Barnardos Votes No to commissioner merger
Barnardos Votes No to a merger of the Families’ and Children’s Commissioners
The National Party and United Future are urged to think again by Barnardos Chief Executive Murray Edridge, when commenting on their reported proposal to merge the Families’ Commission and the Office of the Children’s Commissioner.
United Future today came out in favour of The National Party’s intention to merge the Families’ and Children’s Commissioners.
“This is a bad policy proposal for two reasons,” says Murray Edridge. “First, the needs and issues of children are specific and are not simply a subset of family issues. Second, the statutory roles of the two commissions are quite different.”
“If it was suggested, for example, that research, comment and representation of the needs of older people or of women should be simply subsumed under the ‘families’ umbrella there would be a massive reaction. The proposal is a classic example of marginalising children.
“The Children’s Commissioner is the lead advocate for the children of this country and is very effective in doing so. Why blunt her voice with a proposal like this at this time? The obvious answer is because children can’t vote and such a suggestion might be popular with some sectors of the electorate.
“It needs to be emphasised that the statutory role of the Children’s Commissioner is also very different from that of the Families Commission. Unquestionably, consultation and collaboration on common issues is helpful, but it is inappropriate to confuse or merge the separate functions.
“Children’s issues are specific and need to be given greater voice. By all means strengthen research and support for families. But don’t mute children’s voices by eliminating their strongest advocate,” concluded Murray Edridge.