The Advocate for Children and Young People (ACYP) is an independent statutory appointment overseen by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Children and Young People. ACYP advocates for and promotes the safety, welfare, wellbeing and voice of all children and young people aged 0-24 years in NSW, with a special focus on the needs of those who are vulnerable or disadvantaged.
An important part of the mandate of ACYP, as outlined in the enabling legislation, is to give priority to the interests and needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people.
Since its commencement in January 2015, ACYP has heard from more than 18,000 children and young people on a wide array of topics and in a variety of ways, including through face to face consultations, online polling and citizens’ juries. In accordance with our mandate, we strive to ensure that all of our consultations involve participants from a broad range of backgrounds and lifestyles, including children and young people who are Aboriginal, culturally and linguistically diverse, LGBTIQA+, living with disability and experiencing poverty.
Given that broad scale consultations do not always capture children and young people from a full range of life experiences, ACYP also conducts more targeted consultations to ensure that the voices of socially excluded young people are included in our work. We have held focus groups in settings such as Juvenile Justice Centres, residential and other out of home care services, homelessness services, low socio-economic status areas and we have heard from children and young people on topics such as discrimination, violence and support services.
It is important to remember when we are dealing with socially excluded children and young people that a significant proportion of this population are living with disability. For example, those in detention and living in out-of-home care have much higher rates of disability than the rest of the population and children with disability are four times more likely to be victim of violence.
We are currently undertaking a round of consultations addressing the specific needs for children and young people with disability.
To date, ACYP has heard from almost 3,000 children and young people who may be vulnerable, disadvantaged or otherwise socially excluded.