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.
Respect, honesty, inclusivity, creativity, positivity, determination, independence and integrity
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.
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 2019, Colin was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Education from Edith Cowan University. He is Patron of Children’s University, an Ambassador for Barking Gecko Theatre and Valuing Children Initiative, and a member of the Great to Eight governance committee. In late 2020 he was awarded the ACE WA medal for services to education.
In November 2020, Colin extended his five-year appointment for a further 12 months until November 2021.
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.
Following the 2021 State Government election, a new committee was appointed in 26 May 2021, chaired by Ms Robyn Clarke MLA. The Commissioner met once with the new committee members in June and attended a hearing with the previous committee in September 2020.
More information about the Committee is available on the Parliament of Western Australia website.
Commissioner's leadership team
Natalie Hall – Director Policy, Monitoring and Research
Natalie Hall was appointed to the role of Director in 2020 after five years as Principal Policy Officer. Natalie’s career in advocating for children and young people has spanned 30 years, with leadership roles at the (then) Department of Child Protection, Parkerville Children and Youth Care and the George Jones Child Advocacy Centre. Natalie has a Bachelor of Social Work and a Graduate Diploma of Criminal Justice.
Paula Campbell – Manager Engagement and Communication
Paula Campbell began her career as a newspaper 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’s Ambassador initiative recognises eminent people living in Western Australia who have a significant role in the community and a 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.
Western Australia’s Ambassadors for Children and Young People are:
- Professor Donna Cross
- Mrs Annie Fogarty AM
- Mr Ricky Grace AM
- Dr Robert Isaacs AM OAM JP PhD (Hon)
- Mrs Tonya McCusker AMMs
- 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
In November 2020, Professor Stephen Zubrick stepped down after eight years as an Ambassador. The Commissioner acknowledges Stephen’s outstanding contribution 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.
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 Directions 2021–2026 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 Commissioner’s annual work plan supports the strategic plan.
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.