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Key Notes: Protecting vulnerable children

23 August 2013

Protecting vulnerable children

As Prime Minister, I want to see every one of our children getting the very best start to life. They deserve nothing less.

New Zealanders have had enough of children being killed, abused and neglected. You've asked us to take action, and we are.

Last week, we announced a number of big changes that will build on our progress so far. We're introducing legislation that will see better government accountability, better screening and vetting of people working with children, and better guardianship and child protection laws.

It begins with leadership. We're making the heads of five government departments - the Ministry of Social Development, Education, Health, Justice and the Police - accountable for protecting and improving the lives of vulnerable children.

They will all have new responsibilities and child protection policies, which will have a direct impact on every frontline staff member working with children.

Any person employed by the Government who works with children will be screened and vetted. People with serious convictions will be permanently restricted from working closely with children.

And we're getting tough on people who abuse children. We will introduce Child Harm Prevention Orders that can be placed on adults who pose a serious risk to children, to prevent them from interacting with children at all.

And where abusive parents go on to have further children, they will have to prove they are fit parents, or their baby will be removed.

We're also giving our courts the ability to step in and restrict the guardianship rights of birth parents in extreme cases, so abusive parents who have had their children removed cannot disrupt the children's new, safe and stable home.

We know some of these changes will be controversial. They're bold, and we make no apologies for that. We're determined to give our children a better start to life, so that's why we're putting them first.

John Key
Prime Minister

For more about this important topic, visit our special feature on vulnerable children. Click here to do that.

Click here to watch my video on the importance of protecting our children.

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