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Improvements recorded for kiwi kids

12 February 2004 Media Statement

Improvements recorded for kiwi kids – more action promised

The government is working to further improve the position of New Zealand children, Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey said today.

Speaking today at symposium on children’s issues organised by the Commissioner for Children, Steve Maharey said the latest Social Report shows that the position of children and young people has improved in recent years. Action is underway to implement both the Agenda for Children and the Youth Development Strategy – the government’s plans to make a positive difference for children and young people.

“New Zealand was always said to be a great place to be a child, but that belief has been shaken over the last decade or so. The government wants to restore our reputation, not just because young people are tomorrow’s adults, but also because they are respected citizens making a contribution to our society today.

“Both the Agenda for Children and the Youth Development Strategy provide a framework for a concerted programme across the whole of government to make a difference for children and young people.

“Work is underway across in many areas, including:
- ending child poverty through measures such as improved support for sole parents to re-enter the workforce, increased access to childcare and access to affordable, quality housing. Significant changes targeting families with dependent children will be included in this year’s budget;
- preparing young people for the knowledge society with new and rapidly expanding programmes like Modern Apprenticeships and Gateway, alongside increasing participation in tertiary education;
- ensuring children grow up safe and well supported with the implementation of comprehensive family violence prevention and care and protection strategies, and the expansion parenting support programmes later this year; and
- increasing the participation of young people in decision making using new guidelines for local authorities, care and protection providers and community organisations. New powers for the Commissioner for Children also ensure she can be a more effective advocate for the interests of young people.

“We can always do more for children and young people – and we will. But the progress we have made to date is already making a difference,” Steve Maharey said.

ENDS

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