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Advocates call for Minister for children

Media Release

Embargoed to 9.00am, 10 September 2008

Children’s organisations call for Minister for children

Every Child Counts* has called for the appointment of a Minister for Children, saying it is time for children’s interests to be at the centre of government decision-making. The initiative is contained in the new 2008 Every Child Counts policy overview, which was launched at the Every Child Counts conference in Wellington today.

“It is time there was a Minister with responsibility to oversee policy development in the interests of children, to ensure the impact of policies on children is monitored, and to advocate for children’s interests in the Cabinet process. We propose a new Minister for Children with senior cabinet ranking,” Every Child Counts Chairperson Murray Edridge said today.

“Leaving children’s interests on the margins of public policy is costly in the long term. Research, and commonsense, tell us that public policy is vital in providing the environment and programmes that enable all children and their families/ whanau to do well and reach their potential. It is an essential part of creating a society which adequately values, and supports, children,” he said.

The Every Child Counts policy overview also calls for a review of current government structures to ensure good outcomes for children, and the establishment of a cross-party parliamentary group for children.

“The rights and needs of children transcend party and political boundaries. Cross-parliamentary work that enables MPs to share ideas, strategies and commitment to children is vital. The value of such work will be reinforced by one of our conference keynote speakers, Baroness Doreen Massey, the chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children in the UK.

“New Zealand’s track record when it comes to children is poor. The country has high rates of child maltreatment, and significant numbers of New Zealand children live in poverty.

“We are using our annual conference to keep the spotlight on these issues as we get closer to the election. As we look to the future children must be at the forefront of our thinking,” concluded Mr Edridge.


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