The Australian Human Rights Commission has submitted a report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, detailing the key human rights concerns for children. The UN Committee is currently considering Australia’s progress in meeting its obligations to children under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and has received reports from the Commission (as an A-status national human rights institution), the Australian Government and civil society.
This is the first report to the UN body since the National Children’s Commissioner, Megan Mitchell, was appointed in 2013. Speaking at the National Press Club in Canberra on Thursday, Ms Mitchell reflected on her learnings since she began her role, citing extensive meetings and consultations that formed the basis of the report.
“I met hundreds of children this year alone and heard from 22,700 other children through an online national poll. I also heard from over 100 stakeholders and received 127 written submissions,” said Ms Mitchell.
“In Australia today, 5.5 million people are under the age of 18. While most of them grow up in safe and healthy environments, there are too many children whose rights are not adequately protected.
“This particularly applies to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, refugee and asylum seeker children, LGBTI children, children with disability, children in out-of-home care, and children living in rural and remote areas.
“I am alarmed by the increasing rates of self-harm and the fact that suicide remains the leading cause of death for children aged 5-17 years, with the most recent data showing a 10 per cent increase between 2016 and 2017.
“Another critical issue is that there has been little systemic change to address the increasing rates of children involved in the child protection system or to address the underlying reasons why children are being placed in out-of-home care.”
“Going forward, we have much work to do. A central message in the report is the need for stronger measures in policy, law and practice to protect children and advance their rights.”
The report contains 60 recommendations for action by Australian Governments.
Media contact :
National Children’s Commissioner Megan Mitchell
Sarah Bamford 0417 957 525