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Abbie, Board Member of Our Hearings, Our Voice, talks at the National Youth Justice Conference.

Abbie, Board Member of Our Hearings, Our Voice, talks at the National Youth Justice Conference.

Last week, colleagues from the third sector, social work, policing, Scottish Government, academia and beyond came together for the annual National Youth Justice Conference , delivered in partnership with The Children and Young People’s Centre for Justice and The Sottish Government.

The focus of the conference was the Children’s Care and Justice Bill and the impact it will have for children’s rights in Scotland, and the promise and the commitment that all Scotland’s children and young people will grow up loved, safe and respected fed through all the discussions.

What did the Conference discuss?

The Minister for Children, Young People & the Promise, Natalie Don MSP, urged collaboration— highlighting that keeping the promise is not a task for a single agency or organisation.

In light of last month’s Hearings for Children report, she made clear the that within a redesigned Children’s Hearings System the rights of children and young people and a whole family approach was critical.

Alongside the promise, the golden thread throughout the two days of presentations and discussion were the rights and voices of children and young people. The promise must be kept. Rights must be upheld. And Voices must be listened to.

The fundamental importance of children’s rights underpinned the conference, as speakers discussed:

Presentations also emphasised that to keep the promise, children and young people must be listened to, and at the centre of creating solutions. Among the topics discussed were:

Raising recommendations for Hearings System redesign

The Hearings for Children Redesign Report was referenced throughout the conference, with Sheriff Mackie presenting on the process, purpose and aims of the Report. Sheriff Mackie discussed key recommendations, such as:

  • A shift to a non-adversarial system,
  • the removal of grounds from the Hearings System,
  • the continuity and increased role of the Chair, and
  • the importance of the Child’s Plan.

The final voice of the conference was Abbie, a board member of OHOV, on the work of the Language Leaders project, and expanded on Sheriff Mackie’s presentation the previous day on the significant contributions of children and young people in the Hearings of Children Redesign Report.

On the third anniversary of the publication the promise, it was recognised there was ‘lots done, still lots to do’. That ‘to do list’ at a national strategic level includes implementation of the Children’s Care and Justice Bill, the move toward incorporation of the UNCRC, the upcoming Scottish Government response to the Hearings for Children Redesign Report, the Promise Bill in 2025.

Christina Spicer - Policy and Public Affairs Manager
Photo credit: Sarah Maclean

Christina Spicer

Policy and Public Affairs Manager

As Policy and Public Affairs Manager, Christina’s main role is programme management and secretariat support for the Hearings System Working Group (HSWG).

She is also:

  • The primary support for the HSWG’s Chair, and
  • The Project Manager for the Collaborative Redesign Project, which is developing redesign proposals to be submitted to the HSWG.