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Big Boost For Children's Rights

Big Boost For Commissioner To Promote Children's Rights

The annual budget of the Commissioner for Children's office will almost double within two years to enable him to better promote the rights of children and to monitor our compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey said today.

The Commissioner's Office will receive an additional $2.8m over four years - $400,000 in 2001/02 and $800,000 in subsequent years - in Thursday's Budget. The funding will enable the Commissioner to take on a significantly wider role to advance the rights and interests of children, including improved public awareness campaigns, the establishment of a Youth Advisory Council and increased resources for research on children's rights issues in New Zealand.

Mr Maharey said the Government wanted to reassert New Zealand's position as a great place to be a child.

"Every child deserves a good start in life yet too many young New Zealanders have their potential cut short by abusive or neglectful adults or unresponsive public services.

"Since 1989 the Commissioner for Children has had the job of monitoring the law relating to children and promoting their interests and welfare. The Government believes this role should be strengthened and that the Office should also monitor compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

"The new funding the Commissioner will receive will enable his Office to significantly boost its services. This includes:

- extension of the Office's advocacy services nationwide, and in particular to children in rural and provincal communities;

- the establishment of a Youth Advisory Council to give the Commissioner advice on how he should go about his job;

- publication of a new annual status report on children's well-being in New Zealand;

- coordination of Children's Day activities;

- production of resource kit on children's rights;

- an improved website; and,

- increased funding to enable the Commissioner's Office to meet growing demand for assistance.

"It is expected that the Commissioner for Children Bill currently before Parliament will be passed and come into force over the coming year. The increased allocation also reflects the increased role the bill envisages for the Commissioner's Office,"Steve Maharey said.

Ends


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