CCYP Position Briefs

There are a number of key issues impacting children and young people in South Australia that the Commissioner  feels strongly about, and to which she is committed to working with key influencers and decision-makers to bring about change.  Below you will find brief position papers on these key issues, including what the Commissioner believes needs to be done to achieve change at the systemic level.

Harmful Sexual Behaviours in Children

The Commissioner for Children and Young People believes the South Australian government must invest resources into primary, secondary, and tertiary interventions that ensure timely and appropriate responses to children who are displaying or engaging in harmful sexual behaviours (HSB) toward themselves or others.

Bail Conditions for Children

The Commissioner is calling for continued and focused effort on reducing the number of children being incarcerated in South Australia’s youth detention centres in line with the fundamental principles of child justice. For this to become a reality we need to make changes to state laws, policies and workforce practices and programs, that ensure all South Australian children who are arrested and accused of unlawful behaviour, and who are awaiting trial and sentencing, experience restorative justice that aims to divert them away from the youth justice system rather than draw them toward it.

Raising the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility

The minimum age of criminal responsibility in South Australia is currently 10 years of age. The Commissioner for Children and Young People believes this is too low and should be raised to the internationally acceptable age of 14 years. The current age does not align with our understanding of childhood development and how best to support inclusion and healthy development of a child’s complex needs.

Religious Discrimination Bill 2019

The Commissioner for Children and Young People believes that the draft Religious Discrimination Bill 2019 goes against what children and young people have told the Commissioner they want from today’s society and institutions. They have said that what they want most is to feel safe, included, accepted and respected as valued members of society. The negative outcomes that could result from the passing of such a bill could have direct adverse effects on children, especially their mental health, wellbeing, and feeling of safety and security within the community. It is also likely to lower their levels of trust in community leaders and organisations, schools and institutions, and their own government.

Mandatory Treatment Orders

The Commissioner for Children and Young People believes that applying Mandatory Treatment Orders to children and young people violates their fundamental human rights. It also risks causing lifelong harm without actually addressing the causes of drug dependency, or building sustainable solutions that have been tailored to meet the individual needs of children and young people in our community who have become drug dependent.

Drug Education in Schools

The Commissioner for Children and Young People believes that any anti-drug program introduced into a South Australian school should first be able to demonstrate that it is safe and effective. It should be part of an approach to drug education that includes appropriate and inclusive policies and practices that support and encourage students to engage in positive, healthy behaviours.