UNICEF Australia has marked the start of a year-long celebration of the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child with the release of a newspaper format annual report focussing on the organisation’s key priorities and achievements.
The anniversary celebrations recognise the importance of the worldwide, widely-ratified Convention to protect children and ensure their interests are at the forefront of Government decisions, but also serve as an occasion to refocus efforts for the most marginalised and disadvantaged.
UNICEF Australia Chief Executive Officer Norman Gillespie said the power of the Convention on the Rights of the Child was that it was transformative for children and for society.
“It was not so long ago that children were to be seen and not heard, yet over the past 25 years society has shifted, in large part due to a Convention that focusses on children and understands that children have an important voice in making our societies stronger, more inclusive and smarter,” Dr Gillespie said.
UNICEF works in more than 190 countries to reach every child, everywhere, and though extraordinary achievements in child health and survival and education had been made, there was still more to do, Dr Gillespie said.
Dr Gillespie said UNICEF’s experience, gathered over the past 60 years, meant it had the networks and know-how to drive the changes and innovations that would help it reach more children.
“UNICEF is challenging the world to think differently about how we reach the most vulnerable children,” he said.
“We have a strong history of bringing together governments, civil society, private sector actors, academics and others and encouraging them to use UNICEF’s data and knowledge as evidence to drive change on the most pressing challenges confronting children,” he said.
Dr Gillespie said the UNICEF Australia annual report recorded the past year’s successful partnerships and responses for the needs of children, particularly the humanitarian response to children affected by typhoon Haiyan, in the Philippines. The report also highlights the organisation’s work for the most disadvantaged and marginalised Australian children.
“Not all of the children in Australia’s care are enjoying their rights equally,” Dr Gillespie said.
“Indigenous children and young people are disproportionally represented in our juvenile justice system and in out of home care, they have lower literacy rates and even something as simple as being registered at birth is out of sync with the remaining population.
“We’re also witnessing what we consider a gross abuse of rights for children living in immigration detention, both on Australian soil and in off shore detention.
“We will continue to work with the Australian Government, state and local government agencies and our partners and peers representing all these children to ensure their rights are realised,” he said.
Source: UNICEF Australia