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Response To Green Paper For Vulnerable Children

Supporting our Youth to be the next generation of Positive Parents

Response To Green Paper For Vulnerable Children

The YWCA Auckland is supportive of the progression of the Green Paper for Vulnerable Children and will be making a submission. After 125 years of working with women and particularly young women, the YWCA has an evolved knowledge of what positive, strengths-based, evidential, interventional programmes can look like.

There have been many research papers undertaken in recent times for children and young people which have have yet to be acted upon.. Current examples include the recent Gluckman Report and the Agenda for Children, Care and Protection Blueprint. Any subsequent action plan needs to include the informed recommendations from all this research.

YWCA Auckland President Sina Moore makes the comment; “We would challenge the thinking not to be only about the next generation, but to include the current youth transition age group (15-24). These are our next parents, they are affected most by the current economic environment and urgently need our support for them to begin parenthood in a healthy way and from a position of informed choice.

All children are potentially vulnerable and many parents need support – make this a strengths-based approach about supporting parents through the challenges of parenthood, which means regular monitoring. However we need to remember the major challenge here; just because you are poor or a beneficiary does not mean you are a bad parent. Neither does being a young parent – this is the cultural norm for many.”

The needs of the child are paramount. In support of this the YWCA Auckland endorses mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse. It is better the child is safe than we are all sorry after the fact. In general we need to educate the public and encourage community responsibility: Support each other and support our children. We need to create awareness and a social norm around it not being okay to turn away. Make it the right thing to notice if you think things aren’t right, and provide steps to escalate an issue if necessary. This can range from a friendly, concerned enquiry to alerting the authorities.

All young people are at risk or face some threat of abuse (drugs, alcohol, poverty). To address this threat we need to focus on the social issues which cause our children to go from being at risk to ‘in risk’. This requires a paradigm shift and re-positioning our attitude towards children as our greatest asset/taonga, not the greatest problem. Only by consolidating and unifying our service provision for ‘at risk’ youth will we engender a major societal change.
The YWCA Future Leaders Programme is successful in supporting young women in terms of leadership development, resilience, community responsibility, education achievements, all of which are proven to strengthen communities through individual’s developments. This evidence-based initiative is one the YWCA constantly measures and re-evaluates for its effectiveness and it has achieved significant results in the 10 years it has been running.

The YWCA has identified that giving young women the support to have choice in their lives, their career, who they are in a relationship with and what a respectful relationship looks like is a big part of building healthy, resilient communities. This includes making it easy to access support to have healthy sexual relationships, with protection and contraception.
“This next generation of parents-to-be need our support now to be the parents our children need. The YWCA is not the only organisation delivering effective, positive interventions and we encourage government to look at these agencies and empower them, as the experts, to do more of what is working, rather than re-invent or duplicate services.” says CEO Hilary Sumpter, “Further, we believe New Zealand needs a Ministry for Children and Youth which can work with all the service providers and which is more than just a policy unit.”

President Sina Moore makes this final comment; “This paper must not be used for electioneering. The green paper and subsequent white paper must be adopted by all political parties in order to build robust legislation for the long term inter-generational future of New Zealand. We all must hold children at our centres. They are not our possessions and we are not interfering if we care. Erring on the side of caution is the best outcome for our children.”


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