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Families Commissioners appointed

Families Commissioners appointed

Prime Minister Helen Clark and Acting Minister for Social Development and Employment Ruth Dyson today announced the appointments to the new Families Commission.

The Families Commission will be formally established on 1 July 2004 and will act as an advocate for the interests of families. It will encourage informed debate on issues affecting families. It will also commission research into family issues and comment on policies affecting families. Funding of $28.233m was provided in Budget 2003 for the Commission’s first four years.

Helen Clark and Ruth Dyson said that the government, after consultating with United Future, has appointed six Commissioners, including former Race Relations Conciliator Dr Rajen Prasad as Chief Commissioner.

“Families are the basic building block of our society. The Families Commission will be a unique institution whose primary function, mandated in legislation, will be to speak up for families and to assist governments to provide better support for families.

“Six Commissioners have been appointed and bring a variety of family, advocacy and governance skills to their roles. Members of the initial Commission are: Dr Rajen Prasad, Chief Commissioner (full-time appointment) bioethics specialist Sharron Cole (Deputy Chief Commissioner) psychiatrist Prof Mason Durie legal expert Sandra Alofivae former Human Rights Commissioner Carolynn Bull, and long-time family advocate Lyn Campbell.

“The Commissioners will be responsible for appointing a chief executive to manage the Commission’s day-to-day operations and appoint permanent staff.

“The Commission will initially focus on issues for families with children, and on improving the information and data available about New Zealand families. It will work to enhance the resilience of the family unit.

“There have been many changes to families over the last 20 years. Pressures on families are different. For example some families are “work-rich”, with both parents working, while others have difficulty gaining employment or have low incomes. The stability of relationships is decreasing, and male-female roles in the family are changing.

“The Commission will be an advocate for all families, from the traditional nuclear family to multi-generational families,” Ruth Dyson said.

A full launch of the Commission will be held at Parliament on July 19th.

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