Victoria Absalom-Hornby holds a PhD in Forensic Psychology from the University of Manchester, UK. Her background includes working clinically and lecturing in the UK, specialising in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy across public, private, forensic, early intervention and education sectors. Since relocating to Western Australia in 2012, Victoria has worked in the not-for-profit sector in a variety of roles. Victoria’s passion is advocating for children and young people and implementing change through awareness raising.
Children’s Rights: A wish list rather than a To-Do list (Oral Paper Presentation)
In 2018, the Children’s Report by UNICEF described the different ways the Australian government is failing our most vulnerable children almost 30 years after signing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. There is the realisation that we live in an affluent country with ample evidence on what each child needs for healthy development and to reach their full potential, yet there are still shocking rates of neglect and abuse of children, including sexual abuse, childhood obesity, children coming into care, youth suicide and childhood poverty. Before we move forward we must learn from the past and reflect on what factors might be contributing to the slow pace, and in some areas, inability to change the trajectory of children’s outcomes.
It is well understood that what we value is reflected in societal attitudes and underpins our culture. Deeply engrained attitudes, both conscious and unconscious, and particularly the attitudes of those in positions of authority, exert a powerful influence in determining whose voices are heard and whose rights are given priority. The prevailing attitudes and culture of a society are, at times, even more powerful than a country’s laws, justice system and professed values. It is hard to reconcile with the reality that adults continue today to turn a blind eye to the prolonged and reported abuse of children. Even if we accept that attitudes have changed, they have not changed sufficiently to counter the still shocking outcomes for some children in Australia today.