Children and young people born since the year 2000 have lived through a period of significant social and technological transformation. This period of rapid change has disrupted the social status quo and challenged previously held understandings and constructs. We have been rocked by the scrutiny of Royal Commissions, investigations and enquires that have pulled back the curtain on so many of our once revered institutions and professions. Is it any surprise then that we are left with diminished trust in civil institutions and formal leadership, and growing concern for how people from diverse backgrounds experience life, and power, and opportunity…


As our country’s highest institutions grapple with sexual and gender inequality, our media landscape and public are united in their demand for ‘better education of our boys’ early on.

There are myriad long-standing social barriers relating to gender equality with poor sexual education now at the front line.

In my latest report ‘Menstruation Matters’ I make periods my focal point, as menstruation is often one of the earliest experiences of systemic gender inequality faced by many children and young people.

Last month South Australia welcomed an announcement that the state government would provide funding towards free sanitary products in schools.


My report Press Play — Activating young people’s health and wellbeing through play, documents findings of a survey I undertook in 2019 of 500 South Australian young people aged 13–18 on the importance of play in their lives.

I was particularly interested to hear their views on this subject because so much of the research around the importance of play has focussed on play for young children. Rarely has the importance of play for teenagers been examined.

Young people said they had little or no time for play in their current lifestyles as they were too busy and too tired…


Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash

The impact of COVID-19 on Australia’s labour market is starting to sink in.
It is fast becoming the next big challenge for government, business and community. Getting people back to work quickly and safely will soon be
the new urgency — not so much on avoiding the virus itself.

Young South Australians who have recently left school, who will be leaving school later this year, or who commenced tertiary studies earlier this year, find themselves in a world very different from anything most of us have previously experienced or know. …


Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

One of the characteristics of this century has been the creation of more defined stages of life, each with its own distinct features and cultural tropes. Examples include tweens, teens, over 18 year olds attending secondary school, or adult kids living in share house arrangements with parents.

Of these, it is the tweens who are the most overlooked from a policy and programme perspective. Our national early year’s agenda has focussed attention on the importance of early brain development and early years learning. Health policy has recognised that children are maturing earlier than in previous generations, and that for services…


Photo by Hannah Tasker on Unsplash

Playground equipment is no longer safe, organised sport is out, movies are closed and fast food outlets are reduced to drive throughs. There will be less tolerance of children being outdoor and in public places on their own. Plus parents are likely to feel increased concern and guilt about allowing their children too much screen time. For some kids, the next two weeks will be a difficult time. For many, having less regulation over their time and activities will be distressing and anxiety producing, rather than the relaxing, playful time it could or should be.

In much the same way…


Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Over many years working with children and young people, I have met kids who are enthusiastic, energetic, optimistic and idealistic. I have also met kids who are frustrated and desperate, angry, heartbroken and lost.

These two kinds of children and young people live and play side by side in childcare centres, schools, clubs, libraries, homes, youth centres, shelters, and theatres, across all ages, cultures and ethnicities.

No matter where, or who they are, or what their individual or collective experiences have been, they are all united by five basic human needs:

· someone to love

· somewhere safe to live


Many of the children and young people living in the 2015 bushfire affected communities of Pinery and Sampson Flat, and more recently affected communities of Cudlee Creek, Port Lincoln, Yorktown, and Kangaroo Island, have been part of a wide ranging series of conversations I have had about their future hopes and dreams, sense of connection, and trust in institutions and services.

Although my conversations with these South Australian children and young people were not specifically about bushfires, they were about subjects they told me were important to them. …


Surfing online waters can be a dangerous pursuit. Not quite the sharks and rips, shore breaks and leash tangles of real waters, but still for many, as scary as the ocean. How can we best support young people to surf these waters safely?

To take the analogy further, do we suggest they stay out of the ocean altogether, dip their toe in, or dive in head first? What kind of safety devices do we use to protect them against exposure to harmful or age inappropriate material, or ward off unsolicited contact from adults they’re sometimes not equipped to even recognise…


Today marks the final day of this year’s Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland. In its 50th year, the World Economic Forum’s mission statement of being ‘the foremost creative force for engaging the world’s top leaders in collaborative activities to shape the global, regional and industry agendas at the beginning of each year’ appears to be increasingly necessary.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, President Donald Trump, Chancellor Angela Merkel and HRH Prince Charles joined businesses and world leaders from across the globe to discuss pressing issues around climate change, the economy and technology.

This year marks the…

Commissioner for Children and Young People SA

Helen Connolly is South Australia’s inaugural Commissioner for C&YP. Her work ensures their opinions and ideas are being sought and that their voices are heard.

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