Australians Fear for Future Generations of Children
6 October 2016 at 2:32 pm
The 2016 Valuing Children Initiative benchmark survey has found that 80 per cent of Australians are concerned about the health and happiness of future generations of Australian children.
“Childhood obesity and mental health were highlighted as being particular issues of concern,” convenor of the Valuing Children Initiative Linda Savage said.
“In Australia today approximately one in four children are overweight or obese, and, as a result, for the first time children in affluent countries like Australia are predicted to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents, because of the chronic diseases that result.
“In 2013/14 almost one in seven, four to 17 year olds were assessed as having mental disorders in the previous 12 months.”
The survey also found less than one in five believed Australia was a safer place today than when they grew up.
With two royal commissions currently examining the abuse and mistreatment of children, Savage said this result was probably not surprising.
“And before we comfort ourselves with the belief that these are yesterday’s problems, it should be noted that the Australian Institute of Family Studies reported in 2013/14 that 40,844 children were the subject of substantiated reports of neglect, emotional, physical and sexual abuse, representing a 31 per cent increase from 2009/10,” she said.
The survey found that less than half of those surveyed believed that all children in Australia had a fair and equal opportunity to flourish and to maximise their potential.
Nearly 50 per cent believed governments gave too little consideration to children.
“The Valuing Children Initiative has recently written to all state MPs urging them to reinvigorate the role they play in ensuring the safety, health and wellbeing of children and urging them to give children’s rights and needs greater priority,” Savage said.
“This includes the creation of a ministerial portfolio for children and future generations.
“A dedicated minister is needed to ensure children are at the forefront of considerations, to develop a statewide plan with an inspiring vision to ensure all children experience the safe, supportive and caring childhood they deserve and have a right to, and to establish and oversee a subcommittee of cabinet that includes all ministers with responsibilities for children.”
The Valuing Children Initiative has also called for the instigation of a rigorous and transparent process to ensure that all policy, legislative and decision-making processes actively consider the impact on children and future generations.
“This would ensure that children, who cannot vote and are excluded from influencing the political process, have their interests explicitly considered. Considering the impact on children and future generations should be integral to sound decision making,” Savage said.
The Valuing Children Initiative has also called for funding of community awareness activities to inspire Australians to value all children, to understand that a child’s wellbeing is the responsibility of the entire community and ensure children are at the forefront of considerations.