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CHILDREN'S PANELS: IN SEARCH OF QUALITIES NOT QUALIFICATIONS

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A national campaign to recruit more children's panel members ...
A national campaign to recruit more children's panel members

was launched today by Sam Galbraith, minister for children at

The Scottish Office. Television will be used for the first time to attract people from all walks of life to put themselves forward. Mr Galbraith also highlighted the enhanced role a Scottish parliament could play in promoting children's issues.

Speaking at the launch in Edinburgh, Mr Galbraith said:

'There are currently over 2,200 panel members throughout the

country, appointed by the secretary of state. Selection and recruitment is undertaken by the individual local authority children's panel advisory committees and is based on responses to local and national campaigns. Today is the launch of the national campaign.

'For the first time we are making use of TV to reach a wider

audience. There will be three 20 second adverts on the theme `WE

ARE INTERESTED IN YOUR QUALITIES NOT YOUR QUALIFICATIONS'. This will be supplemented by press adverts.

'The recruitment campaign will run until September 14. Adverts will also be placed in the major daily newspapers as well as some Sunday titles. We hope to target members of the community who will have an empathy with the children and families who appear in front of a children's hearing. We are particularly keen to recruit more men. There appears to be a misconception that children's panels are

made up purely of professional people, this is not the case, nor should it be. It is important that the panel is representative of the whole community.

'Panel members are entitled by law to time off work to sit on hearings. To inform employers about the system we are launching a

leaflet for employers which explains the system and the benefits not

only to the community at large but also to the employer. A copy of the

leaflet is to be sent to all major employers in Scotland.

'The children's hearings system is unique to Scotland and makes decisions based solely on the best interests of the child. Since

its introduction over a quarter of a century ago, it has become highly

regarded throughout the world.

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