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Patricia Martin

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Patricia Martin was the national director of an alliance of more than a thousand civil society organisations in the children’s sector in South Africa. Today she continues to work to improve the comprehensive well-being of vulnerable children through policy and legislative research, review and advocacy.

An admitted attorney with a Masters of Law degree in Public Law, she has focused her energies on addressing the holistic needs of children living in poverty, children affected by HIV and AIDS, and young children (0-9 years) in South Africa and the SADC region at large.

In this regard, Patricia has managed, as well as participated in, numerous projects that encompassed research, policy reviews, monitoring the implementation of policies and laws, developing submissions and commentaries, and facilitating dialogue between role players in both government and civil society.

Her principal skills and experience lie in the following areas:

1. Policy analysis, policy formulation, and advocacy for comprehensive integrated solutions that advance the rights and needs of vulnerable children in South Africa and southern Africa

Patricia has engaged in the analysis of laws and policies that speak to the needs of vulnerable children; in the process, she has cultivated in-depth knowledge of the broad frameworks that underpin provisions for such children. This includes knowledge of the South African Constitution, the White Paper for Social Welfare (1997), the (“Taylor”) Committee of Inquiry Report into Comprehensive Social Security in South Africa, the Social Assistance Act and Regulations, the Child Care Act 2003, the Children’s Act 38/2005 and the Children’s Amendment Act, 41 /2007, the draft Regulations to the latter two Acts, the National HIV/AIDS and STI Strategic Plan for South Africa, 2007 – 2011, the National Integrated Plan for ECD, the Policy Framework for Orphans and other Children made Vulnerable by HIV and AIDS South Africa (2005), the New Integrated Service Delivery Model, and a host of policies specific to the departments responsible for providing the various elements of the package, including Social Development, Education, Health, Home Affairs and others.

Her analytical scrutiny has culminated in the development of policy and legal recommendations that were documented in numerous commentaries and submissions, including:

  • submission to the Department of Social Development on the draft Social Assistance Bill (2003);
  • submission to the Joint Ad-Hoc Committee on Socio-Economic Development on the African Peer Review Mechanism (2005);
  • submissions to the Regulations to the Social Assistance Act, 2004 (April 2005 and 2008);
  • submission in response to Draft 8 of the HIV and AIDS and STI Strategic Plan for South Africa 2007-2011;
  • various submissions and responses to the Children’s Bill;
  • Charter of Comprehensive Social Security Rights for Children in South Africa (November 2008); and,
  • Charter of Comprehensive Social Security Rights for Young Children (0-9) in South Africa (July 2008).

2. Research and monitoring

  • Comparative research of international and South African legislative and jurisprudential initiatives in the arena of administrative justice (2000) (exclusive senior researcher).
  • Literature review: perverse incentives and the beneficial use of social assistance for children in South Africa (2004) (exclusive senior researcher).
  • Scoping exercise to analyze co-ordination mechanisms in Government and Civil Society for vulnerable children – Provincial Perspectives (2009) (co-research associate).
  • A policy audit of policies and programmes in South Africa that impact on vulnerable children and their families (November 2009, HSRC) (exclusive senior researcher).

Patricia was the managing commissioner of the following research projects:

  • Health and social welfare services for children under the age of 8 years old in South Africa: access, barriers and benefits (CASE, 2005);
  • Rapid appraisal of home affairs policy and practice affecting children in South Africa (Sonja Giese and Lauren Smith, 2007);
  • Barriers to accessing the CSG in vulnerable rural areas in South Africa (CASE, 2009);
  • A rapid review of co-operative governance structures relevant to children in South Africa (Sonja Giese and Ben Sanders, November 2008);
  • National Guidelines on School Uniforms: An assessment of the impact of the National Guidelines on School Uniforms notice 173 of 2006 on making school uniforms more affordable and improving access to schools (Kevin Roussell, Martin, P –editor, December 2007); and,
  • A study on the implementation and impact of the No-Fee and Exemption Policies (Giese S, Zide H, Koch, R, Hall K,2009).

Her publications, seminar papers and presentations include the following:

  • “A Single Children’s Statute for South Africa’s Children” – March 2003 (a presentation to the SALC Children’s Bill workshop);
  • “Barriers to Social Security” Children First, July /August 2004;
  • “Budgeting for comprehensive care for vulnerable children” – November 2007 (a paper written for presentation to the 11 International Basic Income Earth Network congress);
  • “Child support improves the quality of life for the whole family” The Sunday Times, 8 June 2003;
  • “Democracy does not guarantee food on the table” The Star, December 2002;
  • “Exploding the myth that social security breeds dependency” The Sunday Times, 24 April 2005.
  • “Just Administrative Action – The Key to Accessing Socio-Economic Rights” ESR REVIEW Economic and Social Rights in South Africa, Vol. 2, No. 1, July 1999;
  • “Message to the President: Grants are good for growth” Children First, March/April 2005;
  • “Social security is failing our most vulnerable” The Star, 5 May 2003,
  • “The Children’s Bill – A suitable vehicle for children’s comprehensive social security rights” ESR Review Economic and Social Rights in South Africa, Vol. 4, No. 2, June 2003;
  • Letter to the editor on the developmental value of extended spending on social security, The Cape Times;

3. Knowledge transfer, capacity-building and developing training material

Patricia has developed publications that make the complex legal and policy terrain of children’s social security rights more accessible to grass-roots communities; in so doing, she has also aimed to facilitate their wider participation in policy processes.

Her documents and achievements include:

  • a school fee exemption literacy comic;
  • an Access to Information fact sheet;
  • a Promotion of Administrative Justice Act fact sheet;
  • a training manual dealing with social grants and enabling documents, the right to education and remedies to address breaches of social security rights (judicial and Chapter Nine institutions as well as internal appeal forums);
  • fact sheets and posters on enabling documents, with a focus on the rights and procedures related to birth registration;
  • a social grants booklet;
  • popular summaries of policy and research documents;
  • a fact sheet on the Extension of the CSG to 18; and,
  • policy and law reform updates.

4. Consultation with senior government and civil society representatives

Patricia Martin is an experienced facilitator of dialogue and collaboration between senior civil society and government representatives. ACESS is a coordinating vehicle which is mandated inter alia to facilitate dialogue between a range of stakeholders on policy and legislative matters relating to children. She was a primary driver of this organisational function, with the dialogue focusing on the review of existing policies, laws and practices and the formulation of recommendations that could address the identified in the reviews.

Both in person and in writing, Patricia has engaged with a wide spectrum of players in the policy arena, including ministers of Social Development and Education as well as various directors-general and chief directors. Civil society engagements ranged from interacting with grass-roots CBOs to consulting with senior officials at other national coordinating structures and alliances.

5. Developing and coordinating strategic alliance and network structures

Patricia has extensive experience in building advocacy and communications coordinating structures. She oversaw the growth of ACESS from a small project numbering 70 member organisations to a nationally recognised and credible legally independent alliance of more than 1,200 members. ACESS led key collective advocacy initiatives to improve the lives of children in South Africa. In fulfilling this objective, the alliance served as a strategic communications and networking hub – a hub which drew together and collectively empowered a host of organisations all committed to the cause of children’s rights.


  • Bachelor of Arts (University of Cape Town);
  • Bachelor of Laws (University of Cape Town);
  • Master of Laws degree (University of Cape Town);
  • Admitted attorney and conveyancer (Cape High Court).