Category: Media Releases

03 Apr 2017
Baby boy portrait

70% of Australians say that children ‘belong’ to their parents.

A survey commissioned by The Valuing Children Initiative (VCI) has found that 70% of Australians believe that children ‘belong’ to their parents, suggesting a strong consensus on the traditionally subordinate place of the child in the family until they reach the age of 18.

Whilst those surveyed had an overwhelmingly positive view of their own children, only just over half (53%) of Australians said they have a positive view of all children, with 8% saying they had negative feelings to children other than their own and 25% saying they were indifferent.

The survey found that the majority agreed that the wellbeing of children is the shared responsibility of the entire community, and everyone is responsible for the best interests of children, including those who are not their own.

These responses reflected a widespread sense of shared responsibility for children’s safety and wellbeing, Linda Savage, the Convenor of the Valuing Children Initiative (VCI) said.

Despite this when asked more specific questions about who was responsible for children, the majority identified parents as the most responsible for protecting and promoting the wellbeing of children. Only 12% of respondents saw “everyone” as being responsible for children, with just 1% of respondents allocating responsibility to the wider community.

In a recent submission to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse  the VCI called for further research to be undertaken to better understand contemporary attitudes to children and the role that prevailing attitudes play in a child’s safety and wellbeing

Children are still subject to shocking rates of sexual abuse and harm in Australia and their ultimate safety requires a change in attitudes towards them, beginning with how we value them, Ms Savage said.

The VCI has called on state and federal governments to:

  1. Fund campaigns to promote understanding that a society’s attitudes to its children and how we value them impacts fundamentally on their safety and wellbeing.
  2. Undertake research to better understand attitudes to children in Australia today,
  3. Create a dedicated Ministerial portfolio for Children and Future Generations, and a National Plan for Children.
  4. Instigate a rigorous and transparent process to ensure all policy, legislative and decision making processes actively consider the impact on children and future generations.
08 Mar 2017
Adorable little girl in blooming cherry garden on beautiful spring day

63% of Australians say that a child’s word is still less likely to be believed than that of an adult.

A survey commissioned by the Valuing Children Initiative in 2016 found that 63% of Australians still believe that a child’s word is less likely to be believed than that of an adult.

This raises serious questions about attitudes to children today and goes fundamentally to the question of how to protect children if they are not believed when they speak up, Linda Savage, the Convenor of the Valuing Children Initiative (VCI) said.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (the Royal Commission) has repeatedly heard evidence that children who spoke up about their abuse were not believed and that their credibility continued to be questioned, even as adults.

In a recent submission to the Royal Commission the VCI called for further research to be undertaken to better understand contemporary attitudes to children and the role that prevailing attitudes play in a child’s safety and wellbeing

The role that deeply embedded societal attitudes can play was acknowledged by Archbishop Coleridge in evidence to the Royal Commission who said:

‘We have changed procedures, we have changed protocols, but if we don’t really change the culture at that deeper level, the problem could re-emerge in the future.’

The VCI survey also found that almost one in three of the Australian adult respondents did not believe that the opinions of children should be considered to be as important the opinions of adults. More than half (59%) considered children to be less capable than adults of saying what is best for them.

‘While the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is indispensable to the acceptance and admission of past failures to protect children, it brings with it the risk of unintentionally implying that these concerns are now largely taken care of. Or that better policy and legislation will be enough to bring about the change needed to protect children.’

This mental shortcut would be a grave mistake, Ms Savage said.

Children are still subject to shocking rates of sexual abuse and harm in Australia and their ultimate safety requires a change in attitudes towards them, beginning with how we value them.

The VCI has called on state and federal governments to:

  1. Fund campaigns to promote understanding that a society’s attitudes to its children and how we value them impacts fundamentally on their safety and wellbeing.
  2. Undertake research to better understand attitudes to children in Australia today,
  3. Create a dedicated Ministerial portfolio for Children and Future Generations, and a National Plan for Children.
  4. Instigate a rigorous and transparent process to ensure all policy, legislative and decision making processes actively consider the impact on children and future generations.

 

 

 

How do we perceive children in Australia today? – A synopsis of the Valuing Children Initiative benchmark survey Part B

Are children at the forefront of our considerations? – A synopsis of the Valuing Children Initiative benchmark survey Part A

Essential Research 2016, Valuing Children Initiative Benchmark Survey: 2016 (Full report)

02 Mar 2017
Passionate children's advocate

Professor Fiona Stanley Endorses The Valuing Children Initiative (VCI)

Passionate children’s advocate, Professor Fiona Stanley endorses The Valuing Children Initiative (VCI).

Speaking via video, at the official launch of the VCI, Professor Stanley said  “We need to change the culture in terms of how we value children…there has never been a more important time for this initiative than today”

06 Feb 2017
How many royal commissions VCI

2017 – A crucial moment in time for Australia’s children.

With two Royal Commissions due to report about the mistreatment of children, 2017 marks a critical juncture for children’s safety and wellbeing.

This current focus on how profoundly society and institutions have failed children in Australia, demands that we ask hard questions about how we value children today, the Convenor of the Valuing Children Initiative (VCI), said Linda Savage.

What we value is reflected in a society’s culture and prevailing attitudes, and plays a pivotal role in ensuring children’s safety and wellbeing.

The pivotal role that culture and embedded societal attitudes play, was acknowledged by Archbishop Mark Coleridge in a message to Catholic school parents and churches, in response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

‘We have changed procedures, we have changed protocols, but if we don’t really change the culture at that deeper level, the problem could re-emerge in the future.’

In an article published by the Law Society of West Australia this month, the VCI argues that a change in how we value children is essential to children’s safety and wellbeing, and asks “How many Royal Commissions does it take to keep children safe?”

‘While the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is indispensable to the acceptance and admission of past failures to protect children, it brings with it the risk of unintentionally implying that these concerns are now largely taken care of. Or that better policy and legislation will be enough to bring about the change needed to protect children.’

This mental shortcut would be a grave mistake, Ms Savage said.

Children are still subject to shocking rates of sexual abuse and harm in Australia and their ultimate safety requires a change in attitudes to children and that begins with how we value them.

Rates of child abuse and neglect, poverty and homelessness are further evidence that children are simply not valued enough.

The VCI has called on state and federal governments to:

  1. Fund campaigns to promote understanding that a society’s attitudes to its children and how we value them impacts fundamentally on their safety and wellbeing.
  2. Undertake research to better understand attitudes to children in Australia today,
  3. Create a dedicated Ministerial portfolio for Children and Future Generations, and a National Plan for Children.
  4. Instigate a rigorous and transparent process to ensure all policy, legislative and decision making processes actively consider the impact on children and future generation

 

Media Inquiries

Linda Savage  Convenor                    0409109899    lsavage@valuingchildren.com.au

Emma King     Deputy Convenor       0450101117    eking@valuingchildren.com.au

 

 

04 Jan 2017
child cute little girl and mother holding hand together with love in vintage color filter

Tomorrow’s adults may well feel let down by us – Media Release

Growing frustration amongst voters, and a sense of disempowerment, has led to calls for politicians to find new ways to respond to voters’ concerns that they are not being heard, or risk being punished at the ballot box.

Children, however, are unable to vent their feelings or voice their concerns through the ballot box, the Convenor of the Valuing Children Initiative, Linda Savage said.

Without a vote, children suffer the unconscious bias that relegates their rights and needs to a lower priority, just as women and indigenous Australians experienced before they gained the right to vote.

The Valuing Children Initiative Benchmark Survey: 2016 confirms this bias. When asked to rank issues of importance such as climate change, taxation, the health system and the economy, children were ranked only ninth, Ms Savage said.

Older Australians were ranked sixth.

This bias also helps explain why it has taken decades, and finally a Royal Commission for people to finally be able to tell their stories of sexual abuse as a child and the lifelong impact it has had.

To propel and reflect changing attitudes to women, governments appointed dedicated Ministers for women.

The Valuing Children Initiative has written to state and federal members of parliament calling for a dedicated Minister for Children and Future Generations. Ideally this portfolio should be held by the Prime Minister and state Premiers so they can command the authority to elevate the priority given to children’s’ rights and needs and engender a whole of government response.

Despite having 42 Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries, the 45th Turnbull government does not have a single portfolio that includes the word ‘child’.

The Valuing Children Initiative believes it is not enough to point to portfolios that provide services for children and assume that this is adequate.

Two Royal Commissions and an increase in substantiated cases of abuse and neglect, says otherwise, Ms Savage said.

The Valuing Children Initiative is urging state and federal MPs to reinvigorate the role they play in ensuring the safety, health and wellbeing of children. This includes supporting:

  • The creation of a Ministerial portfolio for Children and Future Generations.

‘A dedicated Minister, ideally for the entire term of government, is needed to ensure children are at the forefront of considerations and that issues of concern about children, wherever they occur, are brought to the attention of the Cabinet. In addition, a dedicated Minister would play a role in countering short term and crisis driven responses which are particularly detrimental to children, by encouraging high level engagement in futures thinking and planning, reflecting the evidence about what is critical to a child’s ability to thrive, Ms Savage said.

  • The instigation of a rigorous and transparent process to ensure that all policy, legislative and decision making processes actively considers the impact on children and future generations.

‘This would ensure that children, who cannot vote and are excluded from influencing the political process, will have their interests explicitly considered. Considering the impact on children and Future Generations should be integral to sound decision making and should include the views of children whenever possible.’ Ms. Savage said.

 

Full article ‘Tomorrow’s adults may well feel let down by us’ can be accessed here

Media Inquiries

Linda Savage     Convenor                     0409109899    lsavage@valuingchildren.com.au

Emma King       Deputy Convenor        0427963392    eking@valuingchildren.com.au

Essential Research 2016.The Valuing Children Initiative Benchmark Survey 2016

www.valuingchildreninitiative.com.au

06 Oct 2016
seen-but-not-heard

Children seen – but are they really heard?

The Valuing Children Initiative Benchmark Survey: 2016 (the Survey) has found that 80% of Australians are concerned about the health and happiness of future generations of Australian children.

‘Childhood obesity and mental health were highlighted as being particular issues of concern,’ Linda Savage, the Convenor of the Valuing Children Initiative said.

‘In Australia today approximately one in four children are overweight, or obese, and as a result for the first time children in affluent countries like Australia, are predicted to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents, because of the chronic diseases that result.’

‘In 2013-2014 almost one in seven, 4-17 year olds were assessed as having mental disorders in the previous 12 months.’

The Survey also found less than one in five believe that Australia is a safer place today than when they grew up.

With two royal commissions currently examining the abuse and mistreatment of children, Ms Savage said this result was probably not surprising.

‘And before we comfort ourselves with the belief that these are yesterday’s problems, it should be noted that the Australian Institute of Family Studies reported in 2013-2014  that 40,844 children  were the subject of substantiated reports of neglect, emotional, physical and sexual abuse, representing a 31 percent increase from 2009-2010.’

The Survey also found that less than half of those surveyed believe that all children in Australia have a fair and equal opportunity to flourish and to maximise their potential.

Nearly 50% believe governments give too little consideration to children.

The Valuing Children Initiative has recently written to all State MPs urging them to reinvigorate the role they play in ensuring the safety, health and wellbeing of children and urging them to give children’ rights and needs greater priority.

This includes the creation of a Ministerial portfolio for Children and Future Generations.

‘A dedicated Minister is needed to ensure children are at the forefront of considerations, to  develop a State wide plan with an inspiring vision to ensure all children experience the safe, supportive and caring childhood they deserve and have a right to, and to  establish and oversee a subcommittee of Cabinet that includes all Ministers with responsibilities for children.

This would play a role in countering fragmentation, and short term and crisis driven responses which are particularly detrimental to children. It would also be a tangible sign of the value of all Western Australia’s children, Ms Savage said.

The Valuing Children Initiative has also urged the instigation of a rigorous and transparent process to ensure that all policy, legislative and decision making processes actively considers the impact on children and future generations. This should include the views of children whenever possible.

‘This would ensure that children, who cannot vote and are excluded from influencing the political process, have their interests explicitly considered. Considering the impact on children and future generations should be integral to sound decision making.’

The Valuing Children Initiative has also called for funding of community awareness activities to inspire Australians to value all children, to understand that a child’s wellbeing is the responsibility of the entire community, and ensure children are at the forefront of our considerations.

 

 

Media Inquiries

Linda Savage  Convenor                    0409109899    lsavage@valuingchildren.com.au

Emma King     Deputy Convenor       0427963392    eking@valuingchildren.com.au

 

Prescott, S. 2015 ‘Origins: Early –life solutions to the modern health crisis.’ Crawley, Western Australia. UWAP, p.39

Lawrence, D. et al. (2015) The Mental Health of Children and Adolescents. Report on the second Australian Child and Adolescent Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing. Department of Health. Canberra.

https://www.health.gov.au/internet/publishing.nsf/Content/9DA8CA21306FE6EDCA257E2700016945/4File/child2.pdf

Australian Institute of Family Studies: Child abuse and neglect statistics. July 2015

https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/publications/child-abuse-neglect-and-statistics

A Synopsis of The Valuing Children Initiative Benchmark Survey: 2016 – Part A October 2016.

13 Sep 2016
How many Royal Commissions does it take?

How many Royal Commissions will it take to keep children safe?

With two Royal Commissions currently examining the mistreatment of children, the Valuing Children Initiative believes we must ask serious and challenging questions about how we value children in Australia.

We are at a critical juncture for children in Australia today, the Convenor of the Valuing Children Initiative, Linda Savage said.

“Notwithstanding the current focus on children, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reported that in 2013-2014 there were 40,844 substantiated reports of neglect, emotional, physical and sexual abuse of children. This represented a 31% increase from 2009-2010, and experts believed it was likely an underestimation of the number of children being abused or neglected.”

The Valuing Children Initiative has written to all federal MPs urging them to reinvigorate the role they play in ensuring the safety, health and wellbeing of children.

This includes supporting:

  • The creation of a Ministerial portfolio for Children and Future Generations.

‘A dedicated Minister, ideally for the entire term of government, is needed to ensure children are at the forefront of considerations and that issues of concern about children, wherever they occur, are brought to the attention of the Cabinet. In addition, a dedicated Minister would play a role in countering short term and crisis driven responses which are particularly detrimental to children, by encouraging high level engagement in futures thinking and planning, reflecting the evidence about what is critical to a child’s ability to thrive, Ms Savage said.

  • The instigation of a rigorous and transparent process to ensure that all policy, legislative and decision making processes actively considers the impact on children and Future Generations.

‘This would ensure that children, who cannot vote and are excluded from influencing the political process, will have their interests explicitly considered. Considering the impact on children and Future Generations should be integral to sound decision making and should include the views of children whenever possible.’ Ms Savage said.

“Despite the 42 Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries of 45th Turnbull government, not one portfolio includes the word child.”

It is not enough to point to portfolios that provide services for children and assume that this is adequate. Two Royal Commissions and an increase in substantiated cases of abuse and neglect, says otherwise, Ms Savage said.

The Valuing Children Initiative Benchmark Survey: 2016 (the survey) found that only 48% of Australians believe that children in this country all have a fair and equal opportunity to flourish and to maximise their potential. Nearly 50% believe governments give too little consideration to children.

The Valuing Children Initiative has also called for funding of community awareness activities to inspire Australians to value all children, to understand that a child’s wellbeing is the responsibility of the entire community, and ensure children are at the forefront of our considerations.

16 Aug 2016
Children failed by a society

Children failed by a society that knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

The Valuing Children Initiative believes that the ongoing pattern of failure to protect children risks defining our nation.

Serious allegations of abuse on Nauru, disturbing images of the treatment of children in the Don Dale Juvenile Justice Centre, and the ongoing revelations of institutional child sexual abuse reveal a darker side to life in Australia.

This pattern of failure, driven by a culture of cover ups and crisis driven responses, demands that far more attention must be given to our attitudes to children, and how we value them.

Societal attitudes, although sometimes forgotten, play a pivotal role in ensuring a child’s safety and wellbeing, the Convenor of the VCI Linda Savage said.

At the recent launch of the Valuing Children Initiative Professor Fiona Stanley AC said these are anguishing issues which should not be occurring in Australia today.

‘We need to change the culture in terms of how we value children.’ she said.

Attitudes to children and how we value them, individually and as a section of society, directly impact on how we treat them, and the priority we give their needs and rights. This is turn impacts on policy, programs and resources.

“Nothing had provided a starker example of this than the shocking revelations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.”

“What it has revealed is that children, the laws in place to protect them, and even the adults who spoke out on their behalf, were no match for the prevailing culture and attitudes that was generally not to believe a child and put the protection of institutions and adults first. This enabled perpetrators to resist scrutiny for decades,’

Ms Savage said the crucial role the prevailing culture plays in how children are treated, was noted by Prime Minister Turnbull in his response to the recent Four Corners Program, detailing the abusive treatment of children at the Don Dale Juvenile Detention Centre.

It played a role not only in what had happened at the Don Dale Juvenile Detention Centre, but also in the lack of a more urgent response despite two previous reports, media coverage and the many who knew what was occurring.

Ms Savage said this raises uncomfortable questions for Australians, both individually and as a society, because this has happened in Australia today, and on our watch.

Acceptance, and admission of past failures to protect children can subtly suggest that these concerns have now largely been dealt with. This would be a grave mistake. Getting it right for every child now, and in the future will always depend on the attitudes of the adult world, Ms Savage said.

Children’s rights and needs must be made a far greater priority. There is overwhelming evidence that childhood experiences can have a lifelong impact, reverberate in the lives of those around them, and have financial and social consequences for the whole society.

During the federal election the VCI called for the creation of a Ministerial position for Children and Future Generations, as well as the implementation of a rigorous and transparent process to ensure policy, legislative and decision making processes include a requirement to consider the impact on children today and in the future.

Ideally this would be a position held by the Prime Minister, reflecting the primary role of government to protect its citizens and the special responsibility there is for children.

Today despite 29 Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries, it is notable that there is no position responsible for children, Ms Savage said.

Media Inquiries

Linda Savage              Convenor                                                                    0409109899

Emma King                Deputy Convenor                                                       0427963392

10 Aug 2016
shutterstock_295276145

What the public thinks

LOOKING AFTER THE INTERESTS OF CHILDREN RANKS ONLY 9TH OUT OF 10 PRIORITIES FOR AUSTRALIANS.

The Valuing Children Initiative Benchmark Survey: 2016 (the survey), has revealed that Australians ranked looking after the interests of children only 9th out of a possible 10 options, in order of importance.

By comparison, looking after the interests of older Australians was ranked sixth in order of importance.

More than 50% said that issues like jobs and the economy were more important to them than the needs of children.

When asked to describe children today the most commonly selected words were spoilt, fortunate, lazy and selfish.

The Convenor of the Valuing Children Initiative, Linda Savage said this harsh characterisation of children today seemed at odds with the reality of life for more than 17% of children living below the poverty line in Australia today.

Notwithstanding the prevalence of negative descriptors, almost half believed it is more challenging to be a child today than when they were children.

Ms Savage said the fifth most commonly selected word was vulnerable. This was supported by the finding that less than one in five believed Australia is a safer place today than when they were growing up.

A snapshot of the survey results are being released today, Ms Savage said, to coincide with the official launch of the Valuing Children Initiative.

Ms Savage said the survey had been done because attitudes to children play an important role in children’s wellbeing, directly impacting on our how we treat children and the priority we give their needs.

“Nothing had provided a starker example of this than the shocking revelations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.”

“What it has revealed is that children, the laws in place to protect them, and even the adults who spoke out on their behalf, were no match for the prevailing culture and attitudes that was generally not to believe a child and put the protection of institution and adults first. This enabled perpetrators to resist scrutiny for decades.’

Ms Savage said the crucial role the prevailing culture played in how children are treated, was noted by Prime Minister Turnbull in his response to the recent Four Corners Program detailing the disturbing treatment of children at the Don Dale Juvenile Detention Centre.

It played a role in what had occurred at the Don Dale Juvenile Detention Centre, as well as the lack of a more urgent response despite two previous reports, media coverage and the many who knew what was occurring.

Ms Savage said this raises uncomfortable questions for Australians, both individually and as a society, because this has happened in Australia today, and on our watch.

Professor Fiona Stanley has endorsed the Valuing Children Initiative saying, ‘Never has there been a more important time for this Initiative than today.’

‘We need to change the culture in terms of how we value children,’ she said.

The survey also revealed that 80% of Australians are concerned about the health and happiness of children and future generations. The main reason given was health issues, related to poor diet and lack of exercise.

Ms Savage said that the decision in the UK to impose a sugar levy on soft drinks, specifically to improve children’s health, was an example of changing attitudes that prioritised the health and wellbeing of children before commercial interests.

The Valuing Children Initiative was established by Mr Tony Pietropiccolo, Director of Centrecare and Mr Basil Hanna CEO of Parkerville Children and Youth Care and will be officially launched today.

Data Source
The Valuing Children Initiative Benchmark Survey 2016 is a nationally representative sample of more than a 1000 adults aged 18 years and over. The survey was conducted by Essential Research on behalf of the Valuing Children Initiative.

28 Jul 2016
shutterstock_52952065

The Valuing Children Initiative again calls for the appointment of a national minister for children and future generations following the establishment of a royal commission into juvenile Justice.

The Valuing Children Initiative (VCI) says that one thing we must take from the abhorrent events at the Don Dale Centre, is the Prime Minister’s public acknowledgement that the culture and prevailing attitudes of a society plays a crucial role in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of children.

VCI Convenor Linda Savage said that questioning underlying assumptions about how we value children in Australia is more urgent than ever following the outcry about the treatment of children at the Don Dale Juvenile Detention Centre.

How we value children is critical to ensuring the wellbeing and safety of children in Australia and directly impacts on attitudes, action and behaviour towards children.

Nothing has provided a starker contemporary example of this, said Ms Savage, than the shocking revelations of sexual abuse of children by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

It had revealed was that children, the laws in place to protect them, and even the adults who spoke out, were no match for the prevailing culture and attitudes that were generally not to believe a child, put the protection of institutions first and enabled perpetrators to resist scrutiny for decades.

During the recent federal election the VCI had called on the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Greens Leader Richard Di Natale to commit to making children’s’ safety and wellbeing a greater priority through the:

  1. Creation of a Ministerial Portfolio for Children and Future Generations.
  2. The instigation of a rigorous and transparent process to ensure that legislative and decision making processes consider the impact on children and future generations with risk analysis for particularly vulnerable children that is  evaluated and reported on.
  3. The convening of at least one meeting per year of Federal, State and Territory Ministers to discuss policy development across portfolios for children and future generations, and;
  4. the funding of community raising activities to inspire Australians to value all children, understand that a child’s wellbeing is the responsibility of the entire community and ensure children are at the forefront of our considerations.

Ms Savage said the VCI is again calling on party leaders to consider innovative ways to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children is at the forefront of considerations.

Across the world, governments and communities are looking at new ways to ensure children and future generation’s needs and interests are explicitly taken into account, notwithstanding their lack of political or economic influence. Ms Savage cited the work of the Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations at Oxford University and the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.

Mr Tony Pietropiccolo, Director of Centrecare who established the Valuing Children Initiative with Basil Hanna CEO of Parkerville Children and Youth Care, said that Australia’s children are incredibly precious and deserve every opportunity to flourish. Mr Hanna said that this of importance to every single Australian because our children are our nation’s future and should therefore be given the highest priority by our nation’s leaders.

 

Media Inquiries

Linda Savage              Convenor                                                                    0409109899

Emma King                 Assistant Convenor VCI                                             0427963392