Children’s Week highlights the rights of children to good physical and mental health

by Freya Lucas

October 21

The right of all children to the highest standard of health care, including mental health care, is the focus of this year’s National Children’s Week, which runs from 19-27 October, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has said. 

 

Speaking about Children’s Week, National Children’s Commissioner Megan Mitchell said that in the capacity of her role, the right of every child to good health and wellbeing was one that was “a great pleasure” to support. 

 

Sharing her thoughts, President of the Children’s Week Council of Australia Robyn Monro Miller said National Children’s week was “a wonderful opportunity for families and advocates for children across Australia to come together and celebrate”.

 

“This year’s theme is particularly appropriate as children are raising their voices around the world about the need for their environments to be happy, safe and healthy,” she added. 

 

The 2019 theme centres on Article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that all children are entitled to “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health”. 

 

This Right, Commissioner Mitchell said, is underpinned by the need for all children to have access to “the underlying conditions for good health: such as clean water and air, safe housing and nutritious food”.

 

Noting the disparity in health outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their non-Indigenous counterparts, Commissioner Mitchell said this remains a crucial human rights issue.

 

The Rights of children enshrined under Article 24 extend to the provision of conditions for good mental health, something the Commissioner said is of importance to the children she’s consulted with as part of her work. 

 

“Providing children with the services and support they need to enjoy good mental health should become a top priority for Australian governments,” she added, noting that one in seven Australian children, aged between four and 17 years of age had experienced a mental health disorder in the previous 12 months.

 

“We must all work together to find better ways to support children to be healthy and thrive: both physically and mentally,” Commissioner Mitchell said, ahead of the anticipated launch of a report into these issues next month. 

 

The report, titled In their own right: Children’s rights in Australia, will provide a comprehensive evaluation of the state of children’s rights in Australia, and is scheduled to be launched on 20 November, which is Universal Children’s Day.

 

National Children’s Week events for families and advocates will be held around Australia from 19-27 October. For more information about National Children’s Week events visit the website, here.

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