New Call for Australian Children's Commission
18 November 2010 at 2:44 pm
The Australian Human Rights Commission has called for the establishment the office of a national Children’s Commissioner as an important step in making sure that all children in Australia can fully enjoy their human rights.
The Commission has recommended the Australian Children's Commission in a new discussion paper released online this week.
The Paper says many children in Australia are able to fully enjoy their human rights. However, the rights of some children are vulnerable.
It says an independent national Children’s Commissioner with the power and mandate to listen to, understand and advocate for children could play an important role in promoting and protecting the rights of all children in Australia, particularly of those who are most at-risk.
In particular, it says a national Children’s Commissioner could operate as a national advocate for children’s rights; ensure that government decision making processes and outcomes are consistent with the best interests of children; develop mechanisms to secure the participation of children in decisions that affect them; and provide a coordinated national approach to children’s rights.
It says human rights provide a clear framework for promoting, and for ensuring accountability in respect of, child wellbeing.
In April 2010, the Federal Government announced the Australian Human Rights Framework. In that Framework, the Government re-affirmed a commitment to its human rights obligations under the seven core United Nations human rights treaties to which Australia is a party, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
In September 2010 Greens’ Senator Sarah Hanson-Young introduced a bill to the Senate which called for the establishment of a Commonwealth Commissioner for Children and Young People to promote and protect the rights of children in Australia.
The Paper admits the call for this office is not new. Over the last decade it has been supported by a number of child-rights focused groups, including the Australian Human Rights Commission (the Commission), UNICEF, Save the Children and the National Children’s and Youth Law Centre.
It says these groups all recognise that an independent body with the power and the mandate to listen to, understand and advocate for children in Australia would make an important contribution to the protection and promotion of children’s rights in Australia.