Appendix 6 – Summary
of Commission workshops for children and young people
- In February 2009, the Australian Human Rights Commission (the Commission)
was funded by the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) to undertake a project
to support the participation of children and young people in the National Human
Rights Consultation. The core element of this project was the conduct of
workshops designed to encourage the participation of children and young people.
This Appendix describes these workshops and summarises the key issues raised in
1.1 How many workshops
- In total, the Commission conducted 26 workshops with children, young people
and youth advocates across Australia. The Commission visited and conducted
workshops in each state and territory in the following towns and regions:
- Queensland – Brisbane, Deception Bay and Toowoomba
- Tasmania – Hobart and Devonport
- South Australia – Adelaide
- Victoria – Melbourne, Koondrook and Knox City
- Australian Capital Territory – Canberra
- New South Wales – Sydney and Bathurst
- Western Australia – Perth, Halls Creek and Kununurra
- Northern Territory – Yirrkala, Yuendumu, Alice Springs and
- In addition, the Commission made presentations on human rights and the
National Human Rights Consultation (the Consultation) at events organised for,
or about, children and young people. For example, the Commission made seven
presentations at the NSW Parliament’s school leadership forum in Sydney,
with approximately 100 secondary school students from across NSW attending each
1.2 Who participated
in the workshops?
- Between March and May 2009, Commission staff met with over 400 children and
young people at the workshops across all states and territories in Australia,
and approximately 700 young people through the NSW Parliament’s school
leadership forum (mentioned above). Commission staff also met with over 100
advocates from children’s and young people’s organisations across
- Most of the children and young people who attended the workshops were
between 13 and 20 years of age. However, two workshops were held specifically
for primary school children.
- The children and young people came from a variety of backgrounds
- Indigenous (including seven specific workshops in the NT and WA)
- gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex (GLBTI) (including two
- rural (including 13 workshops in regional or remote locations)
- homeless (including one workshop held at a drop-in centre for homeless
- young single mothers
- culturally and linguistically diverse (including one specific workshop for
young CALD people and their advocates).
- Children and young people’s advocates included representatives from a
variety of organisations such as youth workers, teachers, youth affairs councils
and children’s rights organisations.
1.3 What were the key
aims of the workshops?
- The key aims of the workshops were to:
- educate children and young people about human rights issues in
- encourage broad participation by children and young people in the
- educate children and young people about human rights issues in
- In the Commission’s view, it was important to encourage participation
by children and young people in the Consultation because they will inherit the
human rights protection framework which may result from the Consultation.
- Children and young people often do not have a voice in government
consultations, especially those on issues of law and politics. Furthermore,
recent human rights issues are of particular interest to children and young
people, including issues such as children in detention, homelessness, Indigenous
children and the Northern Territory intervention, bullying and discrimination
issues, and environmental issues.
- By supporting participation in the Consultation, the Commission was also
promoting one of the guiding principles of the United Nations Convention on
the Rights of the Child (CRC) to which Australia is a party. Article 12 of
the Convention on the Rights of the Child states that children have the right to
express their views freely in all matters that affect them, and these views are
to be given due weight.
1.4 How were the
- Most of the workshops were conducted in a similar format. They were
structured to be as interactive as possible, while providing an overview of
human rights generally and an overview of the Consultation. Discussions were
facilitated around the three consultation questions:
- Which human rights (and responsibilities) should be protected and
- Are these human rights sufficiently protected and promoted in
- How could Australia better protect and promote human rights?
- Which human rights (and responsibilities) should be protected and
- In discussing these three questions, young people were encouraged to share
their stories and their views.
- The conduct of the workshops was also tailored to the particular needs of
the participants. For example, some were more informal than others due to the
nature of the group. All participants were asked for their consent for the
Commission to take notes and summarise their views in de-identified form.
- The workshops concluded with suggestions on how young people could
participate in the Consultation. Commission materials including a Consultation
toolkit designed for children and young people and a submission form were
distributed to participants at most workshops.
1.5 Materials to
support the participation of children and young people in the
- In addition to conducting workshops, the Commission developed Let’s
Talk About Rights – a guide to help young people have their say about
human rights in Australia. The guide explains the purpose of the
Consultation, and how children and young people could make a submission about
the human rights issues about which they feel most strongly. The Commission
printed 5000 copies of the guide, which were distributed through workshops and
youth networks. The guide is also available at www.humanrights.gov.au/letstalkaboutrights/youth.html and in printed form.
- The Commission also developed and printed submission forms for young people,
to make it easier for them to answer the three main questions asked by the
Consultation Committee. The submission form is available at http://humanrights.gov.au/letstalkaboutrights/youth.html and in printed form.
- The Commission’s materials were highlighted through online activities
designed to engage children and young people in the Consultation. This included
a Commission presence on Facebook and MySpace, and the facilitation of online
discussion and information relevant to the Consultation on youth portals such as
Heywire (http://blogs.abc.net.au/heywire) and
Commission staff also participated in discussions about human rights in the e-festival of ideas, which is an online youth conference run by Vibewire.
2.1 What were the main
human rights issues raised by participants in the workshops?
- Workshops with children and young people and youth advocates provided an
opportunity to discuss which human rights are important to young people, and
why. The discussion in this part of the workshop corresponded to the first two
questions posed by the National Human Rights Consultation.
- Given the variety of backgrounds of workshop participants, it is not
surprising that a wide range of human rights issues were discussed. However,
some issues were raised a number of times, as follows:
(a) Equality and freedom from discrimination
- Participants thought that it was important for all people to be treated
equally and to not be discriminated against because of their race, religion,
ethnicity, culture, sex or any other factor. Some participants gave examples of
when they thought their treatment before the law had been unequal because they
were young. For example, it was felt that magistrates might give more weight to
the opinion of an older person over a younger person.
- One or two participants felt that some minority groups should not be given
‘special treatment’. Another participant suggested that measures
such as the Northern Territory Intervention should not be applied to certain
groups based on their race; rather, if the government felt that measures should
be taken in response to a particular problem, those measures should be applied
to all people on an equal basis.
- GBLTI participants were concerned that people who are transgender and sex
diverse are not covered by the law. One or two participants raised the
difficulties faced by transgender people seeking recognition of their identity
on official documents. They thought that this represented a breach of the right
to be treated equally before the law. Some participants thought that everyone
should be entitled to marry whomever they want to regardless of their sexual
- Some Indigenous participants told of being treated differently because of
their Aboriginal background.
- One young Sudanese participant said they had experienced conflicts between
their culture and Australian culture, which impacted upon their right to a fair
trial and to equality before the law. For example, they were assumed to be
guilty or lying because they do not make direct eye contact in their
- Several participants raised examples of racial vilification, particularly
towards members of the African community. This included letter drops of
race-hate material and the placement of race-hate literature in the
children’s section of the library.
(b) The right to education
- Participants across Australia identified various aspects of the right to
education as very important to them.
- Availability – Participants from workshops in remote areas of
Australia expressed concerns that children and young people in remote areas do
not enjoy their right to education on an equal basis with young people in urban
areas. Likewise, these young people felt that the range of subjects offered is
more limited than in urban schools and that teachers were often young,
inexperienced and transient.
- Indigenous participants thought that they should be able to go to a school
that is not too far from their home. They said that moving young people away
from their homes and their families makes them homesick. Boarding schools do not
suit everyone, so schools should be available in local areas. Where students
live in very remote communities they should have boarding schools that are not
so far away so that students can go home on weekends.
- Accessibility – Many participants noted the interconnectedness
between the right to education and many other rights. Young people identified
several barriers to accessing and remaining in education, such as:
- lack of stable housing
- limited support for young women who are pregnant or parenting
- lack of access to affordable childcare
- lack of access to an adequate standard of living and not being able to
afford a school uniform (for example, one young person told her story of being
expelled on the last day of school for not wearing the correct uniform)
- inaccessible services for young people with disability
- the difficulties for some young people to obtain parental consent at school
when they have run away from home or their parents are absent.
- Young people also identified a cascading effect when basic education is not
accessible. That is, if a young person is unable to access education, they might
be unable to access work, which leads to no money for housing, food and other
things needed to fully enjoy their human rights.
- Adaptability – Participants from culturally and linguistically
diverse communities thought that education about different cultures should be
included in schools. Young people thought that more language officers or
teachers should be ‘in touch’ with students of different cultural
- Other young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds expressed a need for
teachers’ aides in the classroom similar to teachers’ aides provided
for young people with disabilities in schools. They reported that children from
refugee and migrant backgrounds cannot always understand what is going on in the
classroom. This can lead to bad behaviours, which can lead to expulsion or
suspension from school. Participants felt that the cause of this frustration
– an inability to fully understand Australian English – should be
- The Commission heard a number of stories of school yard discrimination and
bullying on the grounds of sexual orientation, race and for failing to conform
to stereotypes. Bullying was often mentioned by participants as a problem within
schools. One participant described an occasion where bullying within school had
led to suicide. Many young people thought that more should be done to prevent
bullying in schools. Some participants raised the issue of discrimination in
schools against young GLBTI people. This was especially of concern for those who
were transgender. Participants gave examples of having to use communal showers
and toilets being deliberately locked so that they could not change discretely.
- Bullying and racial discrimination also extended to university students.
Participants who were international students gave examples of physical and
verbal abuse both on and off the university campus.
- Many participants thought it was important that human rights education be
included in the curriculum. This is discussed in further detail below.
- Acceptability – Indigenous participants and participants from
refugee and migrant backgrounds discussed the importance of education which is
culturally appropriate and non-discriminatory. In particular, young people in
Indigenous-specific workshops valued the right to speak and learn their own
language and culture in school. In particular, they thought that the four hours
of mandatory English in Northern Territory schools discriminated against
Indigenous students affected by this policy. Indigenous young people thought it
was unfair to impose English as mandatory on people for whom this is neither the
first language nor the language that transmits the culture. No school policy or
other policy should stop people from speaking in their mother tongue.
- Young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds and their advocates
emphasised the importance of recognition of prior learning, and also of ensuring
culturally sensitive and inclusive teaching practices.
(c) The right to be safe and free from
- Many young workshop participants thought that their right, and the right of
others, to be safe from violence was important. Young Indigenous people felt
that there needed to be more police presence in smaller remote communities to
ensure that communities feel safe.
- Homeless participants described the high levels of violence faced by some
young people who are homeless.
- Domestic violence was an issue of concern amongst many participants, having
experienced it themselves in an abusive relationship or having witnessed it
between their parents. Some participants had experienced serious and ongoing
domestic violence within their families. For example, one 13-year-old
participant had grown up in a violent household and had left his family home as
a result. Another 20-year-old participant was living in a refuge after growing
up in a house with domestic violence. At one workshop, a high proportion of the
young women who attended the workshop had experienced domestic violence and had
fled abusive relationships. Several participants raised the issue of child abuse
and the need for children to be cared for in appropriate alternative settings if
they are subjected to abuse in the family home.
- GLBTI participants raised concerns about violence, especially in relation to
homophobic violence, and emotional violence and abuse. Transgender participants
mentioned the importance of being protected from institutionalised violence,
such as being put into gender appropriate cells in prison.
- Young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds also expressed concerns
about being subjected to both physical and verbal violence. In particular,
international students expressed fear about walking around at
(d) The right to not be separated from your
- Young Indigenous people felt that where parents are unable or incapable of
looking after their children, the government has a role to intervene and
children should be placed with the right family members. In cases of child abuse
or neglect the child should not be further punished by being moved far away from
family and country.
- Some participants described having negative experiences with the child
protection system. One participant believed that she had been discriminated
against and stereotyped as a bad parent because she had been a foster child
herself. Her children had been removed, including one within 24 hours of birth.
She felt that she had not been given the chance to prove herself as a mother,
had not been given counselling, and her right to participate in decision-making
had been breached.
(e) The right to work and fair working
- Many participants expressed the desire to work but had difficulties
accessing jobs. One young participant could not get a job or a place to sleep.
She had a history of violence and a criminal record. She had been on the streets
since she was 12, and felt that she had not been given a ‘fair
- Others also discussed difficulties in getting a job. One participant
expressed concern that if you turn up late to an interview, you are not given a
second chance. Some participants found it difficult to work when they were
homeless and found it difficult to negotiate getting to work or to an interview.
Some participants mentioned discrimination experienced by young people from
refugee and migrant backgrounds in looking for work and from job network
services. They also felt that it was important that employment was appropriate
and fell within the young person’s skill set.
- Some participants expressed a view that young people were being exploited in
the workplace and in traineeships – being treated as ‘cheap
labour’ and not being paid the same rates as adults when they were doing
the same, if not more, work. They felt that this was not fair and that if they
were doing the same amount of work, they should not be discriminated against in
terms of pay. Some participants had also experienced that when they turned 21,
they were ‘too expensive’ to be employed.
- International university students gave examples of being unfairly taken
advantage of in the workplace and being paid less, just so that they can get a
job. They also thought that the restrictions placed on student visas should be
more lenient. One participant gave the example of an international student who
was placed in an immigration detention centre for a week over Christmas because,
on one occasion, he worked an extra two hours to cover for a work colleague, and
in doing so breached his student visa conditions.
(f) Police harassment
- Police harassment was identified by participants across Australia as a major
issue. Several participants felt that police ‘pick on’ young people
‘for fun’ and that there was nothing that young people could
My brother was just walking down the street with his friends ...
the police officer said to him ‘I’ve been doing this for so long, I
know how to pick youse’. And, like, just because of the way they were
walking and the way they were dressed. He had a backpack on. The police pulled
over and said ‘what’s in your backpack, let me look in your
- Young Indigenous people felt that they were discriminated against or
‘hounded’ by police. They also felt that they should not be
questioned by police unless they have an elder or a parent with them, and they
should be informed of their rights before being questioned.
- Participants from African communities raised issues of police harassment and
racial discrimination. Some mentioned the use of ‘move on’ powers by
police. It was felt that this was used against young people who are homeless,
young African people and young people generally because of their age. As one
homeless participant stated:
This is where we live so how can we not
be in the streets here?
(g) Access to services
- Many participants identified difficulties in accessing various
- Economic, social and cultural rights were often raised as being the most
important rights for young people. There was a strong awareness that these
rights were interconnected and that there are flow-on effects if one right is
The security of having a job ... to pay for your house, to
pay for food, to pay for your health care, to have you finish off your education
... there’s so many intertwined things.
(i) Housing and shelter
- Many participants emphasised the importance of access to shelter and the
right to an adequate standard of living and highlighted problems with
homelessness in both rural and urban areas. Several participants felt that
homelessness was perhaps less visible in rural areas, but that people at risk of
homelessness in rural communities are disadvantaged in that they do not have
access to as many support services as people in urban areas.
- Several participants described difficulties they have experienced in
accessing shelter, and problems faced by homeless young people and members of
the GLBTI community in accessing housing. Some participants felt that there
needed to be alternative accommodation available for victims of domestic
- Participants from Toowoomba stated that there was no place for young
pregnant women to go when they needed emergency crisis housing. The
women’s shelters would not take them if they were under 18, and the mixed
young people’s shelters would not take them if they were pregnant, out of
concern about the potential risks to the unborn child in that environment.
With me being a mum of a little boy ... my main focus is housing
and food ... it’s just survival mode.
- The lack of housing for Indigenous people was also raised as an area of
concern by some participants.
(ii) Mental health services
- Participants identified the high need, but inadequate funding for,
counselling and mental health support services.
- Some participants also felt that it was especially difficult for people with
mental illness to find a place to live.
(iii) Health care
- Many participants agreed on the importance of a right to adequate health
- Some participants were concerned about the lack of health services for
- Young mothers were concerned about waiting times in hospital (citing
examples of up to 6-10 hours duration). They felt that hospitals were
inefficient and there were not enough staff or beds.
- Participants from rural and remote areas were concerned about the fact that
their remote communities do not have equal or adequate access to health services
including GPs and hospitals. Participants gave examples of lengthy
doctors’ waiting periods, hospitals being located far away, and of not
being listened to when visiting a doctor. One participant raised concerns about
difficulties faced by young people in rural and remote areas in getting access
to adequate, safe and confidential advice and services related to safe sex,
contraception and abortion. Another raised concerns about the lack of adequate
access to youth de-tox services in rural and remote areas.
- Some participants gave examples of the importance of access to health care
such as the stigmas associated with body image and reduced
(iv) Adequate standard of living
- One participant stated that the Centrelink rates of social security payments
were insufficient to provide for an adequate standard of living for
(h) Participation in decisions that affect young
- Some participants mentioned the problem of young people not being listened
to and their views being disregarded.
- Participants generally agreed that young people should be given greater
opportunities to participate in decisions that affect their lives. One
participant gave the example that young people should have a say in decisions
such as designing public spaces. Participants mentioned that participation
should not be merely ‘lip service’ and that decisions should not
already be made when the consultation process begins.
- This right was also thought to be important in terms of
‘move-on’ laws which often affect young people on a disproportionate
(i) The right to language, culture and
- Several participants who had come to Australia as migrants raised the
importance of being able to speak their native language and practice their own
culture, and also to be able to access services in their own language. There was
concern expressed that current measures to address these issues were tokenistic.
One participant told of being laughed at for speaking another language.
- Some Indigenous participants emphasised the right to practice their
languages and culture both in the school environment and in other places. They
thought that no school policy or other policy should stop people from speaking
in their mother tongue. If such policies were to be introduced, they would
destroy Indigenous society.
- Some participants thought it was important to be able to practice your
religion and not be harassed about it.
(j) The right to privacy
- Transgender participants thought that it was important that their gender
history was kept private. They also mentioned the importance of privacy in
places such as the changing rooms in schools.
- Several participants thought that the right to privacy was very important,
particularly given the development of new technologies (such as social
networking sites on the internet). Some participants expressed the need for laws
to remain current with technological development.
(k) The right to country
- Indigenous participants thought that it was important that Aboriginal people
should be able to fish on their country, and should not have to obey laws about
fish size or bag limits that apply to other people who are not traditional
owners. For example, Yolngu people have a right to the fish and take other
resources from Yolngu land and they should not have to obey Australian laws and
by-laws about hunting and gathering on this land.
(l) Other issues
- Other human rights issues which were raised by young people included:
- access to water
- the rights of prisoners to fair treatment
- child protection
- the right not to be separated from family
- the rights of non-biological parents in same-sex relationships
- the rights of section 457 (temporary worker) visa holders
- the rights of victims of crimes
- the right to a fair trial
- the rights of people with disability
- freedom of expression
- environmental rights and the effects of climate
2.2 What were some
ideas for better protection of human rights raised by workshop
- At most workshops, participants were asked to discuss their ideas for
addressing the human rights issues they had raised. Common ideas were as
(a) Better human rights education
(i) At school
- Many children and young workshop participants thought that there needed to
be a change in attitudes in Australia. It was suggested that one of the ways
this could be done was through human rights education – both in the school
system and through community education. Several participants thought that this
should be done as early as possible – in kindergarten and when children
are learning literacy and numeracy. Young participants felt that, although you
might not be able to change people’s opinions, you could give them a
better perspective of human rights. For example, some participants emphasised
the need for GLBTI issues to be taught at school and to teachers. Participants
from refugee and migrant backgrounds emphasised the need to teach about
different cultures in the classroom.
- Many participants said that human rights education should begin at
Human rights [education] would be better than tricky
[School] should have a whole class for [human rights education]
[Human rights education is] not just for yourself but so you know what other
people’s rights are so you have to respect the other person because of
[Human rights education] might even help with bullying.
- Some participants said that subjects such as Society and Environment, Legal
Studies and events such as Harmony Day or Refugee Day (where they learn about
other cultures) were a good way of educating about human rights. However, some
participants did not feel as though they had been taught enough about specific
human rights through those avenues. Another participant noted that anything they
learn in school about human rights issues is focussed on other countries, not
It never seems to have anything to do with close to
home, its always Iraq, Rwanda, Chernobyl.
- He wondered why human rights are not talked about in connection with matters
closer to home – such as the cost of basic necessities and the inadequate
level of social security payments.
- One participant suggested a solution following the example of American
schools. They thought that if Australia could set up an ally system to connect
schools in the region, they could connect different communities and strengthen
- One participant suggested that human rights education should be provided to
young people who are not in mainstream schools or who may not be attending
(ii) For teachers, employers, police and courts
- Some participants thought that there needed to be funding in order for
teachers to be trained in teaching human rights in the classroom.
- Many participants thought that there should also be specific education or
training on human rights obligations and cultural diversity for employers,
employees, police and the courts.
(iii) For the community
- Many participants thought that more was needed in order to address community
attitudes and to target stereotypes and racism. In terms of community education,
participants thought that initiatives such as television advertising, video
games, internet and public forums could be used to change attitudes. One
participant mentioned that there should be an advertising campaign on the causes
and effects of discrimination and domestic violence – in the same way that
there are advertisements about the effects of smoking, sun-tanning and drug use.
Some participants thought that there needed to be increased education about the
rights of members of the GLBTI community.
- Better leadership was raised as a means to send out a human rights message.
It was suggested that Kevin Rudd should go on television and talk about human
rights. Some participants also thought that there should be a federal Minister
for Human Rights which would place human rights high on the agenda.
- Some participants thought that there should be more workshops about human
rights – similar to these Commission workshops – and that more
funding should be given to the Commission to conduct its educative role. Others
thought that there should be more regular consultation on human rights issues in
order to draw attention to issues of concern in the community. This, it was
thought, would be a proactive way for government to engage with vulnerable
groups to identify major concerns.
- A number of participants said that young people need to know what their
human rights are, and to assist with that, it would be a good idea to have all
our human rights listed in one area. Some participants thought that signs about
children’s rights should be put up in train stations so that young people
knew their rights if they encountered police or a transit officer.
- Several participants thought that there should be more social inclusion of
people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and GLBTI and
other minority groups as this is ‘when you learn’.
- Some Indigenous participants thought that government should provide
education about child neglect and protect children when their parents are unable
to look after them.
(b) School programs to address bullying
- Many children and young people suggested that there need to be measures that
address discrimination and bullying in schools. Some ideas included:
- mediation processes in schools for bullying
- changing terminology for bullying – ‘bullying’ sounds too
young and not serious enough for the effect it has
- anti-bullying policies at schools.
(c) Legal protections for human rights
- Some participants expressed the view that protection of human rights in
Australia was currently only tokenistic.
- Some participants suggested that there should be stronger legal protections
for human rights. Some thought that there should be a national Human Rights Act,
while others stated that there should be a new law with all human rights set out
in a clear and specific way. Some participants who raised this said that it was
important that this law ‘was not just words’. Any Human Rights Act
needed to have real ‘teeth’ and be community-driven.
- One participant thought that because there was no Australian statement of
human rights, it was hard to know what their rights were. He thought that at a
minimum there should be some statement of rights in Australia. Some participants
thought that it was important to be able to enforce your human rights. Other
participants thought that there should also be corresponding
- However, one participant was concerned that a national law might be used by
criminals to ‘beat the system’. Others expressed concerns about
limiting human rights by defining them too narrowly, or not being able to change
them in the future.
- Some participants felt that there needed to be more transparency in
government. One participant suggested that there should be a stronger body
charged with monitoring human rights in Australia in order to keep the
Australian Government more accountable. Another participant emphasised the
importance of making sure that governments are held accountable for implementing
the obligations they have agreed to which relate to economic, social and
cultural rights. He noted that human rights are not just about restraining
government action, but are also about placing positive obligations on government
to act to ensure that rights are fulfilled.
(i) Legal protections for young people and their
- Some participants thought that there should be enforceable remedies for
young people being exploited in traineeships.
- Other participants thought that there should be a mechanism to challenge the
use of ‘move on’ powers, especially when they discriminate against
young people who are homeless or on the basis of race or age.
- One participant thought that laws should be strengthened to prevent domestic
violence. Another thought that it should be illegal for parents to hit their
(ii) Legal protections for GLBTI young people
- Some participants thought that state and federal discrimination laws should
be amended to provide coverage for people who are GLBTI.
(iii) Legal protections for Indigenous peoples
- Indigenous participants thought that police and others should be provided
with more information about Aboriginal customary law, especially as it applies
to Aboriginal marriage and consent to a relationship.
- In addition, Indigenous participants thought that there should be special
laws for Aboriginal people so they can practice their culture. They thought that
government should make a commitment to value Indigenous language and
- They also thought that laws should be changed so that Aboriginal people have
particular rights to the resources on their country, and this information should
be made available to all Aboriginal people so they know what the rules
(d) Young people should have more say in decisions
that affect them
- A number of participants felt that children and young people should have
more say in decisions that affect them, and that this would improve protection
of human rights. As one participant suggested, ‘everyone should have a
- Participants thought that there should be increased access to information,
and that if young people were made aware of processes, they could be involved in
the decision-making processes that affect them.
- Some young people were concerned that children and young people did not know
where to go if they felt that their human rights had been breached. Several
participants said that there was a need for greater access to advice about what
children and young people can do when their human rights have been breached.
Primary school children suggested that:
There needs to be an
organisation that listens to parents and kids – and you need to be able to
walk or drive there!
We need a big complaints box at school.
- There was also recognition that children may need an adult that they trust,
and who understands them, to speak up for them, or to help them when their human
rights have been violated.
- There were also suggestions that the voting age be lowered so that young
people can have their say in elections.
(e) Relations between young people and
- Many participants suggested ways of improving relations between young people
and police, and protecting young people’s rights. These included:
- education for young people, such as a ‘police in schools’
program; more information for young people about their rights, especially in
regard to police questioning and what they can do if they are harassed by the
- education and training for the police, courts and other people in positions
of authority – including training on social inclusion and cultural
diversity; respect for human rights and training about the law so that police do
not question young people who are underage without an adult present; training in
- youth community liaison officers to assist young people when they are
detained or when police want to question them
- greater accountability of the police and people in positions of authority
such as greater power for the Ombudsman in relation to complaints made about the
police or a separate body from the police to inform police that they need to
protect human rights
- increased government funding of police stations in small communities.
Indigenous participants in remote communities thought that if there are more
than 50 people in the community there should be a local police
- education for young people, such as a ‘police in schools’
(f) Appropriate funding and access to
- A number of participants across Australia thought that there needed to be
appropriate funding for all initiatives to protect human rights. Some
participants thought that there should be increased rates of social security
payments to ensure an adequate standard of living for all people in
(i) Rural and remote communities
- Participants in rural and remote areas, were unanimous in supporting the
need for greater access to basic services in particular in terms of education,
health care and support services for people at risk of homelessness.
- Indigenous participants thought that government should use technology to
bring quality drinking water to communities, even if they are small. People have
the right to be on their land and should not have to leave because the drinking
water is bad.
- Indigenous participants thought that government should provide resources for
remote communities and make sure that all people are able to live healthy
(ii) People with disability
- Participants suggested that there was a need for more public housing and
support services for young people who are homeless or have a mental
- One participant thought that more employers should link people with
disability to specific disability support agencies, as these agencies can train
and help people with a disability to perform certain jobs.
- Some participants thought that buildings needed to be made more accessible
for people with disabilities.
(iii) People who are homeless
- One participant who had moved out of home because of domestic violence
thought that more public housing should be made available to young people who
- Another young person living in a refuge said that government agencies should
work faster to help people at risk of homelessness. If homeless people could get
into public accommodation more quickly, they would have an address they could
use to receive social security payments.
(iv) Young people
- One participant thought that there should be more support services
(accommodation, police support, child protection, psychological counselling) for
young people subjected to domestic violence, homeless young people and young
people with mental illness.
- Some participants thought that there should be more support for young people
so that they are not afraid to identify as GLBTI.