Every child and young person has rights. These rights are protected by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. This Convention sets out the rights of all children and young people under the age of 18. The Convention came into force on 2 September 1990. 194 countries have agreed to the Convention. Australia ratified the Convention in December 1990.
The Convention includes 54 “articles” which set out different child rights. Four of these articles are given special emphasis. These are:
As the Convention is about the rights of children and young people, it is often published in child or youth friendly language:
The full version of the Convention can be found here: Convention on the Rights of the Child
Children and young people who are living away from their parents in out of home care have special rights. The Charter of Rights for Tasmanian Children and Young People in Out of Home Care informs children and young people about their rights when living in out of home care and provides examples of how each right might work in their day-to-day lives!
Download the Charter of Rights for Tasmanian Children and Young People in and out of Home Care
The Australian Children’s Commissioners and Guardians (ACCG) have developed a Model Charter of Rights for Children and Young People Detained in Youth Justice Facilities. The model charter is based on international agreements to which Australia is a signatory, and is designed to provide children and young people in custody with an easy to understand guide to their rights, and what they are entitled to while in custody.
Children in our society are usually reliant on adults to meet many of their needs and to fulfil their rights. Though most people want the best for children, the fact that we live in a world where adults make most decisions means that sometimes children’s rights, needs and views are not considered as much as they should be. In addition, some children are disadvantaged due to factors such as poverty or disability and may need extra support to have their needs met.
Our goal is to ensure that the needs and rights of children are considered by adults making decisions that can affect children. Importantly though, our advocacy is not just about speaking for children – it is about working alongside them and strengthening their voices so that children themselves can play a role in making sure that the rights of all Tasmanian children are fulfilled.
The Commissioner for Children and Young People advocates for children in several ways, including:
The Commissioner for Children and Young People’s work is informed by consultations held with children and young people across Tasmania. Children have a right to have a say in decisions that affect them and to have their opinions taken into account. This “right to participate” is set out in Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This right is a ‘key principle’ of the Convention, meaning it is fundamental to the fulfilment of other rights.
As adults we all want to do the best for children but we often forget that children are experts on their own lives – they know what makes them feel good, what worries them and what matters to them. To make things better for children we have to work in partnership with them – work with them as well as for them, and to do this effectively we must listen to children and take their voice seriously.
By listening to children and showing them that what they have to say is important we teach children that their voice matters and that they have both rights and responsibilities in the same way that adults do.
Children tell us that listening is the most important thing that adults can do to make things better for children. We hope that by hearing what children in Tasmania have to say about their own lives and what is important to them, we can help children’s voices to be heard and help them to make a difference in their world.
The Commissioner for Children and Young People’s work is informed by the views of children and young people across Tasmania. The Commissioner consults regularly with children and young people through:
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.
A number of helpful resources on children’s participation are available at http://www.acyp.nsw.gov.au/participation-resources
“Thanks for listening!” – Advisory Council participant.
Sometimes members of the public contact us for assistance with matters which are outside our statutory functions. If this is the case, we can provide general information and assistance with referrals to other agencies as appropriate.
While the Commissioner has a strong role in advocating for children and promoting child safety and wellbeing, he does not have a statutory Child Protection role and does not become involved in individual cases. Statutory Child Protection in Tasmania is carried out by Child Protection Services, located in Children and Youth Services within the Department of Health and Human Services.
If you are worried about the safety or wellbeing of a child or young person you should contact Child Protection Services on 1300 737 639. This is a free call. You can also make a notification online via this link
To make a complaint, comment or to seek a review of a decision made by Children and Youth Services go to: How to make a complaint (Department of Health and Human Services) or contact CYS in your region:
GPO Box 125 Hobart Tasmania 7001
PO Box 633 Launceston Tasmania 7250
PO Box 158 Burnie 7320
Ashley Youth Detention Centre
Phone: (03) 6362 2311
Independent agencies that can help Tasmanian children or young people resolve problems:
Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania
Free and confidential legal advice
1300 366 611
Tasmanian Aboriginal Community Legal Service
Legal services in criminal and family law, family violence and some civil law.
1800 064 865
The Ombudsman assists to resolve complaints and concerns about government agencies.
1800 001 170
Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Tasmania
For concerns or complaints about discrimination, prejudice, bias and prohibited conduct.
1300 305 062
Free and confidential on-line legal advice
Children’s eSafety Commissioner
The Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner protects Australian children when they experience cyberbullying by administering a complaints scheme and deals with complaints about prohibited online content.
Girls Gotta Know
Legal Information for Young Women
Free, private and confidential phone and online counselling 24 hrs a day 7 days a week
1800 55 1800
National Youth Mental Health Foundation. They help young people who are going through a tough time.
1800 650 890
Pulse Youth Health – South
(03) 6233 8901
Youth Health Team – North West
(03) 6440 7140
Youth Health Program – North
(03) 6334 0800
Creating opportunities for children and young people in out of home care
(03) 9918 0002
1800 655 105
An online community services directory of Tasmania’s social services. It includes lots of information about services for children, young people and their families.
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