Sue Ellery

Sue Ellery

Minister for Child Protection; Communities; Women's Interests; Seniors and Volunteering

    First independent commissioner appointed to protect the rights of children

    23/10/2007 2:27 PM

    Western Australia has taken a major step forward in the protection of children with the appointment today of the State’s first Commissioner for Children and Young People.

    Child Protection and Communities Minister Sue Ellery said the Premier had appointed Public Advocate Michelle Scott for a five-year term.

    “This appointment marks an historic moment in WA as it is the first time this State has had an independent and powerful advocate for children and young people,” Ms Ellery said.

    “The commissioner will inquire into and comment on the actions of government, non-government and the private sector and will be a voice for children and young people in public debates.

    “The independence of the commissioner is comparable with that of the ombudsman and the Auditor General and would report directly to Parliament.”

    The Minister said Ms Scott was an outstanding choice for the position, bringing to the role 29 years of experience in both the public and private sectors, including five years as Public Advocate.

    “Ms Scott has a proven track record in developing and implementing public policy in a broad range of areas and has worked at senior levels within the State and Commonwealth governments,” Ms Ellery said.

    “In her role as Public Advocate, she demonstrated strong leadership in protecting and promoting the rights of people with decision-making disabilities.

    “Her experience in this area will be invaluable in promoting and protecting the rights of children and helping reduce their risk of neglect, exploitation and abuse.”

    Ms Ellery said child protection was the highest priority of the Carpenter Government.

    Over the past 18 months the Government has invested more than $300million in the new Department for Child Protection, including $100million for action on the recommendations of the Ford Review into the former Department of Community Development.

    Recent boosts to child protection include:
    • the largest staffing increase in the history of the department, with most of the new positions now having been filled;
    • an increase in pay of between $108 and $149 per week to attract and retain child protection workers - including fieldworkers, education officers, team leaders, and clinical psychologists;
    • additional residential care services for children and young people, including $3.8million for a secure facility for young people in need of high levels of care and supervision;
    • an additional $23million in the 2006-07 Budget over four years for children in care to help meet their direct costs, such as contact visits with parents, child care and medical and educational expenses;
    • the largest ever increase in the subsidy paid to foster and relative carers with a funding boost of $32.35million over four years. More respite and improved training will be provided for carers with an additional 10 days respite for every carer each year; and
    • $1million over four years for the recruitment and training of Aboriginal foster carers through a community agency.
    Ms Scott will commence her new role on December 10.

    Minister's office - 9213 7150