Aus Govt Failing to Protect Vulnerable Children: UN Delegation
9 November 2011 at 12:28 pm
The Australian Government has been accused of failing to protect the rights of the nation’s most vulnerable children by a delegation of youth representations to the UN.
The delegation – which included six child and youth advocates – presented their concerns to a UN Committee, as part of a reporting process establish to enable the UN to monitor Australia’s commitment to promoting and protecting children’s rights.
According to UNICEF Australia, the representatives addressed the UN Committee on high mortality rates amongst Aboriginal children, children detained in immigration detention facilities, and the sharp increase in the number of children in out-of-home care – all issues raised in the Listen to Children Report.
Every five years, the Australian Government reports to the United Nations on its implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – and Australian NGO’s, through the National Child Rights Taskforce – prepare their own report, the Listen to Children report.
According to the report, three groups of children are especially disadvantaged by the failure of governments:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have child mortality rates of three times their non-aboriginal peers, yet they are the least consulted in the development of Australian policy.
- Australia is currently holding about 400 children in immigration detention facilities, in direct contravention of the UN children’s rights convention.
- The number of children in out-of-home care has increased by 51.5 per cent since 2005.
Releasing the report in July this year, Australian Child Rights Task Force said “After 20 years of ‘commitment’ to child rights in Australia, there is still no national framework and no national children’s commissioner, among other glaring omissions”.
UNICEF Australia advocacy manager Aivee Chew said it was a misconception that all Australian children had their rights protected.
Chew said “We know that Australia is a wonderful place for most of its kids, yet not everyone experiences the same and just levels of opportunity in Australia”.
UNICEF said that although Australia ratified the UN children’s rights convention almost two decades ago, it is the only democratic country that does not have legal or constitutional protection of human rights or children’s rights at a national level.
UNICEF says the delegation hopes the UN will pressure the government to begin addressing this issue by establishing a commissioner devoted to children’s rights.
The delegates included 12 year old Natalie El-Helou from Wentworthville; 24 year old child rights advocate Chris Varney; April Long, a 21 yea old Indigenous law student; CREATE Foundation ambassador Krystal Bartlett; 20 year old founder of the Indigenous Communities Education Appeal Lachlan Cook; and Krista McMeeken, a Nyoongar woman in her final year of law at the University of WA
Is the Australian Government doing enough to protect the rights of vulnerable children? Have you say below………