Charter of Rights breaks signup records

77 endorsing organisations!
410 Charter Champions!

The release of the revised Charter of Rights for Children in Care and the re-endorsement by organisations throughout 2016 and into 2017 has been a great success.  The Department for Community and Social Inclusion (DCSI) is the latest to add its name to a the growing list.

‘It’s not about the numbers of course but it’s been really exciting and satisfying to see how agencies working with children in care have responded to the revised Charter of Rights for Children and Young People,’ said Charter Coordinator Nicole Pilkington.

‘Every organisation that has endorsed the Charter has now been through the full endorsement process and aligned their values and practices with the 37 rights in the new Charter.

‘I had some fascinating conversations and found out about the work of some great organisations as we worked through the endorsement process since May last year.

‘It is encouraging to know that we have more than 400 champions of the rights of young people seeded throughout the child protection and out of home care system.  Being so close to the action, Charter Champions are great sources of ideas and feedback at a time when child protection is gearing up for such profound changes.

‘We are also fully stocked with the new posters, booklets, contact cards and other materials that reflect the revised Charter, ’ she said.

Organisations that have endorsed the Charter can order the materials free of charge for distribution to children in state care through the requesting materials page of the Guardian’s website.

An earlier version of this article also appeared in the February 2017 edition of the Guardian’s Newsletter.

What’s good – and not so good – in the draft child safety legislation?

I need you to understand where I have come from and how I am dealing with this situation so that you can understand me when I have a say.

Young person in care

31 January, 2017

The draft Children and Young People (Safety) Bill 2016 has been released by the State Government for comment. It updates the Children’s Protection Act 1993 and adds some elements from the Family and Community Services Act 1972. It also enables some initiatives from the Nyland Royal Commission recommendations. Once passed it will replace the Children’s Protection Act 1993 as the key piece of legislation governing child protection in this state.

We have analysed the draft legislation and here are the main issues.



  • It is good to see the broad statements of principle and commitments in introductory provisions such as the Parliamentary declaration (s3), the universal duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people (s4), and that the safety of children and young people is paramount (s6).
  • The draft Bill recognises importance of children being informed and listened to in matters affecting them and making sure that their views are represented when decisions are being made. (s55, s54(1) and s75(3))
  • The Aboriginal Placement Principle is retained (s75 (2)(a)) and there are other provisions regarding cultural maintenance and support, although we await the response of the Aboriginal community before reaching any final conclusions.
  • The Charter of Rights is carried over into the new Bill (s11).
  • A Child and Young Person’s Visitor Scheme (ss 104 – 107) is welcome although it is not clear why this is discretionary rather than being a mandatory direction to the Minister s105(1).

Not so good

  • The proposed  capacity for the Chief Executive to “give directions or guidance in relation to a matter to a State authority to which the matter is referred” s28(7) is a a concern.  It would allow the Chief Executive to direct the Guardian in a way that undermines the independence of the Guardian’s office as guaranteed in other legislation.
  • The loss of the child safe environment provisions (currently enacted in s8B of the Children’s Protection Act 1993) means that Governments and NGOs will lack a clear indication of their accountability and duty of care .
  • Also lost are sections 26A and 26B of the Children’s Protection Act 1993 which means female genital mutilation will no longer be a matter warranting explicit attention as a form of child abuse.
  • The Bill will mean that the Chief Executive of the Department for Child Protection takes over accountability for objectives of the Bill/Act from the Minister.  There is no rationale for this change which will, if anything, confuse the clear line of responsibility for child protection that now flows unambiguously to the Minister.

You can read the detail in the full text of the Guardian’s response to the draft Bill which is available for download.

The Guardian’s response to the draft Children and Young People (Safety) Bill 2016 is available for download.


Poster of rights for Aboriginal young people in care

18 October, 2016

Our Office’s experience talking with Aboriginal children and young people was confirmed in a consultation with young people earlier this year. They told us that the same messages and artwork that appeal to other young people may not connect with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.

‘ hand drawn images – they are made by heart, computer generated images are made by nothing’

Aboriginal young person at the
Tandanya consultation in January 2016

Charter of Rights coordinator Nicole Pilkington said, ‘We wanted to create something that Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander young people, all Aboriginal people, would not only read but would be happy to have on their walls.

‘We were fortunate to connect with Ramindjeri/Ngarrindjeri artist Teresa Walker.

‘Teresa’s work has strong cultural influences and also has a modern vibrancy and energy that makes it stand out.

‘The messages about the rights of children and young people in care will be essentially the same but tailored to the culture and aesthetics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.’



Teresa’s work will form the basis of a large poster that talks about four main rights that will also be available in smaller sizes. She will be working closely with designers Sue and Chris from SD Design who produced the new booklets and posters for the 2016 re-launch of the Charter of Rights.

The posters will be published in October and will be available to agencies that have endorsed the Charter of Rights via the Guardian’s materials ordering page.

This story was first published in the Guardian’s August 2016 Newsletter.

Download the August 2016 Guardian’s Newsletter in PDF now.

We’d love to publish your comment – please use the reply space below.

The Charter of Rights in 2016


7 June 2016

Ten years on and South Australia’s Charter of Rights for Children and Young People in Care is getting new face.

And endorsing agencies are getting the chance to renew their commitment to the Charter and to children’s rights.

From May 2016 the 68 agencies that have endorsed the Charter can revisit their commitment via a revised online endorsement tool.

‘During 2015, we asked children and young people about what they would like to see in the Charter,’ said Guardian Amanda Shaw.

‘They made some small but significant changes.

‘They also made many suggestions about the content and design of the Charter materials but he actual changes to the wording of the Charter are minor.

‘Organisations can review whether the Charter is still relevant to them,’ she said.

Charter Coordinator Nicole Pilkington is managing the transition to the revised Charter and re-endorsement.

‘We are aware that endorsement of the Charter is a condition in the funding agreements of many agencies.

‘We are making the process as simple as possible and have spoken with State Government funding bodies to make sure that funded organisations have enough time to re-endorse.

‘We will be updating contact details and lists of Charter Champions too.

‘This will make sure that we can get the new materials to agencies and the hands of the young people as soon as possible.

‘Endorsing agencies can expect to hear from us in May or can go directly to the website to use the endorsement tool.

‘Agencies that no longer wish to endorse the Charter can simply do nothing and their endorsement will lapse on 30 June 2016,’ she said.

‘Some agencies wanted to apply in December to March when endorsement was not we are contacting them to re-commence their endorsement process,’ said Nicole.

The vital work of Charter Champions will still be central.

The Guardian’s Office will contact all Charter Champions about their roles and Charter materials after endorsement finishes in June.

This item originally appeared in the May 2016 edition of the Guardian’s Newsletter.

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The revised Charter of Rights launches today

10 May 2016

For children and young people in care and the people who work directly with them this will mean a slightly different Charter and a completely new range of posters and booklets for teens and pre-teens.

For endorsed organisations it is the opportunity to renew their support for the Charter.

For Charter Champions it is the chance to renew their contact with the Guardian’s Office and ensure the young people they work with are up to speed on their rights and know how they can be supported to exercise them.

‘Throughout 2015 dozens of young people and many government and non-government organisations helped us make sure the text of the Charter reflected the needs of young people and that the way the rights were presented was clear and appealing,’ said Guardian Amanda Shaw.

‘Mostly the Charter still reflected the young people’s concerns with only a few tweaks to the wording but discussion about how to communicate was very animated and produced some creative ideas we will be following up on later,’ she said.

Designers Sue and Chris who created the poster and booklet artwork were directly involved with several of the consultations with young people.

‘As well as being a great experience, it was incredibly valuable to actually meet the young people we were designing for and to get their ideas in a completely unfiltered way,’ they said.

‘It kept the design process very real for us.’

Charter Coordinator, Nicole Pilkington was keen to reassure endorsed organisations that the process of renewing their endorsement would be simple and straightforward.

‘For those organisations for whom endorsement of the Charter is tied to their funding, we have been talking to government funding bodies to make sure there are no hiccups.

‘The revised Charter is very similar to the old one so we are sure there will be no need for organisational policy or procedure changes.

‘We will be contacting all endorsed agencies over the next few weeks to guide them through the re-endorsement process or they can go straight to the re-endorsement tool and get started now.

‘We will also be sending out sample packs of the new materials to residential care houses.

‘Whether organisations have had time to re-endorse or not, the redesigned Charter posters and booklets can now be ordered online and A4 versions can be downloaded in PDF from the resources page on our website.

‘If you have any queries about the Charter and re-endorsement, please contact me by email ([email protected]) or phone (8226 8570) during office hours,’ she said.

This item originally appeared in the May 2016 edition of the Guardian’s Newsletter.

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Art meets rights at Tandanya

29 March 2016

To accompany the revised Charter of Rights to be tabled in Parliament early this year will be a new set of posters and other materials.  Guardian’s Office Advocates, graphic designers and an Indigenous consultant met with a small group of young Aboriginal people in care in January 2016 to discuss what would appeal and get the rights message across.

Passing things on is what culture is about – young people are our future.

Patrick Fergusson, Aboriginal artist

A chance encounter with Adnyamathanha and Pitjantjatjara artist Patrick Fergusson who had an exhibition at Tandanya when the consultation was taking place gave the young people and the designers a the opportunity to speak to a practicing Aboriginal artist. Patrick explained that he works from found native timbers that he turns into traditional artefacts featuring designs handed down to him by his Elders.

desk at Tandanya consultation 2016

Some of the suggestions from the consultation were:

  • handprints with sayings inside of them
  • hand drawn images – they are made by heart, computer generated images are made by nothing
  • circles – maroon, darker and lighter (circles keep on going, squares have stopping points)
  • border in black
  • rainbow serpent around the poster
  • brush strokes in different shades of the same colour
  • strong dark background with white outlines of design to stand out
  • must have animals – Kangaroo, Wombat, Emu, Lizard, Black Swan, Ibis
  • how about using symbols (examples : the Meeting Place, the Sitting Place, Women Gathering, Men Gathering). 
  • use textures like sand, ocean, rock, water, nature

Jodie headshot-circular.


Huge thanks to the young people for their great ideas and enthusiasm on the day.  Also to Melissa from our office, Tony from CAMHS (Indigenous consultant to the project), designers Sue and Chris and to Patrick.

Jodie Evans, Senior Advocate

This article originally appeared in the February 2016 Guardian’s Newsletter.

New look Charter of Rights for 2016

15 March 2016

At the Charter’s launch at the Adelaide Zoo in 2006, then Minister for Families and Communities, Jay Weatherill congratulated the children and young people, carers and professionals whose work created the Charter.

Children and young people in care ‘need to know they can expect to be treated well and cared for properly while they are under guardianship.

Jay Weatherill

‘It also is crucial for them to know they have options if something goes wrong.

‘The Charter is a great way of telling them this and preventing problems such as abuse,’ he said.

Since the launch, over 60 government, non-government and commercial organisations have endorsed the Charter and applied it in their work. Over 200 Charter Champions within those organisations have taken on the responsibility to promote the Charter and support young people to make their rights a reality.

The Guardian’s office has made the Charter the centre of its monitoring and advocacy and hundreds of posters and thousands of booklets and other items promoting young people’s rights have been distributed.

After ten years, the Charter is due for review and throughout 2015, the team at the Guardian’s office has consulted with young people and adult stakeholders about the content of the Charter and how the messages about rights can best be conveyed.

‘The young people we spoke to were happy with most of the content and wording of the original Charter, but we will be proposing to the Minister some small but significant tweaks based on what they suggested,’ explained Guardian Amanda Shaw.

Advocate Jodie Evans and young people warm up for the Charter of Rights consultation in Port Augusta in April 2015.

‘The new materials that are being developed to coincide with the revised Charter will focus on rights in action and encouraging young people and adults to use the rights to discuss and resolve needs and issues as they arise.

‘The revised Charter will also offer the opportunity for endorsed organisations to review their endorsement of the Charter and to re-commit to it.

‘We are very grateful to the 27 young people who worked with us on the review and to the staff of Key Assets, Families SA in Pt Augusta and Mt Barker and CreateSA who made the consultations happen.

‘The new-look Charter is a tribute to them.’

If the Minister approves of the revised Charter it will be tabled at a sitting of Parliament early in 2016.

This article originally appeared in the February 2016 edition of the Guardian’s Newsletter.

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Youth Justice Administration Bill passes the SA Parliament

Youth justice in South Australia took a significant step forward yesterday with the passage through Parliament of the Youth Justice Administration Bill 2015.

Speaking to the Bill, the Hon. Zoe Bettison, Minister for Social Inclusion and Communities, said that the legislation sought to –

consolidate all youth justice administrative functions into one clear, concise legislative framework while, at the same time, contemporising other relevant legislation to better reflect best practice in this area, particularly in respect of the detainment of children and young people.

The Bill provides additional sentencing options for young offenders, for a charter of rights for young people in youth justice detention and directs the establishment of an Official Visitor scheme.

In anticipation of the passage of the Bill, Minister Bettison signed off on the Charter of Rights for Young People Detained in Youth Justice Facilities in December 2015. The Charter is based on a model Charter developed by Australia’s Children’s Commissioners and Guardians which itself draws from UN rules covering young people in youth justice detention and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In 2015, the Guardian’s Office conducted 15 workshops seeking views on the content and promotion of the Charter.  A total of 149 people participated, including 22 residents and a version of the model charter adapted for local conditions was forwarded to the Minister.  The Charter is available for download.

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The Bill also mandates the appointment of an independent Official Visitor to report on the treatment of residents and the management of the youth training centre. The Bill directs the Visitor to pay particular attention to the needs and circumstances of young people in state care, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and young people with disabilities.

The Bill now only awaits the Governor’s signature to become law.


Honouring connection to culture and community of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in residential care

1 March 2016

In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities or persons of indigenous origin exist, a child belonging to such a minority or who is indigenous shall not be denied the right, in community with other members of his or her group, to enjoy his or her own culture, to profess and practise his or her own religion, or to use his or her own language.

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – Article 30

Almost 30 per cent of young people in State care in South Australia are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander decent, more than ten times the rate of their representation in the general community.  The multiple disadvantages faced by the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community translates into particular challenges for providers of residential care and supporting strong cultural and community connections offers a way forward for young people and the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community as a whole.

Focussing on these challenges, the Guardian’s Office recently released the Literature Review – Residential Care for Aboriginal Children and Young People (August 2015).  This flagged the need for a set of qualitative performance indicators to help monitor and evaluate how the care provided supports the right of the young residents to participate in and benefit from their Aboriginal culture and community.

The Guardian’s Office is developing those culture and community indicators now.

The new indicators will help Advocates monitor how residential care services support the right of the young residents to participate in and benefit from their Aboriginal culture and community connections.  They will complement the Office’s current monitoring practice.

They will also be useful for house managers and staff, complementing in a practical way existing policies and activities such as Aboriginal Identity Planning and other standard practices such as annual case reviews.

What the Guardian’s Office and residential care staff learn from applying the new indicators will be included in the reports we provide to houses and Families SA and to advocate for policy and practice developments.

The new Indicators will focus on how a residential service:

  • helps the young person to understand their current situation and supports their involvement in making decisions about their life
  • supports access to their culture and community
  • uses culturally appropriate tools and service methodologies and
  • involves a range of carers and other service providers in meeting the young person’s needs.

Applying the indicators, Advocates will ask young people directly about their contact with culture and community.  They will look at how the house applies the culturally relevant policy and operational expectations of that service provider and the residential care system and they will assess cultural aspects of the house’s physical and social environment.

Focussing on the situation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in this way will help the Guardian to meet her statutory obligation to ‘promote the best interests of children under the guardianship, or in the custody, of the Minister, and in particular those in alternative care.’

The Office is discussing aspects of the new indicators with a variety of stakeholders.

The indicators will be included as a part of the information package that accompanies the Residential Care Self-evaluation Survey in June 2016.

For further information about the development of the new Culture and Community Indicators, please contact Alan Fairley, GCYP Senior Policy Officer, at [email protected].

This article originally appeared in the February 2016 edition of the Guardian’s Newsletter.

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Changes to the Charter of Rights – results of the Charter Champions’ Survey

words chater of rights in a speech bubbleAs well as speaking with over 30 children and many adult stakeholders about necessary changes to the Charter of Rights, the Guardian invited Charter Champions to have a say via an online survey.  There were many specific observations made by respondents to the survey which you can read in the survey report at the link below. The general thrust of comments was very similar to those from other sources, such as:

  • the content of the Charter and the way it was expressed were pretty much OK with some minor wording changes
  • there was need for more age/literacy level relevant material explaining rights to children
  • there was a great need for tools and materials for workers, carers and others to discuss rights with children
  • there was a need for more education material to assist individuals to learn and organisations to inform staff how to make use of the rights in their work with children.

Many thanks to the Charter Champions who were able to contribute and especially to those who offered to be beta testers for future Charter materials.  We will be in touch!

Download the Charter champions Survey results.

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