That all children and young people are heard, are healthy and safe, reach their potential and are welcomed as valued members of the community and in doing so we build a brighter future for the whole community.
Respectful, inclusive, creative, positive, determined and independent
What we do
The Commissioner’s work is underpinned by the Commissioner for Children and Young People Act 2006 (the Act).
The Act outlines the guiding principles, powers and functions of the office. In accordance with statutory obligations, the Commissioner:
- advocates for children and young people
- promotes the participation of children and young people in decision making that affects their lives
- promotes and monitors the wellbeing of children and young people in the community
- monitors the way in which government agencies investigate or otherwise deal with complaints from children and young people
- monitors trends in complaints made by children and young people to government agencies
- initiates and conducts inquiries into any matter affecting the wellbeing of children and young people
- monitors, reviews and makes recommendations on laws, policies, programs and services affecting the wellbeing of children and young people
- promotes public awareness and understanding of matters relating to the wellbeing of children and young people
- conducts, coordinates and sponsors research into matters relating to the wellbeing of children and young people
- consults with children and young people from a broad range of socio-economic backgrounds and age groups throughout Western Australia each year.
The Act requires the Commissioner to give priority to, and have a special regard for, the interests and needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people and children and young people who are vulnerable or disadvantaged for any reason.
Under the Act, the Commissioner is not able to deal with complaints made by, or on behalf of, individuals; however, he may respond to issues that identify possible systemic matters that affect the wellbeing of children and young people more broadly.
Our guiding principles
As outlined in the Act:
- children and young people are entitled to live in a caring and nurturing environment, protected from harm and exploitation
- the contributions made by children and young people to the community should be recognised for their value and merit
- the views of children and young people on all matters affecting them should be given serious consideration and taken into account
- parents, guardians, families and communities have the primary role in safeguarding and promoting the wellbeing of their children and young people and should be supported in carrying out this role.
Our work has regard to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and is informed by the views and opinions of children and young people and the best available knowledge and evidence of what works well.
Colin Pettit, Commissioner for Children and Young People
Colin Pettit is the Commissioner for Children and Young People WA. He was appointed in November 2015 for a five-year term.
Colin has spent his career working to improve the wellbeing of children and young people, particularly in delivering education services and programs to children and young people living in regional and remote areas of Western Australia.
Colin has worked with children, young people, families and communities all over the state as a teacher and then principal in a number of regional schools, before holding the role of Executive Director Regional and Remote Education at the Western Australian Department of Education for three years.
Between 2010 and 2015, Colin was the Secretary of Education for the Tasmanian Department of Education. He is a former President of the Western Australian Primary Principals’ Association and Deputy President of the Australian Primary Principals’ Association.
In February 2019 Colin was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Education from Edith Cowan University.
The Commissioner is an independent statutory officer and reports directly to the Parliament of Western Australia. The Commissioner is able to table reports in the Parliament, conduct inquiries and require agencies to provide information on matters relating to children and young people’s wellbeing.
The Parliament has a Joint Standing Committee on the Commissioner for Children and Young People to regularly consult with the Commissioner and monitor, review and report to Parliament on the Commissioner’s exercise of his functions under the Act.
The Commissioner formally met with the Committee twice in 2018−19. The Committee is chaired by the Hon. Dr Sally Elizabeth Talbot MLC.
More information about the Committee is available from the Parliament of Western Australia website.
Commissioner’s leadership team
Trish Heath – Director Policy and Research
Trish Heath has worked with the Commissioner’s office since 2009, initially as a Principal Policy Officer. Trish trained as a youth worker and prior to commencing with the Commissioner had an extensive work history in the alcohol and drug sector in training, policy and service management roles in both government and non-government agencies.
Vicki Jack – Director Aboriginal Engagement
Vicki Jack joined the Commissioner’s team in January 2019 as Director, Aboriginal Engagement. Vicki has a strong background in education and community development and has worked for the past 35 years with Aboriginal communities, families and people across rural, regional and remote WA. Previous roles include school principal, director roles within the Departments of Education and Communities and in the private sector with Rio Tinto.
Paula Campbell – Manager Engagement and Communication
Paula Campbell began her career as a journalist in NSW. She held a range of corporate communication roles across government in the tourism, health and environment sectors before joining the Commissioner’s office in 2014. Paula holds a Bachelor of Communication Studies.
Caroline Brasnett – Manager Corporate Services
Caroline Brasnett joined the Commissioner in 2016, after 43 years with the Department of Education in a range of education and managerial roles both in schools, including deputy principal of Western Australia’s second largest school, and in central administration with roles involving human resources, risk management, and copyright and intellectual property. This was followed by a year at the Schools’ Curriculum and Standards Authority.
Ambassadors for Children and Young People
The Commissioner for Children and Young People has 15 Ambassadors for Children and Young People. The Ambassador initiative recognises eminent people living in Western Australia who have a significant role in the community and commitment to supporting children and young people and their families.
The Ambassadors work with the Commissioner to increase community awareness and understanding of factors that impact children and young people’s wellbeing and where appropriate, provide support and guidance in the projects undertaken by the Commissioner and his staff.
Several Ambassadors had a role in the 2018 Vulnerability Speaker Series, including Dr Robert Issacs who spoke at the Aboriginal forum. Professors Steve Zubrick and Donna Cross were also active members of the Speaking Out Survey expert panel.
Western Australia’s Ambassadors for Children and Young People are:
Winthrop Professor Donna Cross
Mrs Annie Fogarty AM
Mr Ricky Grace AM
Dr Robert Isaacs AM OAM JP PhD (Hon)
Mrs Tonya McCusker AM
Ms June Oscar AO
Dr Donald Payne
His Honour Judge Denis Reynolds
Ms Linda Savage
Hon. Barbara Scott OAM
Dr Casta Tungaraza
Ms Dawn Wallam
Mr David Wirrpanda
Mr Russell Woolf
Winthrop Professor Stephen Zubrick
During Children’s Week 2018 the Commissioner welcomed five new Ambassadors for WA children and young people – Dr Robert Issacs, Dr Donald Payne, Mr Ricky Grace, Ms Linda Savage and Ms Dawn Wallam.
In October 2018, Professor Colleen Hayward AM and Professor Trevor Parry AM stepped down as Ambassadors. The Commissioner acknowledges their outstanding contributions to the office and the children and young people of Western Australia.
Performance management framework
The Commissioner for Children and Young People’s Performance Management Framework is consistent with the State Government goal of Strong Communities: Safe communities and supported families.
Desired outcome for the Commissioner for Children and Young People
The views and issues of children and young people are heard and acted upon.
Key Effectiveness Indicators
- Extent to which children and young people in various regions of the state are consulted
- Extent to which issues impacting upon children and young people are researched, advocated and promoted
- Extent to which public awareness is engaged on issues impacting upon the wellbeing of children and young people
Service undertaken by the Commissioner for Children and Young People
Consultation, research and promotion of the wellbeing of children and young people.
Key Efficiency Indicators
- Unit cost per child
- Unit cost per representation
The Commissioner’s strategic plan, Our approach and priorities: 2016–2020, outlines the broad focus areas of the Commissioner for Children and Young People and aims to both inform and engage the community in the work of the Commissioner.
The work of the office for this reporting period is outlined under the strategic plan’s three key platforms:
- Promoting the rights, voices and contributions of children and young people
- Monitoring and advocacy to strengthen the wellbeing of all WA children and young people
- Prioritising the needs of disadvantaged and vulnerable children and young people.