‘It’s OK to complain about problems you are having with government services, we’re here to help’ is the message of Western Australian Ombudsman, Chris Field, to children and young people. Over the past 12 months the Ombudsman’s office has been enhancing systems to significantly improve access to the office by children and young people and raise awareness about available services.
In November 2015 the Ombudsman’s office conducted a youth focus group to listen to young people and their representatives, in collaboration with the office of the Commissioner for Children and Young People. The focus group provided an opportunity for young people to be heard on ways they consider the Ombudsman can improve access to his office and awareness about available services.
Following from this youth focus group, and a range of other consultations, the office has developed a new and dedicated youth space on the Ombudsman Western Australia website with:
- information about the office specifically tailored for children and young people
- information for non-government organisations and government agencies that assist children and young people
- a suite of promotional materials targeted at, and tailored for, children and young people.
In 2016 the Ombudsman’s office commenced a major program to visit vulnerable groups of children and young people in the child protection system. This included visits to:
- the Kath French Secure Care Centre in February 2016
- two residential group homes in the Perth metropolitan area in May 2016
- two residential group homes and one family group home in the Pilbara Region in June 2016
- one residential group home in the Kimberley Region in June 2016.
The Ombudsman has also increased regular visits to the Banksia Hill Detention Centre and engagement with the community sector in the metropolitan area and regional Western Australia under the Ombudsman’s Regional Awareness and Accessibility Program.