His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd), Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia
‘Children should be seen and not heard’, how often have we heard these words? Yet we don’t really pause to think about what they mean, about the impact they may have.
For all of us, children represent hope and the future, how we care for, respect and nurture our children that will determine our prosperity and happiness. It makes sense that we should actively encourage the views of children, listen to their ideas, and value their insights.
The theme for this year’s Children’s Week has been nominated as Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child that ‘Children’s views and opinions are respected. They have the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child and the right to be heard.’
So this year, as we continue the journey of rearing confident, happy and safe children we resolve to listen to our children, to take heed of what they have to say and their perspective on the world. This will be good for children; it will be good for all of us.
I thank the Children’s Week Council of Australia for all it does in the name of our children and for Children’s Week around Australia.
Megan Mitchell, National Children’s Commissioner
The theme of Children’s Week 2019 is the right of every child to good health and wellbeing.
As Australia’s National Children’s Commissioner, I am keen to ensure that all children and adults know about and support this fundamental right.
Article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states 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”. The right to health is particularly important for children, because their developing brains and bodies can make them more vulnerable to certain health conditions. If they are not healthy, children face barriers to claiming many other basic rights – like being able to learn, play and reach their full potential, as they grow into adults.
Children’s right to health is also what is referred to as an ‘inclusive right’, because it extends to more than just access to health care services, to include a wide range of other rights that can affect a child’s health – such as the right to non-discrimination and the right to access health-related education and information. In order for children to be healthy, they also need access to the underlying pre-conditions for good health: such as clean water and air, safe care and housing, and nutritious food.
Importantly, 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. Providing children with the services and support they need to enjoy good mental health needs to become a top priority for Australian governments.
We must all work together to find better ways to support children to be healthy and thrive: both physically and mentally. Children’s Week is a wonderful way to raise awareness about children’s right to good health!
Ambassador for Children’s Week WA
Fairy Queen Caroline
I am so proud to act as Ambassador for Western Australia’s Children’s Week and to be able to spread the message of celebration along with my fairy dust to the many children I meet in the community.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child points to each child’s right to play as an integral part of their education. In today’s world of hectic schedules, economic stress and deadlines, children can be swept along in an adult world without having time to play. Fantasy and imaginative play, role play, discovery play, games and sport are all essential learning experiences that nurture and enable a child to grow to reach their full potential.
During Children’s Week let us remind ourselves of the value of play and the importance of allowing children to be children. By taking time and allowing ourselves to play with our children we can acknowledge their world and can re-emerge from it having thoroughly enjoyed the experience!
I hope that children and families from all over Western Australia join me at Whiteman Park on Sunday 25 October for the Official Children’s Week Opening event Go for 2 & 5 Family Fun Day activities. Bring your friends and come along, there’s fun for everyone – lots to see and things to do, in celebration of you!
Commissioner for Children and Young People WA
There are 598,000 children and young people in Western Australia – almost a quarter of the population – and every year, Children’s Week is a special opportunity to recognise and celebrate these important citizens in our society.
Over the last year I had the pleasure of meeting with thousands of students in schools across the state as they shared their views in my Speaking Out Survey. Hearing how they all saw their wellbeing, and what they thought was most important in their lives, was a reminder of what defines growing up well – feeling loved, healthy and safe.
While we celebrate Children’s Week for just one week, I encourage that we as adults, in the community, in business and in government, consider the impact of our decision-making on children and young people at all times, in all weeks of the year. In particular, we need to focus on improving the lives of our most vulnerable children and young people.
The festivities arranged by Meerilinga are a great way to uphold the rights and contributions of WA’s youngest, and I’m honoured to show my support.
Commissioner for Children and Young People WA