Melbourne, Australia: SNAICC – National Voice for our Children welcomes the release of UNICEF’s The Children’s Report today, which sheds an important light on the widespread disadvantage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people continue to experience in our society.
The report paints a grim picture: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people face poorer outcomes than their non-Indigenous peers in many areas of life, from child protection, to juvenile justice, to accessing quality education (including early childhood education) and beyond. The findings on child protection and early childhood also reflect the findings of this year’s Family Matters report, which is due to be released later this month.
In addition to its findings, the report calls on Australian governments (both federal and state/territory) to take concrete action. Significantly, the report calls on the Federal Government to commit to Closing the Gap targets to:
- eliminate the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care by 2040, and
- strengthen the current target for early childhood education by including early developmental outcomes for children from birth to five years.
Encompassing contributions from leading non-government organisations in the sector, including SNAICC, the report was submitted to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child today. The report plays an important role in holding the Australian Government accountable in an international arena, as it continues to be in breach of its international and national obligations.
Every five to six years, the UN Committee reviews the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child by each of its State parties. Australia will be reviewed in 2019. As part of this process, the UN Committee accepts reports from NGOs on how they think Australia is fairing against its obligation to respect, protect and promote the rights of Australia’s children and young people. The Children’s Report is the result of months-long consultations with children and young people, as well as NGOs, right across Australia.
This report highlights that Australian governments must prioritise investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations, and facilitate the full participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in decisions affecting our children.
While the report directly examines the Federal Government, concrete recommendations on actions that all Australian governments must take are outlined in the report.
The decisions made by our governments must always be made in the interests of children and young people, to ensure their rights are fully realised, with affect them now and into the future.