As always, it’s been a busy Child Protection Week for the Guardian and her staff – between meeting with the Australian and New Zealand Children’s Commissioners and Guardians network, learning and sharing at the SNAICC 10th annual conference ‘Voices at the Top’, keeping the phone lines running and getting advocates out to visit and talk to children and young people.
In all of these activities, we’ve kept the essence of Child Protection Week front and centre in our minds. This week is all about bringing together children, young people, families, communities and government to celebrate what’s working, to have hard conversation about what’s not, and to work together on how to make things better.
The key message of Child Protection Week – that “every child in every community needs a fair go” – reminds us that the time for action and collaboration is every day, from all of us. Because every person, in every community, is responsible for protecting children and helping to achieve equality. This year’s theme of “where we start matters” calls for us to be led by a shared goal to give children and young people the very best opportunities to grow, play and dream – right from the start.
This is a message for adults, and it means we need to work together to make sure as many children and young people as possible are growing up happy and healthy, so that they don’t need government child protection services.
We hear this message, and we commit to that responsibility. At the Guardian’s office, we also believe that it’s just as important to talk in a real way with children and young people about what it’s like to have lived through (or still be going through) a tough start to life.
“For me, this week is a chance to shine a light on the children and young people living in care in South Australia, who bravely share their experiences and voice with me”, said Guardian for Children and Young People, Shona Reid.
“I know that many children and young people in care have been through hard stuff, and talking about a ‘fair go’ might seem strange, or might even be something that brings up sadness or anger. Those are real and valid feelings, and we need to allow space for that.”
“I also think it’s really important to talk about stories of excellence, achievements and strength for children in care. We know a lot must have happened in children’s lives for them to be in care. But we must let them know that being in care doesn’t mean that they should expect or accept any less for their lives and from the adults around them. They deserve the best very best from and of us.”
With Shona’s words ringing in our ears, we put together a special message for children and young people in care, about what it means to get a ‘fair go’ when things don’t feel very fair at all:
1. You have rights: The Charter of Rights for Children and Young People in Care belongs to you. No matter who you are, what you do or where you are from, these rights cannot be taken away from you.
2. You can succeed: If you ever doubt that, take a look at all the amazing things that young people with care experiences achieve every day! Like Shantae Barnes-Cowan, Brooke Oliver, Butch Ricciardi and Jessica Tressider – all young people with care experiences – who are kicking goals and were nominated for awards in the SA Child Protection awards! And, of course, a very special mention to Shantae, for winning the ‘Outstanding achievement of a child or young person’ award this afternoon.
They can, and you can.
3. There are people who believe in you and can help you: We understand things can happen which mean it’s hard to trust people and adults, and believe in fairness. But you are special, and you are important. You deserve to be safe and loved, do things that are fun and exciting, and be supported with opportunities for your future.
It is our job to help you if you don’t feel that way.
As National Child Protection Week comes to a close, we would like to express our admiration and respect for the important and inspirational work, love and play that people from all walks of life give to children and young people in care in South Australia, both personally and professionally – from other children as peers, to youth advocates and leaders, families and carers, and workers across the sector. It takes all of us to build a community of care.
P.s. … We’re hiring! Applications are currently open for a Business Manager/Executive Assistant. For more information and to apply, go to the IWorkForSA website at: ASO5 Business Manager/Executive Assistant, OGCYP. Applications close: 20/09/2023 at 11:30pm.