Vulnerable children gain a greater voice

One in 33 Australian children (162,175) received child protection services during 2015-16, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Many of these children and their individual issues are simply not being heard, but a major church and community services organisation is ensuring society’s most vulnerable have a voice.

Churches of Christ in Queensland, a not-for-profit provider of services to children, youth and families, has announced Jane Carter as its inaugural Children and Youth Advocate.

In this ground-breaking new role Ms Carter will be responsible for ensuring that every child and young person that comes in contact with the organisation both feels safe, and is safe, from all forms of harm.

Acting Chief Executive Officer David Swain said the role is critical given the increasing need for children and youth to be heard by authorities and the community.

“We are operating at a time where significant focus is being applied to how we, as a community, ensure the safety of our children and young people, whether that be in institutionalised care settings, churches, or other environments,” Mr Swain said.

“Organisationally, we care for some of the most vulnerable children and young people in society, those whose voice isn’t always heard, which places them at even greater risk of harm.”

“The Children and Youth Advocate will ensure they have a voice and are heard within the organisation, by government and the community,” he said.

“Jane will be working with us, and holding us to account on our commitment of being a child safe organisation.”

Ms Carter has been with Churches of Christ in Queensland for over 20 years. In that time she has served as a teacher, early childhood service manager, operations manager, and general manager of Children, Youth and Families before accepting her current high profile advocacy role. She said that the advocate role is an industry first and is critical to ensuring the best interests of children.

“I will be appropriately advocating for the best interests of children and young people within, and for, the organisation,” Ms Carter said.

“This includes ensuring our care services, where relevant, are child and young person focused; that the best interests of children and young people are appropriately advocated for both within our organisation, and outside of it; and that we appropriately respond to recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

“It is simply not sufficient for young people to be physically safe, but to still feel terrified. It is not enough to only respond when things go wrong.

“We need to be proactive, we need make sure we hear the voice of children and young people as we are running our organisation. And we need to make sure we keep their safety at the heart of everything we do.”

Churches of Christ in Queensland is one of the largest non-government providers of children, youth and family services in Queensland. They provide assessment and intervention services, foster and kinship care, residential and supported independent living services to over 3,700 children and young people each year.

Ms Carter commenced as Children and Youth Advocate on Wednesday 5 May.

Posted June 9, 2017 in News