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Leading aid organisations to hold Aussie government to account for poor protection of children

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In launching a humanitarian checklist, nine leading aid organisations will hold the federal government to account when it comes to preventing the suffering of children in conflict.

The organisations – including World Vision, Oxfam Australia, the Australian Council for International Development and Save the Children – said Australia has an opportunity to proactively prevent and respond to conflict-related humanitarian crises.

The CEO of Save the Children, Paul Ronalds, said: “There is no doubt that the Australian Government could be doing more to prevent and resolve conflict around the world and protect innocent children caught up in such conflicts. It is in our national interest and in the interest of millions of children who suffer from wars waged by adults.”

The checklist details the range of tools available to the Australian Government to prevent and respond to conflict-related crises. Such responses can include Australia’s influence in the UN system, with regional institutions or placing pressure directly on governments and individuals responsible for carrying out atrocities.

Rebecca Barber, author of the checklist and Associate Lecturer in Humanitarian Studies at Deakin University, said: “Australia campaigned hard to have a seat at the table in various UN forums. And yet, our performance does not always live up to expectations.”

It assesses whether Australia has supported or initiated resolutions at the UN and other decision-making forums, whether it has applied diplomatic pressure on states that are responsible for rights violations, if it has provided humanitarian funding, banned weapon exports and imposed sanctions on leaders responsible for rights violations.

“We live in a world where children are increasingly bombed, forced to fight and attacked as they go to school, and where those inflicting the suffering often go unpunished,” said Ronalds. “This checklist will help everyone concerned with the treatment of children caught up in conflicts assess the Australian Government’s efforts.”

This comes as Save the Children this year prepares to mark its Centenary and launch its biggest ever campaign to protect children in conflict.

“So much has changed in the last 100 years, but it is perhaps one of the most damning indictments on humanity that the need for organisations like ours is just as strong as it was in 1919,” Ronalds said. “I firmly believe the tool we are launching today will help us hold the Australian Government to a higher standard.”

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