Too many South Australian children and young people are ‘falling off the edge’

Children do not choose their lives. They don’t select their parents and they don’t have the opportunities that adults have to change their situation. Communities and government must do more to improve the lives of South Australia’s children and young people who we know are ‘doing it tough’.

There are too many who, in their own words, are repeatedly being ‘excluded, pushed out, ignored, overlooked, disrespected, unsupported, demonised and written off.’ These children and young people describe lives filled with worry and anxiety. They are children who are surviving rather than thriving; getting by, not getting ahead, and the long term consequences of this on our community can only be imagined.

“The measure of a just society is how well we grow our children, and how well we support them to access the ‘good things’ in life — the ‘things’ that most children take for granted.”

We want to grow confident, resourced, resilient young citizens who feel they belong, and who are able to participate in their family, school and broader communities. It is our duty to safeguard and protect our children and young people, particularly those who are most vulnerable. This requires a commitment to early intervention and to adoption of prevention strategies. Not a reliance on band aid and patchwork fixes after the damage has been done.

Key state agencies must address the social inequality that is prevalent in the lives of too many South Australian children and young people to prevent them from falling off the edge. These kids are being placed on a difficult track toward adulthood in childhood. It’s a track that evidence shows will often force them to become adults who are dependent upon the state.

“Every child deserves someone to love them, somewhere to live, someone to care about them, and something meaningful to do with their lives and to hope for in the future.”

The children and young people who are missing out on these basic needs are not faceless. They’re known to the extensive service systems, dedicated professionals and community groups who all exist to provide support. However, children and young people have told us we are failing to meet our collective obligations.

We need to prevent these children and young people from missing out on a range of opportunities others kids across our community take for granted. We must ask ourselves what it will take to make the changes necessary, and then act decisively to build a future for these kids that we can be proud of; one in which they can all flourish regardless of background.

South Australia’s Commissioner for Children and Young People’s Annual Report 2018–2019 was tabled in Parliament on 28 November, 2019. The full report is available for download from the www.ccyp.com.au

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