Save Children welcomes Federal Court ruling on duty of care to children

Save the Children Australia has welcomed today’s decision by the Federal Court that the Australian Government has a duty of care to protect children and young people from the impacts of climate change.

A group of eight Australian children last year sought an injunction from the Federal Court to prevent the Environment Minister from approving a mine extension project in New South Wales.

In a world-first judgment, Federal Court Justice Mordecai Bromberg found that the Environment Minister has a duty of reasonable care to the children in exercising her power to approve or reject the extension.

Save the Children Australia Deputy CEO, Mat Tinkler welcomed the Federal Court decision in the hope it would be a catalyst for change.

“Climate change is a threat to children everywhere,” said Mr Tinkler. “Children and their rights must be put at the centre of climate discussions, commitments and policies.

“Today the Federal Court has stepped in and told the Australian Government they need to place children’s wellbeing at the heart of climate policy going forward.

“In Australia, children’s lives have been turned upside down; their homes destroyed, their schools destroyed, their education disrupted, because of climate change.

“Children and young people have a right to be heard, they are demanding urgent action and they aren’t going away.

“We know the climate crisis will only worsen, affecting more children more often, if the Government doesn’t act to immediately reduce emissions and transition to net-zero by 2050 at the latest.

“We are calling on the Environment Minister, and the Prime Minister, to listen to the voices of Australian children and meet their duty of care obligations.

“Together with Australian children, we hope that this ruling is the wake-up call the Government needed.”

The 2020 Our World, Our Say survey of 1500 children and young people aged 10-24 years in 2020 found over 90% of Australian young people had experienced one natural hazard event in the last three years and 78% are concerned or extremely concerned about climate change. Only 13% of young Australians felt they were listened to by leaders in government.

Save the Children recently intervened in a case before the European Court of Human Rights filed by six Portuguese children and young people. The 4 children and 2 young adults from the fire-hit region have taken 33 countries to court for not doing enough to fight the climate crisis.

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