Community Advocacy

Does the Western Cape Child Commissioners Bill provide the protection needed for our children?

“The CPC has two focus areas. One is prevention work and the other is Advocacy, the purpose of this meeting is to look critically at the draft Bill on the Commissioner for children”,

Joan Daries founder of the CPC

On 13 October 2017 60 people representing various communities and organisations came together at the Lelieblom Child and Youth Care Centre to learn how to present a written submission to the public participation process with regards to the draft Bill on the Commissioner for Children. Out of the meeting a collective CPC response was submitted to the Western Cape Parliament. All present were encouraged to also submit individual comments or comments from their own organisations. 

The UCT children’s institute researched the role and function of a commissioner and suggested three models for the implementation of the function.  Their findings were presented to the premiers office, but not taken into account when the Draft Bill was written. The researchers were surprised that none of their findings were used in the Draft Bill. After discussing the Draft Bill, the meeting identified several concerns:

  • Independence from political agenda 
  • Resource/funding is in question
  • Mandate/power
  • Transparency
  • Accountability
  • Accessibility and participation of children
  • Collaboration
  • Special attention should be given to child rights violation

Another concern that was raised was that the Premier had asked for more research to be done into the safety of children in the Western Cape. Concern is that her office did not use previous research findings done for them, so there is no sense in paying for more research that might also not be used.

Commission of enquiry

Valdi Le Roux of the Trauma Centre explained the difference between the enquiry and commissioner for children.  She explained how the office of the Commissioner will take a long time to implement as there are many processes it needs to go through before one is appointed. She explained how the Bill is just a draft bill that must still go through the comment process, submissions are looked at and it comes back for comment again. It will be put before the Western Cape parliament as this is a provincial bill not a national bill. 

Although we need to acknowledge the progressiveness of Western Cape government to bring it out, we must also understand that it will take a long time before it is in place. 

A commission of enquiry is a process that will provide information that is relevant and factual and can be used when addressing our children’s needs.  Enquiry is a legal process and more legitimate.  Allows for an independent impartial report and has findings and recommendations based on information gathered.   It is a document that can be used and has more accountability power.  Can be used for example as evidence in court.  It becomes an advocacy tool. Both will enable us to deal with issues of child protection, but one has more “bite”

Participants were given guidelines to use when commenting on the draft Bill in their submissions. 

Further reading and resources 

Copy of the submission from the Child Protection Collaborative:

See the Centre for Early Childhood Development’s research study 

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