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UNICEF Aotearoa Invites Government To Include Missing Youth Engagement In Next Budget

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Following the release of the coalition Government’s 2024 Budget last week, UNICEF Aotearoa is inviting decision-makers to start meaningful engagement with children and young people to inform the next Budget.

Wellbeing vanished in the delivery of Budget 2024 last Thursday, as Finance Minister Nicola Willis and the coalition Government missed the opportunity to deliver for children, young people and families who are struggling the most.

Ahead of the Budget’s release, UNICEF Aotearoa highlighted a lack of clear wellbeing objectives in the Government’s Budget Policy Statement 2024, and its concern that it did not mention children, young people or their needs anywhere.

UNICEF Aotearoa acting CEO Laura Bond says the need for youth engagement is more urgent than ever.

"Every day, across Aotearoa, children and young people are looking for opportunities to have a say in their own futures. The Government has obligations as a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to ensure they listen to children, their needs are met and their rights are upheld," she says.

"The Government showed its hand in this Budget, leaving children and young people out. It risks falling short of its obligations to children and young people. Now is the time for our leaders to engage with the youth of Aotearoa as a matter of urgency."

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Bond says the lack of budget allocated to alleviating child poverty is, in effect, a commitment to tens of thousands of children that they will remain in poverty, the effects of which can last a lifetime. The Child Poverty Report, published as part of Budget 2024, shows the Government is on track to miss child poverty targets across key measures under the Child Poverty Reduction Act.

UNICEF Aotearoa Young Ambassador Finley Duncan says young people in New Zealand are motivated and determined to have their say in their own future, and that the Government must now step up.

"Young people deserve to have our voices heard given decisions taken today will have a huge impact on the country we will grow up in and inherit. A Budget informed by the aspirations of young people recognises our visions for society, the environment, and the future," he says.

UNICEF Aotearoa is urging the Government to establish and permanently fund a youth climate advisory committee, to ensure that diverse young voices are heard in climate-related decision making that will disproportionately impact their futures.

UNICEF Aotearoa last month launched a Parliamentary Forum for Children’s Rights, to be held regularly in Wellington at the Beehive. All Ministers and MPs are invited to attend and engage with young people representing UNICEF and other youth-focused organisations. For more information email engagement@unicef.org.nz

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