Catherine Moynihan is the Official Solicitor and Director of Legal Services/Investigations at the Office of the Public Guardian. She’s practised as a lawyer for marginalised clients working for a private criminal law firm, a community legal centre, a child safety authority in the UK and at Legal Aid Queensland. At Legal Aid Queensland she worked as a general advice lawyer, a Separate and Direct Representative for children and young people in child protection proceedings and was in the Youth Advocate position which also had a systemic advocacy and policy/law reform focus. She has had policy positions in government and was a Research Director on the Carmody Inquiry.
Catherine is a Churchill Fellow and has completed a study tour on advocacy and legal representation for children and young people in care which took her to the UK and US. She’s a founding board member of the Child Protection Practitioners Association of Queensland, a member of the Queensland Law Society Children’s Law Committee.
We’re also incredibly lucky to have her as a CREATE Foundation Board Member. Earlier this year, we sat down with Catherine and asked her to tell us why she wanted to be on CREATE’s Board.
“I feel very privileged to have worked with children and young people with care experiences for most of my time as a lawyer. Since 2004 I have had a passionate interest in child protection law. I strongly believe in the child protection sector honouring the Charter of Rights and affording those with a care experience basic human rights. Over my time doing casework with children and young people in care what impressed me the most was their resilience, their patience, their ability to forgive but ultimately their sense of humour even in the face of really difficult personal circumstances.
Last year I was lucky enough to attend the CREATE National Conference for its entirety. I was impressed by the young people who attended and participated in the program itself. Their determination and strength gave me a much needed boost and a reminder of why we need to stay committed to reform for the long term.
In Queensland I have seen presentations by CREATE Young Consultants to child protection workers and the legal profession as part of professional development, conferences and forums have a lasting impact.
In 2011 a presentation to Magistrates making decisions in the Children’s Court about child protection applications by Young Consultants was one of the early steps that was critical to raising awareness with judicial decision makers about children and young people’s interest in the court process and how the decisions they make impact on their lives. Now we have rules in the Children’s Court that identify the options for participation that are available to children and young people.
I am really interested in promoting and supporting the Speak Up Program. My own approach to advocacy has been greatly influenced by the advocacy I have witnessed children and young people do for themselves. I have had the benefit for most of my career in undertaking both individual and systemic advocacy. My systemic advocacy approach has been greatly informed by the individual advocacy I have undertaken. The Speak Up Program gives young people an opportunity to become aware of their rights, learn the techniques to advocate for them and have the confidence to speak up for their own individual needs and for the issues they see as important for those with a care experience.”
Thank you to Catherine for spending the time to chat with us. Do you want to learn more about the Speak Up program Catherine’s so passionate about? Click the button below!