Koulla Yiasouma

Chair of Oberstown Children Detention Centre

Koulla Yiasouma

Koulla is a qualified social worker and worked as a probation officer in England. She established the first 24-hour telephone helpline for women who were experiencing domestic abuse in Northern Ireland before she joined Include Youth in 1998 as Director (Chief Executive). 

In 2015 she was appointed by the First and Deputy First Ministers to be the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People and her eight-year term ended in March 2023. While Commissioner, Koulla and her team undertook significant work in the areas such as mental health, special educational needs and child protection. She also published the first formal investigation into the care of a child. 

Koulla has been appointed by the Minister for Children in the Republic of Ireland to be the Chair of Oberstown Children Detention Centre. She has also been awarded the role of Honorary Professor of Practice by Queens University Belfast and will be working closely with the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work.

She is a member of the Board of Trustees of Barnardo’s UK and is currently working as an Interim Chief Executive and consultant.

Koulla is a passionate advocate for human rights particularly the rights of children and young people and believes that the formal realisation of rights ensures better outcomes for all of society.

"As an advocate for change throughout my career, I have increasingly come to recognise the importance of administrative data. This was particularly the case when I worked as the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People. I was responsible for scrutinising government performance to realise the rights of all children, and the first port of call was often the data that statutory agencies collected. 

"Such administrative data is essential to understanding the effectiveness of public expenditure. Billions of pounds are spent every year and administrative data should be used to evaluate whether the maximum impact has been secured. Administrative data is also vital for planning for future interventions and provision, particularly where planning processes can be co-designed with experts by experience.

"I am delighted to be a champion of ADR UK as their work is pivotal to ensuring public expenditure is used as efficiently and effectively as possible."