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Family groups back Families Commission

Family groups back Families Commission

Community groups working at the coalface of support for New Zealand families and children are queuing up to applaud the proposed formation of a Families Commission.

The Commission, the result of an agreement between the Labour-led government and the United Future party, will receive $28 million over four years in next week's Budget and is expected to begin operations in July 2004.

United Future leader, Peter Dunne, said he had received numerous messages of support from community groups, welcoming the proposal.

"For example, Plunket's chief executive Paul Baigent says, 'the Families Commission has the potential to make a positive contribution to outcomes for New Zealand children' and further 'The billions of dollars spent on education and other sectors could be even more effective if on reaching school age, all children could claim to have had a stable, safe , and nurturing family life during their first five years.'

"Jan Pryor, the head of the Centre for Family Studies at Victoria University has described this New Zealand initiative as 'innovative and far-sighted' and further 'Strong families cannot be legislated for; however, families can be supported, provided with advocacy, and helped to identify and build on their strengths.'

"And the Parents' Centre president, Sharron Cole says 'To have even one government agency promoting to government what parents need to succeed is not only a break with tradition but incredibly cost-effective.'

"Similar messages of support have been received from Trudi McNaughton, head of the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust; David Hanna, a private consultant on child and youth policy; Professor Richard Whitfield, an England expert on the family; and Judith Soper from the Natural Fertility Centre."

Mr Dunne said this support from people who have experience in the field and know what they are talking about is in marked contrast to the ignorant criticisms from United Future's political opponents, ill-informed commentators who fail to do their research and the homophobic.

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