Influencing Child Policy in South Africa: ACESS is heard!

ACESS Executive Director, Kevin Rousell, shares a source of organisational pride: ACESS' ability to interact with policy dialogue to advance children's rights in South Africa:

The policy space in South Africa has been opened to allow for people-driven reforms to undo the legacy of apartheid.

ACESS has successfully made inputs at all levels of policy development. In analyses of our inputs, up to 80% of what we recommend is used in changes to draft policies and legislation. This is something ACESS is extremely proud of.

Civil society has been able to work together to provide common messages and recommendations for change. ACESS has played a role in bringing people together but also in cooperating with other organisations leading debates, so that civil society presents a united front. Importantly we are viewed as one of the leading civil society organisations concerned with children's rights and where we are unable to make inputs, various role players request our view or alternatively seek our endorsement of their submissions.

The majority of this type of intervention occurs in word documents over emails between ACESS and Government or Parliamentary personnel. The pinnacle of engagements in policy is the opportunity to make oral submissions to decision makers. We are very proud of a history of making presentations in person to portfolio committees and departmental personnel. These engagements have increased the likelihood of our recommendations being accepted.

Recently, we made a presentation to the Portfolio committee on Home Affairs. The National department of Home Affairs sent a delegation of support. This was an excellent opportunity to present our work around Enabling Documents. The members of the committee were particularly impressed with the model and asked the department to specify their relationship with ACESS to see if the campaign could be scaled up. From this meeting, we have been invited to speak to the committee at a later stage, an opportunity which we will gladly take up in order to update them on the situation on the ground.

The receptiveness of law makers to listening to voices of the people is an important space to keep open. In many newly independent countries, these spaces are created in the early years of freedom and shut down soon after due to lack of participation. ACESS and the Alliance members have played a key role in making this space relevant in South Africa, and 16 years after Freedom we are still voicing our opinions and - most significantly - still being heard.

* This story is shared as an outcome of a partnership between The Constellation and Cordaid to capture good practise and experience from Cordaid's South African partners. For the full ACESS partner profile and reflections on video, see *

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