South Australia’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, Helen Connolly, has launched her report Best Interests – Listening to children and young people’s experiences within the child protection system. The report highlights the importance of children’s interests, their connection with family, and their engagement in education. Most of all, it calls on child protection systems to see children as experts in their own lives who must be central to decisions made about them.

The report is made up of information and quotes gathered directly from 88 children and young people aged between 4 and 25 who had varied experiences across a variety of care settings in South Australia. In addition to this, a further 40 responses from children and young people living in foster, kinship, or residential care were received by the Commissioner via specially-designed postcards asking about participants’ wishes, securities, worries and what they’d change to make their lives better.

The report states that many children spoke of feelings of powerlessness and a lack of understanding about their current and future circumstances.

As a result of the responses from children and young people, the Commissioner has made a series of recommendations including the child protection system recognise the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child ‘best interests’ principle as the primary consideration when making decisions regarding children and young people in care.

“If we are to start decreasing the numbers of children in out of home care in South Australia, we must change the system we have been using. It’s not working for children or their families. The data and the feedback from children and young people is clear on this.”
Commissioner Helen Connolly.

Download the PDF of the report here.