Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Switzerland, Liechtenstein


Human Rights Council 16th Session

Annual Full-Day Meeting on the Rights of the Child

Statement by Australia
9 March 2011

Australia welcomes the opportunity to participate in this discussion, and regrets that there wasn’t time for us to contribute to the interesting discussion on root causes this morning.

In Australia, the vast majority of young children who are sleeping rough are with a parent and exit rough sleeping relatively quickly. Longer-term unaccompanied young people often transition to sleeping rough after a break down in their family relationship and after a period of transitional living arrangements with relatives and friends. Many homeless children are escaping domestic and sexual violence, while a smaller number are homeless due to financial circumstances.

A significant feature of younger homeless people is the speed with which they establish relationships with other homeless young people. While this provides some security and sense of belonging, it also can separate the young person from the more mainstream social relationships making it more difficult to re-establish them in permanent housing.

Accordingly, Australia particularly focuses on early interventions to prevent young people becoming homeless and to ensure they are provided with appropriate assistance and support as soon as possible.

Prevention Strategies and Responses

The Australian Government, with civil society and other interested stakeholders, has developed the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020 – a long term approach to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Australia’s most vulnerable children.

One of the priorities under the National Framework is the development of National Standards for out-of-home care. Young people leaving out-of-home care are highly vulnerable to poor life outcomes and many do not have the skills and abilities to transition successfully into adulthood and maintain independent living. Australia’s National Framework recognises that developing the skills and abilities to maintain independent living enables young people leaving out-of-home care to take their place in society. Australia would be interested in learning about comparable national out-of-home care standards that might exist.

The National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children is a 12-year commitment by all Australian governments to address the high incidence of domestic and sexual violence experienced by Australian women and their children. The National Plan aims to ensure that women and their children have a safe roof over their heads and access to support and information. Australia is working closely with UN counterparts to share best-practices and lessons learnt while developing this plan. We would also appreciate receiving information on any best practice national plans that have measurably increased the protection of women and children.

Australia is conducting a Longitudinal Study of Australians Vulnerable to Homelessness, as part of Australia’s Homelessness Research Agenda. Results of the study should improve the understanding of, and policy response to, the diverse social, economic and personal factors that are related to homelessness and the risk of becoming homeless. We would appreciate any advice panel members might have on comparable longitudinal surveys or international research into homeless children that could complement Australia’s study.