'Just ask us. Come and see us': the participation of Aboriginal children and young people in law and policy development
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 14:08 authored by Holly Doel-Mackaway
Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (‘CRC’) provides all people under the age of 18 years old with the right to express their views, and have these views considered in all matters affecting them. This provision includes children’s right to be involved in the development of laws and policies likely to impact their lives. Australia ratified the CRC in 1990 yet the voices of children and young people, particularly Aboriginal children and young people, remain largely silent in law and policy development processes nationally. Field research undertaken in 2014 with Aboriginal children and young people in the Northern Territory of Australia highlights the vital role children and young people can play—if afforded the opportunity—in the development of laws and policies affecting them. This study provides the first documented accounts from Aboriginal children and young people detailing their views about the case study for this research: the Northern Territory Emergency Response and Stronger Futures legislation; as well as their views on how they can be involved in law and policy development in the future. A child rights-based approach informed by Indigenous research methodologies underpinned the methodological and ethical framework for this cross-cultural research to be undertaken. The thesis concludes by presenting practical suggestions for how a child rights-based approach supports Aboriginal children and young people’s involvement in law and policy making. Analysis supports the conclusion that this approach is necessary in order to strengthen Australia’s compliance with article 12 of the CRC, and as a mechanism to fulfil and develop Aboriginal children and young people’s human rights.