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Keeping kids safe and well: National Children's Commissioner consulting with children, young people and their families

Children's Children's Rights
Three children in a classroom, a teacher visible in the background.

The National Children’s Commissioner, in collaboration with the Department of Social Services, has been consulting with children, young people, and families on how to keep children safe and healthy in their homes and in their communities.

Keeping kids safe and well - your voices is a national consultation project which will inform the first five-year implementation plan to the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children (2009-2020) successor plan, currently being developed by all Australian governments.

The consultation has a focus on what helps to keep children safe and well in their homes and in their communities, and what policy and service systems need to change.

The priority groups for consultation include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, young people and families; children, young people, and families with multiple and complex needs; children who are experiencing or have experienced abuse and/or neglect, including those in out-of-home care, and young people leaving out-of-home care and transitioning to adulthood; and children and young people with disability and/or who have parents or carers with disability.

National Children’s Commissioner Anne Hollonds said children and young people had valuable insights to inform policy development, and they had a right to have their views heard.

“We really need to listen to children and young people about what helps them to be safe and well, as well as what makes it hard for kids and their families to get the help they need,” said Commissioner Hollonds.

“Policy and service system design that is regularly informed by the people they are meant to help has a better chance of success. Not including the lived expertise of children, young people and their families is a missed opportunity”.

Between 10-14 May 2021, the National Children’s Commissioner and her team held seven pilot consultations with 59 participants in Sydney to test the planned content and methodology for the national consultations, and to ensure that the experience of children, young people and families was safe and meaningful.

Using the feedback from the pilot consultations, the National Children’s Commissioner and her team have conducted 43 consultations with more than 400 children, young people, and families across Australia.

Current COVID-19 lockdowns and border restrictions have resulted in moving in-person consultations in Queensland, Western Australia, and Victoria to online platforms.

Following the consultation process, the National Children’s Commissioner will collate all the views and ideas into a report, to be presented to the Department of Social Services. Children, young people, and families who take part in the consultations will receive feedback on how their ideas and views have been incorporated into the first five-year implementation plan.

The Department of Social Services has also called for written submissions from families, children, young people, foster and kinship carers, government and non-government organisations and individuals with a particular interest in child protection, child safety and child wellbeing, to help it to develop the first five-year implementation plan.