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Children Put At The Centre Of Government Policy

13 June 2002

A new report issued today puts the interests of children in the centre of the government’s decision making process for the first time, says Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey.

Steve Maharey and Youth Affairs Minister Laila Harré will release New Zealand’s Agenda for Children: Making life better for children at Johnsonville School in Wellington this morning.

Steve Maharey said the government wants to again make New Zealand a great place for children.

“If New Zealand is to be a great place for children we need change. The Agenda for Children will focus government ministers and agencies on the policies and services needed to support children’s healthy development.

“The Agenda for Children proposes a range a policy and research initiatives focused around seven action points:
- promoting a “whole child” approach;
- increasing opportunities for children to participate in government and community decision-making processes;
- ending child poverty;
- addresssing violence in children’s lives with an emphasis on reducing bullying;
- improving central government structures and processes to enhance policy and service effectiveness for children;
- improving local government and community planning for children; and
- enhancing information and research collaboration related to children.

“As the Agenda for Children notes the government has already started work on each of these seven areas. In future we intend to annually review progress against the Agenda to ensure it stays relevant to children’s needs.

“With an election less than two months away the Agenda for Children is also a timely wake-up call for all parties to be clear with voters how they intend to deliver positive change for New Zealand children and their families,” Steve Maharey said.

The development of the Agenda for Children involved extensive consultation with community organisations, government departments and others, including input and ideas from more than 7,500 children and young people. The Child Policy Reference Group, an expert group of academics, advocates and officials with expertise in children’s issues aslo provided on advice during its development.

The Agenda for Children report and other information has been posted to the Ministry of Social Development website at www.msd.govt.nz.

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