The Commissioner for Children and Young People’s 2022-23 Annual Report was tabled today in the Tasmanian Parliament.
The Commissioner for Children and Young People said the Report summarises her work to uphold, protect and promote the rights and wellbeing of children and young people in Tasmania during 2022-23.
“A significant priority for my office this year has been contributing to the Commission of Inquiry into the Tasmanian Government’s Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Institutional Settings,” Ms McLean said.
“As we look forward to the implementation of the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry, we face a watershed moment in how we value our children and work together to protect and promote their human rights and wellbeing.
“We should be aiming for systems which take us far beyond ensuring the safety of children and young people in organisational settings. Our aim should be to improve children’s access to their rights across the entire community. To put it simply, when children’s rights are upheld, their safety and wellbeing will improve.”
Ms McLean said the past year has also brought cause for celebration as she has increased opportunities for children and young people to share their views to influence decision-makers.
“These opportunities have included working with the CCYP Ambassadors to co-design a Statewide event specifically aimed at influencing decision-makers on matters including mental health, climate change and the environment, and education.
“Young people with experience of the youth justice system have also bravely shared their experiences of the system and made suggestions for change through the Voices Project.
“Many children and young people with experience of Tasmania’s out-of-home care system contributed to my first own-motion investigation into changes to the case management of children and young people in care.”
Ms McLean said the ability to be heard and influence change is fundamental to the ability of children and young people to access all of their human rights.
“I am so thankful to the children and young people who have participated in these opportunities. In doing so, you are helping to influence laws, policies, programs and services for the benefit of all Tasmanian children and young people.
“This year, we have also seen significant legislative changes to better uphold the rights of children in Tasmania.
“In December, new legislation governing the searches of children in police, prison and youth justice custodial settings commenced.
“Pleasingly, we have seen a dramatic decline in the number of unclothed searches taking place. However, there is still much work to be done to ensure that the rights of individual young people in detention are upheld.”
Ms McLean said the Report includes, for the first time, a snapshot of advocacy services provided to individual young people in detention by the Advocate for Young People in Detention.
“My work to influence the Government in adopting a rights-based therapeutic approach to youth justice has also continued.
“Significantly, I delivered comprehensive advice to the Tasmanian Government on raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility in Tasmania, which I note is now also a recommendation of the Commission of Inquiry.
“I look forward to the Government’s response to my advice that it adopt a new non-criminalising approach to prevent and respond to children’s harmful behaviour.”
For further information, download the 2022-23 Annual Report at https://childcomm.tas.gov.au/resource/annual-report-2022-2023/