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Call for Govt. to keep its promises to children

Call for Government to keep its promises to children

Action for Children and Youth Aotearoa (Inc.)

Box 11 318 Manners St Wellington Aotearoa New Zealand


01 April 2003

Report to United Nations questions status of New Zealand children
Call for Government to keep its promises to children

A New Zealand report prepared for the United Nations says the Government has made little progress in implementing its policies for children and young people.

Children and Youth in Aotearoa 2003 assesses New Zealand's progress in implementing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The report was written by Action for Children and Youth Aotearoa (ACYA), which is a coalition made up of 48 non-governmental organisations., as well as individual members.

The report says there are misunderstandings about children's rights in New Zealand and that children and young people in this country lack status. Many are missing out in education, health and other areas that impact on their wellbeing and development.

ACYA chairperson Alison Blaiklock says that Government progress in complying with the Convention has been slow.

"The reality is that New Zealand children and young people have negligible political power and have usually been invisible in government policy and decision-making."

The report does applaud Government consultation with 7,000 children for the report Agenda for Children. However Dr Blaiklock says it is sad to note progress on implementing the Agenda for Children has got bogged down.

She says that a senior minister in cabinet representing children and young people, along with a parliamentary select committee on children and young people and the Ministry of Mäori Development having specific responsibilities in protecting the rights of Maori tamariki and rangatahi, would help prevent gaps in government policies, practices and actions.

Dr Blaiklock says changes to New Zealand law are needed to bring it in line with the Convention. These changes include amending the Children, Young Persons and their Families Act to cover 17 year olds, extending the protection against age discrimination in the Human Rights Act, amending the Crimes Act to protect children from assault by parents and carers, amendments to the laws on adoption, and establishing a minimum age of employment.

The report notes New Zealand continues to have high rates of infant mortality, injury, youth suicide and young mothers for an industrialised country. It says that poverty and inequality have increased over the last two decades and are critical factors in negative health and social statistics in New Zealand.

"The Government appears to be squandering its opportunity to make a sustainable long term investment in New Zealand. Too much money is tied up in applying band aids instead of focusing on strategies to prevent violence, poor health and poor education outcomes."

Sixteen working groups, and about 150 people - community leaders, families, people working with children and youth, academics and children and youth themselves - have contributed over the past two years to writing the report.

For more information please contact:

ACYA spokespeople Areas Contact details Alison Blaiklock · Overview

· Health

· Leisure and recreation 021 38 2209 (M)

09 828 2209 (H)

alisonb@iconz.co.nz Riripeti Haretuku · Maori children and youth

· Treaty of Waitangi 0274 886 810 Ben Taufua · Pacific children and youth 025 720 037 Vivian Cheung · Asian children and youth 09 917 9999 extn 7770 (W)

021 212 5457 Nola Harvey · Refugee and asylum seeking children and youth 09 5249 698 (H) 09 623 8899 ext.8455 (W) Philip Patston · Children and youth with disabilities 021 764 837 John Hancock · Implementation of Convention in government policies and legislation

· Civil liberties 09 309 6967 (W)

09 360 4373 (H)

John Waldon · Family environment 06 356 9099 xtn 2538 (W)

027 228 2327 Mike O'Brien · Poverty and standards of living 09 443 9700 ext 9161

09 476 6291 (H) Robert Ludbrook · Education

· Care and protection

· Youth justice

· Child labour

· Adoption 09 620 6867 (H)

04 386 3331 (from Thursday 3 April to Monday 7 April)

John Harrington · Young people deprived of their liberty

· Youth issues 03 377 8080 (W)

021 661 820

Penny St John (national media co-ordination) 025 687 3123

Bettina Schempf (media co-ordination in Auckland) 025 466152; 09 271 3532 (H)

For additional comment, please contact

Dr Ian Hassall, Chairperson, Children's Agenda, 09 630 5358; 021 188 8639

Professor Anne Smith, Director, Children's Issues Centre, University of Otago, 03 479 5087(W) anneb.smith@stonebow.otago.ac.nz

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