On 2 March 2018, the Federal Attorney General, Christian Porter, in the company of the National Children's Commissioner, Ms Megan Mitchell (the Commissioner), and the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM, launched the 2017 Children's Rights Report, saying:
According to the Attorney-General, the Children's Rights Report also outlines the development of the National Statement of Principles for Child Safe Organisations, an initiative brought about by the work of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
To develop the report the Children's Commissioner spoke directly with young or expecting parents across the country, and consulted broadly with academics, Government, private and non-governmental organisations, and many children and youths themselves.
The Attorney-General indicated that he believed the report would contribute to improving the lives of children and young people across Australia. In conjunction with the release of the Report, he also announced the reappointment of Ms Mitchell as National Children's Commissioner for a further two years.
In Chapter 1, the report looks at the work done promoting and discussing children’s rights and the awareness of them. It also discusses the progress in relation to recommendations made in previous Children’s Rights Reports. Children’s rights in Commonwealth legislation and court proceedings are considered in Chapter 2 of the report, particularly with respect to the consideration of children’s rights in the development of Commonwealth legislation and related policies.
Young parents and their children are considered in Chapter 3 where the findings of the project on the rights of young parents and their children are detailed. According to the report:
The chapter identifies gaps in knowledge regarding the experiences and trajectories of young parents, and analyses good practice in early intervention and support services that lead to better outcomes for young parents and their children and makes a number of recommendations for improvement.
In Chapter 4, child safety and wellbeing is considered, and there is an outline of contemporary understanding of child harm and abuse in Australia, with a particular focus on children and young people in organisational settings. It highlights data on child harm and abuse, noting trends and gaps in available information. The chapter also refers to findings of recent government inquiries that "emphasise the importance of valuing and empowering children and listening to what they say". The chapter also describes the work the Commissioner is leading to "embed child safe cultures and child rights knowledge throughout organisations that work for and with children across Australia'.
The report makes 17 recommendations. Some of the key ones are as follows:
(a) access to education for all children is guaranteed
(b) educational authorities and educational institutions – both public and private – are required to make all necessary adjustments and provide all necessary support to facilitate and ensure access to education for children and young people who are pregnant or are parents
(c) regular publication of information on adjustments made to support children and young people who are pregnant or are parents is required
(d) suspension, expulsion or denial of education of a child or young person on the
ground of their being pregnant or a parent is prohibited.
The complete report is available at the Australian Human Rights Commission website, click.
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