2018 Messages

ACT Children’s Week Patron – The Hon Margaret Reid AO
Children’s Week Ambassador – Jackie French AM, Australian Children’s Laureate 2014/15, 2015 Senior Australian of the Year
ACT Children’s Week President – Narelle Hargreaves OAM JP FACEL – Canberra Citizen of the Year 2016

ACT Children’s Week Patron
The Hon Margaret Reid AO

“A Caring World Shares”, is the overarching theme of Children’s Week, and each year there is a sub theme. This Year focuses upon Article 12 of the UN Rights of the Child Declaration which says that a Child should be able to have opinions and they should be heard. A very significant development from the approach to bringing up Children who it used to be said should be “seen but not heard”.

Recently I have been looking through past Children’s week Programs. What an amazing event each year. A quite small committee work all year to enable this particular festival to take place.  The opportunities for children to participate is remarkable. Also of course the opportunity for parents and the community to gain a greater understanding of school activities.

A highlight each year is the program to recognise so many people and groups who voluntarily contribute so much to enrich the lives of children. Real unsung heroes of our community.

Looking at past programs I was struck by the involvement of Teachers in just about all activities. Somehow we seem to recognise everybody but the wonderful people who have the primary responsibility for the school system. Without them there could not be a Children’s week  nor the outcomes in education to which we aspire for our children.

Thank you Teachers.

The Hon Margaret Reid AO
ACT Children’s Week Patron


ACT Children’s Week Ambassador
Jackie French – AM
Award winning author
2015 Senior Australian of the Year
2014/15 Australian Children’s Laureate

Imagine if a good fairy hovered over your baby’s cradle.  What gifts would we ask her to give your child?

Not the material ones, good though these would be, but the ones that will help them be the fulfilled and compassionate adult they might become?

What gifts would we give all children?

We don’t need a good fairy to give the most important gifts.  We can give kids love, to create resilience. Kids given love tend to give love back.

We can give kids time, the most precious resource of all, as no amount of money can compensate for an hour, or even ten minutes, at the vital moment that it’s needed.

But most of all we can give kids strength and courage by example.  We can stand up and say, ‘This is wrong, and we must make it better.’

We can say, ‘This needs doing, and it will be our hands that begin it, rather than waiting for others.’

Every Children’s Week Award winner does far more than this. They show what can be done when people of goodwill work together.

What they do for children is not just the act itself, but the example, the memory, the inspiration: the gifts that will stay with each child forever.


Jackie French AM
Author, Historian, Ecologist, Honorary Wombat
Ambassador, National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature
Senior Australian of the Year, 2015
Australian Children’s Laureate 2014-15


ACT Children’s Week President
Narelle Hargreaves OAM JP FACEL
Canberra citizen of the Year 2016

A warm welcome to Children’s Week  2018!   The ACT Children’s Week Committee has enjoyed another successful year!  Many thanks to all members of the Committee for their time, commitment and enthusiasm!

The theme for Children’s Week in 2018 is: ‘CHILDREN’S VIEWS AND OPINIONS ARE RESPECTED’:  Article 12 UNCHR.

To all teachers and carers who work with children and young people each day we say ‘THANK YOU’ for supporting and assisting children and young people to reach their potential in our society and the world.

The Children’s Week Awards continue to be a highlight of this special week in the ACT.  The Award citations about community members and organisations are very humbling and inspiring!  Many organisations receive small grants which provide them with the opportunity to involve the community in planned activities that focus on the needs, welfare and wellbeing of children and young people.  The Committee enjoys, and is appreciative of, the photographs of activities and happenings sent by organisations for our Annual Report each year.  The continued support of the National Museum of Australia in hosting the Launch of Children’s Week each October is much appreciated!

In March of 2018, I had the pleasure of once again representing the ACT at the Annual Children’s Week Council of Australia Inc. meeting held in Adelaide.  The sharing of information was a key focus of the Council meeting.  The Annual Council meeting will take place again in Adelaide in 2019.

I would like take the opportunity to thank Kirsten Cross from ACT Playgroups for her management of the administrative functions of the Committee; her commitment and enthusiasm!   ‘A BIG SHOUT OUT’ to the Committee members who lead the Awards Committee; the Grants Committee; the Finances; Publicity; Minutes of meetings …..   your expertise and dedication is much appreciated!

The Committee is most grateful to the ACT Community Services Directorate, Education Directorate, Catholic Education and the Southern Cross Club of Canberra for their continued support in funding which provides the Committee with the resources to look forward to another successful Children’s Week this year.


Narelle  Hargreaves  OAM
ACT Children’s Week President


A Message from Rachel Stephen-Smith MLA
ACT Minister for Children, Youth and Families

Welcome to Children’s Week 2018!

This week is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate every child. Childhood should be a cherished part of life – a time of unbounded fun, curiosity and love.

This year, Children’s Week also asks us to consider how we ensure children’s voices and experiences are heard and respected by everyone.

The theme has been drawn from Article 12 of the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child that, ‘Children’s views and opinions are respected. They have the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child and the right to be heard’.

I encourage all Canberrans to make time during Children’s Week to listen to a child or young person and genuinely hear what they have to say, whether it is about their day at school or an issue important to them like climate change, equality or finding a job in a field they are passionate about.  

The ACT Government is working to transform our approach to issues affecting children and young people.
We want to make sure their views are heard so that they can live the best possible lives in Canberra – strong, safe and connected to their communities.

I always look forward to meeting with representatives from the Youth Advisory Council, learning about what they are up to, the issues and problems young Canberrans raise with them, and getting their advice on how the ACT Government can either support their work or address the concerns raised by young Canberrans.

The ACT Government is supporting the Council to run an ACT Youth Assembly on 28 September. Young Canberrans will take over the Legislative Assembly Chamber for a deliberative democracy process that will focus on key issues identified by the Youth Advisory Council: civic participation, youth mental health, youth homelessness and equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.

Other areas of government have been actively engaging children and young people in conversation about issues from supporting young carers to building better suburbs.

It is essential the voices of children and young people are heard so that we can all better understand the challenges they face and the opportunities they see to improve our city. I wish you a happy and productive Children’s Week!


Rachel Stephen-Smith MLA
Minister for Children, Youth and Families



A Message from Gordon Ramsay MLA
Minister for Seniors and Veterans


Children’s Week 2018

Children’s Week highlights the fundamental importance of families and communities to our children’s happiness and success, and this year’s celebrations will recognise the invaluable connections and contributions that exist between generations.

Grandparents are often a child’s strongest connection to family heritage. In this age of technology, children love hearing about “days gone by” and what their grandparents and parents were like when they were little. Also, most grandparents I know just love to spoil their grandchildren, a demonstration of love without question or limit.

Grandparents often pick up their  grandchildren from school and look after them when their parents are working, take them on special outings, and read them favourite stories and impart valuable life skills. Grandmas and Grandpas, Nanas and Pops, Omas and Opas play a vital role.

Many older Canberrans also devote their time for the benefit of children from the wider ACT community. Whether it’s helping children to learn to read, coaching children’s sport or advocating for the rights of children, older Canberrans are making invaluable contributions to children and young people.

These contributions will be recognised during Children’s Week by an award for Canberra’s Exceptional Older Person.

So here’s to all Canberra families this Children’s Week. After all, we are all someone’s child and if we are lucky, we will always remain one at heart.


Gordon Ramsay MLA
Minister for Seniors and Veterans


A Message from the Director-General,
Education Directorate

It is always a great pleasure to join the ACT Children’s Week festivities as we celebrate Canberra’s children and young people and their right to enjoy their childhood.

This year’s theme ‘Children’s views and opinions are respected. They have the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child and the right to be heard’ is particularly poignant for us working with children in schools.

In the Education Directorate we have just concluded a major community consultation about what the Future of Education in the ACT should focus on. Of the 5,000 people who participated it was particularly pleasing that almost half of those were students. Out of this consultation we have developed a strategy for the next ten years based on the input and feedback of all participants – including these students.

The Foundations and Principles that underpin our Strategy affirm that students are at the centre of what we do. They are active participants in their learning, they make informed choices about what and how they learn. Importantly, they contribute to decisions about how their learning environment operates. I am excited that this principle is such a fundamental element of the Strategy and I am looking forward to the next chapter as we implement the actions.

The ACT Education Directorate is again proud to sponsor and promote ACT Children’s Week and I would like to thank the ACT Children’s Week Committee for organising and promoting the unique contribution children and young people make every day to our community. Thank you also to the schools, community groups and organisations who are hosting events.

Please join with us as we celebrate the children and young people of Canberra during Children’s Week 2018.



Natalie Howson
ACT Education Directorate


A Message from Bernadette Mitcherson

 Director General, Community Services Directorate




It’s wonderful that this year’s Children’s Week is focused on the voices of children.

In Community Services Directorate, and across the ACT Government, listening to children, and hearing about what they want, is an important part of our work.

We know children are better off where family and community connections are stronger, and Children’s Week is a good time for us all to reflect on the importance of children.

This year’s theme Children’s views and opinions are respected – reminds us to think about the opinions of children, and to value those ideas and interactions.

The Children’s Week Program includes lots of great initiatives.

ACT Playgroups will host the 18th PlayFest celebration – a festival of fun for families with children under school age celebrating childhood with community organisations, government agencies, sporting bodies and local businesses.

During Children’s Week, we also celebrate Grandparent’s Day on the final Sunday of the month. All organisations celebrating during Children’s Week are encouraged to consider intergenerational celebratory opportunities in the planning of their events.

ACT Government Child and Family Centres will also be celebrating Canberra’s children by holding events across the city and I would encourage everyone to get along to an event near you.

The Koori Playgroup will hold a basket weaving workshop with a local Aboriginal elder, reinforcing the importance of intergenerational relationships.

A big thank you to the Children’s Week Council, and to everyone who supports them, for bringing together another great program of events for Canberra’s children.


Have a great Children’s Week.



Bernadette Mitcherson


Community Services Directorate