This resource sheet outlines the role and duties of child commissioners, and explains the differences between the various offices in each state and territory.
Children have a special need for protection and policies and actions concerning children’s lives need to be undertaken with a specific understanding of their needs and rights. In 1989, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child established the first legally binding instrument to protect the rights of children. The convention sets out to protect children’s rights by setting basic standards in health care, education and legal, civil and social services (United Nations, 1989). Australia ratified the convention in 1990 and has since established several initiatives to safeguard the interests and wellbeing of all children, including the development in each state and territory of an Office of Youth Affairs or equivalent (Kenney & Tait, 2005). To further protect and advocate for children’s rights, Queensland became the first state to establish an independent statutory body in 1996 with the development of the Queensland Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian. Since then, each state and territory in Australia has developed independent children’s commissions and/or guardians intended to represent and ensure the rights of all children. The establishment of independent state bodies has been important for providing a voice for children in decision-making.