Calls for action on Australia’s ‘blind spots’ on UN Rights of the Child

Children cheering
Experts are are calling for action on the critical areas in which the UN has highlighted Australia’s poor performance in child rights. Image: Julian Meehan

Human rights leaders, youth ambassadors and academics are calling for action today to improve child rights, marking 30 years since the since the formation of the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Co-hosted with World Vision Australia, the anniversary event brings together representatives from the Australian Child Rights Taskforce and the Australian Human Rights Commission to explore four areas of concern – ‘blind spots’ –identified from the UN Committee in September:

  • Climate change and sustainable environments
  • Youth, age and citizenship
  • Creating environments that support mental health and resilience
  • Indigenous children’s cultural rights.

Australia's National Children's Commissioner Megan Mitchell will release the ‘Children’s Rights in Australia: A Scorecard’. This will be launched by Member of the United Nations CRC Committee (Geneva) Mikiko Otani.

Congress convenor Dr Ani Wierenga from the University of Melbourne Department of Paediatrics and Centre for Adolescent Health said: “This anniversary is critical in highlighting Australia’s recent poor performance despite being a signatory to the UN Convention 30 years ago, announced by the UN Committee in September.

“We are calling for action on the critical areas in which the UN has highlighted Australia’s poor performance.”

Dr Wierenga said Australians should have expectations about meeting international commitments.

“Child rights are at the core of ensuring that no child is left behind in the progress towards the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals,” Dr Wierenga said.  

“This includes Australian children and young people, as well as the millions of children and young people around the world.”

The program also includes:

  • Welcome by World Vision Australia CEO Claire Rogers
  • University of Melbourne Professor Lisa Gibbs on programs that promote youth mental health and resilience.
  • University of Melbourne Professor Susan Sawyer on how Australian legal frameworks are inconsistent with children’s and adolescents’ rights.
  • UN CRC Committee Geneva Mikiko Otani on the process leading to the UN’s recent recommendations for Australia
  • A panel discussion with members of the Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network of Australia,  World Vision youth and UN Youth Ambassadors.
  • AIME co-CEO Sherice Jackson on a children’s response to the Uluru Statement.

The congress will close with a call to action and recommendations for Australia and the region.