An update from our CEO: Children's rights

17 November 2017

Just like adults, all children have rights. Children have the right to feel safe and secure, to be fairly treated, to have access to a quality education, a voice in decision making, to play and have fun.

Many countries in the world don't recognise the rights of children. Even here in Australia, we have many children in our society living in situations of risk and harm, situations that see their most basic rights to safety and security eroded. For example, recent government reports looking into family violence have revealed that more than 60 thousand children in our country have been removed from their families and placed in out of home care due to family violence.

This is a shocking statistic. And as an organisation working with more than 6500 children each week, ECMS has an opportunity and an obligation to educate our teachers, children and families about children’s rights and ensure these rights can be exercised and practised in our children’s services every day. With this in mind, in my short time with ECMS, it’s been affirming to see ECMS is already firmly committed to protecting and promoting children’s rights. I’ve seen great examples of this at an organisational, service and individual level and I wanted to share some of these with you.

Child safety education

Educating our staff about child safety has been an ongoing priority for ECMS. We do this via training, educational resources and support from our team of Child Safety Advisors.

This year, we’ve extended this focus to educating children and families about child safety, too.

This year at our annual staff training day all staff undertook training on how to equip children with the skills, language and knowledge to help them contribute to their own safety. It’s been wonderful to see our services reflecting their learnings in their work with children and families. We’ve seen an increase in educators having conversations, seeking support from Child Safety Advisors and speaking to parents about child safety as a preventative measure. Talking and sharing information and training about child safety is a key factor in helping to keep children safe.

To extend this work, in October, we ran a series of parenting seminars on how to talk to children about personal safety. The sessions, presented by an experienced Child Wise consultant, offered parents simple and effective ways to talk to their child/ren about safety, risk-taking, and what they can do when they feel unsafe. The feedback from families was extremely positive, so we’ll continue to look for opportunities to educate families about child safety going forward.     

Children's Rights project

We have recently embarked upon a project to teach children about their rights. This has seen a number of our early learning and care centres coming together to explore children’s rights, share resources and plan their approach to teaching children about rights. We will be piloting a children’s rights curriculum next year in a handful of our services, and we will be inviting children to tell us about their thoughts, theories and ideas on who they are and what’s important to them.

Our teachers, children and families have come up with some fantastic ideas to promote children’s rights. For example:  

  • Children have created books with drawings and quotes explaining their rights.
  • Children have developed a song about children’s rights.
  • Children are planning a parent and community meeting to tell the adults about their rights.
  • A number of services have introduced a ‘language of rights’ into their everyday practice and conversations with children.

The project has been a great success, and we are now creating a resource with helpful tips on how children’s rights can be explored in our early learning and care centres. We’ll share this with all educators and families early next year.

This is only a snapshot of our children’s rights work. I look forward to sharing more of our work and progress in future editions of our Engage family newsletter.

If you’d like more information on child safety or children’s rights, I encourage you to speak to your child’s educator.

Kind regards

Judith Slocombe

Interim ECMS CEO