Page 3858 - Week 11 - Thursday, 24 November 2022
grateful to the hardworking legal professionals of Canberra who perform outstanding work, with a significant pro bono component, and who want to engage with their community. I present myself to them, and make myself available to them, to seek improvements in our legal system and to promote justice in the ACT.
MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Families and Community Services and Minister for Health) (6.03): I rise briefly to reflect on Children’s Week, which occurred from 22 to 30 October this year. The theme for this year’s Children’s Week was “All children have the right to a standard of living that supports their wellbeing and healthy development”. Children’s Week, each year, looks at an article of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. This year it was article 27.
It was fantastic to join the Children’s Week awards celebrations. I particularly want to talk about the work that the Children and Young People Commissioner, Jodie Griffiths-Cook, did, through Children’s Week, talking to children in the ACT generally about life, and asking them to reflect on their experiences of life. She handed over the book of this work to us on 3 November. It was a great privilege to receive it.
The book of the work that was done is entitled Listening to Children and Accepting How They Feel. It reflects what one person said, through the project—that children’s wellbeing would be supported if adults started “listening to children and accepting how they feel instead of making your own decision about how they feel”.
The project overall worked with children and young people in their schools to talk about what contributes to their wellbeing. One of the activities was to ask them to write notes on leaves that made up a tree, that expressed some of the things that contribute to their wellbeing, as well as some of the things that challenge children’s wellbeing. This has been presented in themes that have been come up with by adults. Ms Griffiths-Cook notes that many of the leaves overlap across these themes, and the themes would not necessarily be the same if the children themselves had determined what they were.
I want to pick randomly through this book some of the things that children had to say, because their voices are important, and I encourage people to go and explore the project. One of the children, under the theme that has been identified as “identity” said, “Be who you want to be and don’t let others get in your way.” Someone else said, “Don’t judge people on how you feel; do what is more important—be free to express yourself.” On inclusion, one of the children said, “Helping kids with disabilities, saying thank you to kids, being nice to kids.” Someone else said, “Accept all genders and be equal with others.” Someone else said, “Feeling good, just the way you are, and that you don’t need to fit in and be yourself; everybody is equal, just the way you are.”
The children talked a lot about friendship, families and pets, and about the importance of “time to see other people, love and support”. Some of the children had difficult