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Q&A on the Families Commission

Q&A on the Families Commission

What is the Commission’s legal structure and status?

The commission will be established as an autonomous Crown entity.

How many commissioners will there be?

Up to seven commissioners can be appointed including one head Commissioner and a mix of full-time and part-time Commissioners.

Initially two full-time and four part-time commissioners will be appointed, including the head Commissioner. Multiple Commissioners will effectively reflect the diversity that is characteristic of families in New Zealand.

When will it open for business?

The Families commission will be established by 1 July 2004.

What sort of people does the Government have in mind to be commissioners?

People with a publicly recognised interest in family initiatives. We would like to see Commissioners reflect a broad cross section of ethnicity, gender and age.

What will the Families Commission’s relationship be with other family agencies like the Commissioner for Children, the Retirement Commissioner, CYPFS, Plunket etc?

To fulfil its advocacy function, the Families Commission will need to be responsive to a range of interests associated with families and family groups.

The Families Commission will be required to establish mechanisms to allow it to work effectively alongside, and receive advice from, the various communities of interest including Maori as tangata whenua, Pacific peoples and other ethnic and cultural groups, parents including groups representing fathering interests, children and young people and groups representing their interests, women, service providers, academics, researchers, family law specialists, employers and so on.

What guarantees are there that the Families Commission will not simply duplicate other agencies’ work and add to the bureaucratic labyrinth?

It is not intended that the Commission replicate any current functions. A number of government agencies play a role in the provision of family policy, services, and research but no agency has a specific role to publicly advocate for families. Therefore the primary function will be to advocate for the family as a social institution, both at the government level and in the public arena generally.

What teeth will the Families Commission have in enforcing its views about what constitutes family-friendly law?

The Families Commission will be recognised as a key stakeholder on family related issues and the expectation is that Ministers will invite the Commission to participate in the policy process in that role.

What is the scope of the Families Commission?

The Families Commission will adopt a broad and inclusive approach to families

To act as an advocate for families (being advocacy for families generically or as social institutions rather than an individual family’s particular case or issue)

Raise awareness of issues affecting families including support of parenting, marriage and committed relationships and promote informed public discussion

Have a degree of independence from government but be subject to statutory guidance and have regard to any priorities identified by government.

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