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Public policy should support all family types

26 June 2003 Media Statement

Maharey: public policy should support all family types

Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey today challenged the notion that public policy should focus on the traditional nuclear family and ignore the wide variety of family types that now exist in New Zealand.

Steve Maharey is in Dunedin to address the Fifth Child and Family Policy Conference at the University of Otago.

In comments to the conference he said the average Kiwi family has been through considerable changes over the last 50 years, challenging policy makers to respond to effectively to realities of modern families.

“The family unit is the essential building block of society fulfilling the fundamental role of raising children and offering personal care and emotional support to its members.

“Changes in society have led to major changes in what we once called the ‘typical kiwi family’. For example both parents are now typically in the paid workforce, roles traditionally carried out by one sex or the other are being shared around, and sole parenting is much more common, as is the formation of blended families.

“The challenge for government and community agencies is to support families, however they are constituted, to operate effectively and successfully; so children have the best opportunities to realise their potential and participate fully in our society.

“The state should ensure it is doing all it can to support families to fulfil parenting functions. Questions of family form are for people to decide for themselves,” Steve Maharey said.

Steve Maharey also invited the wide range of organisations representated at the conference to work collaboratively together. He said building linkages and sharing information is critical to offering comprehensive services to children and families.


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