The ACT Children and Young People’s Commitment 2015-2025
The ACT Children and Young People’s Commitment 2015-2025 identifies six priority areas. The areas for action under each key priority provide guidance to the Canberra community on how we can best support children and young people to reach their potential and how we can work together to promote and protect their rights.
All children and young people (0-25 years) across the ACT will have the opportunity to reach their potential, make a contribution, participate in decision making and share the benefits of our community.
The focus of The ACT Children and Young People’s Commitment 2015-2025 (the Commitment) is children and young people aged 0 to 25 years residing in the ACT.
The purpose of the Commitment is to set a vision for a whole-of-government and whole-of-community approach to promote the rights of children and young people.
The Commitment has been informed by an analysis of evidence and designed following community engagement. It has been developed in consultation with children, young people, community agencies and the ACT Government.
The Commitment acknowledges the broad range of developmental stages within this age cohort. These include infancy, early childhood, middle years, adolescence and young adulthood. While there are significant differences between the transitional stages, the Commitment supports that the underlying principles are fundamental to 0-25 year olds.
In addition, the Commitment values andrespects the broad range of abilities and cultural differences that exist within our community. It promotes the values of social inclusion and equality and respects the significant contribution that all children and young people bring to our society.
The ACT Government is committed to ensuring the fundamental civil and political rights of all children and young people in the ACT are promoted and protected. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination.
The ACT Human Rights Act 2004 (the Act) provides a framework for developing a ‘human rights culture’ in everyday life in the ACT.
The Act ensures that everyone in the ACT is given equal respect, recognition and protection by the law, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, political or other opinion, language, disability, sexual orientation or any other status. The Act also includes principles drawn from the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), such as the right to life, protection of families and children, freedom of opinion and expression, and freedom of religion, thought and conscience, among many others (www.ohchr.org).
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN CRC) also sets out the basic rights of children and the obligations of governments to fulfil those rights (www.unicef.org/crc).
The principles contained in the Commitment are aligned with the ACT Human Rights Act 2004 and a range of international human rights treaties, including the UN CRC and the ICCPR. The following principles have been identified following consultations with children and young people, as well as giving regard to human rights treaties:
- Children and young people should neither benefit nor suffer because of their culture, differing ability, ethnicity, birth status and gender, political or other opinion.
- Laws and actions affecting children and young people should put their best interests first and benefit them in the best possible way.
- Government and the community should work together to protect children and young people and support their full development.
- Children and young people have a right to have their say in decisions that affect them and to have their opinions valued and taken into account.
Provide access to quality healthcare, learning and employment opportunities
- Maximise access to affordable, culturally and developmentally appropriate health care for children and young people.
- Implement a world class ACT curriculum from preschool to year 12 in alignment with the Australian Curriculum.
- All government and community organisations to work together to promote a shared responsibility between agencies that work with children and young people to support transitions that lead to positive education, training
and/or employment opportunities.
- ACT Government will work collaboratively with the community to recognise and respond to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to build strong foundations and resilient families by promoting and implementing the key focus areas of the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Agreement 2015-2018.
- Promote self education and lifelong learning through world class public library services.
Implement policy that enables the conditions for children and young people to thrive
- ACT Government to continue to advocate to the Australian Government to address the factors that influence financial security of families to reduce poverty and its associated impacts.
- ACT Government will work to increase access to housing that is affordable, safe and secure for children, young people and their families as outlined in the ACT Affordable Housing Action Plan Phase 111.
- Invest in the development and implementation of an ACT Mental Health and Wellbeing Framework that guides and directs whole-of-government, whole-of-community actions to improve the mental health and wellbeing of all ACT residents.
- Prevent growth in the rates of overweight and obesity amongst ACT children and young people by focusing on the contributing factors to obesity and overweight through the implementation of the actions listed in the Towards Zero Growth—Healthy Weight Action Plan, 2013.
- Improve outcomes for families and contribute to system-wide reform of human service delivery through the Strengthening Families project.
Keep children and young people safe and protect them from harm
- Provide an accessible and integrated human service system that delivers improved and sustainable outcomes for children and young people as per the Human Services Blueprint—Better Services Initiative 2014.
- Continue to provide integrated programs across the community and government sectors that promote resilience and social and emotional wellbeing.
- Continue to provide access to a range of universal and targeted services that support the wellbeing of children, young people and their families.
- Advocate to the Australian Government to facilitate a long term approach that promotes the safety and wellbeing of children and delivers a substantial and sustained reduction in evels of child abuse and neglect over time through the application of the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020.
- The ACT Government through the ‘A Step Up for Our Kids’ Out of Home Care Strategy 2015-2020 will build a therapeutically oriented trauma-informed out of home care service system that focuses on strengthening high-risk families, creating a continuum of care, strengthening accountability and ensuring a high functioning care system.
- Address the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the justice system, including their over-representation in the youth justice system as per the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Justice Agreement 2014-2017.
- Ensure the key strategies from the Blueprint for Youth Justice in the ACT 2012-2022, including the promotion of protective factors and reduction of risk factors are realised by focussing on early intervention, prevention and diversion of young people from the youth justice system.
- Implement the Human Services Blueprint Better Services Initiative 2014 to reform the human services system in the ACT.
- Continue to deliver therapeutic support to children through Melaleuca Place ACT Trauma Recovery Centre.
- Continue to implement the ACT Prevention of Violence against Women and Children Strategy 2011–2017, and maintain focus on the prevention of domestic and family violence in the ACT.
- Review the Working with Vulnerable People Scheme to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
Advocate the importance of the rights of children and young people
- Develop and implement the Child Safe Child Friendly and Child Aware Coordinating Framework for ACT Health to ensure the active promotion of children and young people’s health, safety, rights, participation and wellbeing. This includes the promotion and application of the Charter on the Rights of Children and Young People in Healthcare Services, and the Standards for the Care of Children and Adolescents in Health Services across ACT Health services.
- Build strong and safe communities that promote, protect and create awareness of children and young people’s rights through a shared understanding across government, community and media.
- Ensure the rights and specific needs of children and young people with a disability continue to be recognised in mainstream policy frameworks, initiatives and responses across government and community including the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and the National Disability Strategy 2010–2020.
Build strong families and communities that are inclusive and support and nurture children and young people
- Promote safe inclusive community environments that allow children and young people to play, explore, grow and have experiences that promote positive development.
- Continue to build the capacity of families and communities to provide responsive and appropriate care that promotes children and young people’s optimum development through the provision of culturally inclusive universal human services across sectors and systems.
- Continue to implement programs in schools that support the development and wellbeing of students.
- Implement the Integrated Statutory Services project to redesign and combine activities in Child Protection and Youth Justice, resulting in removal of duplication and delays, and improve continuity of case management.
- Establish the One Human Services Gateway to enhance the way government and community providers deliver their services and provide better access for families.
- Continue to provide play spaces which are inclusive of the majority of children, encourage their physical, social and mental development and foster a healthy lifestyle as per the ACT Play Spaces Policy Position.
Include children and young people in decision making, especially in areas that affect them, ensuring they are informed and have a voice
- Establish appropriate consultation mechanisms for children and young people which are rolled out across government.
- Regularly consult with children and young people in varied and genuine ways about issues that affect them.
- Listen and actively engage with peak bodies that represent children, young people and their families.
- All future government projects and policy proposals will consider the guidelines and toolkit when consulting with children and young people as outlined in the publication, Engaging Canberran’s—A guide to community engagement 2011.
- ACT Health will build its organisational capacity to improve the patient experience for children and young people by increasing participation, engagement and health literacy, and by improving organisational consultations, feedback and advisory mechanisms. This will occur through the development and implementation of the Child Safe Child Friendly and Child Aware Coordinating Framework for ACT Health.