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Commissioner supports cross-party caucus

Monday 3 March 2008

Children's Commissioner supports cross-party caucus for children

Children's Commissioner Dr Cindy Kiro said today she supports the call by Every Child Counts for all political parties to participate in a cooperative cross-party caucus for children.

"It is important that politicians can work beyond their party boundaries to keep children's issues outside party politics," Dr Kiro said.

"With a quarter of our population under 18 years of age and the future of our country ultimately in their hands, New Zealand needs to work towards an environment that invests in every child, through generations, for the long term.

"This means that every child, no matter what circumstances they are born into, will have access to the resources and opportunities to develop to their full potential. They should start school healthy and ready to learn and be able to continue their education as far as they want to.

"There needs to be integration of services so that all children have access to health and where required, social services. While a lot of work has been done to create this environment, there are still children falling through the cracks.

"The aim of a cross-party caucus is to have the impact on children and young people considered before legislation is enacted or policy is introduced. It is vital that attention be paid to the early years ­ for babies and children under five - which are crucial to development and long term outcomes for children.

"Children and young people need to have their views, opinions and ideas heard by policy and law makers. My office talks to and for children and young people and has established a Young Person's Reference Group to ensure that when we make submissions on matters of law and policy, we are truly representing our constituents.

"I am heartened to see most of the political parties immediately backing the cross-party caucus idea. There is already a cross-party Working Group on Family Violence and the idea of removing children from party politics is working in Scotland where a cross-party group has committed to a programme of integrated services Getting it Right for Every Child."

ENDS

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