Conceptualising Australian citizenship for children: A human rights perspective

Kim Rubenstein, Jacqueline Field

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Australia's first National Children's Commissioner was appointed in 2013. One of the Commissioner's key functions is to examine whether Commonwealth legislation recognises and protects the human rights of children in Australia. A fundamental starting point for this examination is Australia's citizenship law. Australian citizenship is governed by the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 (Cth) ('Act'). In this article, we highlight two key issues for the Commissioner in examining the Act. First, citizenship is a concept that extends beyond the Act. While the Act confers citizenship as a legal status, children's citizenship can also be conceptualised as rights, political engagement and identity. These aspects are reflected by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child ('Convention'). Second, when examined in light of the Convention, the Act is deficient in the way it protects the human rights of children. The Act lacks flexibility for decisionmakers to consider children's best interests and fails to protect their human rights of non-discrimination, participation and identity. These deficiencies form the basis of an argument for reform.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-93
Number of pages17
JournalAustralian International Law Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


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