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Monitoring and advocacy to strengthen the wellbeing of all WA children and young people

Supporting children and young people’s healthy development recognises their place as equal citizens in our society and builds a brighter future for our state.

The challenges children and young people face continually evolve and need to be recognised and addressed by evidence-informed programs, policy and legislation. Monitoring children and young people’s wellbeing and considering the latest research is essential to inform decision making and develop innovative approaches.

Major achievements in 2018−19

Key project: Indicators of Wellbeing

In 2018–19 the Commissioner launched the Indicators of Wellbeing, a practical online data resource that provides a single, collated overview of the wellbeing of WA’s children and young people.

The Indicators of Wellbeing provides data on a range of indicators and measures across age groups and over time.

It is designed for government and non-government organisations involved in policymaking and service delivery to help them identify what is working and where changes are required to improve the wellbeing of WA’s children and young people.

The Indicators of Wellbeing data is structured into three age groups and across three domains: Learning and participating, Healthy and connected, and Safe and supported.

The domains reflect how families, communities and services enable children to be healthy, safe and learning across childhood, adolescence and the transition to adulthood.

To select the indicators, the Commissioner considered the views of children and young people on what wellbeing means to them and what it means to have a good life. Their views were gathered through the Commissioner’s consultations over the past 12 years.

Data for the Indicators of Wellbeing has been collated from a variety of sources including the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, NAPLAN data and other state and federal government departments.

Data is being released in stages. The Learning and participating data was published in 2018–19, with Healthy and connected and Safe and supported data sets due to be published in the second half of 2019.

The Indicators of Wellbeing is a component of the Wellbeing Monitoring Framework and was developed by the Commissioner in consultation with CoLab through Telethon Kids Institute.

Profile of Children and Young People in WA

In February 2019, the Commissioner published an updated Profile of Children and Young People in Western Australia. The report contains new socio-demographic information and can be used by agencies to help them allocate resources for children and young people across WA.

The report contains data across areas such as population, projected growth, education, housing, disability and poverty. Data has been sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and State government departments.

The Profile of Children and Young People in Western Australia is a component of the Commissioner’s Wellbeing Monitoring Framework which monitors and reports on the wellbeing of WA children and young people.

Child Safe Organisations

The Commissioner’s Child Safe Organisations WA resources continue to promote and support the implementation of child safe principles and practices in organisations in WA. The resources help organisations to identify and manage any risks impacting the safety and wellbeing of children and young people.

Throughout the year, the Commissioner promoted the Child Safe Organisations resources in his presentations and his staff conducted three whole-day, free seminars in Perth. The Commissioner also published a revised self-assessment and review tool for agencies which was downloaded from the Commissioner’s website 573 times.

The Commissioner fully supports the recommendations by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse with regard to child safe organisations, including the implementation of national standards that are externally monitored by an independent body. The Commissioner welcomed news that these recommendations were accepted by the WA Government and that the national child safe principles were agreed to in February 2019 by the Council of Australian Government and signed by the Premier of WA.

The Commissioner’s staff have an ongoing role in working groups led by WA government agencies planning the implementation of these recommendations and have contributed to resources being developed by the National Office of Child Safety.

Monitoring complaints made by children and young people

Throughout the year the Commissioner’s office continued to promote the importance of child-friendly complaints systems as one of the principles to be applied in Child Safe Organisations.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommended that all organisations who work with children and young people ensure their processes to respond to complaints and concerns are child-focused.  

During 2018−19 the Commissioner conducted his biennial survey to monitor the way government agencies deal with complaints and the trends in complaints made by, or on behalf of, children and young people.

For the first time, the survey used questions based on the Commissioner’s Child Safe Organisations resources. In addition, the Commissioner’s staff reviewed agency websites for complaints information and held a workshop with children and young people to determine how easily they could find information on how to make a complaint. The full report will be published in early 2019–20.

Australian and New Zealand Children’s Commissioners and Guardians Group (ANZCCG)

The ANZCCG aims to promote and protect the safety, wellbeing and rights of children and young people in Australia and New Zealand.

Every Australian state and territory has a Child Guardian and/or Commissioner office, each guided by specific legislation, and in New Zealand there is a national Commissioner. Despite the differences in statutory function between these jurisdictions, the Commissioners and Guardians collaborate where possible and meet twice a year to share information and plan joint advocacy projects.

The ANZCCG met in November 2018 and May 2019.

In 2018, the New Zealand Children’s Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft worked collaboratively with Commissioner Colin Pettit to deliver a presentation for the Vulnerability Speaker Series. Judge Becroft shared information about New Zealand’s vulnerable children and young people, their challenges and the strategies that are making a real difference.  

Public commentary

The Commissioner works in a variety of ways to inform broad sectors of the community about issues affecting the wellbeing of the state’s children and young people and encourage positive change.

During the year the Commissioner gave 51 speeches and presentations on a range of issues such as his school and learning consultation, child protection, early years, mental health and suicide prevention, wellbeing, Child Safe Organisations and the importance of listening to the views of children and young people. The Commissioner also provided briefings to the Western Australian Parliament.

The Commissioner makes public comment in the media where appropriate and in the best interests of the WA’s children and young people. In 2018−19 the Commissioner had three opinion pieces published in major media outlets and gave a range of interviews and comments on issues relating to children and young people’s vulnerability, wellbeing and their rights.

The Commissioner increased his social media presence by launching Facebook and Instagram pages to complement his well-established Twitter account. All platforms continue to experience strong growth and are an important way for the Commissioner to engage with stakeholders and the community.