The following resources were put together by the Befriend a Child in Detention team in the lead up to Universal Children’s Day 2016. However, these resources, including lesson plans and ideas for raising awareness, can be used all year round.
Please utilise these resources to promote the right’s of children all around the world and to raise awareness for children seeking asylum.
Universal Children’s Day 2016
“This year, I wish to emphasize the importance of ensuring that the commitments made by the international community to the world’s children are extended to a group of children who are often forgotten or overlooked: those deprived of their liberty.”
Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon
In 1954, Universal Children’s Day was proclaimed by the United Nations as a day to promote friendship and understanding among children of the world.
Universal Children’s Day is an opportunity to promote the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: to raise awareness of the rights of all children to protection, wellbeing, and an environment in which they feel safe and secure enough to freely play and learn.
The Convention is the most widely ratified international human rights treaty. It sets out a number of children’s rights, including the right to life, to health, to education and to play.
Article 22 of the Convention states that refugee children should be afforded special protection, as well as all the rights contained in the Convention. As a signatory to the Convention, Australia has a responsibility to protect the rights of these refugee children. The Secretary General of the United Nations asks us not to forget or overlook them.
Universal Children’s Day provides an opportunity to reflect on the experiences of children around the world, including those seeking refuge, and to promote friendship and understanding among all children.
Read our Refugee Statistics Fact Sheet for key facts and figures about Universal Children’s Day and refugee and asylum seeker children around the world.
Here’s what you can do
This year, during Universal Children’s Week Saturday 22 – Sunday 30 October 2016, you can promote friendship and understanding among all children by encouraging students to learn more about the experiences of children around the world, including those seeking asylum, and about the rights which all children should enjoy. Here are some possible activities (we have also provided resource sheets and lesson plans – view all of these resources via the links below or in our Resource Kit):
Learn about the Convention on the Rights of the Child
Encourage students to learn about the importance of this Convention, its history, and how it is applied in Australia.
Promote greater understanding of the rights that most children in Australia enjoy every day, which are not shared by all children around the world.
Increase understanding of the situations of children around the world, especially those seeking refuge
Encourage students to learn about children who haven’t enjoyed the same rights as most children in Australia. A powerful example of this is the experience of asylum seeker children held on Nauru.
- Create a better understanding of the situation of asylum seeker and refugee children by purchasing a remarkable locally published book which tells the stories of Sudanese and Bhutanese children who have found a home in Australia (http://kidsownpublishing.com/, http://bocep.org.au/shop/)
- Students could imagine that they have ‘a friend for a day’ – a refugee child. Through a story, or drawing or song they could introduce their new friend to the other students. They would set out to discover the country from which their new friend has come, the reasons they decided to leave their own country, how they managed to get to Australia, and what happened to them when they finally arrived here.
- To increase understanding of the situations from which refugee children come, students could research the most common countries of origin.
Promote friendship and connection between children
Students to think about ways to connect to children around the world, especially those seeking asylum. Some suggestions are:
- Run a Links, Not Chains Program
‘Links, Not Chains’ is a program designed especially for schools. This program culminates in the creation of a long chain of paper links, which are made by the students of the school as a community, to symbolically show support for the children held in detention.
- Write messages of support to refugee and asylum seeker children
Universal Children’s Day is proclaimed by the United Nations as a day to promote friendship and understanding among children of the world. Encourage your students to write messages of friendship and support to refugee and asylum seeker children.
Then upload these messages on the Befriend a Child in Detention website to be shared with refugee and asylum seeker children in Australia and on Nauru.
Whatever you decide to do for Universal Children’s Day, please share it with us, so that we can spread the word.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
 United Nations, 2016, ‘Universal Children’s Day’, http://www.un.org/en/events/childrenday/