Including the interests of children and young people in policy development: current challenges and opportunities

Presenters: Anne Hollonds, Dr Monica Campo, Dr Heidi Saunders and Dr Rachel Carson

Wednesday, 15 September 2021 1:00–2:00pm AEST.   Find your time zone

Australia is in the midst of reformulating a number significant policy frameworks that influence responses to children and young people at the state, territory and federal levels. These include the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children and the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children. In addition, a family law reform program is in train following recommendations from the Australian Law Reform Commission and three recent parliamentary inquiries.

These developments will impact children and young people, including those in the most vulnerable groups who engage with child protection systems, whose families experience separation and who are affected by family and domestic violence.
Bringing together the National Children’s Commissioner Anne Hollonds, researchers Rachel Carson and Monica Campo and practitioner Heidi Saunders, this webinar sets out the importance of ensuring that policy frameworks respond appropriately to children and young people, considers processes that support this and discusses research on the needs of children and young people affected by family violence and safety concerns.

Specifically, this webinar will:

  • Discuss processes for the development of the new iterations of the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children and the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children
  • Consider research findings that demonstrate the importance of policy settings that respond to the needs of children and young people
  • Provide a practice perspective on the needs of children and young people who experience family and domestic violence.

This webinar will be of interest to professionals working in policy and practice in child protection, family and domestic violence, family law and other allied services including child mental health, law reform, mental health, and other social services.

We encourage you to test your system before the webinar, and read our Frequently Asked Questions.


Anne Hollonds

National Children’s Commissioner

For more than 23 years Anne has been a Chief Executive Officer of government and non-government organisations focused on policy, service delivery and research in health, education and social services, including the Benevolent Society and Relationships Australia NSW. Before her appointment as National Children’s Commissioner, Anne was the Director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies and the Australian Gambling Research Centre. Anne has been conducting a series of consultations with children, young people and families around Australia to inform the successor to the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children. She will share some initial findings relevant to national policy developments and cross-system reform.

Dr Monica Campo

Manager of Education and Engagement, and Researcher at Women’s Legal Service Victoria

Monica is an educator and socio-legal researcher in family violence, family law and child protection. She was the Senior Research Fellow on the multi-disciplinary research project The Meaning of Home for Children and Young People after Parental Separation at Melbourne Law School  in conjunction with Professor Belinda Fehlberg (Melbourne Law School), Associate Professor Kris Natalier (Flinders University) and Professor Bruce Smyth (Australian National University). This recently completed research explored the meaning of ‘home’ for children and young people after parental separation. The findings reinforce the importance of policy being attentive to the needs of children and young people. For participants in the study, relationships were the foundation of home. Maintaining relationships with fathers who had used violence could be a demanding experience with significant impacts on children and young people.

Dr Heidi Saunders

Clinical Psychologist and Senior Practitioner at Carinity Talera

Carinity Talera is a service that provides medium- to long-term trauma recovery therapy for children and young people, along with their protective caregiver, following the experience of Domestic and Family Violence (DFV). Heidi is the ReNew Program Coordinator at Carinity Talera, which involves trauma- and attachment-based therapy for families where a young male person is using various forms of violence or power and control (Adolescent-to-Parent Violence) toward the female protective caregiver in the home. Heidi also provides clinical supervision to therapists working in the above therapeutic contexts and teaches within the psychology and counselling degrees at the Queensland University of Technology.

Rachel Carson

Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Institute of Family Studies

Dr Rachel Carson is a socio-legal researcher with expertise in family law and qualitative research about family law disputes. Rachel has worked on a range of significant family law research projects, including the Independent Children’s Lawyer Study and the Evaluation of the 2012 Family Violence Amendments Project. Rachel was the lead researcher for the recently completed Children and Young People in Separated Families: Family Law System Experiences and Needs project, and the Direct Cross-Examination in Family Law Matters Study. Rachel will reflect on the opportunities the family law reform program offers to enhance support for the participation of children and young people in family law processes.

We acknowledge the Wurundjeri people and other peoples of the Kulin nation as the traditional owners of the land on which our work in the community takes place. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present.

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