Australian Volunteers International

Celebrating 30 years of child rights

1989 marked the year that, amidst the chaos and turbulence of global politics, the world paused to reflect and make a momentous commitment – to recognise and protect the rights of children.

November 20, 2019

This was accomplished through the development, adoption and ratification of a global treaty – the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). In the UN’s own words – “Contained in this treaty is a profound idea: that children are not just objects who belong to their parents and for whom decisions are made, or adults in training. Rather, they are human beings and individuals with their own rights.”

Since its conception, the UNCRC has become the most ratified treaty in human history, ensuring among all provisions and promises, that in any decision involving children the needs of the child are and will always remain the highest priority. The right to legal help, to be raised by their parents, the right to an identity, an education, protection from forced marriage or employment in armed forces, to supporting children with special needs and ensuring they can be heard – even the right to live – children were finally, and firmly, on the global agenda.

30 years later, that hasn’t changed.

AVI plays a significant role in the lives of children around the world through the capacity building of education systems and civil society organisations that advocate for, and work with, children, as well as supporting children who travel on assignment.

As a rights-based international development agency, AVI has a clear commitment to the rights and wellbeing of children – to safeguard them and do everything in our power to prevent child abuse and exploitation. This is no small feat. It is not the role of one person, or indeed even a team. It is something we are all responsible for.

As stated in our Child Protection Policy, by which all AVI staff and deployees are bound, “It is everyone’s responsibility to maintain vigilance, practice risk management, and to promote optimum life chances for children.”

AVI’s managers and Board members live out this commitment, ensuring the bests interests of children are prioritised in any work AVI does with children.

AVI’s staff in Melbourne support it daily, whether it’s through the careful recruitment of volunteers, responsible marketing or the maintenance of accurate, up-to-date information about the children AVI supports in Salesforce.

AVI’s country offices are on the forefront of this, tirelessly advocating for children’s rights, helping build capacity with AVI’s local partners to understand and uphold these rights and supporting the management of critical incidents.

AVI’s deployees all represent AVI in communities around the globe, and through their behaviour and attitudes, help support grassroots, normative change.

Children are our future. The world AVI seeks to develop and improve is a world our children will inherit. Today therefore, is as much a celebration of children’s rights as it is an opportunity to pause and say thank you – all of you – for the role you play every day, whether big or small, in changing the narrative and contributing to a better tomorrow.

Joshua McMullen

AVI Child Protection and Safeguards Co-ordinator