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’. The authors 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. More than 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.
What makes a good childhood?
The concept of a ‘good’ childhood means many things to many people and is therefore difficult to define. In 2017 we published a paper on ‘What makes a good childhood?’. This paper provides a summary of current thinking and research surrounding the concept of child wellbeing, and outlines what is meant by a ‘good childhood’ at Berry Street:
Berry Street knows a good childhood is fundamental to a child’s sense of wellbeing. A good childhood is characterised by stable, responsive, caring relationships in families and the community. Children thrive in nurturing environments that encourage them to explore and engage safely with the world around them, and support them to fulfil their potential.
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 former 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.
What you can do
We hope you will join us in this conversation about childhood. You can follow us and comment on our Blog.
You can read the papers we have developed on contemporary childhood and make a commitment to discuss the issues raised with family, friends and colleagues.