4 April 2017
Adults actively listening and engaging with the views of children would contribute to better case planning, deliver improved services and also provide a strong protective factor against abuse, wrote Commissioner Nyland in her Report in August 2016.
The Government’s response, published in December, 2016, accepted most of the recommendations and in this post we summarise Margaret Nyland’s recommendations and the Government’s undertakings.
The Government commitments to look out for in 2017 and beyond are:
- Increased attendance of children and/or the representation of their views at case planning meetings and annual reviews (R80).
- Training being provided for Department for Child Protection staff to enable them to, among other things, ‘consider the views of children’ (R58).
- Evidence being recorded in case files to demonstrate that children’s views are solicited, discussed with them and recorded in annual reviews and case planning (R80).
- A legislated requirement for a child’s lawyer to act in in accordance with the child’s instructions, ensure that the child knows of the role of the lawyer and to make sure the court is advised whether the lawyer is acting on the direct wishes of the child or in their interpretation of the child’s best interests (R69).
- The development of technological tools to allow young people to engage with case workers and other responsible adults (R173). 
- That every child in care should have an allocated case worker who has face-to-face contact with them at least once every month is accepted in principle only (R77).
- Legislative changes being made to ensure that children are included in the decision making process about guardianship (R95).
- An education program for children in residential and emergency care to advise them of their rights be prepared and delivered (R136).
- Input by children in care is made into the information and training provided to new and prospective foster carers (R113).
- A community visitors scheme is set up for children in residential and emergency care (R137).
- The development of user-friendly information products and forms to assist children and young people to make complaints about child protection matters (R256).
 Viewpoint is cited as the technology responding to this recommendation although it is not currently universal and is limited by being worker-mediated.
 It should be noted that this was accepted as a standard in the former Families SA for many years prior to Commissioner Nyland’s recommendation. The import of the renewed commitment may be judged in the light of progress toward that target.