What is Children’s Week

Celebrating children and young people

  • Raise community awareness of the needs, rights and achievements of children and youth

  • Encourage the community, children’s services, support groups, schools, youth and community groups to plan and conduct events to celebrate childhood and to highlight issues involved in childhood and youth

  • Honour parents and recognise the contribution of carers, workers and teachers in children’s development

  • Assist individuals, groups and organisations to organise local activities and events that support and involve children and their families, through the provision of small seeding Grants

  • Encourage the participation of both adults and children in activities and events to celebrate Children’s Week

  • Provide opportunities for groups, organisations and schools to ‘open their doors’ to give the community an opportunity to see what children are doing and what they are doing for children

  • Help promote the work that people are doing to support children and youth in our community

  • Recognise the contribution of carers, workers, groups and organisations who contribute to the well being of children and young people through the presentation of Awards

  • Recognise young people who are an example and role model for other young people through the presentation of Awards






Prior to 1977 Child Care Week was held in a number of States/Territories.   The emphasis was placed on children in care and in institutions.   Child Care Week was celebrated at different times of the year according to each State’s preference.Following the International Year of the Child in 1979 the Commonwealth Government was anxious that States and Territories adopt a common focus for children.   It suggested that Universal Children’s Day be celebrated throughout Australia and in 1980/8 each State and Territory Committee was asked to agree to hold celebrations in conjunction with Universal Children’s Day . The Commonwealth Government offered each State and Territory $2,000 to celebrate children during October with Universal Children’s Day being central to this celebration.   The name was then changed to Children’s Week to take in a wider audience.

Children’s Week Committees in each State and Territory seek to focus attention on the theme of Children’s Week – with due regard to the rights, needs and accomplishments of children, within the context of the family, the community and the world.

In recent years the theme has been taken from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Australia is a signatory. In 2015 Australia celebrated 25 years since this signing.

The Committees seek to celebrate childhood and young people while valuing their unique culture and situation.    They also assist in the organisation of local activities that support and involve children, young people, their families and all who care for them.


UNIVERSAL CHILDREN’S DAY – always the fourth Wednesday in October in Australia

In 1954 the United Nations General Assembly recommended (Resolution 836 – IX) that all countries institute a Universal Children’s Day , to be observed as a day of worldwide fraternity and understanding between children.   It recommended that the Day was to be observed 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.They also recommended that the observance of Universal Children’s Day should be used for a concrete and effective expression of the support of Governments for the purposes of UNICEF.   The General Assembly suggested to Governments that the Day be observed on the date that each country considered appropriate.

Universal Children’s Day is now observed across Australia on the fourth Wednesday in October and forms the central focus of Children’s Week celebrations. Other countries celebrate Universal Children’s Day on 20 November – the day on which the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.



In 1985 a proposal was made for the formation of a National body and in 1987 the First Annual General meeting and Conference was held in Melbourne. It was suggested that each State/Territory Committee pay an annual fee to the National body and that there be annual meetings to keep each Committee aware of Australia-wide activities. It was resolved that:

  • A National Children’s Week Coordinating Committee be formed – the Children’s Week Council of Australia
  • Children’s Week be held on the same date in each State/Territory, from the Saturday before Universal Children’s Day to the Sunday following Universal Children’s Day

The Children’s Week Council of Australia was incorporated in 1992 and in 1997 the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, Sir William Deane, became the Council’s Patron.   All subsequent Governors General have continued this patronage.The 2016 Council Conference was held in Adelaide, with SA taking over responsibility as the Children’s Week Council of Australia.