With the Charter of Rights getting recognition in legislation at the end of last year and with its progressive inclusion in service contracts and practice guidelines, the Charter is operating in a changed world.
Since 2006, when the Charter was officially launched, the Office of the Guardian and the Charter of Rights Implementation Committee have worked in partnership with many agencies that serve young people in care to promote and implement the Charter. To date, 43 agencies have chosen to endorse the Charter, committing to recognise it in their policies and apply it in their day-to-day practice. These agencies provide a broad range of support to children in care such as alternative care, advocacy, cultural identity, disability, education and health services.
At its last meeting, the Charter Implementation Committee decided on a major shift of emphasis. Over time, the need to promote the Charter has reduced. Many young people, carers and workers are now very aware of it. While promotion will continue, the new focus will be on working with agencies to review and measure how well the Charter is being implemented and assess the benefits to young people.
In our statutory role of monitoring the wellbeing of children and young people in care, we already gather some information about the application of the Charter but this applies to a relatively small number of the endorsing agencies. As agencies increasingly need to identify and measure how the Charter affects the services they provide, there is a great opportunity for the Committee and the Guardian’s Office to work with them.
Understanding how the Charter can most benefit young people in care can only be done in cooperation with those who deliver the services and building this relationship is vital.
Anticipating this new relationship with agencies, the Implementation Committee and the Guardian’s Office has set out some principles to guide its work. We will:
- where possible, use already existing processes to gather information
- gather information from a variety of sources, including managers, workers and young people
- make information gathering simple and user friendly
- gather information consistently so that comparisons can be made over time.
We will be engaging with the agencies’ Charter Champions as planning gets under way over the next few months. In the meantime, if you have any questions or would like to discuss ways to use and promote the Charter within your agency, please email or call Lisa Firth on (08) 8226 8571.