6. The new working federalism

2 A small Taskforce on Children and the Legal Process should be established on the conclusion of the National Summit, comprising representatives from relevant federal, State and Territory departments nominated by the Summit, representatives from non-government organisations, specialist academics, practitioners, young people and parents.

Implementation.The Prime Minister should convene the Taskforce, with the Chair to be nominated and agreed upon during the Summit.

3 An Office for Children (OFC) should be established within PM&C. In the first two years of its operation, OFC’s responsibilities should focus on the provision of secretariat services to the Summit and the Taskforce on Children and the Legal Process. Upon completion of the Taskforce, an expanded OFC should assume continuing co-ordination and monitoring responsibilities. In particular, it should

    • provide an annual report to Parliament on the status of children in Australia

    • monitor performance of international obligations to children, particularly CROC, and co-ordinate the preparation of reports under article 44 of CROC to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child

    • provide leadership and co-ordination in the preparation and implementation of national standards in areas of law recommended in this report, in consultation with the States and Territories

    • monitor new legislation, programs and initiatives for compliance with CROC and national standards

    • encourage and assist federal departments to incorporate the principles of CROC into their policies, programs and practice

    • co-ordinate the development of models of best practice for dealing with child consumers of government services or programs, including best practice guidelines for grievance and complaints handling procedures for young people

    • advise governments on the most effective use of funds appropriated by Parliament for expenditure in relation to children

    • undertake research, in conjunction with State and Territory agencies and the ABS, on children’s involvement in legal and administrative processes and the effects of those processes on children

    • liaise with federal complaint handling bodies relevant to children, particularly HREOC and the Commonwealth Ombudsman

    • liaise with HREOC and State and Territory children’s advocacy and complaints bodies throughout Australia

    • provide reports on its own initiative to federal Ministers, Ministerial Councils and Parliament dealing with matters of concern for children as and when they arise

    • assist in the development of a network of grassroots advocates for children by accrediting, training and providing information to advocates

    • encourage and facilitate public debate and community awareness on matters relating to children

    • consult with relevant interest and community groups and with children and young people to determine the most appropriate strategies for improving conditions for children.

Implementation. The Prime Minister should take the necessary steps to establish OFC within PM&C.