1998 Clinical and Scientific Meeting

Maureen A. Stephenson

Research Officer
NSW Primary Principals' Association
4/242 Ben Boyd Road
Cremorne NSW 2090 Australia

CFS Children and Youth: The Human Rights Perspective

It is time to stimulate the consciences of two professions, education and medicine, in relation to their service provision, specifically in the areas of human rights issues, to CFS children and youth. Within the Australian context a child is defined as age 0 - 18 and a youth as 15 - 25 years.

The two professions share important similarities, including a focus on best practice, an imposed political agenda and a legislative framework incorporating the duty of care.

In Australia, certain factors impede full incorporation of human rights considerations when providing education and health care. To date, both review processes and legislation neglect the human rights of children with chronic illness. It can be anticipated that this temporary barrier will be defeated by effective advocacy. There are already government and legal initiatives which will, in the long term, ensure that all children and youth, irrespective of health status, are afforded the human rights inherent in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Important Australian developments to date include a draft Australian Children's Charter (1995), initiatives by the Australian Law Reform Commission and the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission and the establishment of a non-government National Children's and Youth Law Centre.

To ensure CFS children and youth their entitlements in regard to human rights, the education and medical professions need to engage in productive dialogue with the CFS community to identify a way forward. The task is to develop realistic strategies to address the disharmony and disempowerment experienced by CFS children and youth and their parents. The challenge is to identify a new value system and a new consultative culture.


Alison Hunter Memorial Foundation
PO Box 6132 North Sydney 2059 Australia
Phone/Fax +61 2 9958 6285

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