ARTICLES

How many Royal Commissions does it take to keep children safe?

Written by Linda Savage, published by The Law Society of WA – Brief February 2017 A decade ago Harvard Professors Ron Heifetz and Martin Linksy counselled organisations grappling with tough, and seemingly recalcitrant problems, to ‘get on the balcony’ so they could gain a clearer perspective.[i] In 2016, two leading Western Australian not-for-profit Organisations Centrecare Inc. and Parkerville Children and Youth Care Inc., were grappling with the realisation that, despite their best efforts, the complexity of children’s needs and level of demand for services for children, were continuing to grow unabated. This led them to take the unusual step of allocating resources to, in effect, get on the balcony, and establish the Valuing Children Initiative to consider deeper issues of causality. In Read more…

Tomorrow’s adults may well feel let down by us

The recent focus of The West Australian on vulnerable and neglected children, raises challenging questions about how modern, affluent 21st century Australian society can tolerate a life for other people’s children that we would never tolerate for our own. The recent focus of The West Australian on vulnerable and neglected children, raises challenging questions about how modern, affluent 21st century Australian society can tolerate a life for other people’s children that we would never tolerate for our own. It comes too, when a sense of disempowerment and eroding faith in institutions, is causing anger and frustration. Some are even questioning whether something is fundamentally wrong with our existing political, social and economic order. Politicians in particular, are being urged to find new ways Read more…

Children are seen, but are they really heard?

A recent survey by the Valuing Children Initiative has revealed 80 per cent of Australians are worried about the health and happiness of future generations of children. Childhood obesity and mental health were highlighted as issues of concern. In Australia today, approximately one in four children are overweight or obese. As a result, for the first time children in affluent countries such as Australia are predicted to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents, because of the chronic diseases that result. In 2013-2014 almost one in seven between four and 17 years old was assessed as having mental disorders in the previous 12 months. If this wasn’t enough, there are currently two royal commissions examining the abuse and mistreatment of Read more…

Short Termism – The enemy of Children and Future Generations

The tendency to focus on the short term, and the inability to govern for the future, has been identified by the Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations as characterising much of modern politics in democratic countries such as Australia. Focus on the short term has been identified as damaging to economic reform and efforts to address issues such as climate change. Yet the impact on children, and future generations of children, has received little attention despite the fact that there is only ever one chance at childhood, and that determines so much of a person’s future. In its report ‘Now for the Long Term’, the Oxford Martin Commission has urged decision makers to be innovative, and reinvigorate how institutions work Read more…

Initiative calls for a minister for minors

In Australia, almost 18 per cent of kids live below the poverty line. One in four are overweight or obese. And an estimated 1 in 28 were sexually abused by a family member before they were 15. Particularly given young people’s lack of agency and the fact that they comprise almost 25 per cent of our population, the Valuing Children Initiative (VCI) reckons these figures are pretty dismal. In response, VCI has written to the leaders of the three major political parties, calling for the establishment of a ministerial portfolio ‘for Children and Future Generations’. “Given the issues facing children, clearly not enough is being done to adequately provide for them”, said VCI’s convenor, Linda Savage. “There are ministers for women, environment, Read more…

Valuing children crucial to safety and wellbeing

With recent reports of children and young people committing suicide, the spotlight turns yet again to what more could and should have been done. There is heartfelt sorrow, talk of more support and services, expression of the genuine desire to do better, and honest reflection that these deaths underscore complex societal problems. Problems to which politicians, families, the community and the many organisations dedicated to ensuring children have a safe, caring and supportive life, are struggling to find answers. The Valuing Children Initiative is asking people to pause and ask how we value children in Australia today. How we value children has been identified as directly affecting our attitudes towards them, and our behaviour and action on their behalf. The Read more…