Advocacy

WHY DO CHILDREN NEED AN INDEPENDENT ADVOCATE?

The Commissioner works to ensure the rights and wellbeing of children and young people are considered and promoted by adults when they are making decisions that may affect them. 

Read more

Children rely largely 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, wellbeing, views and opinions are not always considered to the extent they should be in decision-making. In addition, some children can be disadvantaged due to factors such as poverty or disability which means that they may need extra support to have their voices heard or their needs met.

Importantly, the Commissioner’s advocacy is not just about speaking for children and young people – it is about promoting the benefits of children’s participation and working alongside children and young people to support their ability to have a say about things that matter to them. The right of all children to be heard and taken seriously constitutes one of the fundamental principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

HOW DOES THE COMMISSIONER ADVOCATE FOR CHILDREN?

The Commissioner’s role is to provide impartial, independent, and apolitical oversight and advice which promotes the rights and wellbeing of children and young people in Tasmania.

Read more

The Commissioner advocates for the rights and wellbeing of children and young people in Tasmania in several ways, including by:

  • providing advice to government and other agencies or organisations about ways to ensure the interests of children and young people are taken into account when developing policies, programs and laws.  
  • publishing reports and other publications – the Commissioner publishes reports, information resources and other publications to highlight issues that affect the rights and wellbeing of children and young people in Tasmania.
  • monitoring and reviewing existing programs, policies and laws which may affect children and young people in Tasmania.
  • consulting with children and young people – the Commissioner seeks the views of Tasmanian children and young people through the Children and Young People Consultative Council, and through discussions and consultations with other groups of children and young people. This informs the other work that the Commissioner does.
  • 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.

RIGHTS

CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD

RIGHTS FOR ALL CHILDREN

Every child and young person has rights. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (the Convention) recognises that children and young people under 18 years of age have the same basic human rights as adults do, but that they must also be afforded special protections because of their status as children.

Read more

The Convention is an international treaty (or agreement) which came into force on 2 September 1990. One hundred and ninety four countries have agreed to the Convention, making it the most widely ratified international treaty in history. Australia ratified the Convention in December 1990 and, in doing so, has promised to promote and protect children’s rights. As a signatory to the Convention, every five years Australia must make a report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child about what is being done in Australia to protect and promote children’s rights.

The Convention includes 54 Articles which articulate children’s rights and the ways in which these rights should be promoted and respected. Four of the Articles are given special emphasis. These are:

  • Non-discriminationthe right of all children to enjoy all the rights under the Convention without discrimination of any kind;
  • Survival, development and protectionthe right of all children to survival and development and protection;
  • Best interestsrespect for the best interests of the child as a primary consideration in all decisions relating to children;
  • Participationthe right of all children to express their views freely on all matters affecting them and to have their opinions taken into account.

As the Convention is about the rights of children and young people, it is often published in child or youth friendly language.

Download the UNCRC – Child Friendly Version or the UNCRC poster – youth-friendly version

The full version of the Convention can be found here: Convention on the Rights of the Child

There is more information about human rights generally, including information which could be used by teachers and other educators, on the website of the Australian Human Rights Commission at https://www.humanrights.gov.au/

CHILDREN IN OUT-OF-HOME CARE

Children and young people who are living away from their parents in outofhome care have special rights which must be respected.

Read more

Out-of-home care refers to the care of children and young people aged 0-17 years who are unable to live with their primary caregivers. It involves the placement by the State of a child or young person with alternate caregivers on a short- or long-term basis.

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 outofhome 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 Commissioner conducts independent, systemic monitoring of the out-of-home care system in Tasmania. For more information about the Commissioner’s Out-of-Home Care Monitoring Program please contact us.

CHILDREN IN YOUTH JUSTICE DETENTION

Like all children and young people, those who are in youth justice detention have human rights that must be recognised, respected and promoted. They also have specific rights that must be respected while they are in detention.

Read more

The Australian Children’s Commissioners and Guardians (ACCG) has 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 young people in youth justice detention with an easy to understand guide to their rights, and what they are entitled to expect while in custody.

Download the ACCG Model Charter of Rights for Children in Youth Justice Facilities

The Commissioner has a particular role to advocate for individual young people detained under the Tasmanian Youth Justice Act 1997. The Commissioner has developed resources for young people at Ashley Youth Detention Centre to explain their rights while they are there, and to explain ways in which these young people can raise any concerns or complaints.

participation

THE RIGHT TO PARTICIPATE

A key function of the Commissioner is to ensure that children and young people’s opinions and views are sought, heard, and taken into account in decision-making processes that affect them.

Read more

Adults generally want to do the best for children and young people but sometimes they forget that children and young people are experts in their own lives – they know what makes them feel good, what worries them and what matters to them. To make things better for children and young people we have to work in partnership with them.  To do this effectively it is important to provide meaningful opportunities for children and young people to have a say on matters that affect them (if they wish to), to listen to their views and opinions, and to take them seriously. Even very young children are able to express their views.

 

Children and young people 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, particularly their right to have their best interests promoted.  By listening to children and young people, and showing them that what they have to say is important, they learn that their voice matters and that they have rights and responsibilities in the same way that adults do.   They also learn the skills needed to become a responsible and active citizen.

The Commissioner’s work is informed by discussions and consultations with children and young people across Tasmania. By hearing what children and young people have to say about their own lives and what is important to them, the Commissioner can assist their voices to be heard by decision-makers and help them to make a difference in their own lives.

WHAT WE DON’T DO

Sometimes members of the public contact the Commissioner for assistance with matters which are outside the Commissioner’s legislative or statutory functions. If this is the case, the Commissioner can provide general information and assistance and refer callers to agencies, programs or services which may be able to assist.

Read more

While the Commissioner has a strong role promoting children and young people’s safety and wellbeing, and in monitoring the out-of-home care system, the Commissioner does not have a statutory child protection role.  The Commissioner cannot become involved in individual cases. Statutory child protection in Tasmania is carried out by Child Safety Services, located in Children and Youth Services, in the Department of Communities Tasmania.

Further, the Commissioner:

  • does not advocate for individual children, except for those young people detained under the Youth Justice Act 1997, for whom the Commissioner has a special advocacy role;
  • does not have a complaints handling function (other than for complaints made directly against the Commissioner or staff of the Commissioner);
  • does not make policy, but can provide independent advice on proposed or existing policies and legislation;
  • does not comment on or get involved with issues that do not have an effect or potential effect on children in Tasmania;
  • does not administer the Registration to Work with Vulnerable People system (also known as “working with children checks”). This system is administered by the Tasmanian Department of Justice: https://www.cbos.tas.gov.au/topics/licensing-and-registration/registrations/work-with-vulnerable-people

USEFUL LINKS

STRONG FAMILIES, SAFE KIDS ADVICE & REFERRAL LINE

If you are worried about the safety or wellbeing of a child or young person you can call the Strong Families, Safe Kids Advice & Referral line on 1800 000 123 or visit their website here.

CHILDREN & YOUTH SERVICES

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 Communities Tasmania) or contact CYS in your region.

Read more
Statewide by email:

complaints.caf@communities.tas.gov.au

South

Woodhouse, St Johns Park, New Town, Tas., 7008

North

115-119 Cameron Street, Launceston, Tas., 7250

North West

Ground Floor, 49 Cattley Street, Burnie, Tas., 7320

Ashley Youth Detention Centre

Phone: (03) 6362 2311

Child Advocate (Communities Tasmania)

Weekdays 9.00am – 5.00pm
Mobile: 0419 970 181
Office: (03) 6165 6945
Free call: 1800 549 725

Email: child.advocate@communities.tas.gov.au

INDEPENDENT AGENCIES

Independent agencies that can help Tasmanian children or young people resolve problems.

Read more
Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania

Free and confidential legal advice by phone, in person, or online via Legal Talk.

https://www.legalaid.tas.gov.au

1300 366 611

Tasmanian Aboriginal Community Legal Service

Legal services in criminal and family law, family violence and some civil law.

https://tacls.org.au

1800 064 865

Ombudsman Tasmania

The Ombudsman assists to resolve complaints and concerns about government agencies.

http://www.ombudsman.tas.gov.au

1800 001 170

Equal Opportunity Tasmania

For concerns or complaints about discrimination, prejudice, bias and prohibited conduct.

http://www.equalopportunity.tas.gov.au

1300 305 062

Youthlaw

Free and confidential online legal advice.

http://youthlaw.asn.au

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.

https://www.esafety.gov.au/

OTHER INFORMATION OR ASSISTANCE FOR TASMANIAN CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE

 

Read more
Kids Helpline

Private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25. Any time. Any reason.

http://www.kidshelp.com.au

1800 55 1800

Headspace

National Youth Mental Health Foundation. They help young people who are going through a tough time.

https://eheadspace.org.au/

1800 650 890

Pulse Youth Health – South

https://www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/service_information/services_files/pulse_youth_health_south

(03) 6166 1421

Youth Health Team – North West

http://www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/service_information/service_delivery_points/youth_health_team_-_north_west

0400 333 608

Youth Health Program – North

http://www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/service_information/service_delivery_points/youth_health_program_-_north

(03) 6777 4422

Create Foundation

Creating opportunities for children and young people in out of home care.

http://create.org.au

1800 655 105

Working It Out

Tasmania’s gender, sexuality and intersex status support and education service.

http://www.workingitout.org.au/contact/

(03) 6231 1200

Girls Gotta Know

Legal Information for young women

http://girlsgottaknow.com.au

Guys Gotta Know

Legal Information for young men

http://guysgottaknow.com.au/

Findhelp Tas

An online community services directory of Tasmania’s social services. It includes lots of information about services for children, young people and their families.

findhelptas.com.au

Ask Izzy

When you’re looking for support, Ask Izzy can help you to find the services you need, right now and nearby. It is free and anonymous, and you can search to find housing, meals, healthcare, counselling, legal advice, addiction treatment and a whole lot more. If you’re on the Telstra mobile network, you can access Ask Izzy even if you don’t have credit.

https://askizzy.org.au/