5 November 2009
Twenty years ago the General Assembly of the United Nations formally adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CROC), defining a comprehensive set of rights for people under eighteen years of age. At the time, this was a landmark event, displacing the idea of children being under the control and authority of adults and giving them the same civil rights and liberties as adults, whilst also recognising the role of parents as providers of support and guidance. Since then 190 nations have signed on to the Convention.
CROC contains 54 individual articles, with the majority of these articles identifying specific rights such as:
Article 12 – You have the right to give your opinion, and for adults to listen and take it seriously.
Article 16 – You have the right to privacy.
Article 20 – You have the right to care and protection if you cannot live with your parents.
Article 28 – You have the right to a good quality education. You should be encouraged to go to school to the highest level you can.
Building on CROC
Building on the aspirations of CROC, the Office of the Guardian recognised that the rights of children and young people in care were not always easy to identify, often hidden within legislation, common law decisions and departmental policy. In 2005, we engaged with children and young people in care, carers and workers to develop the Charter of Rights for Children and Young People in Care. The Charter:
- informs children and young people about their rights and entitlements in the care system
- empowers them to seek the best possible care
- assists them to participate in decisions that affect them
- documents what they can expect from the care system and
- documents the commitments made by that care system.
The Charter’s 37 rights, are specific to children and young people in care in South Australia and put particular emphasis on active participation, stressing the young person’s right to express their opinion, know their culture, be treated with respect and be involved in decision making.
Since the Charter was launched in 2006, our advocacy, monitoring, investigative and reporting functions have been guided by the best interests of the child as expressed in the Charter.
Children and young people and their advocates make use of the Charter to safeguard children’s rights and identify issues and agencies make use of it when reviewing policy and practice guidelines.
…children’s rights are an essential part of recognising the inherent dignity and human rights of every human person, and … this is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world…
Preamble to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
For further information on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, check out these links:
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
National Children’s and Youth Law Centre
The Council for the Care of Children which has a link to download a child friendly version of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (PDF)
Also see the Office of the Guardian for Children and Young People Charter of Rights page.