Children's Voices

Children’s Voices was an exhibition of drawings, paintings and linocuts made by children of the Brisbane region in 1997 for the First Australasian Conference on the Rights of the Child, held in Brisbane at the Queensland University of Technology. The exhibition was hosted by State Library of Queensland and supported by the Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian. The children’s work toured Australia for three years and is now part of the SLQ collection in the Dr Barbara Piscitelli AM Children’s Art Archive. Thank you to the children, staff and parents who participated in this project long ago.  
Your messages are still strong and meaningful.

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Children Aren't Happy Being Home Alone by Sarah Guttie (6 years) The Murri School

Every child has the right to protection from abuse and neglect

Article 19

  1. States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.
  2. Such protective measures should, as appropriate, include effective procedures for the establishment of social programmes to provide necessary support for the child and for those who have the care of the child, as well as for other forms of prevention and for identification, reporting, referral, investigation, treatment and follow-up of instances of child maltreatment described heretofore, and, as appropriate, for judicial involvement.
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Detail from Children Aren’t Happy Being Home Alone by Sarah Guttie (6 years) The Murri School

Every child has the right to protection from abuse and neglect.

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Some Children Go to School to Learn & Others Have to Go to Work by Michelle Fraser (9 years) Raquel Redmond Art for Children

Children have the right to education. Primary education should be free and all children should be required to attend. Secondary education should be accessible to every child.

Article 28

  1. States Parties recognise the right of the child to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity, they shall, in particular:
    (a) Make primary education compulsory and available free to all;
    (b) Encourage the development of different forms of secondary education, including general and vocational education, make them available and accessible to every child, and take appropriate measures such as the introduction of free education and offering financial assistance in case of need; 
    (c) Make higher education accessible to all on the basis of capacity by every appropriate means;
    (d) Make educational and vocational information and guidance available and accessible to all children;
    (e) Take measures to encourage regular attendance at schools and the reduction of drop-out rates.
  2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that school discipline is administered in a manner consistent with the child's human dignity and in conformity with the present Convention.
  3. States Parties shall promote and encourage international cooperation in matters relating to education, in particular with a view to contributing to the elimination of ignorance and illiteracy throughout the world and facilitating access to scientific and technical knowledge and modern teaching methods. In this regard, particular account shall be taken of the needs of developing countries.
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Detail from Some Children Go to School to Learn & Others Have to Go to Work by Michelle Fraser (9 years) Raquel Redmond Art for Children

Children have the right to education. Primary education should be free and all children should be required to attend. Secondary education should be accessible to every child.

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The Right to Play by Arja Gullvik (11 years) Rainworth State School

Children have the right to rest, pleasure, play and participation in cultural and artistic activities.

Article 31

  1. States Parties recognise the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.
  2. States Parties shall respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity.
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For Sale by Kate Irwin (12 years) Rainworth State School

No Child should be subjected to abduction, trafficking or sale.

Article 35

  1. States Parties shall take all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent the abduction of, the sale of or traffic in children for any purpose or in any form.
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Children Who Have a Home and Homeless Children by Fergus Hill (8 years) Raquel Redmond Art for Children

Every Child has the right to adequate standing of living.

Article 27

  1. States Parties recognise the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child's physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development.
  2. The parent(s) or others responsible for the child have the primary responsibility to secure, within their abilities and financial capacities, the conditions of living necessary for the child's development.
  3. States Parties, in accordance with national conditions and within their means, shall take appropriate measures to assist parents and others responsible for the child to implement this right and shall in case of need provide material assistance and support programmes, particularly with regard to nutrition, clothing and housing.
  4. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to secure the recovery of maintenance for the child from the parents or other persons having financial responsibility for the child, both within the State Party and from abroad. In particular, where the person having financial responsibility for the child lives in a State different from that of the child, States Parties shall promote the accession to international agreements or the conclusion of such agreements, as well as the making of other appropriate arrangements.
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Detail from Children Who Have a Home and Homeless Children by Fergus Hill (8 years) Raquel Redmond Art for Children

Every Child has the right to adequate standing of living.

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Children Have a Right to Be Protected from War by David Benyon (9 years) Woodridge State School

Governments must do everything possible to see that children do not take part in in armed conflict. Children under 15 should not be recruited into the armed forces. Children who are affected by armed conflict are entitled to special protection and care.

Article 38

  1. States Parties undertake to respect and to ensure respect for rules of international humanitarian law applicable to them in armed conflicts which are relevant to the child.
  2. States Parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure that persons who have not attained the age of fifteen years do not take a direct part in hostilities.
  3. States Parties shall refrain from recruiting any person who has not attained the age of fifteen years into their armed forces. In recruiting among those persons who have attained the age of fifteen years but who have not attained the age of eighteen years, States Parties shall endeavour to give priority to those who are oldest.
  4. In accordance with their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect the civilian population in armed conflicts, States Parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure protection and care of children who are affected by an armed conflict.
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Detail from Children Have a Right to Be Protected from War by David Benyon (9 years) Woodridge State School

Governments must do everything possible to see that children do not take part in in armed conflict. Children under 15 should not be recruited into the armed forces. Children who are affected by armed conflict are entitled to special protection and care.

Project background

The images in the Children Have Rights: An exhibition of Children's Drawings and Paintings, 1995-1997 now housed in the Dr Barbara Piscitelli AM Children’s Art Archive are powerful.

Each picture illustrates a child’s view of the articles that make up the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child including the right to play and recreation, education, home, family and the right to protection from poverty, war, slavery, labour, neglect and abuse.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most ratified piece of international law in the world.  UNICEF views the Convention as a cross-cultural moral minimum for children, and as applicable in all the diverse societies of our world.

Rights carry responsibilities – for everyone.  Children are expected to participate in society and to show respect for those who care for them. Adults are responsible for creating respectful relationships with children and for acting as champions in matters relating to children.  Governments are responsible for acting in the best interests of children since children’s rights are a legal obligation, not simply matter of charity or compassion.

The exhibition celebrated the 2013 Children’s Week theme of the right to play, as defined in Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child:

Article 42 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child:
State Parties undertake to make the principles and provisions of the Convention widely known, by appropriate and active means, to adults and children alike.

Australia ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in December 1990, and joins with other nations in recognising that children are both vulnerable and dependent on adults, and to ensure they are provided for and protected in their lives.  Signing the Convention signals a commitment to act in children's best interest.  As a signatory to the Convention, Australia also commits to valuing children as competent, curious and creative people with a right to participate in all aspects of life - especially to play, learn, grow and contribute to the world at large.

State Parties (Australia) recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.

State Parties (Australia) shall respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity.

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in December 1990

Australia: Children explore their rights through art

Barbara Piscitelli & Felicity McArdle

The following article was published in Early Childhood Matters (vol 98), June 2001 and shares the insights of Barbara Piscitelli & Felicity McArdle and their learnings through their interactions with children and art-making.

The authors were from the School of Early Childhood, Faculty of Education, Queensland University of Technology. In this article, they discuss work that helped children reveal their idea about their rights through art. The work covered both the joyful and the sober sides of children’s perceptions and – sometimes more significantly – their realities; and it produced some potent and graphic images. The article concludes with a set of five practical lessons that cover how to make the work possible with materials and resources that are available. But they also reveal what can happen when what children express is at odds with what some people and policy-makers want to hear.

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Discover the rights of children

Read and learn more about children's rights and responsibilities.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child

The Convention on the Rights of the Child and Young Children

This book provides arguments, examples of work at all levels and analysis to contribute to the discussions that are needed to elevate the Convention of the Rights of the Child to its rightful place in early childhood programming as a key strategy in realising the aspirations of the Convention.

A Guide to General Comment 7: Implementing Children's Rights in Early Childhood

The UN Convention on The Rights of the Child applies to all children under 18 – but its implementation poses practical challenges when it comes to young children. This book is a guide to implementing rights in early childhood.

The Right to Play

A collection of short summaries of theory, research and policy issues that can inform the implementation of article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Listen to Children: 2011 Child Rights NGO Report

This report was developed following consultations with over 750 children and young people and over 100 organisations and subject matter experts, as well as liaison with the Australian Federal Government and the Australian Human Rights Commission

Look through a wide range of resources to find materials that you can use to talk to children about their rights.

A multimedia presentation of the Convention of the Rights of the Child illustrated with Magnum photographs and voiced by Children

Unicef and Save the Children have a range of resources on Children's Rights: Watch Unicef TV or listen to Unicef Radio. Share Children have Rights cartoons with your children.

Talk to children about their rights, their experiences of their rights, and the rights and experiences of children all over the world. Ensure that children know their rights and recognise their responsibilities in realising these rights for others.

Encourage them to talk together

Voices of Youth: A worldwide network of youth activists and global citizens

Create a drawing or artwork about children's rights. Article 31 recognises children's right to participate in artistic and cultural life. Provide time for children to respond visually to the Convention and support children's rights to have their views heard by providing space for these works to be seen.

Exhibition of Artwork by Ukrainian Children drawing their rights

"Early childhood educators guided by the Framework will reinforce in their daily practice the principles laid out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (the convention). The Convention states that all children have the right to an education that lays a foundation for the rest of their lives, maximises their ability, and respects their family, cultural and other identities and languages. The Convention also recognises children's right to play and be active participants in all matters affecting their lives."

Belonging, being and becoming: the early years learning framework for Australia, 2009  (PDF 907.5 KB)

Produced by the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations for the Council of Australian Governments.

The Dr Barbara Piscitelli AM Children's Art Archive

The Dr Barbara Piscitelli AM Children's Art Archive consists of approximately 4000 works by children from Queensland, Vietnam and China and between the ages of 12 months to 12 years. The majority of drawings and paintings are from Queensland children and depict their social worlds, their human rights and their futures. The collection forms a parallel collection to the Frances Derham Collection of Child Art at the National Gallery of Australia. Derham's collection was built over a period of 50 years (1935-1985) and represents a significant collection of child art of the 20th century.

The following collections are available for review: