New Commissioner For Children And Young People To Be Given Increased Oversight Powers

Distinguished lawyer and advocate Liana Buchanan has been appointed as Victoria’s new Principal Commissioner for Children and Young People.

Ms Buchanan has a significant record in public service. She is currently the Executive Officer for the Federation of Community Legal Centres and is a commissioner with the Victorian Law Reform Commission.

She has worked in senior roles within the Department of Justice and Regulation – including as the Director for corrections oversight body the Office of Correctional Services Review.

She has also held positions with the Equal Opportunity Commission Victoria, Office for the Status of Women (SA) and Women’s Legal Service (SA).

A strong advocate against family violence, last year her organisation assisted Rosie Batty during the coronial inquest into the death of Luke Batty and Ms Buchanan has led advocacy with state and federal governments to improve legal support for women and children affected by violence.

The new appointment follows the retirement of previous Commissioner Bernie Geary in December last year, with retired Supreme Court Judge Frank Vincent QC currently serving as the Acting Principal Commissioner. Ms Buchanan’s appointment will begin on 4 April 2016.

It comes as the Andrews Labor Government announces that the Commission for Children and Young People will have responsibility for a new reportable conduct scheme in Victoria to improve child safety.

The scheme will require the centralised reporting of allegations of child abuse by workers or volunteers in organisations with a high level of responsibility for children – including out-of-home care, youth justice services, schools, and child care.

It follows recommendations from the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and other Non-Government Organisations (the Betrayal of Trust Inquiry).

Under the scheme the Commission will be empowered to monitor investigations into abuse and report on trends, share information with key organisations to lift child safety and hold the power to inquire into the safety systems of organisations engaged in child-related work.

The Government will commence consultations on the design of the scheme before enshrining it in legislation.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos

“Liana Buchanan has a distinguished record in public service and will be an outstanding advocate for the rights of Victorian children and young people.”

“Ms Buchanan’s extensive legal and regulatory experience will help the Commission for Children and Young People in its expanded role overseeing the new reportable conduct scheme.”

“This scheme is key to sharing information to protect children and stamp out child abuse.”