Child  Rights

Next year it will be thirty years since the ratification of The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – a human rights treaty which sets out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children.

Given the current issue in the USA, of border crossing and of children being separated from families, I thought it timely to look at the Convention.

Article 9 states children should not be separated from their parents unless harm or safety is an issue.

In child friendly terms it says, “You have the right to be with your parents unless it is bad for you.

You have the right to live with a family that cares for you.”

Every five years Australia reports to the United Nations on how Australia is meeting its international obligations to children-how Australia is progressing or not progressing in terms of meeting its obligations to children in Australia under international law.

This year, the Australian Human Rights Commission, led by National Children’s Commissioner Megan Mitchells, will report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child about Australia’s progress in meeting its child rights obligations by 1 November 2018. The Committee monitors Australia’s implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and its optional protocols on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, and on the involvement of children in armed conflict.

Earlier this year Commissioner Mitchells called for submissions from all people and organisations that had something to say about the state of children’s rights in Australia.

Commissioner Mitchell will also prepare a more comprehensive version of this report, a ‘state of the nation’ on child rights in Australia for her next Children’s Rights Report, which will be submitted to Parliament in late 2018.

As part of this process, Commissioner Mitchell travelled around Australia  to hear, first hand, from children, young people and their advocates and taking submissions on a single right or group of rights.

For example the group of rights related to ‘violence against children’ includes topics like abuse and neglect, sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, and the right not to be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Other rights fall within the groups of civil freedoms, family environment, disability, basic health and welfare, education, and special protection measures.

Where possible, the views of children and young people were included. Commissioner Mitchell was interested in hearing from people living in regional and remote areas, as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

“We know that some issues can have a bigger impact on children living outside of major cities,” and she wanted to hear directly from the young people and organisations in these communities.

Australia last reported on its implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its optional protocols in 2012. You can read the Committee’s 2012 Concluding Observations on Australia here.


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