Last week District Court Judge Her Honour Julie Wager was announced as the new President of the Children’s Court, taking up the position on 15 March.
And listening to her speak at the Department of Education’s International Women’s Day breakfast this morning, it’s clear her mind and her heart are focused on children’s wellbeing.
Back in the 1980s, she recalled, the rights of children were spoken about but not acted on: “The Children’s Court was an awful place. On Tuesdays, adult and children’s cases were heard together. Children had to confront their offenders in a tiny courtroom that used to be a classroom.”
In the 1990s, the Children’s Court as we now know it was set up by Judge Hal Jackson.
Throughout her career, Judge Wager has looked for opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives.
“Being appointed President of the Children’s Court is an exciting career change,” she said.
“There are 5000 children in care and a small number are very challenging. They need an opportunity to get out of the trauma they are in and education is a wonderful opportunity. We have to get children learning. Good work is going on but it’s not enough.”
Judge Wager said New Zealand was doing some interesting work in this area that WA could learn from.
“Supporting children with FASD – foetal alcohol spectrum disorder – is also something we need to do more work on.”