I’m Anne Hollonds, the National Children’s Commissioner.
My job is to protect the rights of all children and young people in Australia and to make sure they get the help they need to be safe and well.
In 2022, I asked children and their parents/guardians and grandparents across Australia what living through the COVID-19 pandemic felt like for them through an online survey. 4,559 children aged 9-17 and 2,796 parents/guardians and grandparents shared their experiences.
I shared all these survey answers in a report. In particular, the survey told me lots of different experiences about how children and their families felt about their mental health, learning at home, what it was like accessing services and supports for their mental health. Children also told me what they thought about the future, what they were worried about, and what they were hopeful for.
Something that came up often in many children’s answers to the survey was that they missed their friends and family due to lockdowns and social isolation over the past two years. Missing school, sports and doing recreational activities was a main concern, particular as they couldn’t see their friends and communities.
From what the survey told me, I made a list of recommendations for the National Mental Health Commission to help ensure that children and their families are supported in the future and to try lessen the negative impacts of the pandemic moving forward.
This has been an important project to ensure that children’s voices and experiences are heard and listened to on key issues and events that impact their lives. When children are listened to, they are protected and safe.