Chil­dren are our as­sets

The Western Star - - News - Dr Ali Black is a Se­nior Lec­turer in Ed­u­ca­tion at the Univer­sity of the Sun­shine Coast.

NOVEM­BER 20 was the 30th an­niver­sary of the UN Con­ven­tion on the Rights of the Child. In 1989, world lead­ers made a com­mit­ment to the chil­dren of the world, recog­nis­ing them as rights-hold­ers and pledg­ing to chil­dren them­selves to pro­tect them, sup­port them to reach their full potenFRUIT-FILLED tial, and to know peace­ful, pros­per­ous and se­cure fu­tures.

Many coun­tries – 196 – in­clud­ing Aus­tralia, have be­come State Par­ties to the Con­ven­tion. When Aus­tralia signed up 30 years ago, we made a com­mit­ment to pro­mote and pro­tect chil­dren’s rights to flour­ish re­gard­less of na­tion­al­ity, re­li­gion or abil­i­ties. How well are we do­ing?

Dr Cindy Black­stock, an in­flu­en­tial pro­fes­sor who has 25 years of so­cial work ex­pe­ri­ence in chil­dren’s rights, be­lieves we need a mind­set where we ‘put chil­dren first in ev­ery­thing we do’. I have been think­ing about what this idea of ‘putting chil­dren first’ might look like in terms of my ev­ery­day ac­tions.

How might ‘putting chil­dren first’ in­flu­ence me in terms of liv­ing and work­ing with in­tegrity, in re­mem­ber­ing my duty to be morally coura­geous, lov­ing, kind, pa­tient and fair in all my in­ter­ac­tions? How might it sup­port me in my imag­i­na­tion for rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, well­be­ing, health, sus­tain­abil­ity, so­cial jus­tice, and peace?

Po­lio vac­cine in­ven­tor Dr Jonas Salk once sug­gested that the most im­por­tant ques­tion we can ask our­selves is ‘are we be­ing good an­ces­tors?’ It is a good ques­tion. Our ac­tions and choices have con­se­quences. Not just for our­selves.

Ev­ery­thing we do has an im­pact, and ul­ti­mately will in­flu­ence chil­dren’s fu­tures in some way. We can make the world a bet­ter and kinder place for our­selves and for oth­ers. We just need the courage and con­vic­tion to do it.

The UN Con­ven­tion on the Rights of the Child is in­cred­i­bly rel­e­vant to­day. Chil­dren are our great­est as­set and most valu­able re­source. As adults we are ob­li­gated to hon­our and re­spect the rights of every child.

For those of us who par­ent or teach, lis­ten­ing to chil­dren is a first step to con­sid­er­ing chil­dren’s rights. The warmth of our pres­ence and car­ing at­ten­tion of­fers chil­dren sup­port.

But, ev­ery­thing we do has a rip­ple ef­fect of sorts, whether we have di­rect in­volve­ment with chil­dren or not. What will you do to ‘put chil­dren first’ and ‘be a good ancestor’ to­day?

SCHOOL OF THOUGHT DR ALI BLACK

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