Overview for Families

Advocating for SA children and young people in partnership with SA Parents, Carers and Guardians

The state government has put in place significant legislation and policy that ensures we are working together to meet our obligations under international covenants on the rights of the child. The broader South Australian community is committed to doing this in line with other Australian states allowing for our own particular conditions, standards and expectations. 

Partnering with parents, carers and guardians to make progress on improving the lives of children and young people is key to any progress on achieving “the vision of South Australia as a state where the conditions exist for all children and young people to thrive” as set out in the state’s Outcomes Framework for South Australian Children and Young People.

The main focus of the Commissioner’s work since commencing in the inaugural role in May 2017, has been to ensure that the voices of young South Australians can be heard. In practical terms this means the Commissioner actively seeks the opinions and direct input of South Australian children and young people on issues and concerns of relevance and interest to them.

This direct input is achieved through face-to-face and online consultation involving the use of engagement tools such as discussions, surveys, polling, focus groups, activities, play, and events that support their participation. No personal identifying information is collected by the Commissioner or her team. Details of the consultations are reported upon each year in the Commissioner’s Annual Report to Parliament tabled in the South Australian Parliament by the Minister for Education.  

Much of the Commissioner’s work involves facilitating children and young people living in metropolitan and regional centres to express what matters to them most. This includes sharing their ideas, suggestions and recommendations on how positive change can be achieved.

These contributions are is summarised in the Commissioner’s Project Reports, Guides and Fact Sheets, Position Briefs and Submissions, distributed to influencers, stakeholders, policy makers and decision makers at the community and government levels.  On the key focus areas of digital  the Commissioner has developed engagement tools and educational initiatives that are made available free to schools and can also be accessed by parents and guardians. 

The issues children and young people have raised with the Commissioner have encompassed everything from digital poverty to how to manage fines on public transport, from relationship and sex education to school exclusions, from what young carers need to what would make the youth justice system better for those who come into contact with it. See the full range of topics covered in the A-Z of CCYP Resources curated for Parents and Guardians under the Resources for Families.

There is no doubt that the world our children and young people are living in is far more complex and nuanced than the world in which  we grew up. The role of parents and guardians in supporting children and young people to navigate this rapidly changing world is more important than ever.  Listening to what children and young people have to say about their lives and believing what they tell us send the message that they matter and are important stakeholders who are the experts in their own lives.

It is simply not enough to assume we know everything about their lives. We cannot possibly hope to provide them with the right kind of support if we do not provide the conditions in which they are willing to share their issues and concerns with us. This means as parents and guardians who are key stakeholders in determining the quality of our children’s lives we must actively work on ensuring our relationships are grounded in trust first so that everything else we hope for will be much more likely to follow.

“As I’ve listened to what children and young people have to say about their lives, a recurring theme has been how important their parents and guardians are in shaping their ideas and views on the world. Although at times it may not seem as though our children and young people are listening to us, we can be sure they are. Although at times they may be testing the boundaries of their freedoms based on the age and stage of their development, they need us to be there to support them and provide the guidance they seek until they reach adulthood and let us know they’re okay.”
                    Helen Connolly, Commissioner for Children and Young People, South Australia.