Australian Volunteers International

November 20, 2019

Meet AVI’s Child Protection team

As we pause to reflect the 30th anniversary of the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), we asked AVI’s Child Protection team what it means to them.

“Back in 1989, nations came together for the first time to make a shared and real commitment to children – it was the first time in history that children were seen as having rights, and protective needs. Now, 30 years later, the UNCRC is the most widely ratified human rights treaty on earth. Many children also have a voice like never before.

But, there’s still much to do – kids are still so vulnerable. The rates of harm are still far too high. The 30th anniversary is an important opportunity to reflect not only on what has already been achieved on behalf of children (and by children), but what more still needs to be done, by all of us!”

Robert Madsen

Child Protection and Safeguards Advisor


“To me the 30th anniversary of the CRC provides a point of reflection and review. The anniversary reminds us of the significance of a universal acknowledgement and framework on the rights of children – to have a voice, to participate as equal members of our society, to play and grow in a safe environment, to have an opinion and be taken seriously, to be treated with respect and for adults to take the responsibility to protect children against all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation.

The anniversary also provides an opportunity to ensure we maintain a child focus and child rights approach within our communities, organisations, systems, laws and international relations, including the voice of children and young people to identify the gaps and keep strengthening the rights of children.”

Fiona Williams

Child Safeguarding Hub Project Lead

“To me, child rights are an invitation to invest in our future. We spend so much time, energy and resources on our staff, volunteers and partners to help them understand the value of child rights and the role they play in upholding them. It’s rarely a straight-forward process, with countless different sets of laws, definitions and cultural practices all over the world. It’s challenging. Ultimately though, it’s worth it.

We can’t have a meaningful impact on the world if we’re doing harm to the generation of people who are going to inherit it. To me, today marks 30 years of hard work, challenging conversations and tireless advocacy to change the way we work and to invest in our future – which really speaks to the heart of AVI. We’re challenging the way things have been. We’re inviting change.”

Joshua McMullen

Child Protection and Safeguards Co-ordinator

AVI’s Child Protection team

Robert Madsen is AVI’s Child Protection and Safeguard’s Advisor. He has over 25 years’ experience working with children and families across cultures, including counselling children who have experienced trauma. He has provided child protection training for many organisations, including in the Pacific and Asia.

Fiona Williams is a child safeguarding and child protection specialist who has worked in the international development sector for over 15 years. She is the project lead for AVI’s Child Safe Volunteering Hub. As an advocate for the rights of children, Fiona has worked in partnership with organisations across Australia and internationally to strengthen policy, practices and systems to protect the safety and wellbeing of children and young people.

Joshua McMullen is AVI’s Child Protection and Safeguards Coordinator. Since starting with AVI, Josh has been actively coordinating and supporting AVI’s child-safe practices, working closely to build capacity and understanding of child safeguarding with AVI’s international partners, staff and volunteers through ongoing training and advocacy.