UNICEF NZ Deeply Concerned About Potential Cuts to Community
UNICEF NZ (UN Children’s Fund)
Wellington, 22 March 2011
UNICEF NZ Deeply Concerned About Potential Cuts to Community Advocates
UNICEF NZ (UN Children’s Fund) is alarmed that government funding may be withdrawn for the child advocates programme, potentially putting New Zealand children at risk.
UNICEF NZ is part of the governing body for the programme and has been monitoring reports that Minister Turia is considering withdrawing the funds that support the 45 positions.
Barbara Lambourn, National Advocacy Manager for UNICEF NZ says, “Time and time again we have seen children’s needs overlooked when there is violence in families and too often it results in tragedy. The programme began as a response to the murder of two little sisters in Masterton. Too many families are still unsafe for children and now is not the time to scale back an important community service.
“Advocacy for children affected by family violence is a critical element in addressing our alarming rates of violence and abuse in families. The proposal that the positions for community advocates working solely on children’s safety be axed and the funds diverted to the new Whanau Ora initiative is deeply concerning.”
The advocate positions were established in 2007 to provide communities with a specialist to make sure that children living with violence, or impacted in any way by violence in their neighbourhood or community, have their needs properly attended to. Their role is to educate, inform and motivate professionals, helping services and community members to be more responsive to the situation of children living with violence.
“If we are serious about breaking the cycle of family violence and moving towards a generation that does not accept violence as a normalised part of family life, we must have informed advocates for children in the most vulnerable communities,” said Ms Lambourn.
We have a well tested and effective programme up and running that reaches into all sectors of the community. Going to the trouble and expense of re-creating the programme under another name is not putting the needs of children first”.
The Committee on the Rights of the Child reported recently to our government that our rates of violence were “staggering”. “That’s a terrible indictment” said Ms Lambourn “and we need to show children that they are part of a community, and a society, that cares enough to put their needs at the top of the agenda. UNICEF, will certainly oppose any move to dis-establish the positions.”