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Media Release: Valuing Children Initiative

 1st June 2016

PRIORITISING THE NATION’S CHILDREN AND FUTURE GENERATIONS

The Valuing Children Initiative is calling on all party leaders to prioritise the needs and rights of the young, and counter the tendency to focus on the short term through the creation of a Ministerial Portfolio for Children and Future Generations.

The tendency to focus on the short term characterises much of modern politics, and has been identified as damaging to economic reform as well as efforts to address issues such as climate change. The detrimental impact of short termism on the nation’s children receives far less attention, despite the fact there is only one chance at childhood and this influences so much of a person’s future.

The Valuing Children Initiative’s Convenor, Linda Savage, said it was time for decision makers to actively consider the impact of policy decisions on children, young people and future generations. She urged political leaders to heed the voices of children, as well as those who advocate on their behalf during the federal election campaign.

“Children are effectively locked out of election campaigns, but if their voices were heard they would tell a confronting story,”

“Those voices would include the 17.7% of children that live below the poverty line, or the children who are predicted to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents due to obesity and the chronic diseases that result ”, she said.

“It would also include the estimated one in 28 children who are first sexually abused by a family member before the age of 15 years, as well as those teenagers experiencing depression and thoughts about suicide, and the approximately one in ten indicating that they had engaged in self-harming behaviour.”

The Valuing Children Initiative has written to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Greens Leader Richard Di Natale asking them to commit to:

1) The creation of a Ministerial portfolio for Children and Future Generations.

2) The convening of at least one meeting per year of Federal, State and Territory Ministers to discuss policy development across portfolios for children and future generations.

3) The establishment of a set of measurable outcomes to guide policy development, determined by independent experts, in consultation with children where appropriate.

4) The instigation of a rigorous and transparent process to ensure that legislative and decision making processes consider the impact on children and future generations. This process should include the views of children whenever possible; risk analysis for particularly vulnerable children; and be evaluated and reported on.

5) Funding community raising activities to inspire Australians to value all children, understand that a child’s wellbeing is the responsibility of the entire community and ensure children are at the forefront of our considerations.

 

The Valuing Children Initiative is calling on party leaders to put their differences aside, and make this commitment in the interests of children today, as well as future generations of children.

Across the world, governments and communities are looking at new ways to ensure children and future generation’s needs and interests are explicitly taken into account, notwithstanding their lack of political or economic influence. Ms Savage cited the work of the Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations at Oxford University and the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.

Mr Tony Pietropiccolo, Director of Centrecare who established the Valuing Children Initiative with Basil Hanna CEO of Parkerville Children and Youth Care, said that Australia’s children are incredibly precious, they deserve every opportunity to flourish, and party leaders can help promote a greater focus on valuing children. Mr Hanna said, this is a unique and wonderful opportunity to unite all our nation’s leaders towards one cause, our nation’s children.

Media Inquiries

Linda Savage Convenor 0409109899

Emma King Assistant Convenor VCI 0427963392

Tony Pietropiccolo Director of Centrecare (Inc.) 0417951595

Basil Hanna CEO Parkerville Children and Youth Care (Inc.) 0409884516

The Valuing Children Initiative is an ambitious project that seeks to inspire Australians to value all children, understand that a child’s wellbeing is the responsibility of the entire community, and ensure children are at the forefront of our considerations. It was established by Centrecare (Inc.) and Parkerville Child and Youth Care (Inc.) in January 2016. Copies of the Valuing Children Foundation Paper are available by emailing: eking@centrecare.com.au

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Poverty- Poverty in Australia Report 2014

http://www.acoss.org.au/poverty-2/

Prescott, S. 2015 ‘Origins: Early –life solutions to the modern health crisis.’

Crawley, Western Australia. UWAP, p.39

Children’s Rights Report 2015. ‘All I want is a life free from violence.’

www.humanrights.gov.au

Lawrence D, Johnson S, Hafekost J, Boterhoven De Haan K, Sawyer M, Ainley J, Zubrick SR (2015) The Mental Health of Children and Adolescents. Report on the second Australian Child and Adolescent Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing. Department of Health, Canberra. p.iii

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