21st Century Childhood

21st Century Childhood

In 2005, former Australian of the Year Professor Fiona Stanley co-authored a significant book called Children of the Lucky Country? How Australian society has turned its back on children and why children matter. They made the point that despite our economic prosperity and technological advancement, many key indicators of health, wellbeing and development of children are not improving and some are worsening.

In writing such a challenging book, Professor Stanley and her colleagues highlighted the importance of a national debate about children. Nearly ten years on, their message has never been more important. Berry Street, along with many eminent individuals and organisations across the world, believes we have a responsibility to bring discussion about a good childhood into the public domain.

The Berry Street Childhood Institute hopes you will join us in this conversation. You can follow us and comment on various social media such as
Twitter and our Good Childhood blog.

You can also read the papers we have developed on the
Changing Conditions of Childhood and make a commitment to discuss the issues with family, friends and colleagues. Finally we encourage you to check out the Decade for Childhood and take the pledge.

The Changing Conditions of Childhood

The Berry Street Childhood Institute has produced two complementary discussion papers which we hope will encourage you to engage in discussion about the complex interplay of issues confronting childhood in the 21st Century.

David Green AM is a member of the Berry Street Board of Directors and in this role, he has encouraged us to attend to and better understand the changing conditions and experiences of childhood. In his discussion paper
The Changing Conditions of Childhood: Is a good childhood at risk? David introduces snapshots of evidence which suggest that more children are not experiencing a good childhood. He goes on to discuss some of the underlying conditions in Australian society which may be contributing to the decline in the wellbeing of children. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of the implications of these changes.

To accompany David Green’s paper, the Berry Street Childhood Institute has released a second discussion paper
A good childhood for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children by Julian Pocock, Director Public Policy & Practice Development at Berry Street and Associate of the Berry Street Childhood Institute. Julian spent ten years as executive Officer of SNAICC – the peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. He is a passionate advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and his paper highlights the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children being at the centre of our current efforts to improve childhood for all children.

The Decade for Childhood

The Decade for Children was launched by the Association for Childhood Education International and the Alliance for Childhood in 2012 provides a platform for a global conversation about childhood.

The Ten Pillars of a Good Childhood have been developed as a starting point for consideration of what a good childhood looks like today. The ten pillars are:

Safe and secure places for living and learning, with access to health care, clothing, and nutritious food
Strong families and loving, consistent caregivers
Social interactions and friendships
Creative play and physical activity
Appreciation and stewardship of the natural environment
Creative expression through music, dance, drama, and the other arts
Education that develops the full capacities of the child—cognitive, physical, social, emotional, and ethical
Supportive, nurturing, child-friendly communities
Growing independence and decision making
Children and youth participating in community life

As part of the Decade for Childhood 2012 – 2022 there is an Ambassadors for Childhood program. The Ambassadors help share the message about the importance of childhood as a critical period of human development. Marg Hamley, Director Berry Street Childhood Institute attended the launch of the Decade for Childhood in Washington DC and is one of the inaugural Ambassadors.
Related links

The Nest action agenda details key evidence-based preventive-focused priorities to improve child & youth wellbeing across Australia

The Australian Research Alliance for Children & Youth have produced a Report Card: The wellbeing of young Australians which provides baseline indicators of child & youth wellbeing

The Victorian Government produces the State of Victoria’s Children Report which includes data about outcomes for young children (birth – 8 years)

The Foundation for Young Australian produces the annual How Young People Are Faring report

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare produces the annual Child Protection Australia report

The CREATE Foundation produces an annual report card on out of home care in Australia

The Good Childhood Inquiry in the UK was commissioned by The Children’s Society who continue to report annually on what young people think about child wellbeing

Each year UNICEF’s flagship publication The State of the World’s Children examines a key issue affecting children

Berry Street was first established on the lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respect to their Elders, past and present, and to all the traditional custodians of land throughout Australia.