Monash University panel remarks on 30th anniversary of the UN CRC

by Freya Lucas

November 20, 2019

In recognition of the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) a special panel event was organised yesterday by Monash University’s School of Social Sciences Lecturer in Criminology and Director of the International Youth Justice Network, Dr Faith Gordon, at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne.

 

Some of Australia’s leading experts in children’s law, refugees and multicultural experiences, including advocates, practitioners, academics and decision-makers, spoke at the event, including: 

 

Dr Gordon pointed out that the 1989 Convention is “the most widely ratified international human rights treaty in history. It sets out the rights of children, such as their right to healthcare, education, clean water, protection from violence, and importantly, their right to participate and have their own say in decisions that affect them.”

 

She said it was deeply concerning that Australia, as a signatory to the Convention, still lacks a national strategy or national measures to ensure the implementation of appropriate protection of children’s rights. 

 

“Around the world, many individuals, organisations and children and young people are marking November 20 as a day of celebration, by hosting events and posting on social media. While there is a lot of progress to celebrate, there is still a lot more to do, particularly for children in the criminal justice system, who are routinely mistreated and demonised,” she added. 

 

The newly released United Nations international General Comment on ‘child justice’, Dr Gordon said, “gives us a renewed focus and key principles to push for much needed change in the youth justice space. In moving forward, we clearly now need political will to bring about much needed change in Victoria and throughout Australia.”

 

Liana Buchanan, Principal Commissioner for Children and Young People, said that collective commitments to the notion of special protections to support the welfare and advancement of children can be compromised in closed environments, where children are too often subjected to punitive, coercive and distressing interventions that compromise their health, wellbeing and rehabilitation. 

 

She expressed her concern about such compromises, saying that given the strong evidence to suggest that most children’s offending behaviour is generally episodic, opportunistic and able to be addressed effectively with appropriate support.

 

In Victoria, Ms Buchanan added, reviews in recent years have demonstrated the overuse of force, isolation and segregation in youth detention, which has shown how particularly vulnerable children, including those with mental illness, trauma or disabilities, are not able to access the supportive interventions they need. 

 

“The CRC reflects a milestone in our commitment to honouring the potential and dignity of every child. But simple ratification of rights does little without adequate commitment, action and investment,” she added. 

 

To review the CRC, please see here

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