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By Erin Rutherford
30 March 2023

A birth certificate is a foundational piece of our identity.

Without one, everyday things like enrolling in school, opening a bank account and getting a drivers license, become nearly impossible. It is easy to assume that every Australian has a birth certificate but sadly more than 160,000 First Nations people have missed out on this basic right.

CEO of Pathfinders, Alan Brennan says, “Aboriginal people experience unique barriers to gaining access and receiving their birth certificates. Costs, literacy, limited access to technology and records, remoteness, and a history of broken relationships with government, make applying for a birth certificate complex."  

UNICEF Australia is working to raise awareness of this key issue to help eliminate the barriers that First Nation’s people face when obtaining a birth certificate or registering a birth. Our ultimate ambition is achieving universal birth registration in Australia.

"“UNICEF has a vision of Australia where the birth of every child is registered. Most Australians think that everyone in the country has a birth certificate but that is not the case. "

Photo of Nicole Breeze
Nicole Breeze
Director of Australian Programs, UNICEF Australia

How is UNICEF Australia working with our partners and local communities to drive change?

  1.  Provision of targeted support for families who face barriers when registering births, in partnership with the Pathfinders* National Aboriginal Birth Certificate Program. Over the past six months, UNICEF Australia has supported six Pathfinders roadshow events which saw over 500 births registered across NSW and the ACT
  2. Strengthen research and evidence based to understand the issues and barriers to birth registration in partnership with academia and community organisation
  3. Campaign for Universal Birth Registration and the provision of certification to drive awareness of the issue with governments and Australian public. Our goal is to drive systemic change that allows us to count every child and help build pathways for them to thrive in the future.

*Pathfinders, a community-based organisation that runs a First Nations Birth Certificate Program.

Meet Kirby, mum of three

Kirby never received a birth certificate and it’s made things difficult for her when trying to secure employment. She attended a Pathfinders roadshow in Canberra in October 2022, where she received the necessary paperwork to obtain birth certificates for herself and her children. Kirby can now pursue her goals in finding a job that’s right for her, work with the youth in her community and become a role model for her children.


Kirby receives her birthright

For all Australia's children

Every day, Australia's children face multiple challenges, many of which are often hidden.