Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children and Young People Commissioner

A new, independent Commissioner will be established in the ACT to advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people, both individually and at a systemic level, to promote their rights and wellbeing.

The Minister for Human Rights Tara Cheyne has today welcomed the passage through the Assembly of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children and Young People Commissioner Bill 2022.

“The Commissioner’s individual advocacy powers mean that they can intervene on behalf of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in relation to decisions that will affect their rights or interests.

“This includes in the child protection system such as in case conferences and court proceedings.”

Under the new legislation, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children and Young People Commissioner will apply cultural principles to their work.

Minister Cheyne said the cultural principles were developed following a recommendation from the co-design process that the legislation provide an explicit reference to the need for the Commissioner to focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people from a cultural standpoint.

Minister for Families and Community Services Rachel Stephen-Smith said the establishment of the Commissioner was a key recommendation of the Our Booris, Our Way review into the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in the child protection and out of home care system.

“This new role will ensure the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people are being heard by a trusted person who can respond in a way that is culturally appropriate.

“Importantly, the role new role recognises the importance of connection to family, community and country as being critical to achieving positive outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people,” said Minister Stephen-Smith.

The new Commissioner will be an identified role for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person.

“I would like to thank the Our Booris Our Way Implementation Oversight Committee, the Elected Body and members of the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community who worked with the Government on the design of the legislation to ensure that the role meets the needs of the community.”

The Government will undertake a national recruitment process for the role in partnership with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communityand the new Commissioner will be appointedin 2023.

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