Farewell and Thanks to Cathy Taylor

Image: Shona Reid
Written by Shona Reid
Working in child safety and wellbeing is one of the most rewarding, and simultaneously challenging, sectors within government and the broader community. It is so important for us to put child protection work in South Australia, and indeed across this nation, into perspective.  At its heart it is a human (and humane) task, and we must remain vigilant to keep it this way.

As professionals and volunteers – but also as parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles and siblings – we see the challenges children confront as they seek to navigate the everyday, learn to cope with their developing thoughts and attitudes, and grapple with peer and authority relationships.

In my role as the Guardian for Children and Young People, I see a sector responding to children and young people who often have experienced trauma, who might live with disabilities, who may not have the support they need to grow into the teenagers and adults they would like to be some day. We often find ourselves working here because we want to ‘make a difference’, to be that person who ‘was there no matter what’, to connect and create change for children when we know not everything has gone right for them in the past. It takes a special type of talent and resilience to do this, and it also takes courage to assume a leadership position within this sector.

So, it is important to acknowledge and say thank you for the contribution of outgoing child protection CEO, Cathy Taylor. I have worked with Cathy through my role as the Guardian, advocating for the rights and promoting the best interests of children in care. I have appreciated our frank, honest and direct relationship; especially during the ‘hard talks’, when my office and I advocate for individual children and young people in ways that may push against the status quo of well‑established systems.

Challenging ideas and topics often needed to be navigated – especially when bringing the voices of children and young people to the DCP Executive table, and when blockages to change are frustrating to all. I have truly appreciated the willingness and meaningful engagement I have experienced with Cathy, and pay tribute to her constant professionalism.

As Guardian for Children and Young People, I thank Cathy Taylor for her service and have appreciated the opportunities to robustly explore ways to achieve systemic and individual changes for children and young people under her stewardship. All the best for your next role.

Following today’s announcement, I look forward to maintaining this healthy and robust relationship with Erma Ranieri in her capacity as acting  CEO, and with the new permanent CEO, once appointed.

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