A statement from young people who attended a major conference on children’s rights has identified the five greatest challenges facing young people in Australia in 2020.
The Child and Youth Statement, facilitated by World Vision Australia, listed COVID-19, climate change, Indigenous children’s rights, citizenship and mental health as the most urgent challenges young people face.
The statement calls for a smart partnership with adults and policymakers to help resolve these challenges. It presents the young peoples’ perspectives on the challenges, and what they would like to see change.
Jessika Swarbrick, a young person who contributed to the statement, contracted COVID-19 earlier this year, despite doing “all the right things” to guard against the virus.
In the statement she said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has made me incredibly uncertain about my future”.
The statement calls for governments to ensure measures to control the pandemic are child-friendly; to classify child protection and social workers as essential services; and to provide resources to respond to the needs of children and young people during and after COVID-19.
The Child and Youth Statement arose out of the CRC30 conference on children’s rights, which marked the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in Melbourne late last year.
The statement was due to be published at the beginning of the new school term in February 2020 but was derailed by the arrival of COVID-19. The delay allowed the young people to reflect and share their experiences in dealing with life under COVID-19.
The CRC30 conference was a collaboration between World Vision, the University of Melbourne, the Child Rights Taskforce and the Australian Human Rights Commission, which launched Children’s Rights in Australia: A Scorecard at the conference.