I’m writing as I commence my second term as Tasmania’s Commissioner for Children and Young People. I am delighted to have been re-appointed to the role for a further five years and am honoured to continue to serve the children and young people of Tasmania.
As you may be aware, the Commission of Inquiry into the Tasmanian Government’s Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Institutional Settings has recommended a new oversight system for the safety and wellbeing of children and young people in Tasmania, including the establishment of a new Commission for Children and Young People.
I am wholly supportive of this recommendation, having long held the position that Tasmania should establish a Commission with significantly expanded functions and powers. The Tasmanian Government has now made clear its intention to establish the new Commission by 1 July this year, and this is an important step forward.
Given the momentous level of change transpiring, I want to inform you of my priorities as the current Commissioner for Children and Young People, as I continue to perform my functions under the existing Commissioner for Children and Young People Act 2016.
Between now and the end of June 2024, the Office of the Commissioner for Children and Young People will focus on:
- Ensuring Tasmanian children and young people can participate in decisions being made about the systems and processes designed to promote and protect their rights, through having their voices heard in the design and implementation of key reform initiatives including the Tasmanian Government’s Child Abuse Reform Strategy, and the establishment of the new Commission for Children and Young People.
Due to the very short timeframes associated with these reforms, my intention is to convene a new Consultative Council under the Commissioner for Children and Young People Act, to inform these reforms. This council will consist of 20-30 Tasmanian children and young people with whom I have an existing relationship through past participatory opportunities, or who have accepted the nomination of a trusted partner organisation to participate.
- Providing independent, child-centred and impartial advice and comment on the broad policy and legislative reform agenda being pursued by the Tasmanian Government to implement the Commission of Inquiry’s recommendations.
- Developing a new rights-based framework for monitoring children’s wellbeing generally, and specifically those in the Tasmanian out-of-home care and youth justice systems to better promote and protect children’s rights.
- Providing independent advocacy for individual children in detention, as well as continuing my strong advocacy for reforms of the youth justice and out-of-home care systems in Tasmania.
- Working constructively with the Tasmanian Government, and the newly appointed Independent Regulator, towards the establishment of a new, expanded Commission for Children and young people in Tasmania.
As we all work to implement 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.
My strong view is that 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, and experience of, their fundamental human rights across the entire community. To put it simply, when children’s rights are upheld, their safety and wellbeing improve.
I would be happy to discuss my priorities for 2024 with you. If you would like to arrange a meeting, please contact my office.
Commissioner for Children and Young People