of, and encourages direct consultation with, children and young people on matters that affect them; and encourages systemic improvement, informed by evidence-based research, in areas that impact on the rights, interests and wellbeing of children and young people. The ACCG met in Hobart, Tasmania on 23 and 24 May 2017. Members warmly welcomed the attendance of the New Zealand Children’s Commissioner who presented on culturally significant approaches to youth justice in New Zealand. Members of the ACCG Officers Network joined the meeting with ACCG members on day two and met separately following the meeting to progress actions from the ACCG. Key priorities for the ACCG Promoting children and young people’s engagement and participation Members are committed to ensuring that the voices of children and young people are actively sought and taken into account on issues of personal, local and national significance. Achieving better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people Members agreed that the significant overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in out-of-home care, youth justice and child protection systems is a priority concern across all jurisdictions. There is a need to prioritise the rights, wellbeing, participation and connection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people through greater investment in tackling systemic discrimination and adapting systems and services to improve their cultural sensitivity and competency. Actions need to take account of the targets already articulated through Closing the Gap, and the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Bringing Them Home report, and be developed in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Upholding the rights of children and young people in youth justice detention Members highlighted serious concerns about the treatment of children and young people in youth justice detention and the extent to which their rights are recognised as equally important as those not held in detention and upheld accordingly. Youth justice detention must be a measure of last resort; where detention does occur, it should be rehabilitative and developmentally appropriate. Improving the safety of children and young people in organisations Members discussed the ongoing need to promote and encourage organisations across all sectors to develop a culture of child safe practice. Members are working in their own jurisdictions to support organisations to create and maintain safe environments for children and young people and are also working with the Australian Human Rights Commission as it develops a National Statement of Principles for Child Safe Organisations under the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children. Ending violence against children and young people Children and young people have a right to live free from all forms of violence and ending all violence against children and young people is a priority. Members discussed the fact that children are often silent and invisible victims, in particular in the context of family violence. Children and young people’s experiences of violence are often very different from those of adults and therefore require a distinct and individualised response. Promoting children and young people’s safety and wellbeing Members discussed and agreed on the importance of evidence-based decision-making frameworks for child protection practice. Members agreed that all services provided to children and young people should be trauma-informed and have a therapeutic focus, recognising that the individual needs of each child and young person should have precedence in making decisions about their care and support. The next meeting of the ACCG will be held in Melbourne in November 2017.
The Commissioner for Children and Young People’s Young Creative Writers Awards have been announced The Commissioner for Children and Young People’s Young Creative Writers Awards for 2016 were announced at a presentation ceremony and afternoon tea hosted by Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner, Governor of Tasmania at Government House on 2 November 2016. Through offering these Awards, the Commissioner aims to raise awareness of children’s rights and to promote, recognise and reward children and young people’s creative writing. Each year the Awards have a different child rights theme. This year’s theme is “fairness and respect”, based on the right to be treated without discrimination. The Awards were judged by Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Robin Banks, the editor of The Mercury Matt Deighton, and Tasmanian author Danielle Wood who writes for children as Angelica Banks (in partnership with Heather Rose). This year the Commissioner supported the Tasmanian Writers’ Centre to offer specially designed writing workshops to around 350 children and young people at LINCs and libraries around the state. The Awards were also offered as an online Learning Destination through Tasmania’s Children’s University. The Commissioner congratulates each child and young person who entered the Awards. All entrants will receive a participation certificate. This year’s outstanding entries can be read and downloaded here. Special congratulations go to the outstanding young writers who received Awards: Overall Most Outstanding Entry If Only… by Aloisia Barry Ages 8 and under The Greedy Monkey by Tom Dawkins – Honourable mentionMy Soccer Story by Jasper Kamphuis – Honourable mentionJo’s New House by Eva Thomas – Category winner Ages 9-11 I am 10 Years Old by Phoebe Thiessen – Honourable mentionGordon by Leo Thomas – Honourable mentionFriendship Disaster by Ashley Walker – Honourable mentionBelvie’s Story by Christina Rossi-Dyer – Category runner-upIf Only… by Aloisia Barry – Category winner Ages 12-14 Being Different Makes No Difference by Olive Morris – Honourable mentionConsequential Karma by Bella Nettlefold – Honourable mentionNot Fair by Lara Vincent – Honourable mention Ages 15-17 The You of Long Ago by Amy Dodwell – Honourable mentionLittle Hearts by Laura Whittaker – Honourable mentionJust a Gesture by Melina Fullbrook – Category winner Her Excellency, Professor the Honourable Kate Warner, Governor of Tasmania with Commissioner for Children and Young People Mark Morrissey and the recipients of this year’s Young Creative Writers Awards at Government House. Photo: Jonathan Wherrett For more information about the Young Creative Writers Awards contact the Commissioner’s office on 03 6166 1366.
The Commissioner welcomed Launceston student Ryan Moreton for work experience during the July school holidays. Here is what Ryan said about his time in the CCYP’s office: “Hi there, I am Ryan Moreton. I have been part of the Commissioner for Children and Young People’s Advisory Council for the past year and I have learnt so much about what Mark and his team do for children and young people in Tasmania. My first contact with Mark and his team was when they came to my school last year and held a meeting to see what we had to say about issues and our community. I really enjoyed the session and Mark invited me to be part of the regional Advisory group. So I joined and attended those meetings as well. As part of the groups, I was invited to a forum on Child Safe Organisations last year which I learnt a lot from. After this forum, I thought to myself, “This is something that I want to do when I am older”. So I made sure that I found out as much as I could about what the Commissioner does and how I could get involved. Last year, through my involvement with the groups, I was able to create and distribute a survey through my school which gained an insight into what issues were important to students at my school. I really enjoyed the experience and I was able to present the findings to the Commissioner to be included in his report. I loved working with Mark so much that this year I signed up to the Advisory group again. I got to again have my say on issues that would make up the majority of a report released by the Commissioner later this year. At this meeting, Mark asked whether I would be interested in seeing what went on in his office. I don’t think I thought twice about it and I replied with an enthusiastic “I’d love to”. So I went back to school and saw a teacher who could help me organise work experience and we set some dates for me to come and have a look around. As I am writing this, I am finishing my third day of work experience and I can guarantee that I have had a ball. I helped make a GiF and design posters as well as see what different people’s roles were and how they made a difference. Over the course of the placement I learnt so many skills and gained so much knowledge which I hope will help me in the future if I choose to go down this path. I also got to meet great people who were really supportive and friendly which was one of the best things about the office. I thoroughly recommend to any young person who wants to get involved to be a part of the advisory groups and have your say. It is one of our rights to have a say in matters that affect us. So what’s stopping you? Who knows, you could realise that this is something that you could make a career out of. After all, the opportunity is only there if you take it.”
Examining ways to ensure children and young people’s rights to justice. Read the Tasmania Law Reform Institute Issues paper here
The Commissioner recently met with some extraordinary young women on the North West Coast who have been working on Project O, through Big hART. Project O drives change in communities affected by family violence. Through this project young women, between the ages of 15 and 19, develop leadership skills and learn how to create change in their community. Below are the words written by 4 young women in Project O. Mark, Emily and Elspeth from Project O. Read the words of the NW Project O participants Visit the Project O webpage here
Australian Children’s Commissioners and Guardians Meeting Communique 25-26th May 2016 Brisbane, Queensland The Australian Children’s Commissioners and Guardians (ACCG) comprises national, state and territory children and young people commissioners, guardians and advocates. The ACCG aims to promote and protect the safety, wellbeing and rights of children and young people in Australia. The ACCG strives to ensure the best interests of children and young people are considered in public policy and program development across Australia. Welcome to new member agencies and representatives. The ACCG welcomed Julia Duffy, Public Guardian, Office of the Public Guardian, Queensland and Simon Schrapel, Chair, Council of the Care for Children, South Australia as new members of the ACCG. Both new member agencies are working in their respective states to improve the safety, welfare and wellbeing of children and young people and bring a wealth of experience to the group. The ACCG also welcomes newly appointed representatives Liana Buchanan (Victoria), Tammy Williams (Queensland), Amanda Shaw (South Australia) and Jodie Griffiths-Cook (Australian Capital Territory). Child Safe Organisations The ACCG acknowledged the importance of the public health approach to child safety and wellbeing as reflected in the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children. Each ACCG member has committed to work within their jurisdictions to promote and advocate for a cross-government recognition of everyone’s responsibility for promoting general wellbeing and protecting the safety of all children and young people. Additionally, members will work together to build cross-jurisdictional partnerships to drive recognition at a national level in particular through the National Framework. The group noted important links to the National plan to reduce violence against women and their children. Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), Family Matters The ACCG received a briefing from Gerry Moore, Chief Executive Officer and the SNAICC team regarding the Family Matters: Kids Safe in Culture, Not in Care campaign. Family Matters is a national campaign to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people grow up safe and cared for in their family, community and culture. SNAICC is currently in the process of meeting with agencies across Australia to share the principles and goals of Family Matters and to draw on the expertise, strengths and passions of individuals and organisations. Nationally, in 2014, 35% of all children in out of home care identified as being Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, despite representing only 6% of Australian children. The ACCG has made a commitment to working to address the issue of over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in care. The ACCG members have committed to working with SNAICC to determine future involvement and support. National Sorry Day The ACCG acknowledge the anniversary of the apology from Prime Minister Rudd in 2013 and acknowledge the babies, children and young people who were removed from their families’ care. We also acknowledge their siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and community and the loss they experienced and continue to experience. The ACCG also wishes to acknowledge the impact of the previous policies on all Australians as we come to terms with our shared history, learn from our past and move towards the future together. Youth Justice The ACCG members remain concerned about the ongoing use of restraints, disciplinary regimes and other practices in youth detention facilities across Australia. Young people within youth detention are one of the most vulnerable cohorts and are in need of special protections. Behaviour management planning and responses in youth detention facilities across Australia need to uphold with respect to the rights and dignity of young people. The ACCG will continue to drive policy change and advocate for improved mechanisms for managing the behaviour of young people in detention, and noted the recent paper developed by the ACCG which documented the current practices around Australia. Next Meeting The next meeting of the ACCG will be held in Canberra in November 2016.
Commissioner for Children Mark Morrissey met with members of the Children and Young People’s Advisory Council in Launceston. The Council discussed junk food and how it affects well-being, multi-culturalism and respect for differences, the environment, education and creating inclusive communities. Several council members were also interviewed by ABC radio.
The Salvation Army and UTAS have released a report into Increasing Men’s Awareness of the Effects on Children Exposed to Family and Domestic Violence. Guest speakers at the report launch included Mark Morrissey, Commissioner for Children, Her Excellency, Professor the Honourable Kate Warner AM, the Governor of Tasmania, Tino Carnevale, ABC Gardening Australia presenter, Assoc Professor Katreena Scott of the Caring Dads Program (Canada) and Dr Peter Lucas of the research team.
The Commissioner for Children discusses the Child Protection Report on ABC Drive. Click on the orange button to listen.
Commissioner’s focus for 2016. I am pleased to announce our priorities and major projects for 2016. All of our work will be undertaken within a child rights framework and through formal and informal advocacy. My office will undertake a number of key projects during 2016. These projects will follow on from the highly successful Child Safe Organisations in Tasmania Report which we presented to Government in 2015. My first project for 2016 will be to produce a report on The Impact and Effects of Family Violence on Tasmania’s Children. I will be seeking submissions from key stakeholders and interested parties as well as undertaking broad consultation. It is anticipated that my report will be completed in August. In addition to these major projects I will also be undertaking the following work: The highly successful Young Creative Writers Awards will be held again in 2016. We are currently negotiating to collaborate on a significant art event for young Tasmanians, focusing on a theme of importance to Tasmanian young people. Contribute actively to the Child Protection Redesign process. The very well received Lunchtime Forums will continue this year with interesting and engaging speakers. I will be hosting three Keynote Speaker Events this year – with a focus on issues important to the health and wellbeing of young Tasmanians. The launch of a health and well-being report on Tasmania’s children. A collaboration with CREATE into bullying and school students in out-of-home care. This work is in addition to my daily functions and legislated responsibilities. Interim Strategic Plan 2016
The Commissioner for Children and Young People in collaboration with Equal Opportunity Tasmania is delighted that experts from the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner will deliver training workshops for professionals and the general public on children’s e-safety in October. RSVP by 4 October to email@example.com.
About 60 educators, health professionals and early childhood workers attended a forum hosted by the Commissioner for Children, with highly-regarded paediatrician and public health physician Professor Sharon Goldfeld recently. Prof Gold discussed the impact of disadvantaged circumstances for Australian children which lead to developmental inequities and differential outcomes that are unjust, unnecessary and preventable. Despite enormous investment by health, welfare and educational systems, by the time the children start school, clear inequities in their development and wellbeing are already evident. Prof Goldfeld is a paediatrician and public health physician at the Royal Children’s Hospital’s Centre for Community Child Health (CCCH) and Co-Group leader of Child Health Policy, Equity and Translation at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute. She has a decade of experience in state government as a senior policymaker in health and education including Principal Medical Advisor in the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. The promise of early childhood powerpoint presentationPodcast of Professor Goldfeld’s talk coming soon Mark Morrissey and Sharon Goldfeld
Join us for our 14 September conversation, presented by CEO of the Tasmanian Land Conservancy and 2016 Tasmanian Australian of the Year, Jane Hutchinson on Children and Nature. Nature is part of Australia’s identity. Nature features on our bank notes, on our coat of arms, in our national anthem, in our songs, literature, music. In Australia, nature completely surrounds us, from the tropical rainforests and savannahs of northern Australia to the central deserts, to our vast ocean coastlines and in Tasmania the Wilderness World Heritage Area to our west. For people nature is a great provider. It gives us clean water, clean air, a stable climate, healthy soils and pollinated crops; it gives us shelter, medicine and a place to play; it gives us cultural connection to place. And, research is increasingly telling us, nature gives us improved physical and mental health. So, why, when nature is part of our national identity, when nature can provide improved physical and mental health outcomes and when it is free are Australia’s children spending less, not more, time in nature? And, what can we do to reverse the trend and improve the health of our nation’s children? About Jane Hutchinson Jane Hutchinson is CEO of the Tasmanian Land Conservancy (TLC), a non-for profit, non-government, apolitical, science driven and community-based, environmental organisation with a vision for Tasmania to be a global leader in nature conservation. The TLC started from humble beginnings with only $50 in the bank. Since then it has grown to being one of the largest private landowners in Tasmania and has worked in partnership with landowners, governments, supporters and volunteers to achieve nature conservation across more than 2% of Tasmania’s private land. In recognition of the TLC’s work to protect Tasmania’s natural environment, Jane is the 2016 Tasmanian Australian of the Year. Date:Wednesday, 14 September 2016 Time: 12.30pm – 1.30pm Location: Commissioner for Children and Young People’s office, 1/119 Macquarie Street, Hobart Google Maps RSVP by Friday 9 September 2016 to: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (03) 6166 1366.
Guest Speaker: Dr Anna Sullivan Date: Monday, 2 November 2015 Time: 11:30am – 3:00pm Venue: IMAS Building, UTAS, Castray Esplanade, Hobart The management of unproductive student behaviour is one of the greatest challenges faced by schools across Australia. Disengagement from education is a significant problem in Tasmania, which reports high levels of suspensions, exclusions and non-attendance. Guest speaker, Dr Anna Sullivan from the University of South Australia, will present findings from her study investigating how schools develop and enact policies to support an integrated approach to behaviour, learning and teaching. A discussion panel with members from the Tasmanian education and community sectors will discuss in greater detail how the issues raised in Dr Sullivan’s work have application in Tasmanian schools. Register for the event PROGRAM Welcome Mark Morrissey, Commissioner for Children Strengthening Student Engagement: Research from the Behaviour at School Study Dr Anna Sullivan Lunch The views of young people: Tasmanian students and their experiences in the classroom Discussion panel Bill Linton, Assistant General Manager – Learning Services (South) Department of Education Kym Goodes, CEO TasCOSS John Mula, Director Catholic Education Office Dr Anna Sullivan Di Henning – Moderator
Level 1, 119 Macquarie St.
Hobart, TAS 7000
GPO Box 708
Telephone: (03) 6166 1366
Fax: (03) 6173 0266
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