The right of all children to the highest standard of health care, including mental health care, is the focus of this year’s National Children’s Week, which runs October 19-27.
“The theme of Children’s Week 2019 is the right of every child to good health and wellbeing,” National Children’s Commissioner Megan Mitchell said.
“As Australia’s National Children’s Commissioner, it gives me great pleasure to support this fundamental children’s right.”
Robyn Monro Miller, President of the Children’s Week Council of Australia, said National Children’s week was “a wonderful opportunity for families and advocates for children across Australia to come together and celebrate.
“This year’s theme is particularly appropriate as children are raising their voices around the world about the need for their environments to be happy, safe and healthy,” Ms Monro Miller said.
November 20, 2019, will mark the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
Commissioner Mitchell said Article 24 of the Convention stated that all children are entitled to “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health”.
“In order for children to be healthy, they also need access to the underlying conditions for good health: such as clean water and air, safe housing and nutritious food,” she said.
The disparity in health outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their non-Indigenous counterparts remains a crucial human rights issue, Commissioner Mitchell said.
“Article 24 also protects children’s right to good mental health. During my term as National Children’s Commissioner, children have told me just what an important issue this is for them,” she said.
“Providing children with the services and support they need to enjoy good mental health should become a top priority for Australian governments.”
Almost one in seven (13.9%) Australian children aged 4-17 had experienced a mental health disorder in the previous 12 months, according to the most recent Australian Child and Adolescent Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing.
A 2017 report from Mission Australia with the Black Dog Institute found one in four Australians aged 15-19 met the criteria for a serious mental illness.
“We must all work together to find better ways to support children to be healthy and thrive: both physically and mentally,” Commissioner Mitchell said.
Next month, Commissioner Mitchell will launch In their own right: Children’s rights in Australia.
This report, which will provide a comprehensive evaluation of the state of children’s rights in Australia, will be launched on November 20, which is Universal Children’s Day.
National Children’s Week events for families and advocates will be held around Australia from October 19-27.
For more information about National Children’s Week events visit childrensweek.org.au.