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Ombudsman for Children

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Ombudsman for Children

The Ombudsman for Children's Office have developed three short films which highlights three cases studied, by actual people linked in with the Ombudsman. In one of the films, a teenager is has a progressive disability and is in a wheelchair. He complained to the Ombudsman for Children because the local housing authority did not provide adequate services for his disability - we are showing part of this film

We meet the Ombudsman for children Emily Logan, who tells us about the new material, her role as the Children's Ombudsman as well as the type of case studies and complaints that the office of the Ombudsman receives.

The Ombudsman for Children is Emily Logan

Back Ground to the Office of the Ombudsman:
Originally Ombudsmen for Children's Offices were set up to independently investigate complaints against public organisations. This was before the Convention on the Rights of the Child was agreed in 1989. Since then, as well as investigating complaints, the Ombudsmen for Children's Offices around the world have worked hard to promote the rights of children as listed in the UN Convention.

In Ireland as far back as 1996 many committed people who were interested in children's rights put pressure on the Government to have an Irish Ombudsman for Children. The Ombudsman for Children Act, which sets out the role and powers of this Office, was agreed by the Dail and the Seanad in 2002.

What the office of the Ombudsman or Children's Office does:
The Ombudsman for Children's Office (OCO) is here to make sure that the government and other people who make decisions about young people really think about what is best for young people.

The things that the OCO can do are set out in a law called the Ombudsman for Children Act 2002. The main areas of work of the OCO are:
. Independent complaints handling
. Communication & participation
. Research & legislatio

Emily Logan

What Emily Logan said on becoming the first Ombudsman for Children:
I work for all children and young people under 18 living in the Ireland and my job is to make sure that the government and other people who make decisions about young people really think about what is best for young people. I believe it's really important that young people have a say about things that affect them, so I try to meet as many young people as I can to find out what things matter to all of you and then I let the government know this.

Before I became Ombudsman for Children, I trained as a children's nurse in Temple Street Hospital in Dublin in 1982. Even though I knew I wanted to work with young people, this was a real eye opener for me. I met lots of children who had experienced things I had never even heard about. Some children were very sick, some had organ transplants, sadly some children I met also died, some were not looked after very well at home and some children were really poor.

I was shocked by some of the things I saw, some of these injustices made me angry and it was really during this time I realised that I had to try to make a difference. From then on I became more determined to work as hard as I could to help make children and young people's lives better.

In the mid 1980s I went to work in London, in Guy's and Great Ormond Street hospitals. Great Ormond Street is a hospital famous all over the world for specialist treatment for children, and many children travel from different countries for treatments. This was great experience meeting hundreds of children and young people from different countries and cultures, working day by day along side them.

When children and young people were in hospital for a long time we got to know them very well and usually someone close to them would stay with them. I learned a lot about how strong children and young people are, how they can make hard decisions even at a young age, and how families pull together in these tough situations. I also learned about many religions and cultures and met hundreds of people from different places around the world.

I came back to Ireland in 1997 and worked as Director of Nursing at Crumlin Hospital Dublin for four years. Then I worked as Director of Nursing in Tallaght hospital Dublin for two years.

In November 2003 the job for Ombudsman for Children was advertised. The thing that really struck me about the ad was that children and young people were involved in the whole thing. The advert looked different and caught my eye. At the bottom it said that children and young people would be interviewing for the job. I cut the advert out and couldn't stop thinking about it; couldn't stop thinking about how much I would love this job. When I was interviewed by 15 young people I wanted the job even more, I just knew it was my perfect job; it would give me the chance to make a difference and allow me to work with children and young people face to face.

As Ombudsman for Children, I am given lots of power that allows me to see if children and young people are getting a fair deal and if they are not, to ask questions to the government and people who make decisions about why. To do that I need to keep my ear to the ground and understand what's really going on for children and young people. So I need the help of children and young people directly, this isn't just about listening to them but about really hearing what its like from their point of view.

I am very lucky to be Ombudsman for Children. There is a huge variety in the job, so no two days are the same. I am very serious about my job. Sometimes it can be hard - many children have difficult lives and this can be very sad to see. This just makes me want to work harder to try to make sure children and young people get a fair deal. Other parts of my job aren't hard at all - I love the fact that I meet children and young people face to face. This gives me great energy, because they are so straight, they want me to do a good job.

The Ombudsman for children's Office

The Ombudsman for children's Office was established in 2004, as a body that promotes the rights of children up to the age of 18 years of age. Since then, the Office of the Ombudsman for Children has received more than 3,000. Many of these complaints were made against a range of public bodies including schools and hospitals and local authorities.

There are only certain types of complaints that the Ombudsman for Children can look into
The Ombudsman can look into a range of Organistaions funded by the Government (known as public bodies) like a school, a hospital, the HSE, County Council or one that provides a service to young people up to the age of 18 years...if you are not sure if the organisation or service is a public body that you are complaining about is a public body, just contact the Office of the Ombudsman for Children to find out..We can the look into the complaint if we feel that a child or young person may be affected in some negative way by the actions of that organisation.

What does your office look for when a complaint is made?
When examining a complaint we try to find out if the organisation you're complaining about has followed it's own rules and policies. We also try to find out if those rules and policies are fair.

What should you do if you wish to make a complaint?
Firstly you should bring your complaint to the people who you are complaining about. This give them the chance to look into it. If after this, you are still not happy, then you can make your complaint to the Ombudsman for Children.

What should people include in their complaint when they are contacting the office of the Ombudsman?

. A short explanation of the complaint (What it is you are unhappy with)

. Your contact details

. The contact details of the organisation you are complaining about

. A description of the steps that you have already taken to let them (the organisation) know about the complaint

After the complaint has been made, what happens then and how long will it take for an outcome to be reached?

We will look into the complaint and see if it is something that we can investigate. Usually it can take a few months for all the information to be gathered and before our office can decide what to do next. We will be keeping the complaint informed of what is happening and we will discuss with the best way for us to contact him/her...

Where is this DVD material available?
The materials have been distributed to a wide range of organisations including youth clubs, youth information centers and to advocacy groups who work with young people who may need the help of the OCO. They are also on our website and can be requested by emailing or calling our freephone complaints line 1800 202040.