Commission for Children and Young People: report 2012-13

Written on the 30 October 2013

Ms CROZIER (Southern Metropolitan) -- I am pleased to rise to speak this evening on the annual report 2012-13 of the Commission for Children and Young People.

I want to congratulate Mr Bernie Geary, the principal commissioner, firstly, on his appointment to this very important position, and secondly, on his first report. It is a very detailed report that goes to some of the initiatives the commissioner has set up and is working on. Mr Geary has said that the aim of the commission is to improve young lives. In his introduction he said:

I congratulate the Victorian government on being courageous and having the drive to create a commission that is truly independent and able to carry the voice of children to government, service providers and to the broader community.

At the last election the coalition made a commitment to ensure that we had an independent commission for young children, and I commend the Minister for Community Services, Mary Wooldridge, for her drive to see this election commitment through. The commission came into being in March of last year, so it has not been in operation for terribly long. It was operational in March this year. During that time all members of staff were appointed to this new body, and it was very busy undertaking a number of reviews and reporting to government.

One of the first things the commission has undertaken is to have a dedicated commissioner for Aboriginal children and young people. The minister has been very insightful in recognising that this cohort of young children have particular needs. In her second-reading speech on the Commission for Children and Young People Bill 2012, she spoke of the significant overrepresentation of members of this group in the child protection system.

Hopefully by appointing a commissioner for Aboriginal children and young people, we can address some of those numbers that are coming through our justice system.

I am very pleased that she also recognises the importance of those young people in the justice system.

In conjunction with the Minister for Education, Mr Dixon, she put education facilities into Parkville College and turned it into a school. In a joint media release by the two ministers of 25 February it was stated:

Parkville College holds classes for every young person in the youth justice centres, six days a week, every week of the year. While literacy and numeracy are the focus on weekdays, weekend classes consist of vocational education and training to prepare young people for employment or further training once they leave custody.
I think that is a tremendous initiative by the minister, working together with the Minister for Education to recognise that these children and young people do have a future once they leave custody. They are getting support, whether that be through applied learning approaches or undertaking their Victorian Certificate of Education.

They are getting the education and training and, importantly, the skills to enable them to continue on in an effective manner once they leave custody. That is a very good initiative that the minister has undertaken.

To get back to what the commission has done, the report lists the achievements in the past year or so as: successfully transitioned all of the Office of the Child Safety Commissioner's staff and operations ... to ... the commission to be operational by 1 March 2013

participated in the recruitment and selection of the Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People and the chief executive officer worked with the Australian Children's Commissioners and Guardians ... to promote the safety and wellbeing of children through collaborative contributions to legislative and policy reform presented at more than 70 conferences, workshops, forums ...

It is making a significant contribution. I would like to congratulate Bernie Geary and his team for the work that they have undertaken to date. I look forward to hearing more of them and the good work that they are undertaking on behalf of all Victoria's young children.

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