Through her work as South Australia’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, Helen Connolly is driving home the message that listening to children and young people should be our priority. Helen firmly believes that, where possible, we should work with children and young people to co-design solutions that take into account their opinions, ideas and lived experience. Below are opionion editorials written by Helen and published by mainstream media and shared on socials.
We tell children they are important, and that they are the future, yet our actions reflect the opposite
As we move into 2022 it’s safe to say that 2021 was another year of upheaval and change. The impact of Covid-19 continued, albeit not as restrictively as in the previous year.
When it comes to the future of the planet, children really are the proverbial ‘canaries in the coal mine’. They provide us with advance warning that all is not well with the world, yet unlike actual canaries, they offer us solutions, that if implemented, would return a positive real-life outcome for them.
Children and young people born since the year 2000 have lived through a period of significant social and technological transformation. This period of rapid change has disrupted the social status quo and challenged previously held understandings and constructs.
As our country’s highest institutions grapple with sexual and gender inequality, our media landscape and public are united in their demand for ‘better education of our boys’ early on. There are myriad long-standing social barriers relating to gender equality with poor sexual education now at the front line.
The impact of COVID-19 on Australia’s labour market is starting to sink in. It is fast becoming the next big challenge for government, business and community. Getting people back to work quickly and safely will soon be the new urgency — not so much on avoiding the virus itself.
One of the characteristics of this century has been the creation of more defined stages of life, each with its own distinct features and cultural tropes. Examples include tweens, teens, over 18 year olds attending secondary school, or adult kids living in share house arrangements with parents.
Playground equipment is no longer safe, organised sport is out, movies are closed and fast food outlets are reduced to drive throughs. There will be less tolerance of children being outdoor and in public places on their own. Plus parents are likely to feel increased concern and guilt about allowing their children too much screen time.
Many of the children and young people living in the 2015 bushfire affected communities of Pinery and Sampson Flat, and more recently affected communities of Cudlee Creek, Port Lincoln, Yorktown, and Kangaroo Island, have been part of a wide ranging series of conversations I have had about their future hopes and dreams, sense of connection, and trust in institutions and services.