COMMISSIONER FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE
The Hon. HELEN WESTWOOD:
I address my question to the Minister for Youth. Will the Minister update the House on the current status of the role of the Commissioner for Children and Young People?
The Hon. PETER PRIMROSE:
I thank the honourable member for her question. The New South Wales Commission for Children and Young People is an independent organisation that works to make New South Wales a better place for children and young people. Established by the Commission for Children and Young People Act of 1998, the commission reports directly to the New South Wales Parliament. Guided by principles embodied in the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the commission's work is based on a number of beliefs: That the safety and welfare of our children is paramount; that the views of our children and young people are to be taken seriously; that healthy relationships between children, their families and their communities are vitally important in ensuring safety and wellbeing; and that vulnerable children and young people should be given priority.
As all honourable members would be aware, the commission has been in the capable hands of Acting Commissioner Jan McClelland since mid-November 2009. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ms McClelland for her dedication to that role during the course of the past six months. Today, however, I am very pleased to inform the House that after a careful selection process, Ms Megan Mitchell has been appointed as the New South Wales Commissioner for Children and Young People. With a long history of advocacy for children and young people, Ms Mitchell has extensive experience in both Commonwealth and State governments in children and youth services.
Ms Mitchell is currently the Executive Director of the Australian Capital Territory Office for Children, Youth and Family Support, focusing on child protection, foster and kinship care, juvenile justice, children's services, child care, and early intervention and prevention services. Prior to this, Ms Mitchell was Executive Director of Out of Home Care in the New South Wales Department of Community Services. Her responsibilities included building and implementing policy and service reforms in the child protection and substitute care system. Ms Mitchell has also held the positions of Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Council of Social Service and Director of Strategic Policy and Planning in the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care. With formal qualifications in social policy, psychology and education, Ms Mitchell has also worked as a schoolteacher.
I know honourable members will join me in congratulating Ms Mitchell on her appointment as commissioner, and in welcoming her to the commission. She will commence her new role on 21 June this year and I look forward to working closely with her as she settles into the team at the Commission for Children and Young People. Unquestionably, Ms Mitchell will play an important role in the current review of the Commission for Children and Young People legislation. We want to ensure that any changes to the Act, including changes to the current working with children check, will not only ensure the best protection for children but it will also be rigorous and effective for everyone working with children, whether as an employee, volunteer or self-employed.
The statutory legislative review of the Commission for Children and Young People Act 1998 was due to commence in December 2010. However, the review was brought forward, as I announced in March, so that we can have a careful look at all the options. The review will also provide an opportunity to look closely at the commission's principal functions—functions such as policy, research and promoting the participation of children and young people in decision-making and to ensure that these remain valid and relevant today. The review is being overseen by the Director General of Communities NSW and is being undertaken by an expert consultant, supported by officers from Communities NSW , but clearly Ms Mitchell will play an important role, particularly in the implementation of any recommendations that might come from the review. I look forward to working with the new commissioner at this important time for the commission.