The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has announced a new national tool to help improve laws and policy decisions and monitor their impacts on children.
The Child Rights Impact Assessment tool, developed by the AHRC with support from UNICEF Australia, will help governments and service providers to assess how children’s rights and wellbeing are affected by any law, policy or program.
The 18-question checklist can be used to measure the anticipated impact of a new law or policy, and whether it supports the best interests of children and their families in Australia.
The tool report Safeguarding Children: Using a child rights impact assessment to improve our laws and policies includes a case study in which the effects of policies and school closures on children during the COVID-19 pandemic are retrospectively assessed. This includes an evaluation of impacts on different groups such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and children with a disability.
National Children’s Commissioner Anne Hollonds said the use of child impact assessments had been recommended by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child since 2003, but this would be the first time Australia had a national Child Rights Impact Assessment tool.
“This tool provides human rights-based principles to guide decisions about laws and policies affecting children and young people, who are typically ‘invisible’ and not heard,” Commissioner Hollonds said.
“This will be helpful across all policy areas, including youth justice and child protection, which are failing to properly support children and young people.
“It is my hope that Safeguarding Children – Australia’s Child Rights Impact Assessment tool is widely applied and continually improved as we learn how to build good policy, legislation and service systems with child wellbeing as our national priority.”
Access the tool here.