I am very pleased to present my first Annual Report as Western Australia’s Commissioner for Children and Young People.
Since my appointment in November 2015 I have met many inspiring children and young people, their families and staff from organisations who both directly and indirectly care for and support our youngest citizens.
In my meetings with children of all ages around the state I have been struck by how many of them genuinely appreciate that the government appoints someone to act as an independent advocate for them and through whom they can have their voices heard.
One of my first priorities on appointment was to develop and release a strategic plan to guide my work and that of the office during my five-year term as Commissioner.
The plan is centred around prioritising the rights, voices and contributions of children and young people, monitoring and advocacy to strengthen wellbeing, and prioritising the needs of disadvantaged and vulnerable children and young people. It also describes my intent to work collaboratively with the community to ensure that the best interests of our almost 600,000 children and young people are paramount.
This report outlines the large body of work undertaken by the office in 2015−16. Many of the projects outlined in this report were initiated under the leadership of my predecessor Jenni Perkins and I acknowledge the significant contribution she has made to the office’s growing body of evidence on the wellbeing of our children and young people.
In the last year the voices of many of our children and young people have been heard through consultations involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people, and children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
The current Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has highlighted the vulnerability of children and young people and the need for proactive strategies and oversight to ensure their safety and wellbeing wherever they are. This year my office has undertaken a major body of work to promote child safe principles and practices to organisations to help build more robust systems for keeping our children safe.
We have commenced important consultations with children and young people in out-of-home care and those in contact with the youth justice system. Additionally, planning was undertaken for a major consultation with Western Australian school students on school and learning, aimed at finding out how we can best keep children and young people engaged in education. Reports on all three of these consultations will be released in 2016−17.
The Commissioner’s office is staffed by a small but dedicated team who undertake a large volume of work on behalf of Western Australia’s children and young people. I thank them for their work over the past year.
Commissioner for Children and Young People
Face to Face provides an annual report specifically for children and young people on how their views have influenced the Commissioner's work over the past year.