The Children’s Week Council of Australia was founded in 1987.
In 1954 the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed Universal Children’s Day as a day to promote friendship and understanding among children of the world. From this beginning it developed into a day that focused attention on the issues and needs of children and their families. UNICEF has been charged with the development of this concept worldwide. UNICEF charged countries to determine the date for Universal Children’s Day to fit in with their own arrangements.
In other countries Universal Children’s Day is celebrated in November, such as the USA and Canada. Children’s Week in Australia takes Universal Children’s Day as its central focus and always in October. Universal Children’s Day is a day of worldwide fraternity and understanding between children and also as a day of activity devoted to promoting the ideals and objectives of the Charter and the welfare of the children of the world. The Charter referred to is the, Convention on the Rights of the Child . The Convention is a universally agreed set of 54 articles founded on respect for the dignity and worth of each child, regardless of race, colour, gender, language, religion, opinions, origins, wealth, birth status or ability. These standards set minimum entitlements and freedoms that should be respected by governments and communities.
Prior to 1977 Child Care Week was held in a number of Australian states and territories with the focus being children in care or those in institutions. Child Care Week was celebrated at different times of the year according to each state or territories preference.
In the 1980’s the Commonwealth Government was eager that Universal Children’s Day should be celebrated throughout Australia and requested every State and Territory Children’s Week Committee to agree to hold their Child Care Week celebration (formerly held at different times according to local convenience) in conjunction with Universal Children’s Day and offered each state & territory committee or association $2,000 to celebrate children during October and to include Universal Children’s Day.
In 1985, after many years of state observance of a week focusing mainly on children in care, it was decided to coordinate a national week to include all children. Under the name of Children’s Week, celebrations and activities would be held on the same date throughout Australia, commencing the Saturday before Universal Children’s Day and concluding on the following Sunday and in addition the celebrations would broaden to include all children.
In 1987 the first Annual General Meeting of the Children’s Week Council was held in Melbourne, and the Council incorporation took place in 1992. Representatives of state children’s week committees from Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia met to confirm the establishment of a national Children’s Week Committee. Western Australia, the Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania and the Northern Territory joined the committee thereafter. The committee was to be known as the Children’s Week Council of Australia (CWCoA).
The original purpose of this national committee was to extend the scope and significance of Children’s Week throughout Australia.
The national activities discussed at the first meeting included:
- the determination of a uniform Children’s Week each year.
- consideration of the choice of an Australia wide theme/or special thrust in future years.
- organisation of a national launch of Children’s Week
- the planning of joint printing of posters and information.
Each state and territory applied for small grants from State or Federal Governments and sought private sponsorship to further broaden their programs and meet objectives. Committees were made up of community volunteers plus representatives from organisations, agencies and government departments involved and concerned with children.
The Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia was welcomed as Patron in 1997 and each successor has continued as National Patron to this present time.