The rights of every child are primarily contained in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the child.
This is an international agreement that Australia signed in 1990. This means that Australia is bound by the obligations and rights under the Convention (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Rights Report Card).
“Our children need our support to make their own way”
Dawn Wallam, SNAICC Chairperson
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (Convention) is an international legal agreement that sets out the basic human rights of all children.
While everyone has the responsibility to respect children’s rights and to help children to realise their rights, the Convention mostly focuses on what governments must do.It protects children’s rights by setting minimum standards across all areas of life, including health care, education, standard of living, and involvement with the justice system and culture.
Almost every country in the world has signed up to this Convention. Australia signed up in 1990, but has not made the Convention part of Australian law yet. By agreeing to the Convention, governments commit to respect, protect and fulfill the rights of children that the Convention contains.The Convention can be used together with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This Declaration specifically sets out the human rights of Indigenous peoples, including children, throughout the world.
Why are the rights of the child important?
- The fact that children are young and therefore not given as much importance as adults
- Children are more vulnerable than adults, and are less able or likely to articulate their needs and be able to protect themselves.
- Children were once regarded as the property of their parent. They were seen as objects. But children are now recognized as human beings and are the subject of their own rights that must be respected and protected. ‘The convention offers a vision of the child as an individual and as a member of a family and community. This means that children have both rights and responsibilities that are appropriate to their age and stage of development.’
1 UNICEF, Convention on the Rights of the Child, (2005)