AHRC report highlights the importance of children and families to Government choices
As Australia approaches the next Federal Election, to be held 21 May, a new report from the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has highlighted how important it is for governments to listen to children and families when making decisions about services and government policies that affect them.
The Keeping kids safe and well – your voices report, led by National Children’s Commissioner Anne Hollonds, follows a request from the Australian Government Department of Social Services to find out what children and their families think would help keep children safe.
Support with basic needs such as food, clothing and school supplies, safe and accessible housing and help with mental health were the top three things that children, young people and families said they needed to feel safe.
“Many children and families said it can be hard to find the help they need and sometimes the right help isn’t there for them. They emphasised the value of more coordinated ‘wraparound’ services and service providers whom they can trust,” Commissioner Hollonds said.
She commended the Government for taking the important step of listening to children and families, urging the incoming Government to take further action on the issues raised in the report.
“Better coordination across service systems aiming to help children and their families should be a priority for all governments,” she continued.
“Children and their families need to be at the centre of policy and services designed to assist them.”
The findings of the report will inform the first five-year Action Plans under Safe and Supported: The National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2021–2031 (Safe and Supported) and will help to ensure the collaborative approach of Safe and Supported will drive change and deliver evidence based policy to improve outcomes for children and young people in Australia.
Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston welcomed the release of the report and said listening and responding to the voices and views of children and young people was one of the key principles underpinning Safe and Supported and the only way to achieve real and lasting change in the lives of Australian children and young people.
“I was pleased that the Commissioner’s report highlighted the importance of ensuring that early and targeted support services for children, young people and their families were trauma-informed, locally led, culturally-appropriate, and co-designed,” Ms Ruston said.
A total of 45 group consultations were held with 400 children and families across the country between May and July 2021. A total of 426 survey responses were also received from a diverse group of children and their families.
Some key points of feedback from children and young people include:
“We don’t have a voice. People think they know what we want but they don’t know.”
“Every kid should be looked after well – it should not be a matter of luck whether they get someone that cares for them. Most people who go through the care system have had nothing but negatives.”
Parents and carers also shared valuable insights such as:
“I didn’t get any help until I had a breakdown. But I don’t want it to constantly get to that stage before I am able to get help. It’s really frustrating that you have to get to breaking point before you can get help. We need a more proactive approach.”
“Invest in proven services such as early intervention services. Put far more investment into drug and alcohol and mental health services so that people can access services freely and quickly.”
Two versions of the report are available – the full report, and a condensed child friendly version. Both versions may be accessed here.
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