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Report Released On Status Of New Zealand Children

Youth Affairs Minister Laila Harré has released a "full and honest report" on New Zealand's implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC).

Entitled Children in New Zealand, the report details developments in policy, law and practice relating to children since New Zealand's initial report to the United Nations in 1995.

It also outlines the work programme that has been set by the Labour-Alliance coalition to make progress on problem areas identified by the UN committee more than five years ago.

Laila Harré said that in the past year the Labour-Alliance coalition has paid more attention to these recommendations than the previous government did between 1995 and 1999.

"It's only since this coalition took office that a comprehensive work programme has been developed to address the issues of concern to the UN committee," Laila Harré said.

Specific issues raised by the committee include:

 Age mixing in prison
 Distinguishing between children lawfully and unlawfully in Zealand
 Protection of children under labour law
 Taking steps to reduce youth suicide
 Reviewing corporal punishment legislation
 Reviewing child labour law and policy

The Labour-Alliance coalition has also instigated two major pieces of work that will emphasise the specific needs of children at a broad policy level. These are the Children's Policy and Research Agenda and the Youth Development Strategy Aotearoa.

"This report is not sugar coated. It's a snapshot of the realities of life for New Zealand children and how they have been supported, or let down, by government policy," Laila Harré said.

"We can no longer deny the fact that more than a decade of social and economic restructuring was enormously disruptive to families, particularly vulnerable families with children."

By subscribing to the standards set by UNCROC New Zealand can draw on the support and experience of countries around the world when it comes to developing policy that truly meets the needs of our children, she said.

"I hope the UN committee will see this report as a sign that we are finally starting to work towards the agenda it set for us five years ago.

"In the long run I hope this will translate to more economic and social security for families and a much healthier and secure environment for our children," Laila Harré said.

ENDS

The report can be viewed at www.youthaffairs.govt.nz

Summary documents are also available. E-mail claire.hall@parliament.govt.nz


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