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UNICEF NZ Disappointed at Lack of Bi-Partisan Approach

01/08/11

UNICEF NZ Disappointed at Lack of Bi-Partisan Approach on Child Abuse

UNICEF NZ (UN Children’s Fund) is disappointed that the Prime Minster has not supported a call for a bi-partisan approach to deal with child abuse. He has commented that parties will campaign on their different positions ahead of the general election.

“Sir Peter Gluckman, the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Adviser, has told us that the topic can only be addressed through a holistic approach that takes account of the whole context of a child’s life. He has also said that party political rhetoric and dogma have no place in a national conversation about children’s wellbeing and safety,” said Barbara Lambourn, National Advocacy Manager at UNICEF NZ.

The Prime Minister was commenting on calls for a cross party agreement on a National Action Plan for Children that will guide decisions and resources allocated to reverse our alarming statistics on child poverty and maltreatment.

“Making children’s issues a political football with arguments about which party will claim to have the solution is not what New Zealanders need to hear,” Ms Lambourn said. “It’s clear from all the information we have about the conditions in which child abuse can thrive, that government and community agencies need to work more closely to achieve results. We’d like to see that reflected by politicians, the people who make the big calls, working together to make sure that any plan for children is agreed by consensus, properly resourced and sustainable for the long term.”

“Divisive politics are a barrier to achieving better results for the many children who most need attention right now. Politicians agreed on a plan to ensure income security for older people and now need to give the same level of commitment to children. Politicians have worked together before for children’s interests so we know it can be done. Children don’t vote but they are equal and important citizens of our nation,” Ms Lambourn said.

“Politicians owe it to our children to act responsibly and to lift this matter from the heat of the election campaign to an agreed way forward. Any white paper produced from the green paper must include a co-operative model – parties must be willing to work with each other in children’s interests. That’s what the children of New Zealand need,” Ms Lambourn said.

The Green Paper launched last week proposes ideas to combat abuse and neglect. It urges the public to become informed and comment on ways to deal with the issue at government, community and family levels.

ENDS

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