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Children and Young Persons Act to be updated

4 December 2007

Children and Young Persons Act to be updated

Social Development and Employment Minister Ruth Dyson has announced the most substantial improvements in child welfare law since 1989 with the introduction of the Children, Young Persons, and their Families Amendment Bill.

“This Bill will make the CYPF 1989 Act more responsive to the needs of children and young people needing care and protection. It will improve the participation of children and young people in decisions about them. It will ensure delivery of the right services at the right time to families in need and appropriate responses to children including those with disabilities. It will improve support for those moving out of the care and protection system,” said Ruth Dyson.

“Another of the changes we are proposing is to raise the age of young people covered by the Act to include 17-year-olds. Research indicates that the youth justice system is better than the adult criminal justice system at stopping re-offending by young people. However under the existing legislation and proposed changes, young people can still be sent to adult court for serious charges.

“The proposal for the Act to cover 17 year olds is also consistent with New Zealand’s commitment to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“Our proposed changes will provide more options for dealing with serious and persistent offending through longer court orders being made available to the Youth Court. The changes will also ensure that our children and young people are held accountable both to the community and to their victims, for example through reparations. There is a stronger emphasis on victim support, so that victims have the right to send a representative and supporters to Family Group Conferences and to be kept informed of what progress the young person is making, if they wish.”

The proposed changes are a result of wide public consultation, involving about 100 submissions from front-line workers, non-government organisations and others from across the care and protection, disability and youth justice sectors.

The Bill will be given its first reading in Parliament soon and will then be open for public submissions once it goes to select committee.

“This important piece of legislation impacts on thousands of New Zealand children, young people and their families each year and it needs to be up-to-date to remain effective in improving their lives,” said Ruth Dyson.

ENDS

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