National Children’s Commissioner

A second Roundtable on the National Commissioner for Children and Young People was convened by AYAC, Families Australia, Save the Children and Unicef in early March to continue to strengthen positions, mitigate risks and renew a collaborative campaign effort. The resulting strategy is supported by a number of high profile organisations in the sector, including AYAC.

Since June last year, there has been a significant shift in opinion and opportunity in relation to the establishment of a National Commissioner for Children and Young people, as is Australia’s obligation under the Convention of the Rights of the Child. Following on from a Roundtable held September last year, a window of opportunity was identified, founded on growing support in government, 2012-2013 budget preparations, and as Australia prepares for its review and report back under the sixtieth session of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

It is crucial that a National Commissioner is established now, and provided for in the 2013-2013budget. Young people aged 12-24 comprise of just under 20% of Australia’s total population. Almosthalf (49%) of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population are under 20 years of age and a further 16% were aged between 20 and 30 years.  For such a large constituent, far too many of these children and young people are slipping through the gaps of inconsistent and disingenuous national policies, without a Commissioner at a federal level to focus leadership and provide coherent advice across government.

A National Commissioner for Children and Young People would be independent, proactive and equipped with broad powers to examine issues that fall within his or her mandate. A National Commissionerwould be effective, with adequate resources and scope to provide an independent voice for children and young people. The views of all young people would bereflected in all aspects of the commissioner’s work.

The wellbeing of Australian children and young people is undermined by the lack of a national agenda developed in consultation with young people – one that prioritises young people’s rights and responsibilities across the country. A National Commissioner is necessary to ensure the rights of children and young people are upheld and taken as a priority.