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 conventions on the rights of the child. The broader South Australian community is committed to doing this in line with other Australian states while 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.
Since commencing in the inaugural role in May 2017, the main focus of the Commissioner’s work 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, working with them wherever possible on co-designing solutions.
This direct input is achieved through face-to-face and online consultation involving the use of engagement tools that include discussions, surveys, polling, focus groups, activities, play, and events designed to encourage and support their participation. No personal identifying information is collected by the Commissioner or members of 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 summarised in the Commissioner’s Project Reports, Guides and Fact Sheets, Position Briefs and Submissions, which are distributed to influencers, stakeholders, policy and decision makers at the community and government levels.
The Commissioner has also developed a suite of educational initiatives (Commissioner’s Digital Challenge, yChange Civics in Action and Student Voice Postcards. These initiatives are designed to support South Australian children and young people to learn more about digital skills, citizenship and student voice. They are offered free to all schools throughout South Australia, and can be accessed by parents and carers, guardians and community organisations via the Internet at home or through your local library.
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 support young carers need to stay engaged with their education to what would make the youth justice system better for those SA young people who come into direct 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 section.
There is no doubt that the world our children and young people are living in is far more complex than the one we grew up in. Parents and guardians have a crucial role to play in supporting children and young people to navigate it. Listening to what children and young people have to say about their lives, and believing what they tell us sends the strong message that we believe they are the experts in their own lives.
It is simply not enough to assume we know everything about what it’s like to be a child or young person today. We cannot hope to provide the kind of support that is needed if we do not provide the conditions in which children and young people are willing to share their detail of their issues and concerns with us. This means actively working to ensure our relationships with them are grounded in trust.
“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.