The rights of the child

Paula Gerber

Associate Professor Paula Gerber

A recent symposium held by the University’s Castan Centre for Human Rights Law looked into recent developments concerning the rights of children in modern society.

The symposium, Recent developments concerning the Convention on the Rights of the Child, considered three important current issues in children’s rights, from Australian and international perspectives.

The first issue was the adoption of the landmark Third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CROC) by the UN General Assembly in December 2011.

Deputy Director of the Castan Centre, Associate Professor Paula Gerber, from the Faculty of Law, spoke at the conference.

“My speech, 10 Things You Should Know About The New Optional Protocol, focused on this issue,” Associate Professor Gerber said.

“This new Optional Protocol will, for the first time, enable children to bring allegations of rights violations to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. This development brings the Committee into line with other UN treaty committees, and is a fantastic legal victory for children.”

The second issue explored at the symposium was the Committee’s upcoming review of Australia’s implementation of CROC, including a consideration of the Federal Government’s position and the shadow report prepared by Australian civil society organisations. The UN Committee has signalled that it will be paying particular attention to:

  • Australia’s failure to establish a national commissioner for children and young people;
  • what Australia is doing to prohibit all forms of corporal punishment in all contexts;
  • how Australia intends to address the discrimination faced by Aboriginal children, in particular, the disproportionately higher rates of such children being in conflict with the law; and
  • the steps Australia is taking to protect the rights of children with disabilities, including by providing inclusive education.

Finally, state-of-the-art initiatives promoting children’s rights in accordance with CROC were discussed, including the responsibilities of businesses to protect and promote children’s rights.

This informative and thought-provoking event brought together some of Australia’s leading child right advocates, academics and organisations.

Copies of papers and presentations are available from the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law website.