Tasmanian commissioner releases framework to protect children’s rights, wellbeing
Tasmania’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, Leanne McLean, released a framework earlier this week, outlining the focus of her work to monitor, advocate for and protect the rights and wellbeing of Tasmanian children and young people throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The impact of the pandemic, she said, “has caused significant change to the lives of our children and young people – and will continue to do so for some time.”
While emergency responses to the pandemic have been “swift, well-executed and adopted by most Tasmanians” she added, some children are struggling with feelings of isolation, missing their normal social connections and activities.
Other children are living in families affected by job losses, or are spending more time in households where family violence, drugs or alcohol dominate. Tragically, Ms McLean continued, lockdowns can also present opportunities for child abusers to harm children.
While leaders, health officials and essential workers are doing “a terrific job”, COVID-19 has made life more stressful and more unsafe for some Tasmanian children and young people, the Commissioner said.
Changes to education and care delivery models mean that children no longer have access to their usual support to seek guidance and assistance with incidents or concerns, she added.
“Support and intervention services including child safety services have also had to change their approach, minimising face-to-face activities to essential situations only. These changes all have the potential to compromise the wellbeing of children. Now, more than ever, we must work together to care for children and young people in Tasmania.”
Focus must remain particularly on those children who are vulnerable or disadvantaged no matter what the reason and therefore already at risk of being marginalised, with the Commissioner noting that children often need more than just financial support.
“They need a safe place to go, a trusted adult to talk to and access to a range of therapeutic supports to help them manage and improve their wellbeing, both now and into the future.”
While significant investments into family violence support services, mental health services and child safety services have been announced at federal and state levels – all of which are very welcome, the way in which this money is put to use, and how responses are designed and implemented, as well as how the impact on the lives of vulnerable or disadvantaged children and young people is tracked will be the real measure of success, Ms McLean said, outlining the aim of her monitoring and advocacy program.
In her role as Commissioner, Ms McLean remains “firmly committed” to monitoring Tasmania’s response to the pandemic and advocating for the rights and wellbeing of all children and young people in the State.
Monitoring, advocacy and support measures from the Commissioner will include:
- actively engaging with and listening to any concerns raised by children and young people, service providers, advocacy organisations, family and carers and other community members about the provision of services and supports
- bringing stakeholders together so we can learn from each other and engage in shared advocacy on issues of concern, thereby reducing fragmentation of effort
- monitoring data and other information relevant to the impact of the pandemic through specific data requests of government agencies, service providers, advocacy organisations and other key stakeholders
- advocating for improved responses to the pandemic by providing advice to key government and non-government decision-makers about issues affecting the rights and wellbeing of Tasmanian children and young people in the context of the pandemic.
“We must remember: investing in the wellbeing of our children and young people not only upholds their rights, but also provides the foundation for prosperity for all Tasmanians, irrespective of age” Ms McLean said in closing.
The CCYP Framework for Monitoring and Advocacy during COVID-19 can be viewed here.