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Not for Profits Welcome Establishment of National Children’s Commissioner


Monday, 30th April 2012 at 12:36 pm
Staff Reporter
A coalition of Australia’s leading children and youth focused organisations has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement of the establishment of a National Children’s Commissioner.


Monday, 30th April 2012
at 12:36 pm
Staff Reporter


2 Comments


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Not for Profits Welcome Establishment of National Children’s Commissioner
Monday, 30th April 2012 at 12:36 pm

A coalition of Australia’s leading children and youth focused organisations has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement of the establishment of a National Children’s Commissioner.

The Attorney-General Nicola Roxon made the announcement at the weekend and says that the Commissioner will “ensure the voices of children and young people are heard in the development of Commonwealth policies and programs”.

The Government said that the Children’s Commissioner will sit within the Australian Human Rights Commission and is expected to be in place by the end of the year.

The coalition of organisations, which includes the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition, Save the Children and UNICEF, says it “cautiously welcomes” the announcement as an important further step in establishing more robust accountability in government policy and practice for children.

James McDougall, Director of Advocacy for Save the Children said that the need for national policy for children that focuses on delivering measurable outcomes is at least 20 years overdue.

“This is an important further step in delivering greater accountability and driving efforts to establish a level playing field for Australia’s most disadvantaged children,” McDougall said.

Having witnessed the impact of poor policy and planning for children, the coalition says that NGOs have long advocated the need for greater accountability of government.

However the coalition has expressed concerns about the level of resources to be provided for the role.

Executive Director of AYAC Andrew Cummings said that a National Commissioner for Children and Young People can bring attention to issues of neglect, abuse and discrimination, but only if given the appropriate resources.

“There are too many instances where lack of a coordinated response by governments and their departments allow children and young people to suffer. Youth homelessness and the health and education of indigenous young people are two obvious examples,” Cummings said.

“A Commissioner must have the resources and support of governments to monitor and review these and other complex areas.”

Meanwhile, UnitingCare Australia says that the introduction of a National Children’s Commissioner was “long overdue” and will raise the profile of the rights of children and young people in Australia.

“The Office of the National Children’s Commissioner must also complement the work of existing institutions, including The Australian Human Rights Commission, Public Advocates and Ombudsman schemes, that are responsible for promoting and protecting the rights of all citizens, including children and young people,” UnitingCare National Director, Lin Hatfield Dodds said.

“This is not a substitute for Government responsibilities, but a mechanism to help children and young people, the broader community and government and public agencies further understand their rights, entitlements and responsibilities.

The children’s coalition, which says it has been working with a wider group of over 40 NGOs to ensure that the government is adequately briefed on the needs and features of the required role, has released an NGO position paper reportedly used to brief the government.

The group has also called for wider support for children from the political process.

“We need bipartisan support for the role to ensure that the outcomes for children are effective,” UNICEF chief executive Dr Norman Gillespie said.

“The Commissioner must have guaranteed independence from Government and distance from the political process.

“We call on all politicians to support a properly resourced Commission,” Gillespie said.

Lin Hatfield Dodds said UnitingCare expects that the work of the Commissioner’s office will be fully funded in the Federal Budget and that “allowances will be made for increased funding as the role becomes established over time”.

The government said that funding for the establishment of the Children’s Commissioner will be fully offset from savings across the Attorney-General’s and the Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs portfolios.

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2 Comments

  • Pamela Curr Pamela Curr says:

    Dr Gillespie from UNICEF makes an essential point in calling for this position to be independant from politics and bi-partison. I would also call for any recommendations of a Childrens Commissioner to have stronger powers than recommendatory powers.

    Australian governments have shown a reckless disregard for Human Rights and the Human Rights of children are no exception. Look at our record of serial abuse on Aboriginal Children, Migrant Children post war, Homeless children, disabled children and most recently and most egregiously ASYLUM SEEKER AND REFUGEE CHILDREN DETAINED AS A FIRST RESORT.
    This is the Governments chance to change what is an appalling record on the treatment of children.

  • Alan Corbett Alan Corbett says:

    The Commonwealth government has consistently stated that while it does not endorse the use of corporal punishment on children it has done all it can to prevent its use in Australian schools.

    It has for example, worked with all the states and territories on the National Safe Schools Framework which in part, encourages schools to move away from punitive approaches in classroom management.

    Nevertheless and contrary to the Framework that all the states and territories agreed to, the cane and paddle are still used in a small number of non-state christian schools in Qld and WA and any calls for its abolition in those schools is fiercely resisted and Its continued use justified by certain biblical texts. Corporal punishment is not used in any state school in Australia.

    Let’s hope that a new Children’s commissioner will have the power to bring these two states in line with modern educational, psychological and medical thinking and require amendments to the relevant acts that will ban the deliberate use of pain as a punishment in all non-state schools.

    Its abolition in both the home and the school is consistent with the UN convention.By the way, the Greens have asked two questions on notice in the Senate about its continued use to Peter Garrett, the relevant Minister. That Peter Garrett, ex-Midnight Oil singer, can state it is not his responsibility and turn a blind eye to its use in these christian schools says something about his and Labor’s values in the twenty first century.

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