Barnardos welcomes new children’s legislation
Barnardos welcomes new children’s legislation as landmark moment for children
Barnardos says that the passing of the Child Poverty Reduction Bill and Children’s Amendment Bill in Parliament today signals a landmark moment for children.
Barnardos General Manager Advocacy, Dr Claire Achmad, says “the passing of this legislation today, led by Prime Minister and Minister for Child Poverty Reduction Jacinda Ardern is a moment to be celebrated. Barnardos works with children and their families and whānau around Aotearoa New Zealand every day. Many of them are living day-to-day with the negative impacts of poverty and inequality. We have been advocating for the passing of the Child Poverty Reduction Bill because it will make a difference for children. We know urgent change is needed to address the underlying drivers of deprivation that are keeping children in poverty and limiting children’s development. That this law and the Children’s Amendment Bill has passed with support across political lines means our Parliament is standing behind children, committing to reducing New Zealand’s high rates of child poverty and promoting children’s rights and wellbeing.”
Aotearoa New Zealand ranks among the worst countries in the OECD on child poverty. The 2017 Child Poverty Technical Monitor Report, published by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner and the University of Otago, shows that over a quarter of New Zealand’s child population is living in some degree of poverty, and for some this poverty is severe and persistent.
Barnardos says that if the new legislation is backed up by policies that reduce child poverty in practice and lift child wellbeing, progress on reducing child poverty should begin to be seen in the coming years. Dr Achmad says that “the new Child Poverty Reduction Act requires successive governments to focus on reducing child poverty and set targets for child poverty reduction. This will function as an accountability mechanism for driving real change on one of our most entrenched socio-economic problems. Barnardos also welcomes that the legislation requires independent progress tracking, through annual reporting on child poverty by the Government Statistician, using primary and supplementary measures of child poverty now agreed in legislation.”
Barnardos says that the amendments to the Children’s Act that have been passed today add to the landmark nature of today’s events in Parliament. Dr Achmad says that “this is an exciting moment for all children and young people in our country, because it’s now a requirement that a Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy is developed and implemented that focuses on improving their wellbeing.” She says that “in particular, Barnardos welcomes the requirement that the Strategy is developed in consultation with particular groups, including children and young people themselves, and must give effect to a practical commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Barnardos is pleased to see that the law as passed today requires the Strategy to support the implementation of children’s rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities.”
Dr Achmad emphasises that “Barnardos believes this law and Strategy is the best opportunity we have ever had to embed children’s rights standards and principles in Aotearoa New Zealand’s legislation, policy and practice. It sends a strong message to all children and young people that they matter and should be heard, respected, protected and celebrated.”
Barnardos says it is looking forward to continuing to support the development of the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy in 2019, and it will continue to push for an end to child poverty in Aotearoa New Zealand.