Karen Flanagan


Karen Flanagan is a qualified social worker with 34 years clinical, managerial, training and research experience in National and International Child Protection. She has been referred to as one of Australia’s foremost educators and practitioners in the field of child sexual abuse and child abuse prevention. In 2010 she was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for “Service to the community in the area of Child Protection through contributions to policy and program development and legislative reform”.

Currently, Karen is Save the Children Australia’s Child Protection Senior Specialist/ Advocate and also provides technical support, training and capacity building for governments, staff and programs nationally and internationally. She has worked extensively with Aboriginal staff and programs in urban and remote areas and is a member of Save the Children International – Child Protection Global Theme Steering Group, which determines Child Protection policy and practice direction across 120 Countries.


In Australia it is still legal for adults to physically punish and chastise children but when adults hit adults they can be charged with assault. Human rights demand that children have at least the same legal protection as adults – in the family and elsewhere. However any discussion on banning physical punishment of children in the home evokes polarised and vitriolic debate in this Country. Regardless of the fact that Australia is a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), we continually ignore the overwhelming body of evidence on the plethora of harmful impacts of physical/corporal punishment.

This paper will discuss the following
• Current status on what Australia is (or is not) doing to uphold children’s rights to protection from violence in the home
• Save the Children’s global work in advocating for the prohibition of physical and humiliating punishment in all settings,
• Positive Parenting strategies which do not involve any physical punishment of children
• Advocacy plans to influence Australia to meet obligations and recognition of children as human beings and rights holders to enhance children’s position in society

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