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More than babies and bodies, young people want 21st Century sex education

Commissioner Helen Connolly, has today released Sex Education in South Australia – a report on the relevance of the sex education being taught to children and young people across the State. The report examines whether the relationships and sexual health education currently being delivered to students in South Australia’s public and independent schools is fit for purpose from the viewpoint of young people themselves.  The report draws on 1200 responses from young people aged 12 to 22 years, to a survey  asking their opinions on the quality, appropriateness, accessibility, and timeliness of the relationships and sex education they receive at school. 

It is clear from their responses that South Australian young people want much more than puberty, anatomy, and a how to prevent pregnancy and disease approach to sex education in the 21st century. They’re seeking content that is more comprehensive and responsive to the current realities, pressures, and complexities of their day to day lives, which vary significantly from those of earlier generations.  

To read the full media release click here
To find out what they said download the full report click here

Commissioner launches yChange to re-engage SA young people with their citizenship

Commissioner for Children and Young People, Helen Connolly, and the Parliament of South Australia launched yChange at Parliament House today.  yChange is South Australia’s first curriculum aligned, project based, action civics resource for primary and secondary educators.

The launch of yChange coincides with this year’s National Youth Week, resonating with the theme ‘Our Voice – Our Future’ which encapsulates one of the key reasons the Commissioner developed yChange; to provide children and young people with opportunities to have a voice, choice, influence and agency.

Designed to empower South Australia’s young people with the attitudes, skills and knowledge they need to become active, responsible citizens, yChange delivers a different way to teach civics and citizenship by taking an action civics approach to lessons and learning. 

Download the full release here
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Action on menstruation matters much more than we think says Commissioner

Commissioner  Connolly has today released Menstruation Matters – an in-depth exploration of the impact menstruation has on South Australian school aged children and young people who have periods. As one of the first reports to explore the issue in depth it makes the argument that because of the wide-ranging impact menstruation has on children and young people, the onus is on all sectors of society – government, education, business, health, and community – to recognise menstrual wellbeing and dignity as a systemic issue that is fundamental to children’s rights, central to economic productivity, and crucial to achieving gender equity across the State. Children and young people have told the Commissioner they want the social, economic, cultural and environmental barriers relating to menstruation to stop impacting negatively on their lives while in school and across society more broadly. They have made it clear that improved health outcomes require better menstruation education, universal access to period products and adequate provision of facilities that enable them to manage their periods more easily. By addressing these needs the stigma and taboo that surrounds menstruation will decline.

Download a copy of the Menstruation Matters report here
Download the full Media Release here


‘Cover Books in Nutella’ and other creative ways to encourage children to read

Commissioner Helen Connolly has today launched her latest report with a title that comes direct from a child’s imagination. Cover Books in Nutella was one of many fun ideas children contributed by children on ways to encourage them to read more books. The launch of the report coincides with the start of this year’s Adelaide Writers’ Week, marking twelve months since the Commissioner presented her Children’s Stories event in partnership with the Australian Children’s Laureate Foundation and Children’s University Adelaide (CUA). Under the guidance of Ursula Dubosarsky, Australia’s Children’s Laureate for 2020-2021, and SA children’s author and illustrator, Andrew Joyner, approximately 100 children aged 8 – 10 years assembled in the Mortlock Chamber of the State Library to participate in the Commissioner’s Children’s Stories event. The aim of the event was to build their confidence in expressing their own ideas by learning how to tap into their imagination and creativity. By participating in activities that enabled them to experience the benefits of reading, writing and storytelling the children were able to gain an understanding of the many benefits that literacy brings to their lives.

Download the full media release here
Read about the Commissioner’s Children’s Stories event here
View the summary video that includes comments from children participants here

Commissioner’s Systems Thinking Challenge a World First

Commissioner Helen Connolly has today launched Zoom Out – a systems thinking challenge believed to be the first of its kind anywhere in the world. Designed to equip young South Australians with the skills they’ll need to be successful 21st Century Citizens, Zoom Out is offered throughout schools in South Australia and is aligned with the Australian Digital Technology Curriculum. Working closely with the not-for-profit Grok Academy (the joined up Australian Computing Academy and Grok Learning), Zoom Out takes children and young people through a series of interactive activities that explain in simple terms what systems thinking is all about; an introduction to adopting a big picture mindset to help solve some of the world’s most vexing problems.

Read the full media release here
Take the Challenge now! Go to ‘Zoom Out’ here

Let’s stand with SA young people says Commissioner

South Australia’s Commissioner for Children and Young People has chosen International Human Solidarity Day (20 December, 2020) to launch a new set of resources that highlight the views of young people. Commissioner Connolly is calling on SA adults to stand in solidarity with young people in their efforts to create a better world.

Standing in solidarity with one another was identified in the United Nations’ Millennium Declaration as one of the fundamental values of international relations in the 21st Century, that ‘those who suffer most or benefit least deserve help from those who benefit most’.

Read the full media release here

Commissioner reports steady progress on SA child rights but no time for complacency

Commissioner Helen Connolly has today released a series of Progress Reports on South Australia’s progress on child rights. Launched to coincide with International Human Rights Day (10 December), the Progress Reports cover six separate child rights issues highlighted by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child as areas of concern. They include child health, education, physical punishment, disability, child justice and child protection. The progress reports prepared by the Commissioner indicate there is still considerable work to be done in South Australia in the areas of child justice, child protection and health. Overall some evidence of progress can be seen across all six areas highlighted.  Every five years, the Australian Government must meet its international obligation to report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) explaining how Australia is faring in relation to child’s rights. 

Download the full media release here
Download the suite of progress reports here

Commissioner to speak at international conference on menstrual dignity amongst a push for FREE sanitary products in schools

Commissioner for Children and Young People, Helen Connolly, has been calling upon women leaders in South Australia’s Parliament to get in step with their female counterparts at the state, national and international level, and work together to make free sanitary products available in schools, colleges and universities throughout the State a reality.

This Thursday 10 December (tomorrow), she will state her case at the virtual ‘International Workshop on Dignified Menstruation’ streaming via the Internet and being hosted by Nepal, from Kathmandu. Organised by the Global South Coalition, Commissioner Connolly is one of 26 guest speakers invited to present at the workshop style conference. As a guest panellist she will join two members of the Nepalese Parliament to discuss ‘whether menstrual dignity is of any political interest’, including what policy levers she recommends be used to destigmatise menstruation and encourage South Australia to join the growing global Dignified Menstruation (DM) movement.

For more information about the Commissioner’s End Period Poverty, Period. campaign and petition go to:
For more information about the work of the South Australian Commissioner for Children and Young People go to:

More than 8,400 SA ‘Tweens’ share what matters to them most

The Blame Game is the latest report released by Commissioner Helen Connolly examining the findings from her School Exclusions project in which 400 South Australian children and young people and their families, shared their views on the impact of education exclusion. The report examines the perspectives of these children and their families and found that they differ significantly from those of teachers and schools with students often perceiving exclusion, including suspensions, expulsions and being excluded from a classroom, as a form of punishment for situations that are often exacerbated by factors that are beyond their own control. 

Read the full media release here.
Download the report


Commissioner Opens Space to Dream ‘Design Thinking’ Challenge Exhibition at MOD

Commissioner for Children and Young People, Helen Connolly, today announced the opening of an exhibition at MOD. showcasing the top-rated entries for her inaugural Space to Dream ‘Design Thinking’ Challenge in which she challenged South Australian children and young people to use design thinking to create a toy or gadget for someone their age who is ‘moving to Mars’.

The challenge was devised to inspire the next generation of space entrepreneurs and innovators – it also speaks to teachers, parents and the broader SA community about the possibilities the space industry offers SA children and young people in careers of the future.

Space to Dream helps young South Australians draw a direct link between the Australian Space Agency, now based at Lot Fourteen in Adelaide, and their potential to be part of the industry it steers. Potential that offers them career opportunities encompassing innovation, design, and technology, to name just a few of the areas in which ‘dream jobs’ are likely to be created within the space industry of the future. 

A total of 36 Space to Dream 3D models and drawn designs will be on display at MOD from now until Saturday 28 November

Read the full media release here 

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