The Commission for Children and Young People has refocused its priorities and ways of working to best perform its oversight, monitoring and regulatory functions in response to the COVID–19 health emergency.
Physical restriction measures mean visibility of children and young people is reduced. There is no question that the current, unprecedented situation creates new risks for vulnerable children and young people who are living in environments of increased family stress and adversity, including family violence. It is also clear that the pandemic poses new challenges for those delivering services to children and young people. In this context, constructive but independent oversight of services for children and young people and continuing to support organisations to be child safe remain critical.
The impacts of the pandemic, both during the crisis and as a result of its medium-to-long-term consequences, mean that some of the Commission’s priorities must change. Our current high-level priorities are:
- strengthened scrutiny of COVID–19-driven changes to policy and practice by the child protection, out-of-home care, youth justice and education systems
- increased monitoring of the impact of COVID–19 and COVID–19-related service changes on children and young people in the youth justice and out-of-home care systems
- a new, intensive program of activities to engage children and young people to understand their experiences of the pandemic and its consequences, supplemented by increased engagement with stakeholders who work with children and young people – this will allow us to act as a conduit between children and young people and decision-makers and also inform our Child Safe Standards regulatory work
- an additional focus on online safety, especially through our Child Safe Standards education and compliance activity, given the changing risks to children through increased online activity and as a result of organisations’ move to phone and online delivery of their services to children.
We will revisit these priorities as the situation changes and Victoria moves in time from crisis to recovery.
Hearing from children, young people and organisations during COVID–19
Our engagement with children and young people and organisations that work with them is critical to guide our advocacy with decision-makers throughout this period.
We have increased our monitoring and engagement of young people in youth justice centres and continue to hear from young people through our Independent Visitor Program via online methods.
Over the next few weeks we will be increasing our engagement activities with other children and young people through a range of methods. We have convened an advisory group comprising four young people who are guiding us with this work. Information for young people about participating in the Commission’s engagement activities is available here.
We are also engaging with a range of organisations who work with children and young people to understand how services are seeking to adapt to the current circumstances and how that is working in practice. If you are interested in sharing your organisation’s experience, please contact us at email@example.com.