Much of the changes in family law and related legislation in Australia over the past generation to increase the rights of children, owes its advent in part to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
As a child inclusive practitioner, I draw inspiration from Article 12 of the Convention. In simplified terms, Article 12 states:
Children have a right to say what they think should happen when adults are making decisions that affect them and to have their opinions taken into account
Whenever I introduce the process to children I tell them that their parents /carers have asked me to talk to them about decisions the adults may be about to make, and because it is about the children, it is fitting that they should have input. Children get that. They have a good sense of fairness and democracy.
I assure children that it doesn’t mean that they have to make the decisions. That is the parents’ / carers’ responsibility. But the adults are expected to exercise that responsibility by “...always consider[ing] what is the best for each child" [Article 18 refers].
In family law matters, where parents are often in deep conflict about their children, attention to these principles is paramount.
Professor Jennifer McIntosh, who has been a major driver of using the process of child inclusion in family law mediation in Australia, explains in depth why this is so important in her website childrenbeyonddispute.com