'We are failing some kids,' National Children's Commissioner Megan Mitchell says


Ms Mitchell spoke to the Mercury on Thursday during a visit to the University of Wollongong's Early Start Discovery Space.

While in town she also chaired the It's Our Place community initiative being piloted in Bellambi.

The initiative aims to break the cycle of disadvantage and create happier, healthier, more sustainable communities.

Her visit comes less than a week after she released the Children's Rights Report 2019.

"I have to say that while most children live happy and healthy lives, there are many groups of kids who miss out and we are also I think failing in particular areas," Ms Mitchell said.

"The report points to in particular to children's mental health and anxiety, with one child taking their own life every week and 10 admissions to hospital every day for self harming.

"I think there is something there that we are not getting right for our kids."

She added another area Australia needed to lift its game was in relation to children's exposure to abuse, neglect and violence.

"The latest data we've got is of around 68,000 substantiated reports of abuse and neglect of children in a year. I think that is just unacceptable," Ms Mitchell said.

"We really need to change our attitudes to children and do everything we can to keep them safe from harm so they can live happy lives and thrive and do well."

Ms Mitchell, who ends her seven-year role as Commissioner in March of this year, hoped her final report would make a positive difference in children's lives.

"One of the other things [the report] recommends is that we really need a national plan for child wellbeing that is based on their rights as articulated in the Convention of the Rights for Child.

"We also need a government minister leading that who is powerful and in the cabinet."

She added while there had been some improvements over the last seven years, there had been little change in many areas.

"The rate of obese and overweight children has stayed at 25 per cent throughout my whole term, while the level of anxiety and mental health issues among children has definitely increased," Ms Mitchell said.

"There has been some improvements over the seven years. I think there is a lot of information about children's health and wellbeing that is clearly on the improve.

"For instance the number of babies born at low birth weight has really decreased, so that's a really positive thing.

"But while I think we are doing well in some areas, there are many areas where we've really got to do concerted work to actually fulfill our obligations to children to keep them safe and well and getting a great education right up to adulthood."

(Source)


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