THE COMMISSIONER FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE IS AN INDEPENDENT STATUTORY OFFICER RESPONSIBLE TO THE PARLIAMENT OF TASMANIA.

LEANNE McLEAN

 

Leanne has a wealth of experience as a leader in social policy development, including working at the coal face with young people; and shaping, delivering and communicating policies which impact on them and empower them to shape their own future.

Leanne has been instrumental in significant social policy change in Tasmania including greater access to pre-school education and extending Tasmanian high schools to year 12, vocational education and training policy and equity of access to education and training – all aimed at improving the lives of young Tasmanians.

 

Leanne has stepped into this role off the back of a successful career as a senior manager in the public sector including senior government advisory roles.  Leanne’s most recent role was Chief of Staff to Tasmania’s Deputy Premier and Minister for Education and Training.

Leanne is passionate about providing a voice for children and young people, believes strongly in the transformative power of education and early intervention and the value of every young person in shaping the future of Tasmania.

Leanne grew up in the Far South of Tasmania, attended Geeveston District High School, Ogilvie High School, Hobart College and the University of Tasmania and now lives with her husband and two children in Hobart.

The Commissioner’s Role

The Commissioner for Children and Young People (“the Commissioner”) is an independent statutory officer responsible to the Parliament of Tasmania established under the Commissioner for Children and Young People Act 2016 (Tas) (the CCYP Act).

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Unless otherwise specified, the Commissioner must act independently, impartially and in the public interest.

The Commissioner’s general functions are described in Section 8 of the CCYP Act. These functions include:

  • Advocating for all children and young people in Tasmania, 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 safety system and/or the youth justice system.
  • Advocating for young people who are detained under the Youth Justice Act 1997. The Commissioner regularly visits Ashley Youth Detention Centre to meet with the young people who are detained there.
  • Researching, investigating and influencing policy development into matters relating to children and young people generally.
  • Promoting, monitoring and reviewing the wellbeing of children and young people in Tasmania generally. The term “wellbeing” in relation to children and young people includes the care, development and education, and the physical, emotional and psychological health and safety of children and young people.
  • Promoting and empowering the participation of children and young people in the making of decisions or the expressing of opinions on matters that may affect their lives. This includes encouraging and promoting the establishment by organisations of appropriate and accessible mechanisms for the participation of children and young people in matters that may affect them.

The Commissioner may publish reports, provide advice to Ministers and government agencies, and make submissions to inquiries and reviews. The Commissioner may also be asked to comment on draft legislation and on proposed policies, including on national issues where the matter in question has the capacity to affect children and young people in Tasmania.

The Commissioner may initiate a systemic inquiry or investigation and has wide powers to compel the production of information and documents needed to perform these functions.

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 regularly speaks with and hears from members of the Tasmanian community, including children and young people, about a range of issues concerning young Tasmanians. Information received in this way is used to inform the Commissioner’s systemic advocacy work on behalf of children and young people.

The Commissioner may also refer matters (received or identified as part of an inquiry) to relevant authorities, including Tasmania Police, the Ombudsman, the Integrity Commission, the Custodial Inspector and the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner.

Guiding Principles:

In performing any function or power, the Commissioner must –

  • do so according to the principle that the wellbeing and best interests of children and young people are paramount; and
  • must observe any relevant provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Noting the importance of the overarching principles set out above, the Commissioner’s work is also to be administered according to the following principles:

  • children are entitled to live in a caring and nurturing environment and to be protected from harm and exploitation;
  • the interests and needs of children and young people who are disadvantaged for any reason or vulnerable should be given special regard and serious consideration;
  • the contributions made by children to the community should be recognised for their value and merit;
  • the views of children on all matters affecting them should be given serious consideration and taken into account;
  • parents, families and communities have the primary role in safeguarding and promoting the wellbeing of children and should be supported in carrying out their role.

Why does the CCYP exist?

Australia ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (the Convention) in 1990. The Convention sets out a framework of rights for children and young people essential to the promotion and safeguarding of their interests and wellbeing.

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Since ratification of the Convention, independent children’s commissioners, advocates or guardians have been established in all Australian states and territories, and at a 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 first Tasmanian Commissioner was appointed in 2000. Consistent with the statutory functions set out in the Commissioner for Children and Young People Act 2016, the Commissioner is responsible for advocating for children and young people in Tasmania generally, and for promoting, monitoring and reviewing their wellbeing.

In carrying out these functions, the Commissioner may investigate and make recommendations in respect of the systems, policies and practices of organisations that provide services that affect children and young people. The Commissioner may also investigate and make recommendations in respect of the effects of any legislation, proposed legislation, documents, government policies, or practices or procedures, or other matters relating to the wellbeing of children and young people.

Importantly, the Commissioner has a specific function to assist in ensuring that the State satisfies its national and international obligations with respect to children and young people generally.

When performing a function or exercising a power under the CCYP Act, the Commissioner must –

  1. do so according to the principle that the wellbeing and best interests of children and young people are paramount; and
  2. observe any relevant provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The legislative provisions described above provide a mandate for the Commissioner to advocate for, and to promote the wellbeing of, Tasmania’s children and young people through the lens of a child-rights framework.

By providing this mandate, and by allocating resourcing to the Commissioner’s office, the Tasmanian Government has acknowledged the importance of ensuring the Convention is embedded and promoted as a framework by which to inform and guide the development of legislation, policy, practices or procedures which have the potential to affect children and young people in Tasmania.

CCYP TEAM

The Commissioner is supported by a small team of staff. The Commissioner’s workplace is based on collaboration, mutual respect and recognition of the unique skills and expertise that each team member brings to the work of the Commissioner.

COUNCILS

CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE CONSULTATIVE COUNCIL

The Children and Young People Consultative Council (the Consultative Council) provides advice to the Commissioner on important issues affecting children and young people in Tasmania.

The Consultative Council is constituted by three regional groups of children and young people aged 9 to 17 from diverse backgrounds and locations.

Consultative Council members are appointed each calendar year following a state-wide expression of interest process.

CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE ADVISORY COUNCIL

The Children and Young People Expert Advisory Council (CYPEAC) provides high-level, strategic, independent and expert advice to the Commissioner on specific issues or matters relating to the health and wellbeing of children and young people in Tasmania.

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Members of CYPEAC have recognised expertise in fields relevant to the Commissioner’s functions. The current members’ term commenced 1 July 2018 and expires on 30 June 2020.

Members are:

  • Mr Michael Hill
  • Ms Alison Jacob
  • Ms Sue Jenkins
  • Assoc. Prof. Jeremy Prichard
  • Prof. Maggie Walters
  • Mr Michael White

ANZCCG

AUSTRALIAN AND NEW ZEALAND CHILDREN’S COMMISSIONERS AND GUARDIANS

The Australian and New Zealand Children’s Commissioners and Guardians (ANZCCG) comprises national, state and territory children and young people commissioners, guardians and advocates.

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ANZCCG meets twice per year in May and November.

ANZCCG aims to promote and protect the safety, well-being and rights of children and young people in Australia, and to ensure that the best interests of children and young people are considered in public policy and program development across Australia.

ANZCCG was formerly known as the Australian Children’s Commissioners and Guardians (ACCG).  The New Zealand Children’s Commissioner became a formal member of the group in May 2018, and the group’s name changed to reflect their inclusion.

For more information about ANZCCG visit: http://accg.org.au/

POLICIES

Children’s Participation

The Commissioner is committed to promoting and protecting the rights, wellbeing and safety of the children and young people. To that end, a number of policies have been developed to guide the Commissioner’s interactions with children and young people.

Other policies are currently under review and will be updated here soon.

 

Right to Information:

The Commissioner is a public authority for the purposes of the Right to Information Act 2009 and must comply with the obligations under that Act.

Personal Information Protection:

The Commissioner is a personal information custodian for the purposes of the Personal Information Protection Act 2004. The Commissioner’s collection, use and disclosure of personal information is governed by that Act.