15 December 2017
An inspirational leader with a 30-year career championing the rights and future of all children has been appointed as Jersey’s first Children’s Commissioner.
Deborah McMillan, a former police officer, teacher and director of children’s services in the UK, was appointed following a robust recruitment process, which also involved being interviewed by a panel of young people.
Described as ‘an inspirational leader with considerable experience leading change and transformation in children’s services in the UK’, Mrs McMillan will lead the new office of the Children’s Commissioner in Jersey from January, with three new members of staff.
The post of Children’s Commissioner for Jersey was established in response to the recommendation of the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry.
On Friday, 15 December, Chief Minister Ian Gorst revealed the news of the appointment to the Young People’s panel, who were involved in the interview process for a new Children’s Commissioner.
Speaking at the Jersey Youth Service, at St James Centre, Senator Gorst said “I am delighted to announce that Deborah McMillan has been appointed as the first Children’s Commissioner for Jersey. This is a unique post that is intended to influence widespread positive change for children and young people in Jersey, transforming understanding and acceptance throughout the community of the importance of children’s rights.
“Throughout her career she transformed services for children, making difficult decisions and making sure services are effective, children's voices are heard, and children are safe. I congratulate the new, and first, Children’s Commissioner for Jersey on this significant appointment and wish her every success in her term of office.
“I would also like to congratulate and thank the Young People’s panel, who were involved in the interview process, for their mature opinions and professional approach in helping to make such an important decision for the future of all children in Jersey.”
Some of the Young People’s panel, who were involved in the interview process, said that it was an honour to be part of ‘history’.
One said “This felt like being part of history. I felt responsible for the important decision that would affect young people across Jersey in the future.”
Another said “I felt for the first time that adults cared and were willing to take into account young people's thoughts and opinions.”
A third said “As young people, we were able to show our commitment and skills in recruiting adults for a very important role for young people on the island.”
The new Children’s Commissioner, Mrs McMillan added “I am delighted and honored to have been appointed as the first Children’s Commissioner for Jersey. This is a vitally important role and I look forward to working on behalf of all children and young people in Jersey to promote and protect their rights and best interests.
“I do not underestimate the challenges that the Office of the Children’s Commissioner will face, but I am determined to use my term of office wisely to drive real improvements in children’s lives and in particular those most vulnerable who are in need of care, protection and support.
“My work will be guided by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and I will strive to ensure that it is fully implemented in Jersey; not just by Government but by all those whose decisions have an impact in children’s lives.”
The role was advertised in the Jersey Evening Post, Community Care, the Guardian and on the Odgers website.
The selection process involved interviews with: the former Children’s Commissioner for England, Maggie Atkinson; the current Commissioner of Northern Ireland, Koulla Yiasouma; Dame Janet Paraskeva, chair of the Jersey Appointments Commission; Jersey’s Chief Minister Ian Gorst; Chief Officer of Community and Constitutional Affairs Tom Walker; and Simon McDonald, Partner, Odgers Berndtson.
The Children’s Commission will operate initially in shadow form, and will help bring forward legislation to the States Assembly to confirm the functions and powers of the Commissioner.
The Young Person interview panel comprised eight young people aged between 13 and 18. They were recruited by the Youth Service, with youth workers supporting and facilitating four evening sessions with the group to help them think about the issues they and their peers of today are facing. From this, they created questions they felt important to ask the candidates. Youth workers also support the group in the feedback session “Adult panel”.
Biography of Deborah McMillan
Deborah is the Director of Education and Family Support at Bridgend County Borough Council in Wales, currently seconded to the Welsh Government as Professional Adviser in the Education and Public Services Department, with a focus on cross government children's’ poverty and wellbeing agendas.
Working in Local Government, Deborah’s work has always straddled education and children’s social care. In Bridgend Deborah took the role of Director of Children's Services and established integrated children’s services in early help hubs. Holding the statutory roles of Chief Education Officer and Lead Director for Children and Young People as required by the 2004 Children's Act, she led a workforce of 2,500 FTE with responsibility for a budget of £120 million.
Previously, Deborah taught religious education and Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) at Barnwood Park School Gloucester, a challenging city comprehensive in a deprived community.
Deborah completed 11 years’ service in the Gloucestershire Constabulary, predominantly in the areas of domestic violence, child protection, schools and youth crime prevention.