The federal government has appointed Anne Hollonds as the new national children’s commissioner.
Attorney-general Christian Porter on Tuesday said Hollonds has extensive experience, including front line engagement, in the child and family welfare sector.
She replaces inaugural children’s commissioner Megan Mitchell, who has served in the role for seven years.
Hollonds is currently the director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies. She will commence her new role on November 2, for a term of five years.
Until then, Australian Human Rights Commission president Rosalind Croucher will briefly step into the role. Croucher has welcomed the appointment.
“I am delighted by the appointment of Ms Hollonds to the Australian Human Rights Commission,” she said.
“On behalf of the Commissioners and staff I warmly welcome Ms Hollonds. She is one of Australia’s leading voices on child wellbeing and has more than 20 years’ experience in senior leadership roles in research, policy and service delivery, including as CEO of Relationships Australia NSW and the Benevolent Society.”
Hollonds has been a registered psychologist since 1992, and has been involved with a number of groups in the sector including the NSW Domestic and Family Violence Council, the International Commission on Couple and Family Relations, the Queensland Family and Child Commission Advisory Council, and a steering group for the National Mental Health Commission.
In her new role, Hollonds will raise awareness of issues affecting children, undertake research and education programs, consult with children and representative organisations, and examine Commonwealth legislation, policies and programs relating to children’s human rights.
The appointment came as Australia’s attorneys-general met to discuss raising the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14. The Monday meeting did not result in a decision, with the attorneys-general stating that more work was needed.
Outgoing commissioner Mitchell told the Sydney Morning Herald that imprisoning children would be detrimental to their wellbeing.
“It increases the likelihood of recidivism and has severe, life-changing impacts on children’s health, development, wellbeing and opportunities,” she said.
“Instead, we need to strengthen alternative interventions and diversionary programs, which are proven to be more effective forms of rehabilitation.”