How can we become a more child-centred nation?

The Australian Child Rights Progress Report 2016 makes hard reading. Four points in that report stand out:

•    one child in every six in Australia today lives below the poverty line
•    74% of 20- to 24-year olds from low socioeconomic backgrounds complete Year 12 or equivalent compared with 94% from high socioeconomic backgrounds
•    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children make up 5.5% of all Australian children, yet comprise 35% of the care population
•    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are 26 times more likely to be in juvenile detention.

These facts remind us of the critical importance of promoting all aspects of children’s wellbeing. As we seek to devise and implement policies and programs aimed at addressing particular problems, such as child abuse and neglect, it is easy to lose sight of the importance of taking a holistic approach to promoting children’s wellbeing that thoroughly integrates a wide range of areas, such as health and education.

VCI is important because it encourages us to take a step back and reflect on what children and young people mean to us. It invites us to be child-centred.

In that regard, I would like to focus attention on the Valuing Children Initiative (VCI), which hails from Western Australia. It aims to ‘inspire Australians to value all children, understand that a child’s wellbeing is the shared responsibility of the entire community and ensure children are at the forefront of our considerations. The vision of the Valuing Children Initiative is the creation of a society in which all children can flourish, have a safe, caring and supportive childhood and maximise on their potential.’

VCI is important because it encourages us to take a step back and reflect on what children and young people mean to us. It invites us to be child-centred. Specifically, VCI seeks to create greater societal awareness of children and their rights and needs, to inspire Australians to value all children, to promote a positive focus on all children, to build understanding that a child’s wellbeing as the responsibility of the entire community, and to ensure children are at the forefront of our considerations.

VCI aligns wonderfully well with the nation’s first-ever plan of action for child safety and wellbeing – the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020. The six outcomes envisioned by the National Framework are that:

•    children live in safe and supportive families and communities
•    children and families access adequate support to promote safety and intervene early
•    risk factors for child abuse and neglect are addressed
•    children who have been abused or neglected receive the support and care they need for their safety and wellbeing
•    Indigenous children are supported and safe in their families and communities
•    child sexual abuse and exploitation is prevented and survivors receive adequate support.

I encourage you to look at the VCI website here and get involved in spreading the message.

Dr Brian Babington
28 February 2017

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References
Australian Child Rights Taskforce 2016, Australian Child Rights Progress Report, retrieved from < http://www.childrights.org.au/crc25/>.
Commonwealth of Australia 2015,

Driving change: intervening early. National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020. Third action plan, 2015-2018, retrieved from <https://www.dss.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/12_2015/pdf_third_action_plan_for_protecting_australias_children.pdf>.

‘Valuing Children Initiative 2017’, retrieved from < http://valuingchildreninitiative.com.au/ >.