Anne Hollonds has commenced in her role as Australia’s new National Children’s Commissioner.
Commissioner Hollonds emphasised the need for greater recognition of the importance of childhood in Australia.
“Childhood is quite rightly described as critically important for people's social, health and economic outcomes, but the value of childhood is not only about the future adult that a child may become.
“Children must be respected for who they are in the ‘here and now’, which is why Australia needs a human rights framework that values childhood, respects children, and supports the wellbeing of children and their families,” Commissioner Hollonds said.
The National Children’s Commissioner is a statutory position responsible for protecting and promoting the rights of all children in Australia, as set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
With the COVID-19 global pandemic, children in Australia are living through unparalleled times. Some of the negative impacts on children and young people were highlighted in a report by the Australian Human Rights Commission and Kids Helpline in September.
“We know the pandemic has had major impacts on children, in terms of their mental health, social isolation and education. It has also exposed gaps in support services, and ongoing inequality and disadvantage,” Commissioner Hollonds said.
“It will be vital for governments to consider children in the road to recovery, because the impacts on children and their families are likely to be ongoing, and Australia’s children need an ongoing commitment to the protection of their rights.”
Commissioner Hollonds was previously the Director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies. She has more than 23 years’ experience as a Chief Executive Officer of government and non-government organisations focussed on policy, service delivery and research in health, education and social services, including the Benevolent Society and Relationships Australia NSW.
Commissioner Hollonds also has extensive front-line experience in children and family services, including in child protection, out-of-home care, domestic violence, child and family therapy, parenting education, and mental health.