Children & Youth Rights
The overarching framework for children’s rights is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CROC) which sets out the rights that almost every government has agreed children around the world are entitled to.
In Australia, the National Children’s and Youth Law Centre (NCYLC), a community legal centre dedicated to addressing human rights issues facing Australian children and youth, has created a website on Australia’s implementation of CROC.
In conjunction with UNICEF Australia and a coalition of child rights organisations, the NCYLC has also published a report entitled “Listen to Children” which analyses Australia’s performance in relation to each article of CROC.
The Child Rights Australia NGO Report website has published fact sheets extracted from the “Listen to Children” report on issues confronting children such as “Children with a Disability” , “Youth Justice” and “Key Issues Affecting Aboriginal Children”.
Also in Australia, Youth for Human Rights seeks to raise awareness and understanding of human rights through education. The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care is a national non-government body representing the interests on Indigenous children and families. See its website to read more about its policy focus, its comprehensive set of resources and its news relating to children and youth rights.
Children have a right to freedom from violence. The Family Law Legislation Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2011 can be downloaded here.
Bullying is a reality for many children in primary school through to high school. Bullying. No Way! is a government initiative helping schools and communities get to the heart of the matter.
Children sometimes adapt to new technology faster than their parents, and the internet, while being an essential tool, also presents some challenges for child protection. The government has a comprehensive cybersafety plan, which you can find here.
The Youth Affairs Council of Victoria Inc (YACVic) is the peak body and leading policy advocate on young people’s issues in Victoria. The purpose of the Council is to raise awareness of issues of concern to young people in Victoria and to achieve a more equitable distribution of power and resources to young people, recognising differences between groups of young people in terms of their access to such power and resources.
Meanwhile, Youthlaw is a community legal centre which offers free and confidential legal advice to young people up to the age of 25. Its Policy Platform outlines its proposed reforms to issues facing young people.
Race and Discrimination
Sparked by ongoing debates about racial discrimination in Australia, Racism and Prejudice is a paper published by the Australian Psychological Society which discusses racism in Australia from a psychological perspective.
The Racism. No way! project aims to assist Australian schools to recognise and address racism in the learning environment. Their website contains information on racism. Further educational resources, particularly on the history of racism in Australia and multiculturalism, are provided by Making Multicultural Australia.
Both the Institute for Cultural Diversity and the Australian Multicultural Foundation seek to promote cultural diversity and multiculturalism in Australia and include news updates and information on racial discrimination.
For information and fact sheets relating specifically to Aboriginal Australians, go to the websites of Creative Spirits and Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation. Or for information on human rights and social inclusion issues for African Australians, read In Our Own Words, a report by the Australian Human Rights Commission.
The Australian Human Rights Commission website also includes information about racial discrimination and speeches and publications on racial discrimination. The Centre for Research on Social Inclusion is an interdisciplinary group of researchers which publishes reports on cultural and racial diversity.
Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia, funded by the Australian Government, has links to submissions, media releases and fact sheets, and publishes Australian Mosaic, a magazine about multiculturalism, social justice, community harmony and cultural and faith pluralism in Australia. The Chair of FECCA, Pino Migliorino, has also written a blog on race discrimination.
Welcome to Australia is a newly founded organisation which seeks to engage Australians in the cultivation of a culture of welcome in our nation and the promotion of the Australian values of diversity, compassion, generosity and commitment to giving all people a fair go. AMES also engages in welcoming new arrivals to Australia by providing English language, employment and settlement services.
Information and Cultural Exchange (ICE) characterise themselves as storytellers, enabling communities and artists to tell their diverse stories. ICE runs artistic projects, similar to KULCHA, which seeks to present, promote and develop multicultural arts and artists in Western Australia. We Australians is a further artist run initiative based in Melbourne promoting art that incites new ways of representing contemporary Australia and art that emerges from diverse practices and cultural traditions.
Just over one year ago, the Commonwealth Government announced Australia’s new multicultural policy, The People of Australia which reaffirms the importance of a culturally diverse and socially cohesive nation. On 21 March 2012, Harmony Day, an initiative of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, will highlight the important role and positive influence that sport has in our multicultural nation.
Beyond Bars is a coalition of community groups which seeks to promote social justice solutions to a range of criminal justice system issues. They particularly focus on finding alternatives to imprisonment and dispelling myths about “law and order”. A number of fact sheets can be found on their site.
Centre for the Human Rights of Imprisoned People (CHRIP) is a project of Flat Out (see below), promoting human rights for people in Victorian Prisons. A number of relevant documents, reports and links can be found on their webpage.
Crime and Justice Reform Committee provides information (through links and fact sheets) about the efficacy and cost effectiveness of current responses to crime, and highlights areas where reform is needed. The Research and Publication Panel is also interested in student research on criminology – click here for more information.
Deaths in Custody Watch is based in WA, and works on motoring the effective implementation of the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. They run a number of campaigns, as well as being a good source of information about deaths in custody.
Flat Out works to support women who are exiting prison or who are at risk of being imprisoned. Their 2010 annual report provides some statistics about the criminalisation of women, as well as detailing the projects Flat Out is running. Flat Out can be contacted here.
Justice Action targets abuse of authority. It is community based organisation of criminal justice activists, including prisoners, academics, victims of crime, ex-prisoners, and lawyers. JA has published a number of reports, and provides an extensive directory of resources.
NSW Council for Civil Liberties aims to secure the equal rights of everyone, and oppose any abuse or excess use of power by the state against its people. They cover a wide range of issues, and their section on prisoners’ rights provides an introduction to the issue in an Australian context.
Reprieve focuses on the death penalty. In addition to producing news updates and conducting awareness raising events, Reprieve sends Australian volunteers to defend clients facing the death penalty abroad. A thorough reading list is provided here.
Sisters Inside is an independent community organisation which advocates for the human rights of women in the criminal justice system. In addition to a number of reports, Sisters Inside also provide study scholarships for female prisoners and the opportunity for student placements.
Smart Justice involves a number of organisations who seek to promote understanding of criminal justice policies that are effective, evidence-based and human rights compliant. They have produced a number of fact sheets, and also work with young people.
Vacro’s mission is to provide assistance and information for people leaving prison, their families, and workers. They run community projects and information sessions, as well as focusing on research and development.
Victorian Legal Assistance Forum assists in in the delivery of legal services for socially and economically disadvantaged people in Victoria. Their working groups identify and investigate issues of specific interest, and VLAF also supports a number of regional forums.
Women in Prison report by the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland, 2006.
A report by Beverley Schurr of the Australian Council for Civil Liberties, on AIDS and Prisoners’ Rights.
WHO report on Women’s Health in Prison (2009).
Many of these organisations can also be found on Facebook and Twitter, and their Twitter feeds have been compiled by Right Now into this list.