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Children Need All Parties Working Together


23 May 2007

New Zealand Children Need All Political Parties Working Together

A Littlies Lobby breakfast this morning was well attended by parliamentarians from across the political spectrum. Littlies Lobby is a joint initiative between the Children’s Commissioner and Plunket which features regular cross party Parliamentary breakfasts.

It aims to draw attention to things that parents, families, communities and society can do to give every child a chance to thrive before five and is based on an understanding of early child development and children's rights and needs. This morning’s breakfast featured speeches from Professor Hilton Davis, Professor of Child Psychology at King’s College, London, on family partnership models and Dr Emma Davies, a Principal Advisor from the Office of the Children’s Commissioner on the importance of investing in children.

Children’s Commissioner, Dr Cindy Kiro, congratulates all those politicians who voted to pass the Crimes Amendment (Abolition of Force as a Justification for Child Discipline) Bill and sent a message that is consistent with a legislative and policy context that prioritises a whole child approach and working towards improved outcomes for children.

“United parliamentary action on legislative changes that give our children the same legal protection from assault as adults is a significant step on the road to creating a culture of respect for children but much more is needed. Initiatives such as Littlies Lobby provide an opportunity for our politicians to discuss and debate relevant children’s issues in an informal forum,” says Dr Kiro. “

“I believe that we have reached a tipping point with regard to political attention to children. We need the address children’s issues using processes that involve all political parties intertwined with traditional party-political policy making systems.”

“Improving the lives of our children now is the key to a better future for all. It is well reconised that poverty is associated with poor outcomes in health, education and welfare. The quality of neighbourhoods and community life including physical and social infrastructure, as well as safety, neighbourhood cohesion and access to community resources are also important childhood influencing factors.”

“It will require our politicians to take the lead in the next steps for children. Our appalling child abuse and neglect statistics demand that politicians act now before momentum is lost. I encourage politicians to form an all-party caucus with children – as its focus. This would have set agendas and would be supported by a tight knowledgeable secretariat with expert input. Politicians could continue to just compete for the best children’s policy or they could work together. Recent events have shown just how much our politicians can archieve when they work together for a common good. Our elected representatives are now faced with a choice that will determine the future of those children and therefore the future of New Zealand,” says Dr Kiro.

ENDS

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