National Children’s Commissioner Must Be Resourced to Monitor Outcomes for Children

Sydney, 29 April 2011. A coalition of Australia’s leading children and youth focused organisations welcomes the Australian Government’s announcement of the establishment of a National Children’s Commissioner.

The Government has announced that the Commissioner will sit within the Australian Human Rights Commission and is a key action under the Government’s National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020.

The coalition cautiously welcomes the announcement as an important further step in establishing more robust accountability in Government policy and practice for children.  The Australian Youth Affairs Coalition (AYAC), Save the Children and UNICEF provide services to and advocate for some of the most disadvantaged children and young people in Australia.

Having witnessed the impact of poor policy and planning for children, NGOs have long advocated the need for greater accountability of government.

James McDougall, Director of Advocacy for Save the Children said, “The need for national policy for children that focuses on delivering measurable outcomes is at least 20 years overdue. This is an important further step in delivering greater accountability and driving efforts to establish a level playing field for Australia’s most disadvantaged children” said James McDougall the Director of Advocacy at Save the Children.

However concerns were expressed about the level of resources to be provided for the role.

Andrew Cummings, Executive Director of the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition said “a National Commissioner for Children and Young People can bring attention to issues of neglect, abuse and discrimination but only if given the resources to effectively monitor the varied environments and circumstances that children find themselves in. There are too many instances where lack of a coordinated response by governments and their departments allow children and young people to suffer. Youth homelessness and the health and education of indigenous young people are two obvious examples. A Commissioner must have the resources and support of governments to monitor and review these and other complex areas.”

The children’s coalition also called for wider support for children from the political process.

Dr Norman Gillespie, Chief Executive from UNICEF Australia emphasised “We need bipartisan support for the role to ensure that the outcomes for children are effective. The Commissioner must have guaranteed independence from Government and distance from the political process. We don’t want children’s futures to be used for political points scoring. We call on all politicians to support a properly resourced Commission.”

These three organisations have been working with a wider group of over 40 NGOs to ensure that the Government is adequately briefed on the needs and features of the required role.

The NGO position paper used to brief Government is available at: http://www.ayac.org.au/uploads/A%20National%20Commissioner%20for%20Australia_s%20Children%20-%20paper.pdf

To download full media release – click here (PDF – 2mb) or here (word – 2mb)

 

For further comment, please contact:

Andrew Cummings, AYAC Executive Director

(m) 0435 146 979 (e) Andrew@ayac.org.au

Ian Woolverton, Save the Children Head of Media

(m) 0408 001 167 (e) ian.woolverton@savethechildren.org.au

James McDougall, Save the Children Director of Advocacy

(m) 0419 243 179 (e) james.mcdougall@savethechildren.org.au

Tim O’Connor, UNICEF Director Advocacy and Communications:

(p) (02) 8917 3247      (m) 0435 206 273     (e) toconnor@unicef.org.au

 

Other groups that have been involved have included:

Judith Tokley, UnitingCare Australia, Director of Public Affairs

(m) 0408 824 306

Lance Emerson, ARACY CEO

(p) 02 6248 2400 (e) tiffany.bonasera@aracy.org.au