Reframing Protection from a Child Rights Perspective. James McDougall National Children's & Youth Law Centre Protecting All Children Today Conference Brisbane, Australia Wed 25 March 2009.
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National Children's & Youth Law Centre
Protecting All Children Today
Wed 25 March 2009
Established in 1993 as a community legal centre to assist children and young people in dealing with the legal system and to promote their rights. Its policy corner stone is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions, 1999 (the ‘Forde Inquiry’);
Putting the Picture Together: Inquiry into Response by Government Agencies to Complaints of Family Violence and Child Abuse in Aboriginal Communities, Western Australia 2002 (the ‘Gordon Inquiry’);
Our Best Investment: A State Plan to Protect and Advance the Interests of Children, South Australia, 2003 (the ‘Layton Review’);
Children of Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands Commission of Inquiry, A Report into Sexual Abuse, South Australia 2008 (the ‘Mulligan Inquiry’);
Report of the Northern Territory Board of Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse, 2007 (the ‘Wild Inquiry’)
The Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in New South Wales 2008 (‘the Wood Inquiry’).
Survival and Development
Non-discrimination / Equality of Opportunity
Protection – the best interests principle
1. Evaluation and identification of children’s needs.
2. Evaluation and identification of causes.
3. Raise awareness of needs and causes.
4. Evaluate capacity of rights bearers (children and parents) to claim and duty bearers (parents, the community and the State) to provide.
5. Develop comprehensive strategy to build capacities.
6. Implement strategy - includes research, delivery of services, education – for empowerment, awareness and legislative change.
7. Evaluate strategy against content of normative standards (and the work of human rights treaty monitoring bodies)
8. Implementation - interdisciplinary and multi-sectoral.
9. Implementation - culturally sensitive and aware.
10.Implementation - to require re-allocation of power and resources.
What are the cumulative effects on a country if the child protection system fails?
Children who miss out on educational opportunities, have poorer health outcomes, have greater contact with the criminal justice system and as a consequence of suffering abuse have less of a chance to fulfil their potential. This disadvantage, if left unattended, can take its toll on a nation’s social and economic development.
UNICEF Child Protection Programme Strategy and Programming Process Report 2007
“Child Protection, including for children in alternative care, is the statutory responsibility of State and Territory Governments”
“The Australian, State and Territory Governments are also working together to examine a national approach to protecting all vulnerable children. This includes developing a common descriptive framework, definitions and terminologies for child protection and early intervention.” from the draft Government Report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child – June 2008
A Justice System Model is not sustainable.
A Public Health Model?
With comprehensive prevention and participation strategies;
With cost-benefit analysis by the Productivity Commission;
With evaluation and monitoring using a Child Rights framework;
With State / Federal cooperation or a Federal regulatory model?
Don’t look to lawyers for best practice in supporting the participation of children.
But hold them to account if they don’t.
The inclusion of participation as a principle in legislation is not enough.
Supporting participation is the responsibility of adults.
Support the work of those with a track record – the CREATE Foundation; the Offices of Children’s Commissioners.
The significance of history in building trust.
Self determination – involving communities in building sustainable solutions.
The importance of relationships with family, community, culture and land.
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child – General Comment No. 11 on Indigenous Children
UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (October 2005)
Concluding Observations on Australia's implementation of the Convention - http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/crcs40.htm
An adult can promote and facilitate effective participation by:
keeping the child informed about:
allowing the child a choice in how and whether to participate;
helping the child to express their views; and
enabling the type and extent of participation chosen by the child
…to the staff and volunteers of the Centre particularly Julianne Elliott, Rebecca Dollisson, Sarah Penman, Benita Rupan, Subhaga Amarasekara, Oishee Alam and Karen Fok.…
…to the children who share their thoughts with us….
…to the Conference Hosts and Organisers….
…to you for your attention.