Sun. Jul 21st, 2019

Child Protection Week: Western Cape to appoint children’s commissioner

child protection weekWestern Cape Premier Alan Winde confirmed that a provincial children’s commissioner will be appointed before the end of the year.

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The Western Cape first submitted an amended version of the legislation back in February. At the time, the Western Cape government promised a renewed effort to combat crimes against children.

The new commissioner will be tasked with creating a safer environment for children by assisting government on constitutional matters, penalties, fines, and so forth.

In addition, the commissioner will advance social development by monitoring, researching, investigating and lobbying in the interest of children.

The proposal for a children’s commissioner has been criticised. Chief director in the Department of the Premier Nkosekhaya Lala explained:

“There had been widespread contestation with this bill, there was a process to analyse what roles the commissioner should have. One of the issues was […] whether the children’s commissioner should be at a national level.”

Despite the criticism, Premier Alan Winde vows that it will be implemented before the end of the year. He said it is as “important as the bigger plan to make [the Western Cape] a safety province.” Winde added:

“I really see Child Protection Week as an important one. I am looking forward to having an ombud.”

History of the bill

The draft was first proposed in 2003, with amendments added in 2009. Between 2010 and 2012, the SA Human Rights Commission established that commissioners will be appointed.

However, the bill was withdrawn from provincial legislature in 2015, as reported by Cape Argus. The latest version of the bill was tabled in 2017 and opened for public hearings.

Western Cape Government’s action plan

According to a brochure released by the Western Cape Government, the new initiative aims to ensure the well-being of children and families in the following ways:

  • By launching Public Education and prevention programmes, targeting children, parents, families and communities. These will shift the focus on parental responsibilities and rights.
  • A range of programmes and services for children with risky behaviours e.g. safety and risk assessment services; therapeutic and psycho social services,  temporary safe care programmes, adolescent development, programmes for children with behavioural, psychological and emotional challenges, transitional care and support programmes for children about to exit alternative care, as well as programmes for children who live on the streets.
  • Statutory services such as foster care programmes and adoption  programmes.
  • Programmes aimed at reunifying children – who had been placed in alternative placements – with their families or communities of origin.

Every child has the right to be protected and cared for. This includes the right to basic nutrition, shelter and health care services.

Children also have the right to family, and the right to be protected from neglect, abuse, and degradation.

Also read – Child Protection Week 2019 – What you need to know

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