While reading the Aussie news online, I veered over to The Punch as I often do, and I saw an interesting article by Chris Varney called Kids, Don’t pipe down.
Chris talks about how he met with some kids, and talks about his own battles with Aspergers. Go read the article, but refrain from going to the comments. There’s a lot of special people who comment on The Punch…
What I got out of the article was that Australia was not doing so well with the UN, (of course, that’s nothing new. Does the UN ever have nice things to say about Australia?) and that now Australia was going to be getting a National Children’s Commissioner. How does Australia not already have such a position? Here’s a link to the announcement by the govt. They’re only announcing that they’re creating the position. It says they will later ask for submissions for the position. Maybe they already started the application process and I’ve just missed it. But still, this is 2012. How does Australia not already have someone who is dedicated to protecting kids? I mean, third world countries have people dedicated to protecting kids. Do people just expect that because Australia is a first world country that our kids are all just fine and dandy? That Australian kids don’t need help?
I can tell you first hand that kids don’t have it perfect in Australia. I also know that plenty of kids have great ideas on how to make it better. Matt and I have been involved with Venturing for years. It’s a co-ed part of Boy Scouts – teens 14 to 21. It’s great because it’s high adventure and everything is left up to the kids. The adults are simply there to supervise and provide an ear. All the decisions are left up to the kids. It teaches them to be involved, to make decisions, to stand up and be heard. If they want to go camping, it’s up to them to plan it, implement it, make sure that everything is smooth. The adults are just there to supervise and answer any questions the kids might have. Oh, and they’re also there to do the driving. 😉 Venturing reminds adults that kids are great at doing things for themselves. They’re great at problem solving and thinking out of the box. They’re great at self regulating, and they’re also many times a lot more fair than what adults would be. Given the opportunity to be listened to like adults, most kids will act like one.
I love that the Children’s Commissioner will be working alongside kids. “Crucially, the Commissioner will consult directly with children and young people to ensure their voices are heard and their needs pursued.” I hope they find a person who will actually listen to the kids, and not just hear them. I hope they find someone who values younger people’s opinions, not someone who just thinks it’s cute a kid has an idea, but then just dismisses it.
This is a huge opportunity for the Australian Govt to step up and really help Australia’s youth. It’s also a great opportunity for someone who’s interested in helping Australia’s kids to stand up and be heard. If I was in Australia, this would be the kid of thing I would love to do. Actually, this is the kid of thing I would return to Australia for.