What are they?

Children are a precious gift to the world. They are what put smiles in the faces of millions of people.  And, all efforts ought to be taken to ensure their protection.

The fact that children are still young does not preclude them having human rights. They are as well humans, regardless of their age and naivety. Like adults that have rights, children too have basic human rights.   These rights cut across the different spectrum such as cultural, political,  social and civil rights.  

This does not end there. Their rights also extend to protect their vulnerability. This is important because of the children’s innocence and the need to protect them from abuse and exploitation. They also have the rights to enjoy care from their parents or guardian, including the right to be protected in a home. Though they are children, they, one way or the other, retain the right to make their opinion known in decisions that may affect them.

These rights do not just exist in the air; Australia has given them legislative backing. For instance, there is the 1990 CRC which specifically targets children and how best they can be protected.

This law has its guiding principles. These principles are to help charter the best way to offer to encompass protection for children across Australia.

These four principles are:

  • Making the respect of the child’s best interest the primary consideration
  • Ensuring the child’s right to development and survival
  • Ensuring that children have the rights to express their opinions without coercion and undue influence about all the issues that tend to affect them
  • Ensuring that all children have the rights to enjoy their rights stated in the CRC. This enjoyment of right is expected to be without any form of discrimination.

If you want to know more about the rights of children or you want to take a quick peep into how these rights [play out, you can download the pdf file here. In case you want to give your children the CRC, you can download a copy they would be able to easily relate to here. This copy is by the UNICEF, and it is prepared in a more friendly way that will sustain the interest of your children.  

The CRC is not just the sole legislative backing that Australia has on the protection of children’s right. The country also draws legislative backing to children’s rights from major international conventions and protocols. For emphasis, the country upholds the protocol to OPAC, which protects children against armed conflict recruitment or involvement. It also upholds the protocol to OPSC, which protects children against involvement in prostitution or pornography or the sale of any child.

There is also the treaty that kicks against torture, cruel, degrading or inhuman punishment or treatment known as the OPCAT. This international treaty places an obligation on Australia to ensure that no one, including children, is put in detention or their liberty deprived.

These laws complement the dictates of the CRC to further protect the rights of all children in Australia. 

Protecting The Rights Of Children In Australia

It is good that Australia recognises that children have rights. And as a follow-up, the country has documented such rights and given them legislative backing. The greater thing and, more important, however, is the protection of such rights.

It is true that if you look around, many children live in a safe environment and grow up safely. But this does not cover all children living in Australia. There are still situations where children are persistently vulnerable and often lack the basic protection of their human rights.

In this category, we have indigenous children, children with mild or severe disability, and children in the country’s immigration detention. These children are consistently at risk in Australia.

Asides from this, there is the part of amplifying children’s voices in decision-making gatherings. Particularly where those decisions tend to affect the children. It is expected that decision-makers take into consideration the opinions of these children before concluding. 

Recognising these gaps, there have been considerable efforts to continue to protect the rights of children in Australia. Through many efforts, there has been more attention paid to the travail of children and enforcement of their rights. Particular interest is being given to those who are consistently being vulnerable in Australia.

Part of the efforts to ensure the protection of children’s right is the appointment of the National commissioner for children.  The duties of this Commissioner include:

  • A national campaign in recognition of the interest and rights of children
  • Sustaining the participation of children in the decisions that affect them.
  • Providing coordinators and leaders at the national level on the issues of child rights
  • Sensitisation on the need for the respect of the right of children.
  • Engaging in continual research about the rights of children
  • Reevaluating the policies and law to be sure that the rights of children are protected.