Concluding observations of the committee on the rights of the child: australia



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CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD: AUSTRALIA


CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATE PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE 44 OF THE CONVENTION

Fortieth Session of the Committee of the Rights of the Child CRC/C/15/Add.268 20 October 2005


1. The Committee considered the combined second and third periodic reports of Australia (CRC/C/129/Add.4) at its 1054th and 1055th meetings (see CRC/C/SR.1054 and 1055), held on 13 September 2005, and adopted, at its 1080th meeting (CRC/C/SR.1080), held on 30 September 2005, the following concluding observations.

A Introduction


2. The Committee welcomes the submission of the State party’s combined second and third periodic reports, as well as the timely responses to the list of issues, which allowed the Committee to have a better understanding of the situation of children in the State party. The Committee further appreciates the constructive and open dialogue with a cross-sectoral and high-level delegation.


C Main Subjects of Concern and Recommendations

1 General Measures of Implementation

Committee’s Previous Recommendations


5. The Committee notes with satisfaction that most of its concerns expressed and recommendations (CRC/C/15/ Add.79) made upon the consideration of the State party’s initial report (CRC/C/8/Add.31) in 1997 have been addressed. However, it notes that some concerns and recommendations have been insufficiently or partly addressed regarding, inter alia, the special problems still faced by indigenous children, corporal punishment, the spread of homelessness among young people, children in immigration detention, juvenile justice and the disproportionately high percentage of indigenous children in the juvenile justice system.

6. The Committee urges the State party to take all necessary measures to give more effective follow-up to the recommendations contained in the concluding observations of the initial report that have not yet been implemented and to provide concrete and effective follow-up to the recommendations contained in the present concluding observations on the second and third periodic reports.


Resources for Children


17. The Committee notes that despite the increase in budgetary allocations in many areas of childcare and wellbeing, indigenous children and other vulnerable groups continue to need considerable improvement in their standard of living, health and education.

18. The Committee recommends that the State party pay particular attention to the full implementation of article 4 of the Convention, by prioritizing budgetary allocations so as to ensure implementation of the economic, social and cultural rights of children, in particular those belonging to disadvantaged groups, such as indigenous children, “to the maximum extent of … available resources”.


3 Civil Rights and Freedoms

Preservation of Identity


31. The Committee notes the national inquiry carried out in 1997 by HREOC into the separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island children (‘Bringing Them Home’), which acknowledged the past policies whereby indigenous persons were deprived of their identity, name, culture, language and family. In this respect, the Committee welcomes the activities undertaken by the State party to assist family reunification and improve access to records to help indigenous persons trace their families.

32. The Committee encourages the State party to continue and strengthen as much as possible its activities for the full implementation of the recommendations of the 1997 HREOC report, ‘Bringing Them Home’, and to ensure full respect for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to their identity, name, culture, language and family relationships.


Family Environment and Alternative Care

Alternative Care for Children without Parental Care


37. The Committee notes with concern the considerable

increase in the number of children in out-of-home care in recent years as well as the over-representation of indigenous

children in out-of-home care. Furthermore, the Committee is

concerned about:



  1. (a) The lack of stability and security of children placed in alternative care;

  2. (b) The difficulties for children in maintaining contact with their families;

  3. (c) The inadequate medical care, e.g. physical, dental and mental health services.

38. The Committee recommends that the State party take measures to strengthen the current programmes of family support, eg by targeting the most vulnerable families, in order to reduce the number of children placed in out-ofhome care. It further recommends that the State party:

  1. (a) Strengthen its support for foster care, e.g. by improving equal access to adequate medical care by children in foster care;

  2. (b) Strengthen supervision of foster care and establish regular review of this kind of placement with a view to reuniting the child with his/her natural family;

  3. (c) Promote and facilitate the maintenance of contact of the child in foster care with his/her natural family.

39. The Committee also recommends that the State party maximize its efforts, within a set time period, to reduce the significant number of indigenous children placed in out-of-home care, inter alia by strengthening its support for indigenous families. It further recommends that the State party fully implement the Indigenous Child Placement Principle and intensify its cooperation with indigenous community leaders and communities to find suitable solutions for indigenous children in need of alternative care within indigenous families.


Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Maltreatment


42. While the Committee notes with appreciation the State party’s activities and measures addressing this problem, including two programmes seeking to reduce family violence in indigenous communities, it shares the State party’s concern that child abuse remains a major problem for Australian society, affecting children’s physical and mental health as well as their educational and employment opportunities. The Committee is further concerned at the exposure of children to a high level of domestic violence.

43. In light of article 19 of the Convention, the Committee recommends that the State party:



(a) Continue to take measures to prevent and combat child abuse and violence against children and strengthen measures to encourage reporting of instances of child abuse;




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