My priority is that all Western Australian children and young people are heard, are healthy and safe, can reach their potential and are welcomed as valued members of the community.
This year we were pleased to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the establishment of the office of the Commissioner for Children and Young People.
This significant milestone was celebrated by inviting children born in the same year as the Commissioner’s role was established to share their thoughts on life at 10. Over 4,200 Year 4 students from 160 schools across Western Australia responded with artworks and insightful statements describing what was important to them, what concerns them and their views on life growing up in Western Australia. The artworks were showcased in a series of exhibitions across the State so the community had an opportunity to learn about how our children see the world around them.
The past year has seen the release of the findings from my School and Learning consultation which explored the factors that influence a student’s level of engagement in school.
In what was our largest consultation to date, 1,812 students from 98 primary and secondary schools around the State and from all three educational sectors shared their views on the factors that influence their engagement in learning. While the research found that schools are meeting the needs of most children and young people most of the time, Aboriginal students, students with long-term health issues or disability as well as male students in regional areas all need greater support to stay engaged at school.
School is a key influence on any child’s life. It is a pathway to future employment and further education and all Western Australian children and young people should have the opportunity to benefit from early and ongoing engagement in learning. I will continue to work with legislators, agencies and educators to help ensure schools are adequately resourced to meet the needs of their students.
Another important initiative this year has been the Engaging with Aboriginal Children and Young People Toolkit. The toolkit aims to increase the opportunities for Aboriginal children and young people to participate in decision making about programs and initiatives that affect them, and helps to address the gaps identified in our 2014 consultation with 1,271 young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people.
At the culmination of 10 years of the Commissioner for Children and Young People’s office and consultation with over 11,000 children and young people in Western Australia, it is clear that more needs to be done to meet the needs of the State’s most vulnerable children and young people.
A key focus of my office this year has been on improving the way we address the challenges facing our disadvantaged children and young people. Throughout 2018, I have been hosting the Vulnerability Speaker Series, a program of events featuring presentations from a variety of international, national and distinguished Western Australian leaders.
The events have been bringing together government leaders, staff from government agencies and the community services sector, and academics to hear from vulnerable young people about their experiences and to explore how best to inform effective responses. I will continue to work closely with decision makers to improve responses for our children and young people.
The work of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has highlighted the need for improved oversight to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children. My office has been monitoring and contributing to the work of the Royal Commission and has produced resources and held seminars to assist Western Australian agencies and community organisations working with children to implement child safe policies and practices.
I strongly advocate that governments and leaders are ambitious and unflinching in their approach to accepting and implementing the Royal Commission’s recommendations, acknowledging where we need to do better to protect and respond to children and young people and to resource these efforts accordingly.
I would like to recognise the valuable contributions from the Ambassadors for Children and Young People who provide support and guidance to my office and continue to support the children and young people in Western Australia. I also thank the small and very dedicated team at my office for their continued commitment throughout the 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.