Including the interests of children and young people in policy development: current challenges and opportunities

Including the interests of children and young people in policy development: current challenges and opportunities

Anne Hollonds, Dr Monica Campo, Dr Heidi Saunders and Dr Rachel Carson
15 September 2021

This webinar explored the opportunities and challenges in the development of policy frameworks key to the interests of children and young people.

Mother and teenage daughter sitting on the sofa at home having a chat.

This webinar was held on 15 September 2021.

Australia is in the midst of reformulating a number significant policy frameworks that influence responses to children and young people at the state, territory and federal levels. These include the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children and the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children. In addition, a family law reform program is in train following recommendations from the Australian Law Reform Commission and three recent parliamentary inquiries.

These developments will impact children and young people, including those in the most vulnerable groups who engage with child protection systems, whose families experience separation and who are affected by family and domestic violence.

Bringing together the National Children’s Commissioner Anne Hollonds, researchers Rachel Carson and Monica Campo and practitioner Heidi Saunders, this webinar set out the importance of ensuring that policy frameworks respond appropriately to children and young people, considered processes that support this and discussed research on the needs of children and young people affected by family violence and safety concerns.

Specifically, this webinar:

  • Discussed processes for the development of the new iterations of the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children and the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children
  • Considered research findings that demonstrate the importance of policy settings that respond to the needs of children and young people
  • Provided a practice perspective on the needs of children and young people who experience family and domestic violence.

This webinar is of interest to professionals working in policy and practice in child protection, family and domestic violence, family law and other allied services including child mental health, law reform, mental health, and other social services.

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This webinar is presented in collaboration with the Australian Human Rights Commission.

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Human rights: everyone, everywhere, everyday.

About the presenters

Anne Hollonds

The National Children’s Commissioner

Anne Hollonds is Australia’s National Children’s Commissioner. Formerly Director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies, for 23 years Anne was Chief Executive of government and non-government organisations focussed on research, policy and practice in child and family wellbeing. As a psychologist Anne has worked extensively in frontline practice, including child protection, domestic and family violence, mental health, child and family counselling, parenting education, family law counselling, and community development. Anne has two small grandchildren.

Dr Monica Campo

Manager of Education and Engagement, and Researcher at Women’s Legal Service Victoria.  

Monica is an educator and socio-legal researcher in family violence, family law and child protection. She was the Senior Research Fellow on the multi-disciplinary research project The Meaning of Home for Children and Young People after Parental Separation at Melbourne Law School in conjunction with Professor Belinda Fehlberg (Melbourne Law School), Associate Professor Kris Natalier (Flinders University) and Professor Bruce Smyth (Australian National University). This recently completed research explored the meaning of ‘home’ for children and young people after parental separation. The findings reinforce the importance of policy being attentive to the needs of children and young people. For participants in the study, relationships were the foundation of home. Maintaining relationships with fathers who had used violence could be a demanding experience with significant impacts on children and young people. Monica previously worked at the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Dr Heidi Saunders

Clinical Psychologist and Senior Practitioner at Carinity Talera

Carinity Talera is a service that provides medium- to long-term trauma recovery therapy for children and young people, along with their protective caregiver, following the experience of Domestic and Family Violence (DFV). Heidi is the ReNew Program Coordinator at Carinity Talera, which involves trauma- and attachment-based therapy for families where a young male person is using various forms of violence or power and control (Adolescent-to-Parent Violence) toward the female protective caregiver in the home. Heidi also provides clinical supervision to therapists working in the above therapeutic contexts and teaches within the psychology and counselling degrees at the Queensland University of Technology.

Dr Rachel Carson

Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Institute of Family Studies  

Dr Rachel Carson is a socio-legal researcher with expertise in family law and qualitative research about family law disputes. Rachel has worked on a range of significant family law research projects, including the Independent Children’s Lawyer Study and the Evaluation of the 2012 Family Violence Amendments Project. Rachel was the lead researcher for the recently completed Children and Young People in Separated Families: Family Law System Experiences and Needs project, and the Direct Cross-Examination in Family Law Matters Study. Rachel will reflect on the opportunities the family law reform program offers to enhance support for the participation of children and young people in family law processes.