The Committee on the Rights of the Child reviewed Australia’s implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in Geneva from 4-5 June 2012.
SNAICC was present in Geneva for the review, having been a part of an NGO collective engaged with this Committee over the past couple of years to prepare for this hearing. Positive discussions took place at the hearing between the Committee and members of the Australian Government, and more informally with NGOs. SNAICC highlighted with both the Government and the UN Committee persistent human rights issues impacting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and the need to change the way we do things.
The UN Committee’s report provided comprehensive recommendations to the Australian Government on a number of serious human rights issues requiring redress. They highlight in particular Australia’s failure to take on board many of its prior concerns, and the gap in institutional protection of children’s rights in Australia, including in particular for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. There remains, for example, no national child rights act or national plan of action. The Committee expressed some dismay and surprise at the disparity in the enjoyment of human rights between most children in Australia and some particular disadvantaged groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. With the wealth of Australia, the Committee could not see how this was necessary or even possible!
The Committee highlighted in particular the continued serious and widespread discrimination against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in accessing health, education and housing services. The Committee also expressed deep concern about over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the out of home care and criminal justice systems, inadequate standards of living, higher suicide death, homelessness, high levels of family violence and continued difficulties in birth registration, amongst other matters.
- Interview on 3CR 855AM with Frank Hytten