NZ Herald, 11 April 2018
A new report has laid out the way forward for our children.
The Children's Convention
Monitoring Group released a report this morning called Getting
It Right: Building Blocks, highlighting where New Zealand is making
progress and where action is needed.
The key recommendations
comprised taking children and their views into account when new
policies are developed, supporting children's participation in
decisions that affect them, ensuring children's privacy and best
interests are considered when collecting their information and
using the Children's Convention to develop a plan for children and
Children's Commissioner Andrew
Becroft said the Government promised 25 years ago to do better for
all children when it signed the United Nations Convention on the
Rights of the Child. Now New Zealand needed to walk towards that
The convention is a human
rights treaty which sets out the civil, political, economic,
social, health and cultural rights of children.
Becroft described past work on
child wellbeing as "ad hoc" and this report offered a coherent
"If we're going to mean
business to do better for New Zealand children then this report
says we have to put in place some key building blocks to get
"These are foundations. If
they are not in place welfare is not going to make any real
progress ... We're better than this.
"We can do so much better for
There are 1.1 million children
and young people under 18 years old in Aotearoa. Around 20 per cent
are not doing well and 10 per cent are really struggling with
issues ranging from abuse and neglect, material deprivation and
poor health to difficulties learning at school.
In 2016 the United Nations
gave New Zealand 47 urgent recommendations to improve child
wellbeing, including addressing negative outcomes for Māori and
Pasifika children, reducing high rates of violence, abuse and
neglect. This report would address that, Becroft said.
Becroft urged the Government
to pay attention to the recommendations. He expected the report to
be part of a Government group formulating a work plan as "nothing
less will do". He did not know how much it would cost but believed
Kiwi kids had been underinvested in for 30 years and it was now
time to remedy that.
"Recent initiatives such as
the Child Poverty Reduction Bill and the proposed Child Wellbeing
Strategy are positive steps towards improving the lives of children
in New Zealand.
"We need to ensure these are
not one-off actions."
Minister for Children Tracey
Martin said they were broadly supportive of the report and would
assess the viability of the recommendations.
"The Ministry of Social
Development is already working on key recommendations including
co-ordination, training and tools, children's participation and
raising awareness. MSD will deliver an online Child Impact
Assessment tool in the near future.
"NZ is committed to major
progress on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child."
Voyce Whakarongo Mai chief
executive Dr Ainsleigh Cribb-Su'a expressed excitement over the
"It explicitly implores the
Government to mandate the incorporation of a child impact analyses
on all legislation and policy development processes.
"Seeking out children's views
on service design is essential. It is their future that we are
designing, let's incorporate their views in all that we
Child Poverty Action Group
spokesman Frank Hogan applauded the comprehensive report and
believed New Zealand was heading in the right direction. However he
wanted to see more emphasis on the "nitty gritty" that was CPAG's
four principles of food and shelter, health and education, security
and safety plus families having adequate income.
The Children's Convention
Monitoring Group is made up of the Office of the Children's
Commissioner, the Human Rights Commission, Action for Children and
Youth Aotearoa, Save the Children New Zealand and Unicef NZ.
Develop robust systems and processes to ensure that legislation
incorporates, and is consistent with, the principles and provisions
of the Children's Convention.
Develop a national strategy
that implements the Children's Convention. Make sure it is
resourced, it benefits all children and it is developed with key
stakeholders, including children, young people and tangata
Ensure that the planning
process for a Child Wellbeing Strategy embeds children's rights, in
particular the four General Principles. Ensure the Strategy is
co-designed with children and young people and tangata whenua.
Ensure the Children's
Convention Deputy Chief Executives Group has the adequate authority
and resources to fulfill it's obligations to drive the cross-agency
implementation of the Convention.
Ensure all public servants
receive training on child rights and are equipped with the
knowledge and tools needed to carry out quality child impact
Embed the use of the Child
Impact Assessment tool into the legislative and policy development
Develop a child rights and
Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)-compliant data infrastructure
that generates high quality disaggregated data which is used to
inform policies, legislation and practices.
Ensure the collection, storage
and sharing of information about children is consistent with their
privacy and information rights, views and best interests.
Transparently and regularly
track and measure resource allocation and spending on child rights
and wellbeing. Assess the impact of investments for children in
line with the principles and provisions of the Convention.
Amend the Public Finance Act
to take into consideration specified or targeted spending that will
uphold children's rights to ensure their wellbeing.
Sufficiently resource the
Office of the Children's Commissioner to effectively fulfill its
mandate and functions to monitor and advance child rights.
Government agencies setting
policy and designing services for children should systematically
seek out and consider children's views in decision making using a
child-centred, rights-based approach.
Resource the promotion of
children's rights education in schools and raise awareness of the
Children's Convention across all sectors.
Table in Parliament the
Concluding Observations from the UN Committee on the Rights of the
Child and the Government responses to them.
Increase compliance with the
Children's Convention by withdrawing reservations and acceding to
the Communications Procedure Optional Protocol.