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Commissioner calls for renewed approach to reduce childhood vulnerability

Establishing a statewide Child Wellbeing Strategy is a key recommendation in a report tabled in State Parliament by the Commissioner for Children and Young People.

Commissioner Colin Pettit said the Improving The Odds report outlined the findings from his Vulnerability Speaker Series, held throughout 2018.

“This Series aimed to challenge current thinking on what causes vulnerability and how to best address these factors to improve the lives of children and young people,” Mr Pettit said.

“National and international speakers challenged local government and non-government leaders to look at why we are not reducing the rates of vulnerability in our young people. Their presentations are all available online.

“Underpinning these expert opinions are the views of children and young people themselves.

“While most are faring well, many young people through a range of consultations have shared their perspectives of vulnerability, including not feeling safe, experiences of poverty, exposure to drugs and violence and not receiving the support they need to help them stay at school.”

The Improving The Odds report includes five recommendations:

• establishment of a whole-of-government Child Wellbeing Strategy for WA
• developing and implementing a Child Impact Assessment tool for legislation and government policies
• develop, implement and resource a model of independent oversight of services proving support to children and young people
• enable Aboriginal-led solutions
• investigate and resource models to build community capacity to support children and young people’s wellbeing.

Mr Pettit said government and non-government organisations needed to reassess whether policies and services were reaching the children in most need, at the right time and making meaningful changes in their life.

“A Child Wellbeing Strategy would allow government to set meaningful targets and long-term investment, while a child impact assessment tool would require the rights and wellbeing needs of our children and young people to be considered in legislative and policy decision making.

“What I found encouraging throughout the Vulnerability Speaker Series was the strong interest from government and non-government leaders to hearing the views of children and young people and a commitment to working towards reducing vulnerability.

“My role is to advocate on behalf of all WA children and young people, and I will be monitoring and reporting annually on efforts to reduce the number of children experiencing vulnerability.”

Rio Tinto was Principal Partner of the Vulnerability Speaker Series in recognition of the importance of supporting vulnerable children and young people to reach their full potential.