ChildFund Alliance survey asks 4600 children in 44 countries about their views on the world

The ChildFund Alliance has today launched the findings of its global children’s survey, Small Voices, Big Dreams. This is the second year ChildFund has conducted the survey, one of the most comprehensive polls of children’s views in the world.

This year’s survey was even bigger than last year, polling 4,600 children in 44 countries – predominantly developing countries but also eight developed nations, including Australia. The children were asked six simple questions to find out what’s important to them and to hear their ideas for creating a better world for kids.

Among the key survey findings:

  • Across the world, children place high importance on education. Close to half of the children surveyed globally (44%) said that as leader of their country, their first order of business would be to improve education.
  • Making the world safer is also a high priority for children, with 44% of the children surveyed globally saying they would protect children by improving safety and security.
  • 1 in 4 Australian children (23%) aspire to be professional athletes, while children in developing countries would prefer to be teachers (23%) or doctors (20%).
  • 1 in 4 children in developing countries (23%) said their number one concern is getting sick or contracting a disease – compared with just 9% of Australian children.
  • Surprisingly, more Australian children (18%) than children in developing countries (14%) said the one thing they worry about most is war/terror/violence, with fear of being kidnapped at the top of the list.
  • Australian children are also worried about their diet, with 1 in 5 respondents (21%) citing weight and diet issues as their main concern.
  • Over a third of the Australian children surveyed (36%) said they would spend their free day playing sports or doing physical activity.
  • 1 in 4 children from developing countries (25%) said they would spend their free day helping their family by doing housework, farm work or other chores, while 1 in 6 (17%) would spend the day studying or doing homework.

The survey finds that Aussie kids place huge importance on sports and have much more freedom and opportunity to play than children in developing countries.

“Play is a vital part of a child’s development,” says ChildFund Australia CEO Nigel Spence. “The opportunity to play games or sports provides enormous benefits for kids, not only improving their physical skills but also their social and intellectual skills. Our survey finds a stark difference in recreational opportunities for children in different parts of the world. While kids in Australia have the resources and freedom to play, children in places like Laos and Timor Leste are needed to help their families from a young age and don’t have access to playgrounds or sports equipment.”

Mr Spence adds: “As a child-focused development agency, these findings contribute to our understanding of how children view and experience the world, particularly in developing countries where ChildFund works. The Small Voices, Big Dreams survey helps us to set our priorities, ensure that our programs are meeting the needs of the children we serve and also gives a voice to thousands of children whose insights and opinions are often muted.”

Click here to listen to ChildFund Australia CEO Nigel Spence talking about the survey on ABC radio.

Photo: ChildFund staff in Vietnam interview children for the Small Voices, Big Dreams survey.

The Cluster Munition Coalition – Australia, of which ChildFund Australia is a member, has today welcomed the Australian Government’s decision to push back Senate debate on the Cluster Munition Prohibition Bill to allow time to seriously consider the issues raised by the Fix the Bill campaign.

The current wording of the bill would allow Australian troops to directly and actively assist in the use of cluster bombs. It also explicitly allows non-state parties to stockpile cluster bombs on Australian soil and permits them to transit cluster bombs through Australian ports and airspace. This is at odds with the purpose of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which seeks to ban cluster bombs once and for all.

In recent weeks, concerns raised by organisations including Human Rights Watch, the Red Cross and ChildFund Australia, as well as the former Chief of the Australian Defence Force General Peter Gration, the former Secretary of the Department of Defence Paul Barratt and former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, have generated significant media interest in the campaign. Support from GetUp! also encouraged members of the public to call their local senators and encourage them to “Fix the Bill”.

ChildFund Australia CEO Nigel Spence says: “This is a very encouraging result – thank you to everyone who has got behind this campaign. For us, this is a child protection issue, as well as a human rights issue. Cluster munitions devastate lives not only during conflict but for decades after. Children are particularly vulnerable to injury and death from unexploded munitions. It is important that we continue to push for a strong ban on cluster bombs to protect children now and in the future.”